Home Forums General Karting Discussion Neck protection questions

This topic contains 28 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Kerry Matthews 4 years, 7 months ago.

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    John Reikes

    I’m sure this topic has been covered before, but all the old posts are gone now.

    My Sparco anatomic neck collar started to come apart in the wash the other day, so I may need to replace it. I was looking at the Leatt and EVS devices, but I’m not convinced they are more effective than a good neck collar. I know there’s a lot of anecdotal feedback out there where someone’s friend’s cousin got in a horrible wreck while wearing ___ device and wasn’t paralyzed, therefore ___ device is best — but those stories can play out that way due to a million factors other than because that device was actually more effective than others.

    I’m wondering if anyone knows of any concrete evidence that the more expensive devices are better than a good neck collar. I notice Leatt puts some stats on the back of their coupon, but those are all “vs no neck brace.” There’s no comparison against a regular neck collar.

    It seems to me that a regular neck collar provides great protection against compression injuries. In fact, the Leatt, Alpinestars, and EVS devices all seem to have a much more “free” fit to them, so they would actually provide less protection against this type of injury. The downside of a traditional collar is that it can create a pivot point to exaggerate extension injuries. But the only way I know of to deal with the extension injuries is to have the helmet tethered to something like it is with a HANS device. None of the neck protectors for karting do that.

    I’m wondering if these more expensive neck devices are just riding off of their popularity from motocross. In motocross (which I’ve never done), I would imagine you need much more head mobility than you do in karting, so a big neck collar wouldn’t work because you wouldn’t be able to tilt your head to see where you’re going.

    Bottom line for me is that I’m happy to spend an extra $150 on something that may actually prevent a spinal injury. But I’m not sure that these devices do that and I suspect they may actually be less effective than a traditional collar.



    Peter Zambos

    A regular foam collar will provide nearly no protection against a compression injury. Neither will it help with hyperextension, hyperflexion or subluxation of the cervical spine. It compresses under force, allowing impact force and momentum to do their damage nearly unhindered.

    I don’t know what you mean by “free” fit. Do you mean greater range of motion?

    Yes there were some product testimonials to the Leatt on the old site. You can still look those up if you look for the link at the bottom of the new EKN home page.

    You don’t need the collar to be fixed to the helmet, but if you’re worried about the collar not being fixed to the body, most of the collars you mentioned do come with optional tethers that fasten around the ribcage. They are not required, however, for these collars to do their job. Instead of the helmet being restrained from the back by tethers, the motion of the helmet is restricted by the shape of the collar, and then is transferred to the body and made less traumatic by spreading out the force of the impact or abrupt change of direction over the greater surface area of the base of the collar. In the event that the head is thrown towards the rear of the body, tethers at the back will do you no good. A HANS device doesn’t have to be concerned about that, as cars have headrests to prevent hyperextension.

    As for concrete evidence, the one way that anyone can be sure is if you do an A vs. B (new collar vs foam) to the same person and under the same circumstances. I, for one, am not volunteering. The other would be for an independent body, such as Snell, to do testing. No organization has yet stepped forward to do so. So you’re going to have to go on what anecdotes you find, and the data of the manufacturers, that is, if they’ve actually tested their product.

    I use a Leatt. I do so partly because they actually have done impressive testing on their collar. To my knowledge, the look-a-likes (if you go to motorcycle websites, you’ll see a lot of braces that look like Leatts, but aren’t) have not, and neither have EVS or Alpinestars done so on their models. Also, having held and examined Leatt, the new EVS and the Alpinestars collars, the Leatt is more substantial. There is a lot more plastic and flex in those, and so I have a difficult time believing in their ability to be effective. Also, the EVS and Astars collars clasp at the front, which can be the major loading point for force. That seems like a pretty bad idea. The Leatt is definitely more expensive, but I believe it to be the better product.

    Am a trauma expert? No, but I am a nurse, and I would like to think that my knowledge and experience counts for something.

    As for the efficacy of the foam collars: though I haven’t read the report and so don’t know the methods of their study, the FIA CIK deemed that foam collars created no discernible protection, and may actually be more of a danger to due lack of range of motion causing a lack of visibility. They recommend to not use the foam collar. They have not yet done any testing on the collars coming from the motoX world.

