Race Tech: Choosing Your New Kart Seat
By Michael Marmurowicz
When choosing a new kart seat, it's often
tempting to pick a seat that is too
big. Most people will sit
in a seat and decide which one
to purchase based on comfort and ease of entry and
exit. Judging seat fit in this fashion may not only
impair the ability of your kart to handle, it can
seriously jeopardize the driver's safety.
In a new seat, it's wise to choose a tight fit, as
this offers the best protection for the ribs and other
parts of the body. It may sound funny that a tight
fit will do your ribs less harm, but when you have
a seat that is too loose, the chances of injury are
much higher. During an accident,
if your torso travels some distance before making firm
contact with the side of the seat,
the resulting impact will be greater than if
your body is hard against the side of the seat to
begin with. In the same way people not wearing a seat
belt in a car crash will suffer far greater injury
than if properly restrained by a seat belt.
Another important aspect to consider is that a tighter
fitting seat will transmit all that the kart is doing
more effectively to your body. This input is crucial
to a driver who wants to stay at the absolute limit
of his chassis' potential.
If the seat is too large this input is diminished and
the driver may lose concentration due to the distraction
caused by sliding around on the seat.
Think about it. How are you going to keep the kart
on the track if you can't keep
yourself in the seat?
Three different covering options are offered in
seats today. Which one you choose depends on personal
preference. We offer a bare fiberglass seat, one
with 1/4 padding which
covers the top of the seat on each side, and we have
a fully covered version. The only real difference
in using one or the other is grip.
If your seat isn't absolutely tight on your body, you will slide a
bit more on a bare seat verses the fully covered
version. The 1/4 padded
seat offers a good compromise which is why it is
a popular choice. In
addition to covering options, the stiffness of the
must be determined as well. We carry
seats in standard flex and soft versions. Your choice
is going to affect how you and your kart
chassis, along with proper set
up, are going to transfer weight out on the track.
Everyone knows the straight axle dilemma in regards
to going around a corner. Too soft of a seat acts
like a sway bar on full soft settings. It will allow
the kart frame to flex straight through the seat,
never lifting the inside rear tire. Not having this
balance right can prove fatal to quick lap times
due to unwanted tire scrub and all around poor
handling. A basic rule of thumb on this is: light
driver, hard seat and vice versa. This
rule of thumb is not chiseled in stone.
There are going to be circumstances that contradict
this including: chassis type, driver height,
and tire compounds to name a few. The rule of thumb
implies that a lighter driver
such as a child will need more help in creating
chassis flex than a 6' 2'' adult
weighing 250 lbs.
Finding a seat that fits
The best way to determine your seat size is
by using your waist size and weight. The chart below
will help you to find a seat that suits your size.
Measurements should be made while you're wearing
the safety equipment that you intend to race with,
including a rib protector if appropriate.
Children can be difficult to size properly.
However, most average size children 5 to 8 years old
will fit the Cadet size seat. The average 9 to 12 year
old will fit the X-Small
seat. If in doubt, measure your child and contact us,
we'll be glad to
help you. Also be advised that the sizes shown relate
to uncovered seats. You will lose approximately a quarter
inch of width on a fully covered
One last word of advice on seats is to treat
them as a disposable item on your kart. Tires get old
and worn out, and so
do seats. At a minimum, seats should be inspected
regularly and replaced every season. If you
are one of the thousands of drivers requiring
weight to be added to meet your class minimum, you may
have to replace your seat a few times each year. Most
of the time, ballast weight is bolted directly to the
seat. This can cause stress cracks to
develop, reducing the rigidity of
the seat. In due time this not only creates an unsafe
situation but can substantially reduce the seat's ability to help you
transfer weight. If in doubt, change it. It may be the cheapest way
to reduce your lap times.