This show is on quite a different scale to the UK shows. Judging
from the number of visitors, Karting is doing very well in Germany
at the moment. It was notable, on an unscientific ‘guess’
that the average age of the visitors was higher than in the UK too.
There were far fewer teenagers and many more visitors aged 20 to
35, than would have attended a UK event.
Much of the show was the usual trade stands offering a lot of
what we have seen already, but I went for the ‘new’
or the highlights and the ‘oddities’.
I had been invited by Paul Woelfle of Aixro
and spent quite some time looking at the Aixro and other 4-stroke
offerings at the show. However, there were a number of things which
also caught my attention which may well affect UK karters in the
New Rear Bumpers
The first of which being the Plastic rear bumpers. I loathe ALL
forms of plastic (Tupperware) on karts and dreaded the idea of the
plastic rear bumpers, having seen some true horrors already in the
UK. With this in mind, I was very surprised by the majority that
were on offer at the show.
As plastic goes, it could be a lot worse! The bumpers were quite
stiff, somewhere between that of a metal bumper and a Unico side
pod. They have the built-in number plates and look serviceable and
cleanable. I don’t know what we are supposed to do if we need
to run a narrow rear axle as there only appears to be one ‘size’
The most unusual feature was the strange mounting brackets shown
The bracket is similar to the ‘standard’ rubber-mounted
bumper mounting from ‘your’ kart, except that the ‘bumper’
is replaced by the squared-off bracket which surrounds a vertical
tube, which looks like a thin, cut-off bumper. The only task of
that tube seems to be to make it hard to adjust the Nyloc behind
it. Most peculiar!
Surprisingly, I suspect we could ‘live’ with these
if they arrive here; they could have been much worse!
New steering wheels
New steering wheels were available via Mechatron, which very neatly
mounted existing Mychron, Alfano and Unipro offerings. They looked
well made but felt a little too ‘plastic’ for my liking.
It seems to be called the ‘TaG Multi Function wheel’,
I wonder if McLaren’s old sponsor knows this…….?
Find more details from www.mechatron-kart.com - champ-kart.de
High Back Seats
Many people have been worried about the ‘high backed seat’
and as they appear to have originated in Germany, I expected to
see more of them. However, I only found a few and these were only
on Bambino-sized karts (i.e., pre-Cadet). They didn’t look
all that bad as you can see, and I can see the point in protecting
our most vulnerable karters.
Electronic Gear Change
The Mechatron ME Shifted gear change consisted of a small box
and a very elegant Carbon Fibre pair of electronic paddles to be
mounted behind the steering wheel.
The ‘box’ is attached just behind the engine and a
lever is attached from the box to the gear lever as it enters the
gearbox. The Paddles do a complex job extremely quickly as they
cut the ignition for a few moments and send a signal to the ‘box
to push the lever forward or backward changing gear in a quoted
50ms. The ignition cut out allows the driver to change gear while
still holding full throttle and at 50ms, it is considerably faster
than you can change gear manually. This device may be ‘illegal’
in the UK but things may change…...
Another potentially ‘illegal’ surprise were the Tyre
Warmers fitted to this kart.
Each one wrapped a wheel and had its own plug. Not only did this
seem a bad idea from the point of view of racing costs but where
are you supposed to find power for 4 separate sockets on the Dummy
SuperVKart 650cc Twin
The pinnacle of Karting, the Long Circuit ‘250’ twin
kart seems in the doldrums at the moment; however this unusual engine
and ‘gear box’ arrangement of the SuperVKart could give
a lift to the class. It is a 650cc two-stroke twin with no gearbox
at all. It is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
similar to that fitted to DAFs and some older Volvos.
The CVT just looks strange and ungainly. The drive and driven pulleys
were absolutely huge and ungainly, but they appear to work well.
Air-cooling of the engine reduces the overall complexity while the
huge cubic capacity offsets any potential losses. The outright bhp
is said to be moderate (64 bhp) but its huge torque and clever ‘gearing’
should make all of this highly usable. They quote a 0 to 62 in 3
seconds and a top speed of 150mph. The literature suggests that
these can be bought or even hired. The reliability being quoted
is extreme, claiming it will do TWO seasons without repair……..
Get more details from www.supervkart.com and go to this web page
to understand how CVT works: www.auto.howstuffworks.com/cvt2.htm
The German market at the show seems to be dominated by Four Strokes
and there were a number of them being well shown. It looked as though
about half the stands were presenting one or another, and some presented
most of them.
There was no sign whatsoever of the Biland.
One of the most prolific was the Suter Vampire showing three marketed
models in various levels of performance,:-
Junior - 21 bhp
Senior - 34 bhp
‘R’. - 38 bhp
Quoted weight is 17.6kg
They all looked externally similar except for the
The cutaway example showed the excellent Cam Chain and large chain
guide/tensioners (green). More surprising was the positioning of
the internal oil filter which would appear to be hard to reach once
the engine was mounted.
