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CycleKarting: Extreme Vintage Go-Karting
April 22, 2009 6:43 AM   Subscribe

You can't buy a CycleKart and, even if you could, the racers wouldn't let you participate. You have to build your CycleKart. It's one of the many reasons this is a very cool hobby.
posted by Tom-B (35 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
i'm in love
posted by doobiedoo at 6:46 AM on April 22, 2009


I dunno. Feels like an elitist subset of go-karters to me.
posted by LSK at 6:57 AM on April 22, 2009


Feels like an elitist subset of go-karters to me.

Yes. That's the point.
posted by Floydd at 7:01 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Definitely looks fun. I like the fact that they're emphatically stating, "If you want speed and performance, go somewhere else. If you want silly fun while driving around in a silly car, come right in!"
posted by explosion at 7:34 AM on April 22, 2009


Is there any kind of vehicle that doesn't have fixie-style subcultures?
posted by box at 7:45 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't get me wrong--these are really neat. They remind me a little of rat rod bikes, or cafe racers. I think I just added go-karts to my when-I'm-retired list.
posted by box at 7:55 AM on April 22, 2009


Looks awesome.

I find it absolutely impossible to believe some of the cars in the photo didn't cost waaay more than $1750, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:56 AM on April 22, 2009


My kart runs on steam and is driven using an iPhone app and my smug sense of superiority.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:58 AM on April 22, 2009


Looks fun!
posted by brundlefly at 7:58 AM on April 22, 2009


Is there any kind of vehiclehuman endeavor that doesn't have fixie-style subcultures?

The ridiculousness of fixies isn't that it's dumb to ride a fixed gear bike. It's no dumber to ride a fixed gear bike than it is to collect stamps or drive a car or use software X vs software Y. What's ridiculous about fixies is the claim that they are somehow inherently better than geared bikes. On any measurable axis this isn't true. But there are many unmeasurable axes....
posted by DU at 8:05 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


You haters could ruin a rainbow.
I'm seeing a crazy amount of fun in a cheap motor sport that goes back 70 years. boo hoo
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:08 AM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


What's ridiculous about fixies is the claim that they are somehow inherently better than geared bikes.

I don't own a fixie, but there are plenty of arguments in favor of fixed-gear:

-Simpler drive-train. Easier to maintain, easier to clean, fewer points of failure.
-Lighter bike. Fewer parts means a lighter bike, which matters to some people.
-Direct drivetrain. This is the big one. Having a fixed gear means a taut chain, better transfer of power, and an ability to slow down or brake with your legs. There's also that whole thing about just feeling more connected to the ground.

Fixed-gear bikes definitely aren't for all occasions, but I can see how one would love one in a city.
posted by explosion at 8:32 AM on April 22, 2009


I find it absolutely impossible to believe some of the cars in the photo didn't cost waaay more than $1750, though.

Adjusted for inflation, it's probably over $2000 now, and they stressed that scrounging for parts was part of the hobby. Under $2000 brand new? No way. But when you paid a sum total of $50 for the car's body because it's made of scrap wood and a few purchased metal parts? Sounds more like it.
posted by explosion at 8:34 AM on April 22, 2009


and an ability to slow down or brake with your legs.

Surely you mean disability? Expending muscular energy both accelerating and decelerating is hardly efficient.
posted by rocket88 at 8:47 AM on April 22, 2009


Back on topic, these vehicles look great, and I'm sure they're fun to ride/drive, but there's something about the people involved...sort of a parallel to "it's not the band I hate...".
posted by rocket88 at 8:49 AM on April 22, 2009


Yeah, this one has the feel of a really addicting sport. The barrier to entry isn't impossible high, it feeds on my natural love of fast driving and improvising hardware for as cheap as possible, and it looks like it would be outrageously fun to do.

I think I'll revisit this idea when I have a bit more time to lose myself obsessively into a new hobby.
posted by quin at 8:50 AM on April 22, 2009


This is awesome! Replica "golden age" racers, tearing around offroad! I wanna make one now... maybe a '30s Indy-car...

