Junior got a red mirrored visor for his Bell KC3 helmet for his birthday a couple of months ago. I subsequently realised the importance of some kind of visor protection and so the visor has been shelved ever since pending me sorting something out. Bell make tear offs for the KC3 but I wanted something a little more protective and could find little alternatives on these fair shores. In searching, I came across the Racing Optics range of shield protectors. It seemed like just the job although there were no reviews to be found and Racing Optics declined to respond to my email asking about their suitability for use on a KC3.
I took the plunge anyway and a friend picked up the 3421CP3 Clear Shield version for me on a recent trip to the US. Each packet comes with three protectors (one missing from the image below, which was taken after fitting!), each with three removable layers and are fixed to the visor via a small adhesive strip around the protector.
I removed the clear visor from the KC3 and then noticed that the mirror visor had a small scratch on one edge. It definitely wasn’t there when we got it and the visor has been sat on a shelf in it’s protective sleeve ever since! I took a deep breath and counted to ten… 😉
I assumed that, being generic, the protectors would be undersized: the opposite proved to be the case – the protectors are about 10mm too tall. Now I’m not the best at fitting adhesive covers, as Junior would vouch with the cover I stuck to his iPhone, so the thought of having to cut and fit the protector didn’t fill me with joy. The bottom of the protector was a nice flush fit along the bottom of the visor so I decided to trim the top. This might pose an issue if and when water gets between the visor and the protector but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I marked the centre of the protector so that I could position it centrally on the visor and mark the cutting area. It took a few attempts as I didn’t cut enough off initially but it looks ok:
It was then that I realised the new visor does not have a visor sticker so Junior may have something to say next time he is driving into the sun! Not having thought about this sooner was a bit annoying and I might get one and stick it over the top of the protector – I am undecided on that. It will also be interesting to see how easily the final layer of protector comes off although I am not banking on having to remove layers all that often. I think it looks ok – like so much of the past four months, it’s a learning experience!
Cost of shield protector: £20
Total spent so far: £2,442
I hadn’t budgeted on getting my son a karting helmet: he already had a really funky motorcycle helmet that he had used for arrive/drive karting and, as he wasn’t going to be MSA racing for some time, I saw no need. Unfortunately I then started thinking about it more – if I was going to get him an MSA-approved helmet later in the year, I might as well get it now and rest assured that he has the best protection possible. Of course there is always the question “How much do you value the contents of the helmet?”. It’s hard to argue with that so which helmet to get?
For MSA racing, under-15s require a helmet certified to the Snell-FIA CMR2007 standard. The most common choices are the Arai CK-6, the Bell KC3, the Koden CMR2007 and the V2 CMR. Next you want to find out what size you need – the SHARP Helmet Safety Scheme Guide is a great resource for finding out how to measure your head and how to test a helmet’s fit. Then you want to find a shop that sells not only your preferred helmet but as many as the others as possible – don’t just order one off the internet as I did!!! Head sizes differ and it may be that your head isn’t good a fit for the helmet you thought you wanted and returning helmets via the post is an expensive business – I speak from experience 🙁
I discounted the Koden on appearance and comments from Dads whose lads had upgraded from Kodens to other more highly regarded helmets and opted for the Arai – partly on reputation and the fact that you see a lot of them on the track and I ordered online as it was the best price and came with a free spoiler kit. When it arrived, my son complained it was tight on top of his head. After making him try it on at least a dozen times and keep it on for 20 mins in a bid to get used to it, I stupidly ordered a bigger one assuming it would be fine – it was too big. Needing to resolve this because my 14-day return deadline on the two Arai helmets I now owned was rapidly approaching, I went to my local shop, had my son try the Bell in comparison with the Arai and bought the Bell in the size that fitted the best. The good thing about the Bell helmets are that they come in individual sizes i.e. 54cm, 55cm, 56cm etc whereas the Arai comes in size ranges i.e. 54-56cm, 57-58cm etc. The Arai also has a larger visor area compared to other Arai motorsports helmets (I was told they had to have a little less helmet/make the visor larger than their other motorsports helmets in order to stay within the maximum weight permitted under the standard) which, to my eye, makes it look a little more WSB and less F1. Returning the two Arai helmets, including insurance for £800 cost me £30. The kicker was the store charging me £5 to cover the ‘free’ postage they had offered. After all of the haggling I’d been doing to save money, I’d just wasted £40! We won’t talk about this again, ok?
Total spent so far: £1935