Karting Racewear Homologations - Where To Begin?
Author: Tom Magnay / Pictures: BlendLine
Note: This article is intended as a guide and BlendLine accepts no responsibility for errors or changes to the information or guidance provided.
Following on from our race and rally helmet and racewear guide, which you can find here, we thought some information on kart racewear and helmets would be useful, since certain karting championships are tightening up their regulations on the homologations of clothing used.
Of course, “karting” covers a large range of arrive-and-drive organised events, where you would most likely be offered a helmet and overalls by the circuit.
If you’re making your move up the karting ladder into an organised series, be it in pro karts, Club 100, 2 stroke or even BKC, you will need to consider upgrading your safety equipment to suit. Here’s our run down of some great options that you can choose, and a guide to homologations and some things which you may also need to consider.
Here in the United Kingdom, and throughout most of Europe and the world, our karting helmet homologations are governed by Snell. Unlike auto racing helmets, which are governed by the FIA, the Snell homologations for karting are divided into two sections, junior and adult, as detailed below.
Snell CMR is the Junior homologation for childrens helmets up to the age of 15/16. This homologation is put in place for youngsters coming up through the karting ranks but the important thing to note is that there is not only stringent safety tests to ensure the overall strength of the helmet against penetrative objects and impacts, but also a maximum weight requirement. This is to maintain a lower weight for a youngsters head and neck to carry while racing (if this comes as a surprise, don’t forget that bambino karters can start out aged around 3 or 4 years old, wearing this spec of helmet!) As a result of this, these are the lightest helmets that you can buy, but they are normally only homologated (safety tested and approved) up to around a size 59 head, which is size ‘large’ in most manufacturers sizes.
A CMR helmet is ideal for anyone of any age doing informal karting or low level kart series where it is not sanctioned by Motorsport UK. They are also a relatively inexpensive way of buying an approved kart helmet, especially since there is 0% VAT on CMR helmets in the UK as they are, technically, for kids.
Please note: An adult wearing a CMR helmet may not be able to compete in higher-level organised kart championships with this helmet. Check with your series scrutineer for confirmation.
The latest Snell CMR homologation is CMR2016 with CMR2021 rumoured, but not confirmed, to be announced later this year.
Snell CMR2016 helmet – our choice: Stilo ST5 CMR
The over 16’s kart helmets are governed by Snell KRT. These are slightly heavier than CMR helmets and more akin to the FIA/Snell auto racing helmets for car competition, but they normally have different interior linings and are still lighter than the equivalent race/rally helmets. This is the most common type of helmet for adults in kart racing and are generally available in the full range of sizes, unlike the CMRs. The most recent Snell KRT homologation is KRT2015.
Snell KRT2015 helmet – our choice: Stilo ST5 KRT
Try to budget as much as possible for a karting helmet. While its generally quite a safe sport, things can happen! We’ve seen plenty of races were people have been flung out of karts, or indeed had kart components or other objects on the track which have been flicked up in the air. Not nice. A helmet with a decent visor is also essential, with good anti fogging properties – really important in cold or wet racing days with hot breath meeting cold incoming air! Reputable helmet manufacturers will fit strength tested visors to their helmets (these are generally 3mm thick minimum) and are of high-quality lens material. Tints are also worth considering on bright and sunny days.
Dedicated karting suits for both adults and junior kart racers are generally homologated to CIK FIA (Level 2). This is where an FIA 8856-2000 or 8856-2018 auto racing suit is not allowed by a given series or championship.
Typically, CIK approved suits are quite lightweight, and often have an outer layer which is more resistant to moisture or water penetration. Drivers can often be moving around in a kart seat quite a lot while racing, so reputable kart suit manufacturers like Alpinestars will boast enforced areas where high friction is likely, as well as breathable/stretch panels in the necessary places. Be sure to get the right size, that gives full skin protection when sat in the racing seat of a kart.
CIK approved kart race suit – our choice: Alpinestars KMX-9 V2
Although underwear is not required for karting in most instances, it can be considered for added protection against the unlikely event of a fire, or indeed as a base layer on cold days. Please refer to our auto racing underwear section for more info on this. For karting, we would recommend a balaclava if allowed by the series, to protect your helmet from excess sweating and as an added layer for comfort and protection.
Kart balaclava – our choice: Alpinestars KX Balaclava
Essential to protect your hands against abrasion from the steering wheel, plus to keep them protected against cold air on a winters day. Our choice of gloves has the strengthened areas to keep them intact for longer, and anti-bunching properties for the best and most durable grip on the wheel!
Karting gloves – our choice: Alpinestars Tech 1 K Race V2 gloves
Also essential to protect your feet and get good grip on the pedals, whilst maintaining that all-important feel. You also need something with a quality decent sole for walking around the paddock. Kart boots are prone to wearing out on the heel and under the ball of your foot, the boots we’ve tried and tested are built to defend against that, as well as provide huge comfort for day-long use.
Kart boots – our choice: Alpinestars Tech 1 Start Kart Shoes
Drivers of a slimmer build (and that’s many pro-karters) will empathise with the thought of being thrown around in a kart seat that is too big for them, and having extreme rib and muscle ache the next day! I can certainly relate to that…
The only rib protector I have tried is the Stilo Carbon Curva which is an ultra-lightweight, ultra-comfy device made by people who really know about safety. It is very flexible, made from a beautifully weaved patented carbon (of their own design and manufacture) which bends into place to fit your body while you sit and race, but has a very strong structure which is resistant to impacts from the seat on bumpy corners! You wear it under your overalls, in case you wondered, and comes in three size options! The Curva is our choice, for sure.
If you fancy joining getting involved with the BlendLine gang, we are running the BLKS (BlendLine Kart Series) in 2021, which is a brand new championship for karters of all levels aged 16 and up. The 4 championship rounds will take place across 4 awesome circuits across England and Wales. For more information, to view the regs and to enter, check out this article.
Tom Magnay: @tommagnay01
BlendLine Apparel: @blend_line
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