BEFORE GOING RACING, IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A LID, AS STEFAN MACKLEY FOUND OUT
Selecting the right protection for your head is vital not only for safety, but performance too
Safety equipment in motorsport is constantly improving, with new standards governing its use by drivers at all levels from Formula 1 all the way down to club racing, in all of which competitors are required to be kitted out in Fia-approved gear.
The most essential piece of the ensemble is the driver’s helmet, which can make the difference between life and death in the event of a crash.
Understandably, it’s paramount for drivers to have a helmet that fits perfectly. Too loose and it risks not protecting the driver in an accident, and in a worst-case scenario could even come off. Too tight and it will cause discomfort and have a knock-on effect on performance.
But misunderstandings about what to look for in a helmet still pervade, so what should consumers keep in mind when trying on and buying their lid?
Gareth Evans is showroom manager at racewear supplier Demon Tweeks and has been helping customers with helmet fittings for more than 16 years. In his experience there are several key points to consider. “You’re looking out for pressure points,” he says. “You want the helmet to fit so it’s nice and snug, but you don’t want it to feel like it’s pushing on the skull, such as on the front of the head, the crown of the head and on the side of the ears.
“You want to make sure your eyeline is in the middle of the opening and that the helmet pushes on your cheeks, but not with too much pressure so when you move it your face moves with it.”
As well as selecting the right size of helmet, the choice of brand can be just as important.
Evans suggests that customers can’t just assume that any brand will fit them, and that different makes suit different people depending on the size and shape of their head. Ordering online can therefore be a risk. “I would always recommend if they can get to us or another retailer to try on the helmet,” he adds.
One of the most daunting aspects of selecting a helmet is the vast selection on offer, not only from different brands but also the variety of models from the same company.
To compete in any Motor Sports Association- certified event, competitors will need a helmet that is FIA/SNELL approved. Prices vary from £400 to more than £2000, and according to Evans the key difference is the materials used in the construction, which as well as strength can affect lightness and aero efficiency.
“For example, the Bell Pro Series helmets are made of advanced carbon and composite materials to create a strong, lightweight shell,” he says. “The Sport range is made from standard composite materials and has been through the same tests, but is not as light as some of the higher-range options.”
The advice is always buy the most expensive helmet you can afford, but most importantly one that fits correctly.
“You want the helmet to fit so it’s nice and snug”