Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a racing safety equipment store with a large inventory and reasonable pricing right near us? Unfortunately the majority of us are not so lucky. Then if there is a store nearby, chances are they do not have many different brands or sizes to choose from. This leads us to making purchases though online suppliers, which for some raises a concern of not being able to try on items. I sat down with Steve from OG Racing to get an industry expert’s advice on making these online purchases. I admit to being biased towards OG Racing having been a loyal customer of theirs for several years even before they became a sponsor to this free resource.
The following are recommendations on what to look for in an online supplier.
- Customer Service: This is paramount. Are you able to call the company and speak with someone at the company who actually knows what they’re talking about? Or will you just be talking to an order taker? Do they rush you and just want to close the sale or do they take the time to work with you?
- Restocking Fee: If the model and size does not work for you, will they charge you any fees? This next part also correlates to the quality of customer service. If you contact them to exchange a piece of safety equipment, how simple is the process and do they give you a hard time about it? Are they accustomed to exchanges or do they seem to shy away from this practice?
- Shipping: How quick does the company ship the initial order as well as any exchanges you many need to make?
- Pricing: One of the reasons this isn’t further up the list is because most companies follow pretty close to the manufacturer’s suggested price. Because of this, you typically won’t see a large discrepancy in pricing.
Steve also went on to talk about their take on properly fitting the most common safety gear. Quality safety gear suppliers are accustomed to providing advice over the phone and do a good job at ensuring that you receive equipment that fits properly. If you believe that the piece of equipment does not fit well, don’t be afraid to exchange it.
Helmets are the most challenging safety equipment piece to fit as there are so many different types of head shapes. He explained that different helmet brands utilize different molds and because of this, a large Sparco helmet may fit differently than a Bell or Arai helmet. Even still a company with a quality customer service representative is often able to get the individual on the right track and exchanges are not the norm. But again, you should feel comfortable sending it back for a different size if you feel that’s appropriate.
Racing suits are a much easier piece to fit. When speaking with the representative, be truthful with the information you supply. We all don’t want to admit that our waste size may have increased since our early years, but it won’t help to lie about it. If you have a bit of a gut, be upfront as it can impact your sizing.
Head & Neck Restraint Systems are not difficult to size properly over the phone. Once the brand is chosen, there are just a few options. Steve said that it’s rare that OG Racing experiences issues determining which one will work for you. He did explain that there are differences in how each model feels such as HANS, R3, and DefNder systems. Give the company a call to learn more about them and what might work best for you. If you still feel uncomfortable making a decision, ask a fellow racer who lives nearby or walk around the paddock at your next event then ask to try on the system they use.
If you are lucky enough to have a safety supplier somewhat nearby, call the place first to ensure that they have the various brands and sizes in-stock that you’re looking to try on.
No matter what source you choose, these tips will help ensure you get the right gear.