Do you use a SA or K rated helmet?

I know the difference between the two, but I’m curious how many people use a K rated helmet vs a SA rated lid?

I’ve got an SA Helmet, just so that it’s rated for cars too. (GP-6S)

I have an SK-6 (K2015) and a GP-6S (SA2015).

My father and I enjoy racing the 24 Hours of Lemons stuff, so I grabbed an SA rated helmet, which I probably would have gotten anyways

What is the difference for those of us that don’t know?

SA = rated for auto, meaning Nomex fireproof interior, also suitable for karting
K = rated for karting, non-fireproof interior, NOT suitable for auto

For Arai, the shells are identical between their car and karting helmets with the only difference being in ventilation and interior material. Most companies do the same thing.

Also, depending on which SA model you buy, there could be eyeport difference or other subtle things like that which cater more to the type of driving you’re doing. A helmet that is geared toward karting or open cockpit driving will usually feature a smaller eyeport. A helmet that is geared more toward closed-cockpit driving like GTs or touring cars will usually have a larger eye port and more ventilation. Smaller eyeport = more protection from flying debris. A larger eyeport obviously allows more range of sight for the driver.

The other thing I’d like to note is the idea of using motorcycle helmets for karting. I think it’s legal in most orgs. Some people have said they prefer motorcycle helmets over karting helmets or vice versa. It comes down to preference for the most part, but motorcycle helmets typically have a little different weight balance on your head and a different shaped eyeport compared to a karting helmet, because the driver/rider posture is very different in each one. Typically you’re looking up and forward in a motorcycle helmet because you’re leaning forward. In a kart you’re sitting back more and look more directly ahead.

Just some background info from someone who has disassembled hundreds of helmets and probably has a fair bit of behind the scenes info because that!


I use a K rated helmet. Mostly because I didn’t/don’t have any prospective car car racing in my future.

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Kind of off topic, but I wanted to see if anyone had a similar experience.

I ended up splurging on a Bell RS7 (SA2015). They had been out of stock everywhere for a couple of months, and finally came back in my size at my preferred retailer about a week and a half ago. I received the helmet and was quite disappointed with the quality of the workmanship.

  • The liner has a piece of fabric that spans across bottom of the helmet in the chin bar area. This piece was way off center and bunched up on one side.

  • The edges of the vents in the chin bar were jagged and not well finished. The mesh in the chin bar looked like it was improperly installed.

  • The shield didn’t fit quite right. I installed a new Bell shield and the holes did not line up by a quarter inch.

Yes these are relatively small things, but if they can’t get the small things right, I don’t really have faith the helmet was constructed correctly (IMO - I understand if not everyone feels this way). Also, I’d expect these defects in a $250 G-Force but not a lid that costs close to a grand.

I spoke with the retailer and they agreed that the quality of Bell is not what it once was, and agreed to give me a refund. Has anyone else had this experience with the SA2015 Bells?

I’ve taken a fair few apart for paint. Ever since they started making them in Bahrain the quality has dipped a bit. The high-end stuff is still pretty nice, but the mid-range and low-end models have suffered a bit I think.

Perhaps they are cutting corners a bit in production as well to try and catch up from the massive backorder list they have had going on 2 years now.

I wear a motorcycle (M2015) helmet and would strenuously object to any rule requiring a K/SA helmet.

It’s meant for the sort of duty a kart crash would give it. The visor mechanism won’t open in most impacts, it can take multiple impacts before failure. It is meant to cushion the driver’s head when striking the ground directly. The eyeport is wider than the requirement for a car helmet; that lets me see further back. Since the production volume for motorcycle helmets is so large, many different helmet fits are available, and each of them will have different visors available, including the photochromic one that I use.

Best of all, my Bell Star cost under $350.

I’m not an expert on helmets, but I believe the M rated helmets are designed for much different impacts than SA or K rated.

IIRC, M rated helmets simulate a motorcycle crash, which is more like one large impact followed by many smaller, weaker hits. Compared to an SA or K helmet that is designed to take a couple big hits at once, I’d feel safer running a helmet meant for what I’m doing.

I’d also be checking my helmet if it ever takes a hard hit, which hasn’t happened yet thankfully. I know the usefulness of a helmet gets reduced a lot after one incident, or at least that’s what I learned in a lecture about bicycle safety when I was younger.

Not to say that a motorcycle helmet won’t work in a crash, as I’d hope it still does, but I wouldn’t be completely confident using a motorcycle helmet, especially in the crapcan cars my dad and I race (1993 Dodge Shadow FTW). If I get into a crash, I’ll want to make sure my helmet can withstand a couple hard impacts with the roll cage/seat or another kart and not fail.