Vampire R mounted on a CRG:-
Tech F1 offered two 250cc models of their four-stroke design, quoting
the following power outputs for each:
Tech F1 R - 35 bhp
Tech F1 SS - 40 bhp
However, there seems to be some confusion between the manufacturer’s
claims for the two engines. The brochure quotes the SS as the higher
powered engine, whereas the web site lists the SS as being more
of a restricted and ‘long life’ ‘hobby’
These appear to have a cascade of drive gears eliminating the need
for a cam-belt or cam-chain and weighing in at 16.3kgs. This looks
an impressive piece of kit. Contact www.technique-engineering.it
for further details.
The Tech F1 mounted in a Zanardi chassis.
Note the torturous exhaust ‘path’, It looks like you
might get a warm ride!
The final ‘normal’ 4 stroke was the Oral 4TK. They
claim to have Mauro Forghieri as their technical director and any
Ferrari, Lamborghini or Bugatti fan will recognise that name! As
technical Director for Ferrari, he won 12 World Championship Titles!
That level of technical expertise is hard to find……
I have long argued that the Carburettor should be on the front
of the engine and the Exhaust at the rear and have regularly moaned
about engines mounted the other way around. The Oral is mounted
this way and it leans forward unlike the other 4-stroke motors.
However, that combination does place the air box in front of the
steering wheel and half way down the driver’s leg! I think
I may have just been proved wrong on this subject…….
It appears to be beautifully built using a cam chain and it appears
to be shorter (less top-heavy) than the other conventional 4 strokes.
Three versions appear to be in construction as follows:-
K1 - 39 bhp
K2 - 35 bhp
K3 - 22 bhp
Contact www.oralracing.com for further details.
After seeing all the other ‘4 stroke’ engines, the
Aixro just looks so compact and tidy. They are so small that they
do not even protrude above the side of the seat. The exhaust exits
exactly where you would want it to, low and from the rear, thus
the driver remains well clear of dangerous exhaust pipes while seated.
The latest on-board starter is a marvel of miniaturisation, so
small is it that it’s hard to even recognise it as being the
starter (the silver object in photo). It still allows the use of
an external start should the onboard battery ever run low on power
while at the track. Something that Rotax Max drivers may have wanted
for a few years….
This engine is just so compact and tidy. In the above photo, it
almost looks as though there is no side pod fitted as there seems
to be so much space around it, however, you’ll note that’s
just an optical illusion created by the superb packaging of this
motor. A number of the other 4 strokes have a dry sump complicating
the ‘plumbing. The Aixro doesn’t, using two stroke type
lubrication. This is a master-piece of kart engineering.
The key to the Aixro’s design is the simplicity and power
of the Wankel design. A count of the parts used inside this motor
makes a mockery of all the standard ‘piston’ 4 strokes.
As you may know, there are no valves, no conrods, no cams, no pistons,
no timing chains or belts. This is simplicity itself! All the major
‘moving parts’ are shown here.
As Pat Symonds of Renault F1 commented on seeing the motor: “Why
have all those bits bashing up and down when you don’t have
For many years, the fear of failure of the rotor seals (fitted
into the grooves on the rotor) has bedevilled the Wankel, but that
is based on their use in cars. People have been concerned that they
may only last 50,000 miles. In a car, that might be a problem but
I suspect we would think we had arrived in heaven if our kart engines
gave us that sort of life-expectancy.
One of the main uses of this motor has been in the defence industry,
for that reason, reliability is at the core of its design. The quality
of manufacture of this piece of engineering is unmatched, it is
simply a jewel of a motor!
The power output is similarly impressive. The quoted figure for
this motor is 48bhp, more than 25% greater than most of its competitors
and this is still within a package that is smaller, simpler and
lighter (quoted at 14kgs) than its competitors. If there ever is
to be a motor design which can replace the simplicity and compactness
and power of the 2 stroke in karting, this has to be it!
A good example of the qualities of this motor is that is has been
chosen by the pinnacle of motoring prestige, Mercedes/McLaren SLR,
to promote their road cars. A fleet of Aixros fitted to Swiss Hutless
karts are used by SLR on ‘test days’ and ‘training
days’. SLR needed a motor with huge power, simplicity and
above all, reliability to promote their cars, the obvious choice
was the Aixro. Nothing else comes near this combination.
The Offenbach show was a surprise and delight; the popularity of
the show was simply amazing and the number and range of offerings
show that karting seems to be about to take a new direction once
a consensus about which way forward becomes clear. It seems that
4 strokes will be a substantial part of the future if the German
market is any indication. My thanks go to Paul and Jos of the Aixro
‘team’ and Kai for liaison and help with the translations.
Ian Turner ( ITPro )