--Derail alert!--

WRT fixies:

1) The rest of the bike will wear out before a single-speed freehub cog and coaster brake ever will.
2) The guys with 15lb bikes sporting an eleven cog rear cassette and a triple ring crank for zipping up mountains will simply laugh at this argument. Besides, anyone with a steel or aluminum frame is not allowed to be a weight weenie. It's in the UN Charter, serious.
3a) Consistency of cadence is more important than power transfer for speed and acceleration.
3b) You can't scrub off 15mph of momentum in a controlled manner without brakes. This is generally where the fixie fans get delusional. Any bike without brakes is immensely dangerous, period, the end, full stop. This doesn't mean they shouldn't be ridden, it's just that I get really worried that fixie riders don't have a full appreciation of the limits of their bike or their abilities. In moving traffic, that kind of ignorance can get real hairy real quick.

You should ride a fixie because they're challenging and fun to ride - they're challenging and fun to ride because they're designed to go around in circles on a closed track, and riding them outside that environment is dangerous, unpredictable and requires a lot of strength and co-ordination. It was a way for the bike crazies to show off to one-another, and now it's a fashion trend. The bike crazies have moved on to riding cyclocross these days. That, and becomming pro bike porters - delivering large and heavy objects by bicycle for shops that can't afford a van.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:36 AM on April 22, 2009


I love these cars, but i'm not too sure about the culture, it reminds me of a phenomenon i've witnessed recently:

Fixed-gear bikes definitely aren't for all occasions, but I can see how one would love one in a city.

I have a track bike (yes that is a subset of fixed gear) and ride it everywhere. That being said, fixed gears really aren't that much better for city riding, especially in a hilly city. Going uphill your gear is too tall, starting out from lights, your gear is too tall. going downhill or top speed, your gear is too short.

basically the main reason to ride a fixed is a) its a hell of a lot more work for the same distance, your pedaling motion is forced to be fluid, good for training. b) the feeling of being connected is fun and enjoyable c) fashion there is really not much of a D, any loss in weight or increase in simplicity is made up for by the extra effort needed to get anywhere.

New fixed converts have this idea that all fixed activity must conform to, and anything else is to be ridiculed. The most annoying thing is the putting of expensive wheelsets and cranks on gas pipe old road frames. For heavens sake, buy a real fixed compatible frame, they can be had for a couple hundred and make life so much easier.

As to brakes, people that are skilled in stopping a fixed gear can do about as well as a coaster brake can. I don't see people running around screaming coaster brakes are dangerous and should be banned. Skilled is the keyword. I have seen more than one wreck caused by a brakeless newbie with no idea how to slow down quickly. Practice until you never touch your brake lever, practice panic stops, when you are certain you can do what you need to do, then take it off. It is better to keep a brake, but the purity of being your own brake is a hard siren song to resist.

That is enough of a thread hijack, but it is an interesting juxtaposition between the two cultures. I think these go-karts are awesome, but the whole invite only thing makes me suspicious they might be similar to newer fixed gear converts in their delusions of superiority.
posted by jester69 at 9:51 AM on April 22, 2009


I thought Cyclekarting might involve, you know, cycling. As in: pushing pedals forward in a circular motion in order to go forward.

The cheaters are using motors...
posted by ijsbrand at 9:54 AM on April 22, 2009


Hey, now, this is really cool. I could easily see myself getting into this. I should probably finish my other projects first...

Jesus, yet another thread about fixed gear bikes.
posted by maxwelton at 9:58 AM on April 22, 2009


You haters could ruin a rainbow.
I'm seeing a crazy amount of fun in a cheap motor sport that goes back 70 years. boo hoo


I mean come on. If you are going to use colors, why not go for something in an interesting palette? Primary and secondary colors are totally right out of that 1980's Amway "I'm a spring" color-me-beautiful bullshit. Way to FAIL god! How about next time you get all wrathful you act like an adult and not flood the known world?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:05 AM on April 22, 2009


Oh, wow, I am in love. Thank you, Tom-B, I had no idea such a thing existed and you have given me something to strive towards.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:10 AM on April 22, 2009


I just know there has to be a mean psycho kid cyclekarter with an overcompetitive father, who drives a jet-black racer with a large serrated blade on the front, like Deathrace 2000, or the Nautilus.

