We wanted to do a follow-up blog to Red Beard's Video comparing the Wildcat 223 with other small engines. If you still need to watch the video, check it out below.
Video Credit to Red Beard's Garage
First, we want you to know why we decided to work with Red Beard's Garage.
When Red Beard contacted us about working together, he explained why he started his channel. When he started, there needed to be more engine performance content or information to help him with his projects. He took it upon himself to learn and teach others through YouTube. He starts knowing little and maybe less than some of his current viewers.
In his previous videos, a viewer who spent a lot of money on his engine had trouble getting it running. Red Beard thought this would be a good opportunity to help this viewer and show how to diagnose and resolve the issue for the benefit of this audience. Throughout the video, he wanted to be encouraging and reaffirm that he was once in his shoes and could have made the same mistakes. If you spend time on social media, they would have ridiculed the errors and not help. The video was a huge success.
Red Beard's journey into this hobby is continued growth in knowledge and experience. He has always worked to correct himself if he made an error and said something incorrectly. Red Beard is a man of personal and God-fearing conviction and doesn't want to lead someone into a ditch. He is very humble in our conversations. He will always ask if he is doing something or saying something wrong; let him know, and he will fix it.
Red Beard has wanted to expand his channel and network with more manufacturers and companies to deliver fresh content and to learn from multiple sources. His goal is to provide the best unadulterated data and information, and to do this, he has to work with more people to work through marketing and the truth.
Red Beard has contacted many companies, and we are among the first to agree to work with him. We agree with his goal and have encouraged him to work with other manufacturers and companies like Dynocams, ARC Racing, and other vendors. We believe in the greater good of the hobby of the sport—some focus on gaining more slices of the pie rather than growing the pie for all. We put a lot of effort into developing components that have grown kart counts and classes and pushed those in the mini bike hobby to greater levels of performance and success. Red Beard has left the choice to different companies whether they want to work together or not.
Like Red Beard, we're not biased toward any particular brand engine. We help develop the Tillotson Racing engines and components, 196R, 212R, and 225RS, which our competitors distribute and what we sell to our dealers. We also sell the Wildcat Brand.
We also design and manufacture many parts that no one else does for the Ducar, Predator/Ghost, Tillotson, Wildcat, and the other Honda-based Clone engines. We don't prioritize one particular engine partially since they are all based on the Honda and because everyone likes a different flavor of ice cream as they do engines.
Red Beard has been one of the few, if not the only, channels to work with multiple engine manufacturers, including Tillotson, Duromax, Harbor Freight (Ghost/Predator), and now with our Wildcat Platform. In his new position, he can be more transparent with information. He has invested in dyno and testing equipment that allows him to do his own independent testing to validate claims and provide 3rd party data. He has several options to choose from, and if it is better for your goals or budget, he wants you to have the right information to make that decision for yourself.
We are very excited to be working with someone with the same vision and goals.
Overall, the response to the Wildcat comparison video was hugely positive, and viewers found it very beneficial. Many want more updates and comparisons with other engines as well. However, some were concerned that the information could cover more details that may influence decision-making.
To begin, we have to look at what engines are being compared: the Tillotson 212E, Ghost 212, Predator 224, Predator 212 Hemi, and Wildcat 223.
The video is the Wildcat 223 vs Tillotson 212E, but it's comparing the Ghost 212, Predator Hemi, and Predator 224. The Tillotson 212E has been Red Beard's Garage's most consistent engine on the channel and the flagship go-to for most builds. However, it was never tested on the dyno, and since it would be replaced for the Wildcat, an explanation had to be made for the change other than that's what the new sponsor wanted him to use. The inescapable question would be how much power it makes compared to another engine, and when the Tillotson 212E is at the top of the list, comparing them is unavoidable. Remember, the channel focuses on being unbiased toward any engine or part. Since the claimed numbers differ from what Red Beard's dyno shows, comparing the two engines would be impossible.