    Ultimately, you have to make your own decision. It’s literally your neck after all.


    jeff grose

    When my son ran in Karting he used the Vahalla 360 device and although he had no bad accidents when karting we felt better using the 360 device as opposed to the regular foam collar, we did see a karter at the Homestead track wearing a leatt type neck protector take a hit and we saw his head go alot further back than we expected with that device on. My son had no issues while wearing the 360 device in terms as being able to turn his head while racing.


    Todd Renaud

    John, you will find LOTS of opinions on this topic. Even in the MX world (I did that as well) you will find tons of differing opinions, even on the Leatt itself in spite of the testing they have done and shown. No easy answer here. Body shape, seat position, kart, etc. all affect how they fit as well which would affect performance.

    We use the foam just for help with fatigue of the neck. My son used the Leatt in MX without fail or problem, but we can’t get him comfortable with it in a kart. Have looked at the others, but PERSONALLY, would prefer the Leatt or are looking at the Vahalla, which seems to have the best coverage as compared to the others.

    That being said, all experience and advice here is anecdotal. Without testing, hard to say what works. Even though Leatt has done lots of testing, its more on the MX side.

    I had also heard that HANS was making a karting one in an article in one of the magazines, but haven’t seen it come to fruition.

    Good luck.


    William Martin

    Just as an aside, info directly from the originator (Walt Meyers) of the foam collars in karting: It’s to protect against helmets hitting and breaking the collarbone. It never has been for “neck protection”.


    Josh Michalosky

    Leatt has a few videos on the subject : http://www.leatt-brace.com/media/leatt-videos/


    John Reikes

    Thanks to everyone for the responses so far.  I expected there to be differing opinions.  I’m surprised that everyone says the foam collars provide no neck protection.  While I can see that they’re clearly imperfect, I don’t see how they wouldn’t help a little.

    I’m glad to hear HANS is getting into this. I think the problem is different enough from moto-x to require a different solution.


    russ Jolly

    I wear the EVS, I was really skeptical at first but i got tired of choking myself out collar after collar. When I first put on the EVS it seemed way to loose and I thought it was to big. But I wore it out practicing in my Shifter. I will say what a difference. The side to side i use to get is all but gone. maybe an inch side to side with no give. And as far as going backwards, with the acceleration of the shifter kart I noticed that it stops the helmet and ultimately my neck just at the point where i think it getting to far back. The only thing that I havent felt yet is the forward support. But then again in a shifter kart your head is always pinned back…. HA.

    As for lab results and testing I have neither seen or read any. If you want to be 100% sure i would go with a HANS device. I also agree with what the nurse says above.



    Andrew Pachon

    Just reiterating what has been previously stated, foam provides no protection. Go with a Leatt if not something of similar design.

    What is HANS doing for karting?



    Andrew Pachon

    Have you guys seen the Simpson Hybrid pro-rage? Looks like it could be functional to karting with helmets with HANS adaptability even without belts. I am looking to get a Leatt but I am interested in what HANS may be bringing to karting if in fact they are coming to karting with a H&N safety device.




    Greg Wright

    <cite>@jreikes said:</cite>
     I’m surprised that everyone says the foam collars provide no neck protection.  While I can see that they’re clearly imperfect, I don’t see how they wouldn’t help a little.

    Not everyone says that, what you are getting is opinions and that’s fine. My opinion is that a proper fitting foam collar is a lot better than nothing at all.
    Also my opinion the business about the foam collar only being intended to protect from collar bone fractures is flawed. If your helmet is pushed low enough to break your collar bone you probably have a more serious problem with the neck injury you just received.


    Peter Zambos

    Andrew, that device would be poorly suited for the same reasons that I stated why a HANS device wouldn’t work for a karter.  That Simpson product is essentially a HANS device but doesn’t require seat belts to secure it in place.  It primarily protects against hyperflexion and subluxation, and nothing else, leaving a lot to be desired.

    Greg, most people can easily touch their chin to their chest.  If you can do that, you can very easily break a collar  bone with the bottom of your helmet.  Collar bones are fragile as bones go, it doesn’t take much, and you don’t have to have a neck injury to do so.


    John Reikes

    I don’t follow why you think the Simpson device isn’t a good fit for karting. The reason a standard HANS device won’t work on a kart is that you need shoulder straps to hold it in place to work properly. This Simpson thing doesn’t need those shoulder straps. If you couple this with a collar, I feel like you’d be covering every base. Unfortunately, it’s DAMN expensive.


