The world is made in China. That’s how it has been for a number years now; one out of two cameras in the world are made in China, Apple iPods are made in China, and half the toys in the world are made in China. Where are racing karts made? Primarily in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, and the USA.
Why aren’t racing karts made in China? That’s likely to be the question that Australian karting enthusiast Martin Brien of SQ Racing asked himself and the answer was “I don’t know but they should be.” Martin reasoned that if a chassis and engine were made in China they could probably be manufactured at about half the cost of their European counterparts and with proper management and technical know-how there is no reason for quality to be compromised.
|The “Cheetah” Engine is expected to last 20 hours between rebuilds if kept under 15,000rpm.|
Martin saw the opportunity for high-quality karts sold at a low price. Similar opportunities have been noticed by companies worldwide who have moved their manufacturing processes to China so why not a karting manufacturer? If this were a bunch of guys new to the karting world seeing the business opportunity and going to China to manufacture karts people might be a bit skeptical – but everyone involved has vast amounts of experience in karting. The development consists of Martin, Enzo Chiovitti, Carlos Goncalves, and Harvey Poole who between them have over a century of karting experience. The focus is on producing quality.
The kart and engine are manufactured almost completely in-house. Everything from the pistons to the computer controlled ignition system, the fiberglass seats, brakes, rims, frames, and side pods are made in-house. Some of the few things that aren’t made by SQ Racing include the NGK spark plugs, big and little end bearings (from Japan), and main bearings. What this means is that rather than having a low purchase price and then costing a lot to re-build, the 125cc TAG “Cheetah” engine costs about half as much in parts to rebuild as those currently on the market. Another masterstroke of SQ is that they have made as many of the components on the kart as possible have been made to fit most karts on the market today. This means that you will soon be able to purchase chassis parts at a lower price! It’s no surprise that some European kart manufacturers have already contacted SQ Racing about purchasing parts. Even parts on the engine such as the starter can be used on other popular 125cc TAG engines â€“ the quality is there but the difference is in the price.
|European Quality with a Chinese Price|
The chassis specs read similarly to many top of the line European karts. The “Enzo” has 32/32mm rails, a 50mm axle supported by 3 bearings, billet allow CNC machined pedals, bearings hangers, disk brake hub, srocket carrier and tie-rods. The chasiss also has a removable 4th bar, adjustable ride height, and adjustable ackerman steering The â€œCheetahâ€ engine has a capacity of 124.4cc and pumps out 27hp at 11,400rpm with a max rpm of 15,000. It has a similar electric start system as all other TAG engines and uses a 12 volt battery. When asked by KartingAsia.com if the engine has a rev-limiter Martin said â€œwe have a computer controlled ignition system so we can do ANYTHING! We can change the advance curve to limit power or revs for different classes for example.
We also asked Martin a little bit about their plans about where they will be exporting the kart as currently it looks like Australia and Canada will be the first markets. He confidently reassured us that they are planning to take over the world! They will also be on display at the London kart show to launch their attack on Europe. I can’t imagine it will be long before this Asian-made kart makes it to the race tracks of other Asian countries.
How much exactly will the kart cost in your local kart shop? It’s impossible to put an exact figure because import taxes and other things change from country to country but the rolling chassis should be somewhere around the USD $1750 mark – or about half the price or more compared to a European Chassis! The engine+kart package will be amazingly cheap as well – we’re looking at probably less than half the price of a Euro chassis + Rotax engine for example. Don’t forget that the maintenance costs should be lower as well.
Another thing that excites us at KartingAsia.com is that SQ Racing aren’t stopping at karts and engines. Some of the other things they have in the workings include kart trolleys, wheel alignment systems, racing suits and shoes – and get this: a data acquisition system with 3 temperature sensors, 2 speed sensors, RPM, and USB download to PC. What all this means for karters worldwide is that there is more competition to the current manufacturers of such products so prices are bound to come down across the board!
Get ready for some Seriously Quick karting products heading your way from China!
All pictures © SQ Racing. For more information on SQ Racing products go to their website www.sqracing.com.au.