We have always argued that dynos are inaccurate and the only way to produce valid comparable data is to run the engines on the same dyno. Dynos are indeed inflated, which began decades ago when engine builders began advertising HP numbers to sell engines. It became so common that the dynos would come pre-calibrate inflated. Today, most leave the numbers inflated because most engines built are for stock class karts. Having the dyno inflated increases the resolution for the engine builder to see the impact of small changes. Dyno numbers are rarely shared in the racing world for a few reasons. Most know the numbers can't be compared, so the information is useless, nor does peak numbers show the engine's overall performance. In the early 2000s, Briggs was part of a class action lawsuit over false performance numbers. You can do your research, but there are key pieces of information. Engineers agree horsepower doesn't fully communicate the engine's performance. James Watt created horsepower calculation as a tool to communicate the work capabilities of a steam engine to the amount of work a horse could perform. Torque is the actual performance metric used by small engine manufacturers. If you buy a Harbor Freight engine, the box only shows a torque rating, not a horsepower rating.
The other information is the SAE J-Series number, which indicates the correction factor and test condition and whether it's net horsepower or gross horsepower. Briggs, Honda, and other manufacturers will show you the J number used for testing; the Chinese clones do not. So you can't compare their numbers. You see The horsepower numbers on the EPA reports for these engines: Predator 6.5hp, Tillotson 212E 7hp, and Wildcat 7.5hp. However, if you research through the information related to the lawsuit Briggs was a part of, the EPA has a 20% allowance. Basically, you can inflate your numbers by 20% without it being declared false. Remember when the Honda GX200 was 6.5hp, and now it's 5.5hp? Guess what? That's a 20% difference. The lawsuit helps to prevent that inflation. The problem is when a 7hp engine could be inflated, 20% is inflated, and another 45% to be ten horsepower; your actual horsepower may be off by 65%. In other words, if you tested the Tillotson 212E like the Honda, it would be a 6hp engine.
Also, when we talk about HP, we're talking about corrected horsepower. For engines to be comparable on different dynos, they use correction factors, allowing the same engine to be tested in Colorado and compared to that in Miami Beach. The observed power of that engine would be vastly different at those two locations, but by correcting to a common altitude, air density, ambient temperature, etc, you can compare engines in different locations. Since the calibration is multiplied by unknowns before correction factors are considered, comparing numbers is nearly impossible unless the tests are done on the same dyno. The final numbers are virtually useless, meaning it doesn't matter if the engine makes 10hp or 7hp. It is how it compares to the other engines. How would they compare if I were to take all the engines and inflate them by the difference between Red Beard tested numbers vs. the advertised numbers of the Tillotson 212E?
Engine HP(tested) Per Dollar Hp(29%) Per Dollar Hp(44%) Per Dollar Tillotson 212E 7 $34.29 9 $26.66 10 $24.00 Predator 212 Hemi 6.74 $22.25 8.69 $17.26 9.7 $15.46 Predator 224 7.43 $24.22 9.58 $18.79 10.7 $16.82 Ghost 212 9.9 $33.33 12.77 $25.84 14.26 $23.14 Wildcat 223 7.74 $23.25 9.98 $18.04 11.14 $16.11
Predator 212 Hemi - if you go back through Red's Beard videos, Predator 212 is close to the horsepower when he originally tested the Predator 212 Hemi before making corrections to his dyno. Interestingly, if the Tillotson 212E made 10hp and the Predator 212 only made 6.74hp, and the Wildcat made 7.74hp, they are still less expensive dollar per horsepower, with the Predator 224 only .22 more expensive per horsepower.
The higher numbers widen the performance gaps, widening the horsepower per dollar gap when comparing engines. Some may think reducing the power of Tillotson 212E would hurt the perception of the engine, but the opposite is true. None of this shows the Tillotson 212E is a bad engine; it's just that it's overpriced for what you get.
The Wildcat made .72hp(10% gain) and 1.1ft-lb(12% gain) more than the Tillotson 212E, which may not seem like much, but most forget to consider their gear ratio. Your gear ratio is a torque multiplier. Your street car has a hard time moving or accelerating if you start in fourth gear because the torque from the engine is not being multiplied through the gear ratio. For example, you have a 6:1 ratio, meaning the Tillotson 212E 7hp/9.1ft-lb is 42hp/54.ft-lbs at the axle. The Wildcat at 7.74hp/10.2ft-lbs is 46.44hp/61.2ft-lbs at the axle. The torque multiplier is the same reason the Tillotson 212E was much faster than the Predator 212 when the difference in engine power was .25hp.
