The new Harbor Freight racing engine (Ghost) has gotten a lot of people talking about it, but does it live up to the hype?
In this article, I will go through the difference it has in comparison to the general-purpose Predator 212 and the 224cc Predator.
The Predator 212 Ghost is made for racing karts and I assume their goal is to popularize a separate racing class for this engine. Similar to the Briggs LO206. So keep in mind that this engine is designed to compete against the LO206 or Ducar 212 (and not the 212 or 224 cc Predators)!
On the other hand, a general-purpose 212cc or 224cc Predator is made for Pressure washers, lawn mowers, etc, and is widely used by go-kart builders, since it is the best value for money Engine for a Go-Kart.
First I would briefly answer the question – Which one should you get?
If you’re involved in your local kart racing, and they have a class for the ghost engine, then you have no other choice but to get the Ghost Engine.
However, if you’re building a “Fun Kart” or Minibike, then you should go for a 212 or 224cc general-purpose Predator. Since they are much cheaper and can be easily modified to get similar or better performance than the Ghost engine.
Predator 212 (Non-Hemi)
Predator 212 Ghost
Top Speed & Power
Out of the box, the predator 212 and 224 are limited to about 3600 rpm. The Ghost engine revs up to 6000 rpm. The top speed of your go-kart or mini bike with these engines can be calculated here.
The Predator Ghost can hit up to 12hp @ 4800rpm power according to this dyno test. The peak Torque seems to be 13.8 ft-lb @ 4400rpm according to the same dyno test
The ghost Predator engine comes with a round slide PZ22 Carb whereas the Predator 212 and 224 come with the standard butterfly valve carb. Both the carbs cost very similar if bought separately. But the round slide carbs give more adjustment opportunities also the carburetor on the ghost seems to be very well-tuned from the factory.
This is the region where you’d expect a major change in the ghost engine since the rpm limiter is set high, but that is not the case, the flywheel is still made of cast iron, which is contrary to the advice of many engine-builder who believe that the engine should have billet aluminum flywheel on high rpm engines.
But I believe we can trust HF to have tested it and that it is safe to use!
Still is disappointing in comparison to something like a Ducar 212 which is cheaper but still has a better quality flywheel.
Intake & Exhaust
The Ghost engine does not come with any Air Filter, Exhaust pipe, or Gas Tank. You’ll need to buy the Accessory Kit separately ($150). This puts the total cost at ~$450.
The intake is made of steel unlike the aluminum ones from the General-Purpose 212cc engine, which means that the ghost engine has a smaller port size.
Valve Spring & Camshaft
The Ghost engine comes with 22lb valve springs, which will let you hit a high rpm (with governor removed) before it floats in comparison the Predator 212 or 224 comes with a 10.8 lb spring, which limits the engine to 4800 rpm (without governor).
The Ghost engine comes with a better cam in comparison, which is to be expected. Lobe dimensions-
Intake Lift – 0.252″
Exhaust Lift – 0.250″
Head & Piston
The piston is dished and the head is a hemi-head – 24mm Exhaust and 27mm Intake. It looks very similar to the ducar 212’s head.
All in all, it’s not a fair comparison to the 212 or 224cc Predators since this engine has been produced as a competitor to the LO206 engine. If you’re trying to find an engine for a fun kart or minibike like CT200, MB200, etc, the general purpose 212cc or 224cc engines are a much better option for their price.
You can also make loads of performance upgrades on the 224cc or 212cc engines and get better performance in comparison to the ghost engine for a much lower “Total Cost”. So it really doesn’t make much sense to get a Ghost engine unless you have a racing class available near you for it.
Even if you’re someone who doesn’t want to open the case and would like to avoid making any upgrades yourself, there are better options like Tillotson 212 or Ducar 212 with better performance than a 200cc clone for much cheaper than Ghost. You can check our list of best kart engines.
However, it will be interesting to see whether or not the Ghost engines become popular among the kart racers who adore the Briggs LO206, but Briggs has been having their own issues with production, with it becoming increasingly difficult to get a brand new LO206.