New Helmet Motorcycle vs Karting

Is there a difference between a motorcycle and karting helmet? I’m looking for a new helmet but I notice that the karting ones are more expensive, cheapest being like $220.

There are differences. Last I looked Snell K was the same standard as Snell A minus fire resistant liner and maybe thickness of shield. I think thickness of shield is for fire purpose also. Snell K versus Snell M has two key differences. Snell M requires larger visor than Snell K. My impression is because of peripheral vision concern for the road. Snell K gets tested with 1 more anvil than Snell M. That is the roll bar anvil, which basically because it shares rules with Snell A and A needs roll bar anvil test.

I have had 3 or 4 Snell A helmets from racing with SCCA. For racing karts I always use Snell M. I think the one area they could be worse is at real high speed the might buffet because they were never intended for people tilted back. I have never experienced it below 80mph. I did experience it enduro racing once where we were hitting a little over 125. I think I could have solved it by changing the fairing some, but was sharing kart in 24 hour event. I do not know if a K helmet would have been better. I have had auto helmets buffet at around the same speed in cars. I also drove another kart at about same speed and never had the issue.


Motorcycle helmets are ok for rentals, but officially sanctioned race meets they won’t pass scrutineering

“ Helmets must comply with the following prescriptions (Appendix 2):
For Drivers under 15 years old:

  • Snell-FIA CM (Snell-FIA CMS2016 and Snell-FIA CMR2016),
  • Snell-FIA CMH (Snell-FIA CMS2007 and Snell-FIA CMR2007),
    For Drivers over 15 years old:
  • Snell Foundation K2005, SA2005, K2010, K2015, SA2010, SAH 2010 and SA 2015,
  • FIA 8859-2015, FIA 8860-2004, FIA 8860-210, FIA 8860-2018 and FIA 8860-2018-ABP
  • SFI Foundation Inc., Spec. SFI 31.1A and 31.2A,
  • Snell-FIA CM (Snell-FIA CMS2016 and Snell-FIA CMR2016),
  • Snell-FIA CMH (Snell-FIA CMS2007 and Snell-FIA CMR2007).”

More information here on motorcycle vs car/kart helmets.

It really depends on what one considers as “officially sanctioned”.

There are many events that have sanctioning that will allow motorcycle helmets provided they at least meet certain DOT specs.

Yeah, here at least at many levels motorcycle helmets are allowed.

Keep in mind the driving posture or rider/driver position for motorcycles vs. karts is quite a bit different, so there can be differences in how a helmet sits on your head and how the eyeport is designed depending on how the wearer will be seated. For example, a motorcycle helmet tends to have a larger eyeport and sits higher on the head because you are looking up and forward when riding. A karting helmet has a more traditional car-style design with smaller eyeports and the eyeport placement is for a more vertical driver seating position, where you look straight ahead or even slightly down. Many karting helmets share the same shell design as the high-end car helmets as well.

I always recommend buying a dedicated karting/car helmet but some people like motorcycle helmets too.

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I was only asking because I saw a significant price range between getting a motorcycle helmet and a karting helmet, but I just found a good SA2020 helmet which will allow to not have to get a new helmet if I want to race at a bigger event someday. Problem is I want to paint it cuz I don’t want a blank white or black helmet. Does anyone know if it is possible to do a simple paint job I can do on my helmet without harming it? I do not suppose a paintbrush will work lol. @tjkoyen I know you’re a master in this field lol

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Consider Vinyl! You can make impermanent designs that stick. Sorta limited to shapes you can cut and your eye for art.

Honestly if you’re attempting to do your own little simple design, vinyl or decals as Dom mentioned is going to be the easiest.

Painting a helmet is a tedious process. Sticking decals on it is easier.

Also, I have Plasti-Dipped helmets (and many other things) before too, which could be a cool route if you’re going for a solid color. Combines the best of both worlds. Sprayable but also peelable. If you go that route I would recommend a better product, like Superwrap which actually looks like gloss paint when done. For $60 you could have any color you wanted.


This year, we switched my daughter from a Bell motorcycle helmet to an Arai SK-6 karting helmet. One of the biggest differences I notice with her using it is she doesn’t grab the helmet and adjust it. In her Bell, after almost every corner going onto a straight, she would reach up and grab the chin and adjust it. With the Arai, she hasn’t done that this year, and we even moved from and XS in the Bell to Small in the Arai. I also added the PED kit to it, so that might help some with her not grabbing it. Granted, shield changes require more planning and you can’t just do it on the grid as easily, but it’s worth it.

Also, she didn’t want a plain white helmet either, and my wife didn’t want to pay for a paint job, so my friend in California has a sign/car wrap business, so he wrapped her helmet. She chose the designs, and he put them together for her. Here are pictures of her Bell, and then the Arai wrapped.

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I think most US kart racing allows motorcycle helmets. I would probably use kart helmet, or auto if Shoei made one. They are by far my favorite helmet. They are my go to unless I am required to use something SA or K rated. My main advice is make sure you buy one that is comfortable to your head shape, and buy on that FITS. So many people buy to big

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The sk-6 allows you to swap out the internal padding that presses up against the jaw/cheek. To get the proper fit on my head but not have my face too badly squeezed, I ordered a thinner set.

If she was adjusting, sounds like it was too big, maybe. The arai is a beast of a helmet. The visor as compared to others I have is 3x thicker and looks like it would stop a .22. I like her wrap!

When I realized the Bell was actually a size smaller and potentially looser, I think it was possible the Bell padding was worn out. I love Arai, I wore an Arai helmet when I used to ride my R6 years ago.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, and didn’t have a picture, but the front chin part has her initials and the Waluigi nose and mustache on it.

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Another vote for wrapping. Mine is wrapped…it’s a quarter the price of a paint job

Nice wrap Richard! where do you guys find helmet wraps and for what cost? And as for the vinyl would I use like a spray paint and use stencils and decals to do it?

I did what @Zebug mentioned and took it to a car wrapping place here in Dubai, they charged me 900 dirhams whereas a paint job would have been almost 4000.

I’ve no idea stateside pricing but I guess wrapping shops are quite prolific there? I did use a high end shop due to the complexity too, glad I did. The helmet is also clear coated over the vinyl. Looks the business.

Searching online, seems MX helmets get all the love, & I can’t seem to find custom wraps with “helmet” in the search term criteria. Perhaps just using a body shop that offers wrap services would be the ticket.

It looks like a lot of the precut vinyls are indeed targeted at the moto-x crowd. But it also looks like the route Richard did, while pricier, opens up custom design. There must be an expensive printer involved that the shop owns or something.

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There are two types of machine. A printer that actually prints on the vinyl (Uber expensive) and a die cutting machine which you feed in a sheet of standard vinyl, show it a vector image and it cuts out the design, then you just use a clear transfer sheet to apply it to your item. The latter is obviously considerably less expensive.

The Arai SK-6 does look nice. I always wanted to try an Arai helmet when I was autoracing, but never ended up with one