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Are Lifted Golf Carts Better for Driving on the Streets?

Since the three-wheel golf cart was first spotted on California streets in the 1930s, people have discovered many uses for this less-expensive means of transportation that runs on battery power. Even though golfers with mobility issues were quick to praise the advantages of the electric golf cart, most ignored the potential benefits and chose to walk the course alongside their caddies. That was the tradition and golf has always been a very traditional sport. As the social aspect of the sport began to attract more people, most courses quickly recognized the distinct advantages the electric golf cart had in moving golfers from one stroke to the next.

As baby boomers began to age, electric golf carts became even more popular. Without the burden of carrying their clubs, older golfers realized they could enjoy playing the game more often. When the first neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) were introduced in the mid-80s, the popularity of driving the lightweight electric vehicles on the streets provided new opportunities for manufacturers. Due to the convenience and affordability, owners quickly discovered new found ways to use the electric golf cart. In fact, it was the low-cost and practicality of this fun-to-drive vehicle that caused owners to customize and personalize their ride to do much more than just play a round of golf.

Advantages of Lifted Golf Cart

There’s no doubt that lifting a traditional golf-course designated cart provides a gnarly new look but building a street-legal lifted off road golf cart to meet your needs for a low-speed electric vehicle has both pros and cons. Here are some of the obvious benefits:

  • Ground Clearance – A major advantage provided by today’s lifted cart is the gain in ground clearance. Although the additional clearance is a necessity for those using an electric vehicle off the beaten path, owners of street legal lifted carts praise the smoother ride and increase in performance.
  • Increased Speed – With the increase in overall height produced by larger circumference rims and taller tires, there is an increase in top speed due to the wheels rolling further with each revolution. That said, owners often opt for gearing changes or choose a stronger electric motor for faster speeds.
  • Smoother Ride – The increased tire size of lifted street legal golf cart makes for a smoother ride and the larger contact patch provides added traction and stability. Should you choose to drive off road, the thicker tires also helps to cushion any obstacles.
  • Aesthetic Factors – Nothing adds personality to your street legal golf cart like a lift job. Let’s be honest. Cruising the neighborhood in a conventional golf cart doesn’t look that cool. Whether your goal is stand out, look more aggressive, or drive the most stylish ride, lifted carts look great.

If you are intending to use your street legal golf cart off-road, there are obvious advantages to buying an electric vehicle that was purposefully-built as a lifted cart. Doing so will ensure that you have the clearance needed to navigate uneven terrains as well as more appropriate safety features  for the street.

Disadvantages of Lifted Golf Cart

Most owners are quick to admit that you can get in trouble if you’re driving a lifted cart like an idiot. However, as long as you don’t go hog-wild crazy, you can enjoy cruising around on a nice set of wheels with larger tires designed to soak up the bumps. However, listed below are some the negatives to consider:

  • Passenger Safety – One of the most common problems experienced with a lifted street legal golf cart is steering instability. Since lifting a cart raises the vehicle’s center of gravity, the chances of rolling or flipping the vehicle increases, especially with options added to increase the overall speed.
  • More Rotational Weight – The taller tires used on today’s lifted street legal golf cart require larger wheels and both increase the rotational weight that the battery-powered motor has move. This can be offset by purchasing lightweight aluminum wheels but that does add to the overall costs.
  • Increased Wear & Tear – When you lift a conventional golf cart, it can make your cart work harder than it was originally designed to do. Although this doesn’t have to ruin the fun of driving a lifted street legal golf cart, it can put a heavier load on the motor, drivetrain, and suspension components.
  • Drain on Batteries – Unrealistic expectations may not be met when an owner expects an electric cart to manage bigger tasks after it has been lifted. Trying to carry too big of a load, pull a trailer, or climb steeper grades off road can lead to an excessive drain on traditional golf cart batteries.

When you lift a golf cart, you may be asking it to work harder than its designed capacity. Although the additional weight of lift kit shouldn’t ruin an electric golf cart, these are things that can have an impact on optional equipment decisions for suspension components, gearing, and replacement batteries.

Street Legal Lifted Golf Carts at MotoEV

Lifting a golf cart can bring an owner pleasure as well as cause them a lot of headaches, especially if the job is not done correctly. It isn’t as simple as installing bigger tires to increase ground clearance, look tougher, and gain a smoother ride. There are things that can be problematic when you are trying to give an older golf cart a facelift. Purchasing a less-expensive lift kit to add larger wheels and tires may seem like the ticket to give your golf cart a totally awesome look. But, it won’t magically allow you to carry a heavier load or traverse rugged terrain. If you don’t have the mechanical knowledge, lack the box full of tools, or the floor jacks needed for leveling your ride, you may want to reconsider your options.

If you don’t feel confident about installing a lift kit, then seek expert help to get the job done correctly. Safety should always be the number one consideration with any modification to your street legal golf cart. Based on your driving habits and where you plan to drive your cart, you might consider a simple spindle lift kit or a more aggressive drop axle kit. If you need a faster cart for street use, you can change the gearing, clutch or even modify the electric motor. As long as you have the time, money, and skill set, lifting your cart can be a fun project. On the other hand, purchasing a new lifted golf cart, especially for street use, has its advantages too.

At Moto Electric Vehicles, we are dedicated to helping people utilize golf carts in their daily lives. Contact Brett Jackrel, Sales Manager of MotoEV, to discuss the details of upgrading your personal cart or to purchase a new lifted street legal golf cart.