Another interesting power if you read the dyno graphs and peak numbers, the Wildcat 223 and Predator 224 made peak torque and peak power about 200rpms sooner than the 212 engines. The range between peak power and peak torque for all the engines is about 1400 rpms. However, the power band is wider since the 223 /224 makes more torque and more power overall. The Tillotson 212E makes 9.1ft-lbs at 3900, and the Wildcat made peak torque at 3800, but since made over 9.1ft-lbs around 3500rpms, that means the WIldcat is making the same torque or more 400rpms longer than the Tillotson 212E. The same for horsepower, the Tillotson 212E made 7hp at 4200rpms, and the Wildcat 223 made above 7hp at 4900rpms, which is 700rpms more. That is a total of 1100 rpms more than the Tillotson 212E. Not only is the power greater, it's wider as well.
"Price is what you pay for; value is what you get." Horsepower comparison and power per horsepower are just two metrics to help customers understand what they are getting without the burden of technical information.
Placing value on the engine's components is tricky because you have to break down each component and what advantages one has over the wider range than the 212 engines. Red Beard has breakdowns of most of these engines, so if you're unfamiliar with the components, I suggest rewatching some of his videos. I will make my comparisons below.
Cylinder Head – There are four heads: Ducar/Tillotson 212E/Ghost, Predator Hemi, Predator 224, and Wildcat Hemi
Ducar/Tillotson 212E/Ghost - 27/24mm Valves, 5.5mm stems, but uses 5mm retainers. Approximately 23cc combustion chamber. It has a very wide valve angle, which can help with flow initially, but is limited in porting and spring pocket dimension, which is a problem for all hemi heads. The Rocker arms are heavier and longer than the Predator Hemi and Wildcat. The heavier valve train and rocker geometry require a stiffer spring to prevent valve float.
Predator Hemi – 27/25mm Valves, 5.5mm, but uses slip-on retainers, which are not ideal for high rpms—approximately 22cc combustion chamber with a narrow valve angle. In previous videos, Red Beard has shown with spring pockets and porting, it's easy to break through the casting. The valve train isn't much lighter than the Ducar Hemi, but anyone who runs stock predator classes will tell you the Hemi will float the valve sooner than a non-hemi. It was common in the early Predator classes to use the Hemi bottom-end with the non-hemi head.
Predator 224 – 25/24mm valves are the same as a 196cc engine, 5.5mm, but use slip-on retainers, which are not ideal for high rpms: approximately 22cc combustion chamber but a non-hemi head. The non-hemi heads are often preferred because they offer more porting and spring fitment, piston-to-valve clearance, and have a larger catalog of aftermarket parts. However, the valve size is very restrictive. The Non-Hemi Predator, Tillotson 212R, has larger valves 27/25 that will flow better.
Wildcat 223 - 27/25mm Valves, 5mm stems, and use split locks and retainers. Approximately 20cc combustion chamber, which helps raise compression. The ports are smaller, which allows more porting and spring pockets with less chance of breaking through. The ports are small from the factory but have the most potential for porting. Porting can be a free upgrade to any engine, and the head usually dictates power. The only shortcoming is it's still a hemi head, which limits valve train options.
In the end, very few keep the stock head. We have a perfect replacement with the Wildcat WC946 cylinder head; you can buy the head with an 18cc combustion chamber, 31/25mm stainless steel valves, billet retainers, and 26lbs springs for $165
Rod & Pistons
Ducar/Tillotson 212E/Ghost – The piston is dished and has a valve relief cut of approximately 3.75cc, reducing compression. The piston uses a .716 wrist pin, which is larger than the .707 of most engines. The difference in size makes it very difficult to find options for piston and rod combinations. The only option for a billet rod is stock length, which keeps the piston around .010" in the bore. Flat-top pistons, to our knowledge, are not readily available, and usually, they have a shorter compression height, putting the piston further in the hole. The only option is to buy a different piston and a longer rod.
Predator Hemi – The Predator Hemi has a flat top piston, around .020 in the hole. Longer rods are available to get the piston to raise the piston to zero decks to increase compression. The wrist pin is the same .707, but the rod journal is 1.188, about .008 larger than all the engines on this list. The only other engine that has that rod journal is the Non-Hemi Predator 212.
