As somebody who grew up racing karts, I have first-hand experience in the field of searching for helmets and everything to do with this amazing motorsport! So, I’m going to lay out some pretty important things to remember when browsing online or in kart stores.
So, what karting helmet should you buy? You should first of all be looking for a certified piece of headgear, possessing a sticker that directly states which qualification it meets. For karting, the best ones out will be stickered with ‘SA’ and ‘K’ as these are fully certified for racing series.
First and foremost, you need to remember that a helmet is designed for your safety as a driver; visuals should never be the primary focus when you’re picking out something which can save your life in a crash. Let’s jump into more important tips for buying helmets!
Types Of Helmet
When shopping for helmets, you’d assume that finding its IKF certification would mean the end of your search. After all, you can simply find out your helmet size, try some different ones on and then make your choice at the end.
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In spite of go-karting helmets being a different subsection in terms of helmets for motorsports, there are still a couple of types to be aware of so that you will be able to meet more requirements for kart clubs nationwide.
For example, even though the M in Snell M rating of helmets stands for ‘motorcycle’, road helmets for motorcycles won’t be permitted for go-karting. For one, you won’t be able to find that all-important sticker on road motorcycle helmets, and secondly, these helmets are commonly heavier than their go-karting counterparts.
When you’re in a kart, there is a real focus on making sure that everything is as light-weight as can be. This also goes for helmets, because if you think about it, wearing a heavier helmet might seemingly protect you from more damage, but it will put a massive strain on your neck in a crash.
Go-karting helmets are specifically designed to be crash-proof without running the risk of whiplash, so really make sure to hone your search away from anything motorcycle-related.
Much of the extra weight in road motorcycle helmets comes from the fireproofing material which is required, but in go-karting, flame-retardant materials in helmets isn’t mandatory unlike in race suits.
Another vital thing to look for in helmets is one that will cover the whole face. Some go-kart tracks will permit open-faced varieties with special racing goggles, but it will be far safer to pick a helmet that is more widely accepted.
That, and full-face covering helmets have been proven overall to be more competitive for racing and far safer, so it’s a no-brainer to look at these instead.
People often try to opt for open-faced helmets to avoid a full-face one from misting up, but there are a lot of ways to avoid that with better venting technology. Make sure to pick out a helmet with good vents in various places, not just at the mouth area, to avoid fogging up your visor.
Kid Karting Helmets
If you’re searching for go-kart helmets for children, remember to search specifically for ‘kid karting helmets’.
They are specially designed to be smaller, light-weight and shorter than adult helmets so that they can wear neck protectors more easily for extra safety on their fragile necks. Even if an adult helmet fits your child, I’d advise picking out one that is specifically designed for children and these are readily available online or in stores.
Try Before You Buy!
Probably the most important piece of advice I can give in regard to picking go-kart helmets is this: make sure to find somewhere that sells helmets in person so that you can try them on. This is for a variety of reasons, of course.
Even if you’ve owned helmets before and know the size you will be wearing, a lot of manufacturers use different head sizing measurements. If you wear a Size M in a Bell helmet, you’d be surprised to find that Vega sizes are much smaller than you expected.
You always want to make sure the helmet feels right on your head, and the best way to go about that is to try them on! Just bring along a balaclava (or most stores will have some available) for hygiene purposes and spend time on the decision.
When trying on helmets, spend some time walking around while wearing it in the store. You might feel a bit silly doing this, but it’ll help you get a feel for how the helmet wears over a period of time rather than rushing the decision.
You don’t want to pick out something which becomes tiresome to wear after only a minute or two, after all. Provided that your neck doesn’t tire in this time period, try moving the helmet around on your head with both hands to get a feel for the security of the helmet.
If you find that it feels loose when twisting it to either side, you should look at a helmet with a slightly snugger fit, for example.
A lot of helmets made by Bell actually offer removable cheek inserts, so if you love everything else about a helmet but it feels a little too tight around your face, see if you can make amendments with those removable cheek pads. This is a very important way to personalize the headwear to you specifically for the best possible fit!
Field Of Vision
From a racing standpoint, you should spend some time trying out how the field of vision is with the helmet you choose.
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When browsing for helmets, you will probably notice that there will be two distinct front types that affect how you will view the track. One is called a formula-car style, and these have a narrower aperture to see through (think of Formula One drivers), and the other is more of a motorcycle-styled one which has a much wider field of vision.
You will more commonly see the formula style in Master class go-kart races due to the higher speeds and competitive nature. Even if you are an experienced driver, the motorcycle-style helmet is far more forgiving in its peripheral vision and I’d always recommend choosing this one over the narrower, more focused formula-style ones.
When you spend ample time researching and trying different helmets, you’re bound to find the right one for you. Provided you follow the IKF regulations and think about the other pieces of advice offered throughout this article, you’ll be picking out a winning helmet in absolutely no time! Couple it with a great travel bag and you’ll be race-ready before you know it.