    Rodney Ebersole

    I can ‘t keep my head up for a twenty lap main any more. I have one of these cheap neck supports from years ago and just tried it with my helmet on.  http://sell.lulusoso.com/selling-leads/1385742/Philadelphia-neck-support-common-.html

    It seems to support my head from tilting back.  The Simpson pro-rag looks like it would do nothing for forward support of an old mans neck. Has anyone ever tried a D ring in the chin of a helmet strapped to a waist belt?



    jeff grose

    [quote quote=4681]I don’t follow why you think the Simpson device isn’t a good fit for karting. The reason a standard HANS device won’t work on a kart is that you need shoulder straps to hold it in place to work properly. This Simpson thing doesn’t need those shoulder straps. If you couple this with a collar, I feel like you’d be covering every base. Unfortunately, it’s DAMN expensive.[/quote]


    check this out



    John Reikes

    I’ve seen the Valhalla one and am not convinced it’s the right answer. The thing I like about the Simpson device is that it uses same basic principle as a HANS device — it tethers your helmet to your body to prevent your head from whipping one way or the other in an impact and the tethers are a little bit elastic so they gradually slow those movements as they stretch.

    The Valhalla works like a neck collar or Leatt brace — they just try to give a stopping point for your head’s motion and then transfer the additional force to your shoulders/chest/back, etc.

    The HANS and Simpson devices are pulling while the Leatt, Valhalla, and neck collar devices are pushing.


    jeff grose


    The Simpson & Hans devices are made to prevent the head from going forward during impact (Earnhardt)which is the issue in an auto frontal type crash since the body is restrained by the seat belts, there are NO belts in a kart seat, the entire body can move forward in a kart frontal crash, the issue in karts is to keep the head from over-extending backwards since there NO roll cages on the kart, think about it , there is NO pushing or pulling with either device, my son has used the 360 device in his karting days and now uses his Hans in SCCA



    I will swear but the Valhalla 360 evice. My son went over bad this weekend and the SKUSA Summer Nats. Pretty nasty. How ever the device did its job and then some. It kept his head in place and protected his neck during the flip and the skid on his head across the pavement. His body was bent back against the exhaust and the extra protection saved his neck even though part of it melted on the exhaust. I expecialy like the high rise part in the back of the brace that gives extra protection from the head going back. He has no loss of movement and will by the same one again after what witnessed.


    Marshall Martin


    I tried the D Ring a few years ago but could not get an angle that allowed it to be effective.  I also have an issue but from the G Force.  Have found some exercises that help.  My main issue is the muscles on the left side of my neck.  I can make the main but towards the end it is very painful.

    The piece you are using looks like it prevents movement of the head and not sure it would be very comfortable and what happens in a crash.



    John Reikes

    Quick update: I emailed Simpson about their device. They responded that the current Hybrid system is made to work with shoulder belts, so it wouldn’t work in a kart. However, they are currently working on something for karting.


    Andrew Pachon

    Thanks for the heads up John. Did Simpson say ETA to consumers?




    Broque Ward

    why dont they build kart seats to support the head, wouldnt that help?  I still dont understand why karts don’t have a little roll bar to protect drivers?


    Gary Osterholt


    An old fashion says is once you put roll bar on a kart, it’s not a kart.

    You make a bigger seat with more protection, you add roll bar….then you need to add seat belts.  You add seat belts you then have to get fire proof suits and gear.

    The cost of karting is already sky rocketing, adding that stuff will just make it worse.


    Kerry Matthews

    I am unfortunately turning out to be a ‘tester’ for safety equipment in karting.  I have had several ‘incidents’ since I got into this sport 6 years ago.  Many more than the ‘average’ karter.  I had a foam collar when I flipped the first time, breaking my collarbone and 3 ribs on the right side, along with collapsing my lung.  I went to a Leatt after that.  I was wearing my Leatt when I flipped last May at ORP.  No major injuries.  No neck injuries in any of the other ‘incidents’.  Here’s a couple of the more recent ones:




    Andrew Pachon

    Hey Kerry,


    Bummer about the repeat unscheduled contacts but glad to see your gear is working and that you are out only coin.

    What is the red button to the Left of your steering wheel?

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