Predator 224 – The piston is a dish but doesn't have a valve relief like the Ducar. The piston has the same .718 wrist pin as the Ducar, which has the same problem finding rod and piston combinations. We have been able to use our Wildcat 8281 rod and stock piston with this engine, but it places the piston about .008 out of the hole. That may cause a problem with piston-to-head or piston-to-valve clearance or has to be decked. There isn't another rod long enough to raise compression without popping out the end of the bore.
Wildcat 223 – The Wildcat has a flat-top piston similar to the Predator Hemi but has more clearance for the 58mm stroke crankshaft, which we use in many of our stroker assemblies. The wrist pin is .707, and the rod journal is 1.180, like the Honda/Clone and most engines that are not the Predator 212. Since we are a manufacturer and wanted to give the best performance value, we opted for the flat top and made a rod to get to zero decks. Any engine not on the governor needs a billet rod for durability at higher RPMs, but the Wildcat is the only one with room for power gains simultaneously.
Ducar/Tillotson 212E/Ghost – We designed the R-Series Blocks used on the 196R, 212R, and 225RS. Many people confuse the R block and E block. The 212E is a Ducar block, and it does have reinforcement on the top of the jug but not on the bottom, and it's nowhere near the reinforcement of the R-Series. Many buy the 212E because of the reputation of the R-Series engines. The Ducar block is still better than the Predator, but it's only the next step up. The Ducar block is better than the Predator 224, mostly due to fitment. We've had fewer issues adding a 58mm crank and billet rod to a Ducar than adding a billet rod to the Predator 224.
Predator 212 Hemi - No surprise here; this is the bottom-tier engine block. The deck is shorter than most other blocks on the market. The only benefit is that our stroker kits fit better in this block than the rod in the 224 Predator.
Predator 224 – The block for the 224 is a Ducar, but it seems to be from different tooling; the block is stronger than the 212 Predator, but the clearance for a billet rod is not very good.
Wildcat 223 – The Wildcat is the only block on the list with supports on the jug's top and bottom, similar to the Tillotson R-Series. The R-Series still has far more strength, but Wildcat is the best on this list. The reason is that most block failures start below the jug, not on top. If you start pushing the limits of the engines, the Wildcat is the best choice on this list. Unlike the Predator 224, you don't have clearance problems, especially if you use our rod. The deck is also taller, which allows a longer rod.
Crankshaft – The crankshaft is a huge part of the engine's performance and value. The added stroke increases displacement(no replacement for displacement), better mechanical leverage, increased piston speed, and higher compression.
Ducar/Tillotson 212E/Ghost – The 55mm stroke is like all other 212 engines, but the benefit of the Ducar crankshaft is the crank pin, which is the more common 1.180, which has more rod options, and a Honda/Clone Taper for the flywheels, which are the most common and the most options.
Predator 212 Hemi – The Hemi crankshaft has a larger 1.188 crank pin, which limits rod choices, and the Taper is specific to the Predator 21 Hemi only. On a side note, the Predator 212 Non-Hemi also has a specific taper to that engine. It's not as different as the Hemi, which has allowed some to force the Honda/Clone Flywheel on that crankshaft, but the Hemi Predator cannot do that. This is important not only to ensure you have the correct fitment but also because if you upgrade your engine with a stroker crankshaft, you can't reuse your flywheel.
Predator 224 – The 58mm stroke crankshaft is a game changer. The Predator 224 crankshaft uses the common 1.180-rod journal and Honda/Clone Taper for flywheels, giving it many different options.
Wildcat 223 - Like the 224, the crank pin is 1.180, and the Honda/Clone taper flywheel. The difference comes down to support. We carry the Wildcat and can manufacture components to give it a competitive edge.
Carburetors – There are different brands of carburetors, but they are all emission-regulated carburetors except the Ducar, which is not emission-regulated. That means it has an adjustable idle mixture, and the benefit is making low-speed/pilot jet adjustments without compromising the idle. You can gain better throttle response and power with non-emissions carburetors.
Ignition Coils The ignition coils are virtually the same for all these engines. The first batch of Wildcat 223 had 4,000rpm rev limited coils. Since the coils can't be distinguished without testing, we left the description on the website as is, and all of our stage kits come with a replacement coil. The coils in those kits are the high-output coils we sourced for the R-Series Tillotson engines. The Tillotson 212E doesn't come with this coil because Ducar and not Tillotson manufacture them. If you want every bit of performance, you'll want to upgrade the engine coils.
