There are three different types of three wheeled go karts:
– Two Wheel Drive Single Steer
– Two Wheel Steer Rear Wheel drive
– Two Wheel Drive Front, Rear Wheel Steer
Two Wheel Drive Single Steer Go Kart
The predecessor to the 4-wheeler was the 3-wheeler, and we all know the controversy surrounding the 3-wheeler. It was and is a highly unstable configuration causing roll overs to occur in multiple operating modes: cornering and braking especially. It is real easy to get on two wheels with the three wheeler.
Also from a go kart stand point, there is not much between you and any on coming obstacle. At least with a go kart you have the front wheels that can contend with brush and rocks versus your legs.
The three wheeler as a result was discontinued from use and manufacture.
The second version which is a little bit more stable, but is highly center of gravity (height of it that is) dependent. The CG must be very low in the frame to maintain stability, otherwise roll overs, especially in cornering, the 3 wheeled go kart are susceptible to.
The rear steer version is just plain unpredictable and hard to control. Major issues with stability are concern here.
A hybrid three wheeler, actually a reduced rear end 4 wheel go kart is the fourth version. This too is unstable and requires attention to the CG placement. In order to gain stability for the rear end 4 wheel go kart, the front wheels essentially turn into outriggers on an ice-boat. The front wheels need to be spaced far apart to gain cornering stability.
A method that has been used in success, especially on small 3 wheeled cars, is to angle the body of the car into the turn, much like a motorcycle. The wheels too are leaned into the curve to gain better turning performance. This shifts the center of gravity into the curve and away from the tip center.
If you are thinking about putting together a low cost go kart, I would steer you clear of playing around with three wheeled or even reduced rear end go karts because of handling issues, especially in cornering and braking.
There are those that propose taking the rear end off of a riding lawn mower and using it. From a stability standpoint beware. If the CG is not correctly mounted and the steering set up correctly, you can have an unstable go kart.