At least in my mind, this is how the movie version of this sport will play out.
posted by happyroach at 10:13 AM on April 22, 2009


I could only do this if the radio was rigged to only play old-timey music and I had a barber shop quartet accompanying me.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:29 AM on April 22, 2009


These look awesome. I'd like to see some built in a 20's streamlined vein, or maybe early Italian aero.
posted by jellywerker at 11:01 AM on April 22, 2009


So if you find an old riding lawn mower, is that fair game? An EE roommate of mine used to race lawn mowers for fun. You'd think its boring but then you watch his videos and you wonder how he's still alive.
posted by pwnguin at 11:12 AM on April 22, 2009


Torn now between trying to get into this or 24 Hours of LeMons, which is cheaper to enter but not so pretty.

As a former bike messenger, there is only one reason to ride fixed-gear instead of single-speed in the city: so you can track-stand at stops instead of losing time unclipping a foot and putting it down. And there's only one reason to ride without brakes: because you're sad about your weenis and want to die.
posted by nicwolff at 11:41 AM on April 22, 2009


This looks like several degrees of awesome... the DIY nature, the max spending ceiling to keep it reasonable (no warp drives contained in a pinewood derby car stuff), some elements of danger.
posted by inthe80s at 11:46 AM on April 22, 2009


Cool is not a word I would use.
posted by tkchrist at 1:22 PM on April 22, 2009


"Cool is not a word I would use"

What would you use? Awesome? Wicked? 'Leet? Rad?

Whee, Princess Auto has 6 horse Honda engines, clutches, throttles and mechanical disk brake assemblies in their latest flyer. So tempting.
posted by Mitheral at 4:59 PM on April 22, 2009


Like there aren't enough toys I wish I had already.

Like ijsbrand, I was really hoping they'd be pedal-powered though.
posted by lekvar at 5:19 PM on April 22, 2009


What would you use? Awesome? Wicked? 'Leet? Rad?

I think it's the bee's knees!
posted by brundlefly at 6:37 PM on April 22, 2009


It's interesting how many retro motorsports there are cropping up. (I'd never heard of the cafe racer thing before.) Stripped-down dune buggy racing also comes to mind.

Personally, I think a lot of their popularity is due to the fact that, although today's technology allows you to move from A to B at blistering and historically unprecedented speeds, they typically don't feel fast.

I mean, earlier today I was cruising along an Interstate at 75 miles an hour. With some minor exceptions (e.g. falling from great heights, being picked up by tornados), that's faster than any human being ever traveled prior to 1902. But it probably doesn't feel a tenth as fast as ripping along a dirt track in a 6hp hand-built go kart would feel. (Or, for that matter, cycling in a velodrome or even just coasting downhill. You can get the perception of great speed without a motor as well.) Of course, intellectually I know I'm moving very fast and that there's the very good chance of instantaneous death if I or anyone on the road decides to do anything stupid, but it all feels rather mundane.

I find all this interesting because it's clear from how modern cars are designed that a lot of engineering goes into creating performance. However, what people — some people, anyway — seem to be craving is not performance in an absolute sense, but rather a very specific experience. It makes me wonder whether focusing more on that subjective experience and less on objective power/speed/acceleration might yield cars that satisfy a yearning we seem to have for excitement and speed without sacrificing nearly as much efficiency.

Anyway, that's all a bit of a derail, but I was thinking about the cyclekart cars as I was driving along earlier, imaging how awesome it would be if someone used one of them, or at least the experience of driving one, as the starting point for a "city car."
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:24 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


lekvar: "I was really hoping they'd be pedal-powered though."

Wouldn't take much work to combine one of these bodies with a recumbent.
posted by Mitheral at 12:06 PM on April 23, 2009


No doubt, Kadin. That's a big part of why Miatas are more fun to drive than Camrys, even though the one doesn't go much faster than the other.
posted by box at 1:19 PM on April 23, 2009


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