You Have to Check Out The Ninebot Electric Gokart on Indiegogo
Less than 1,000 left up for grabs if you want oneby Michael Fira, on LISTEN 07:21
Go-karts seem to have remained unchanged for years and the same applies to those so-called leisure karts you can rent and turn a few laps in at your local kart-o-drome. That’s why the Ninebot Gokart PRO developed by Segway feels like a breath of fresh air.
With a range of 15.5 miles on one battery charge, an output of up to 4,800 W (6.43 horsepower) and 70.8 pound-feet of torque, and a top speed of up to 23 mph with drift mode included the Gokart PRO is a massive evolution over the company’s Go-Kart Kit with Mini PRO that we’ve seen before. The good news is that enough people have backed this project for it to make it into production but no more than about 1,000 units will be made.
When’s the last time you drove a go-kart?
Go-karts are the best way to experience the pure adrenaline of speed without actually going fast at all. Jump in one of those 396-pound pocket rockets and experience what seems like instant acceleration and braking at your local kart track. It’s likely that the leisure go-kart you’ll get your hands on won’t be developing more than 10 horsepower but when you’re almost sitting on the ground and there’s no gearbox involved, the sensation of speed is something. Think, then, how it must feel going 23 mph aboard the Ninebot Gokart PRO, an all-new electric kart by Segway.
Indiegogo is a platform that allows a mix of established developers and average Joes to showcase their projects in hope that they will catch enough people’s attention to become a reality.
Ninebot's much-improved kart needed to gather just $10,000 in funds for the company to build a prototype but - with 18 days still to go - the campaign has attracted over 460 backers that have donated a whopping $1.05 million or 10,521% of the fixed goal.
With the funds in place, Ninebot has moved from developing the prototype to putting it into production and now the kart, which is the result of nearly 20,000 miles-worth of on-track testing, is available in a limited quantity only. Ninebot announced a batch of 1,000 Gokart PROs and already over 600 units have been spoken for in spite of a $1,599 MSRP. It’s not that cheap given that it’s basically a leisure kart (in other words, it’s nowhere near as stiff and racing-oriented as a full-on competition kart) but Sodikart and other brands offer similarly-priced models (while a competition kart can be as much as $10,000 apiece) that lack many of the options of the Gokart PRO. So let’s see exactly what you’re getting for the price of a Honda Civic beater.
First of all, you're getting speed and some pretty serious acceleration for a leisure kart developing just 6.4 horsepower.
While that’s double the oomph compared to the old Ninebot electric go-kart, there are many gas-powered leisure karts with double the power or more. It is, then, surprising to see the Ninebot Gokart PRO achieve up to 1.02 Gs of acceleration enough for it to outrun a 150 cc gas-powered go-kart in a head-to-head drag race.
The 6.4 horsepower or 4,800 W and little over 70 pound-feet of torque come from a pair of wheel hub motors that allow for near-instant acceleration from naught to the 23 mph top speed. And given the 15.5-mile range (from a 432 Wh battery), you’ll be able to achieve this kind of performance lap after lap, something out of grasp for many electric karts that are hampered by an obvious drop-off in performance by the time the battery drops below 60% or so.
Beyond the grunt of Ninebot’s latest kart, there’s its ability to skid around corners. You’ve probably gotten your average kart loose on occasion as well, counter-steering your way through the unexpected moments in order to save the slide but that wasn’t something you could have too much control over.
With this kart, however, you can control when you skid and when you don't thanks to the DAS - Drifting Assistant System.
Via the Segway-developed mobile app that works in tandem with the kart, you can change the amount of power each of the two wheel hub-connected motors give as they’re independent of one another. By adjusting the levels of power that each of the wheels on the back axle get, you can basically adjust the angles of your skids and, quite simply, the way the kart drifts as a whole.
To kick-off the drifting sequence you can use the onboard mechanical handbrake that lift just like in a full-sized car making this a kart that can do handbrake turns. The TPE rear tires on the kart have been developed to encourage and sustain drifting which is further aided by a 40-60 mass distribution that’s the result of moving everything in the back.
Underpinned by a much-improved steel frame, the Gokart PRO can take up to 220 pounds of payload and features three layers of TPE impact protection in the front and around the sides (a Sodikart is circled by a high-density plastic sliding protection that dampens all sorts of impacts). What a Sodikart has never had, though, is a race car-inspired rear wing but you can find one on Ninebot’s model as well as a splitter-like front section complete with LED lights. The adjustable metal pedals are standard among leisure karts.
The racing seat features significant side bolstering and an elevated back portion for added support although there’s no roll bar here which is something we’ve seen on many other leisure karts. What is more, if Sodikart’s more premium-feeling products (for instance, the RSX) come with a carbon fiber wheel, the Ninebot Gokart PRO doesn’t although the high-traction material around the wheel rim is supposed to offer increased levels of grip - we recommend everyone going karting to drive with gloves, of course.
While the buzzing engine notes coming from the smoky gas-powered karts are well-known, they don’t translate onto electric karts.
To solve the noise-related issue, Ninebot has equipped its latest kart with 8W high-power speakers that can deliver a variety of engine notes including those of a two-cylinder, V-8, or V-12 engine.
It can also be used as a standard Bluetooth speaker for you to play your own music through while driving.
The kart features a total of four driving modes ranging from the child-friendly ’Safety Mode’ that limits the top speed to under 5 mph and all the way up to the ’Race Mode’ which is where you can give the kart the full beans and accelerate all the way to 23 mph. Toggling from one driving mode to another is done via the mobile app that also controls the lights on the kart and the sound system, among others.
In its most 'ferocious' driving mode, the Ninebot Gokart PRO can go up 15% slopes with ease and the automatic holding system can prevent it from slipping back when stopped.
Finally, the kart offers a reverse gear, something not seen in most gas-powered karts that simply stall when you spin. Finally, this kart’s biggest advantage is its small size - it’s a lot smaller than your average leisure kart and, since it doesn’t have that all-around protection and can be folded, you can even throw it in your car’s trunk and take it on trips with you. We surely would want to hop in for a ride!
Source: Ninebot via. Indiegogo