Here’s Why Motorcycle Helmets Aren’t Good For Go-Karting

  • By: Go Kart Picks
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Safety should always be a priority when it comes to go-karting or any motorsport for that matter. And with that comes the need for a fitting helmet.

However, considering how headgears seem to take the same form for many motor racing sports, you can’t help but wonder if a motorcycle helmet can be used for kart racing.

Can you use a motorcycle helmet for go karting? It’s not recommended to use a motorcycle helmet instead of a go-karting helmet. For one, there are separate certifications that govern the helmet requirements for these two types of motorsport. The helmets are stickered based on the qualification standards they meet.

For example, in the US, go-kart racing helmets should be Snell K certified, while motorcycle helmets are given the Snell M certification.

Then, there’s the fact that each helmet is designed for protection against specific accidents common or anticipated from the motorsport type.

If you want to learn more about the suitable kart racing helmet, just read further in the next few lines.

Do You Have to Wear a Helmet for Go-Karting?

Yes, wearing a helmet is a strict requirement for go-karting or any other motorsports or activity.

Riding a go-kart might be exhilarating, but it doesn’t erase the fact that it could also be dangerous. You’ll be prone to accidents during practice or the actual race.

Therefore, it only makes sense to wear the recommended gear and safety equipment, such as a reliable helmet. Otherwise, you have higher chances to sustain severe injuries that could be fatal, especially if it involves your head.

So, as a rule of thumb, you have to wear the required helmet for the motorsport you are in.

Can You Use a Motorcycle Helmet for Go Karting

In the case of go-karting or kart racing, the helmets need to be certified according to Snell standards.

Are Go-Karting Helmets the Same for Motorcycle?

They may look the same in fresh eyes, but go-karting helmets are different from motorcycle helmets. This is primarily why they are given separate helmet certifications.

Motorcycle helmets are different from go-karting helmets in terms of design and testing. These standards are applied when evaluating the application of the headgear.

Differences and Similarities Between Motorcycle and Go-Karting Helmet

Design

Motorcycle helmets tend to have different shapes and angles than go-karting helmets. For example, they most likely appear to have a slight elongation on the jaw. Whereas with a go-karting helmet, the helmet’s base is flat, and the head is rounder.

On the other hand, both helmets have the same basic form in their shield, shell, and ventilation system. But naturally, these are relative to brand design.

Nevertheless, the driver or rider’s position is a critical factor when designing a helmet. Naturally,  riding a motorcycle and a go-kart differs in postural position.

While you will be upright or leaning forward when riding a motorcycle or a dirt bike, go-karting requires a slightly rear-tilting torso during your ride. With that, the impacts for each sport during accidents are different.

Testing

Both motorcycle helmets and go-karting helmets undergo a series of tests for certification. These tests evaluate the helmet’s positional stability, face shield and shell penetration, impact, rigidity, restraint, and dynamic retention.

Likewise, both helmets typically skip the flame resistance test, intended for special application given to auto racing helmets.

But although motorcycle and go-karting helmets have the same set of tests, they are evaluated under different parameters.

This is because of the opposite nature of kart racing and motorcycling. With that comes risks unique for each sport. For example, helmets used in go-karting tend to be lightweight and have additional head and neck safety devices (HANS) to make if crass-proof.  

wearing helmet while go karting.jpg

What Helmet Do You Need for Go-Karting?

The most suitable helmet for go-karting is a full-face Snell K (karting) certified helmet.

Nothing beats headgear primarily designed for the motor racing sports you are in. You can take advantage of the fact that helmets and other safety gear and equipment are so diverse that you can always find one for every sport.

And when it comes to go-karting, your first instinct should be finding the helmet intended and approved for kart racing.

However, it is not as black and white as it may seem. You will have to look into factors that can be affected by your personal comfort and preference.

What to Consider When Choosing a Go-Karting Helmet

If you are actively looking for the right go-karting helmet, it is imperative to consider the following factors.

Certification

As mentioned repeatedly, the first thing you have to look for when buying a kart racing helmet is certification.

The Snell Foundation has been known to be the leader in helmet safety since 1957. They create and update testing standards for helmet brands based on their application in motor racing sports.

You will figure out if a helmet is Snell certified if you find a sticker on the shell. The latest certification bears the code K2020.

Likewise, you can also find helmets that passed the previous certification standards, such as K2015 or K2010.

Type

Go-karting demands a full-face helmet to reinforce safety and protection. However, there are instances where you can use open-faced types. But you will have to secure special goggles.

Nonetheless, if you are looking for a helmet that fits the requirements of kart racing standards, the full-face type is your best choice.

Size

The best way to find the right size for your use is to try the helmet firsthand. Brands tend to have different standards in terms of size. So, you might end with the wrong helmet if you rely on the description alone.

Try the helmet on. But make sure to wear a protective cover over your head, such as a balaclava, for proper hygiene and store etiquette.

Read Also: How Much Do Go-Karts Cost (Complete Guide!)

Ventilation

Efficient air circulation is crucial for your comfort. Therefore, find a go-karting helmet with a ventilation system that suits your convenience. In addition, you can choose a helmet designed with an aerodynamic feature to secure proper airflow.

what helmet to buy for go kart

Field of Vision

Aside from size, you have to check the field of vision, considering it’s a factor in the type of kart race.

For example, Formula One drivers use helmets with the formula-car style that has a narrower field of vision.

On the other hand, other drivers use helmets with a wider field of vision similar to a standard motorcycle helmet.

Check with the guidelines of the go-karting race to secure the right field of vision for your helmet.

Durability

Aside from certification, brand reputation is a huge factor in determining the helmet’s durability.

Likewise, it would also help to have a feel of the interior and exterior parts of the helmet to make sure all details are adequately fastened.

Read Also: The Best Go Kart For Kids

Final Thoughts

When it comes to safety, there shouldn’t be any compromise. That’s why even if it is acceptable to use a motorcycle helmet when go-karting, it is still wiser to go for a certified helmet intended for kart racing. 

You don’t only get the proper protection but the necessary comfort as well.

Moreover, if you aim to join a specific race, learn more about their helmet requirements and racing regulations. Then, you can base your choice on their criteria.  

Sources: SHOEI Helmets SNEL Foundation

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