Comparing Predator 212 to the Predator 420 is a difficult task because the 2 engines are very different in terms of size and performance, they are made to serve different situations even though their applications are similar. We will only focus on their use in Go-karts and mini bikes in this article.
The Harbor Freight’s Predator Engines are one of the most popular go-kart engines because of their cheap price and great performance, they really are one of the best go-kart engines in the market but which one should you buy? If your go-kart/mini bike is a small, single-seater, lightweight, then Predator 212 is a better option.
Even if you wish to have more speed and acceleration in the future, there are performance parts for Predator 212 that are easily/cheaply available.
On the other hand, if your Go-Kart is 2-seater heavy kart and you’re planning to use it on off-road tracks and don’t want to make any modifications to the engine’s interior then 420cc Engine is the one for you.
There are 2 versions of the Predator 212 engine, hemi, and non-hemi. The non-hemi engine is better for extensive modification and a hemi engine is better to use out of the box. For a detailed comparison check this comparison.
Predator 212 (Non-Hemi)
Predator 212 (Hemi)
Transmission (Clutch/Torque Converter)
Clutch and Torque converters are the power transmission commonly used in go-karts and mini bikes.
If this is your first time building/buying a go-kart then you should know that a transmission system must be compatible with your engine.
Predator 212 has a 3/4″ shaft and Predator 420 has a 1″ shaft.
You’ll require a 1″ bore clutch for the 420cc engine and a 3/4″ bore clutch for the 212cc engine. Clutch with 1″ bore are a little more expensive in comparison to 3/4″ bore clutches, but the difference in price won’t be too high. Their purpose and function are the same.
The price difference is noticeable for racing clutches (which can even cost above $200).
Torque converter aka CVT comes with multiple models (series), out of which 30 series and 40 series are the ones popular for go-karts.
You’ll need to get a 40 series torque converter for Predator 420 because a 30 series torque converter doesn’t have a big enough bore for the bigger engine and neither can it handle its power. Please note that a 40 series TC will cost you a lot more than a 30 series torque converter.
30 Series CVT will fit perfectly with a predator 212. But they can only handle up to 8hp power, if you modify the engine, you’ll need to get a juggernaut torque converter (which is cheaper than the 40 series)
We won’t dwell too deep into power transistors in this article, check our article comparing clutch to torque converters if you’re interested in learning more about them.
Out of the box, both engines are restricted to 3600 rpm. These restrictions are in place because both the engines are primarily designed for Generators, pumps, and other applications which work best at 3600 rpm.
Since you’ll be using them in a go-kart or minibike, these governors are of no use, you can easily remove the governor (lots of youtube tutorials on how to do it). Without governor, predator 420 will be faster because it makes more power in comparison to 212cc.
But, the 212 cc Predator can be modified to produce similar if not more power than a stock 420cc Predator and since the transmission system costs less for a 212cc, a modified stage 2 Predator 212 with upgraded parts will still cost less than an out of the box 420cc.
How about modifying Predator 420? Yes, you can find performance parts for 420cc too but be prepared to spend a good amount on the parts.
All in all, if you don’t mind spending some time upgrading the parts of a 212 cc engine, you can achieve more speed for the same/less cost than buying a 420 cc.
(You should be really thoughtful about how fast you want the go-kart to be, especially if you’re building it for children, an out of the box predator 212 might be fast enough for your purpose)
Once again, the 420cc engine produces more torque than the 212cc engine, and once again you can increase the torque of the 212 cc engine with some performance parts.
More Torque is required for off-road go-karts and uphill climbs. It is not a must to have a 420cc engine for these situations, you can operate on an off-road track with a 212 cc engine with a torque converter.
Engine with high torque (at low rpm) will accelerate very quickly so a 420 cc Predator will have higher acceleration. You can check its dyno curve by NR racing.
Predator 420 is a bigger, heavier block that produces more torque and power in comparison to Predator 212, but a predator 212 can be modified to produce more power for a price that will be nearly the same as buying a new Predator 420.