Flywheels – All of the engines have the flywheel except the Ducar 212. It's almost unfair to compare the Tillotson 212E since the Ducar 212 is less expensive and has a non-emissions carburetor and PVL Die-Cast Aluminum Flywheel. If you like the Tillotson 212E, you'll get a better value with the Ducar.
Red Beard points out cast iron flywheels are not rated for 10,000 rpms. His experience and research confirmed this. He humbly wanted to correct this misinformation in the video since he compared the value of the engines and, most importantly, the safety of his viewers. All cast iron flywheels are tested by the manufacturer up to 10,000 rpms for no more than 15 seconds. However, the flywheels are not rated for or can sustain 10,000 rpms. Karting organizations require SFI testing for flywheel approval and have a list of approved flywheels in their rules book. Karting organizations provide insurance for tracks, and having claims from failing flywheels is not good for tracks or racers. People must understand the dangers of using a cast iron flywheel at high rpms. All cast iron flywheels should be replaced before the governor is adjusted or removed. The fact some people make claims the flywheels can operate at 10,000rpm is blatant negligence.
Ducar 212 vs Tillotson 212E vs Ghost 212
Some comments want to see if the Tillotson 212E is still viable and if it would be better than the other engines with modificatiion. Red Beard points out the Tilloton 212E, Ghost and Ducar 212 are the same engine. That means all the testing he has done with the Ghost on his dyno is what you are to expect from your Tillotson 212E. It also helps to know if you are looking for parts and having a hard time finding them, if you search by one of the other brand you may have more luck finding the parts you need. The Ducar 212 wasn't include in the video because its a DynoCams engine. He would happily test it if they would like Red Beard to dyno their engine. The main difference out of the box will be the extra ignition timing which should help power stock and when you rejet and tune the carburetor. We expect the Ducar to be very similar to the Wildcat but a little less torque. The Ducar is less expensive than the Tillotson 212E, comes with a flywheel valued at $90, and is safe for higher rpms. Including it would probably be very close to the best value. However, installing a 58mm crankshaft in the Ducar would cost more than putting a flywheel on the Wildcat or Predator 224.
Ducar/Tillotson 212E/Ghost vs Wildcat 223
There are two reasons the Wildcat out performance the Tillotson 212E, compresion and displacement. The Ducar/Tillotson Ghost have a 23cc combustion chamber, .045-.048 thick head gasket, the piston is about .010 in the hole and the dish piston with valve relief volume is 3.5cc that is about 7.7:1 when measured.
The Wildcat has a 20cc combustion chamber, .045-.048 head gasket, piston is .050" in the hole but it has a flat top piston. The smaller combustion chamber, flat top piston and larger displacement helps the Wildcat to make 8.63:1.
Usually a rod doesn't improve engine performance beyond increasing durability for higher rpms but the Wildcat will gain compression around 10:1 when upgrading the rod. So the value in the Wildcat isn't just stock out of the box but better gains when upgrading. Most other engines will require a different rod and piston or a 58mm crankshaft and small combustion chamber to have the same amount of compression, which is much more expensive.
Predator 224 vs Wildcat 223
Comparing these two engine make the most since but the video helps compare all the engines listed. The bore, stroke and displacment is the same, compression is nearly identical. So where is the difference in performance? Its mostly the cylinder head. The slight difference in power is due to the Predator 224 having the same head as a 196cc engine. It has smaller valves on the intake and exhaust and a non-hemi head. Hemi heads typically out perform non-hemi heads in stock form. The non-hemi is preferred for modified builds because the piston to valve clearance, and valve train.
The other key points are the components' fitment, the engines' same mone, same size, etc but if you plan to modify your engiine, the Wildcat requires less work to fit the billet rods and the block is stronger to handle more power and abuse.
The conclusion of this blog and Red Beards video provides objective reasoning to what engine performs best, which can support higher power gains, and the cost related to that performance. For more details and to make your own conclusion we highly recommend looking through all of Red Beard's break downs and tests on these engines. Search Youtube for more related videos that gives you breakdown and direct comparison of these engines.