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Are you sure you're comfortable in your kart?

Published By Davin Sturdivant     February 14, 2016    
A quick blog post about the importance of driver comfort when placing your seat.


So here is a question for you - How comfortable are you in the seat of your go-kart?

I don’t think that I’d argue with anyone when I say that seat placement is one of the most critical components of setting up a kart. The driver is going to be the largest component of movable weight in the kart. So you have the opportunity to adjust your fleshy body into a position that helps the kart handle better.

However, at the same time, driver comfort is one of the most overlooked areas of kart setup. You need to make sure that you’re comfortable in the seat in order to extract the maximum performance out of the kart. I know this is obvious, but the seat is where the driver sits. If the driver is uncomfortable, they won’t be to properly feel what the machine is doing in order to get the best laptime out of it. 

Some karters try to fit all drivers into a ‘one-size’ fits all approach when it comes to the seat placement and seat positioning. That doesn't make sense because all drivers are different shapes and sizes. So we need to move our individual body around to a place that works best for each driver. Your kart should fit your body like your favorite pair of shoes. It just takes a little adjustment to make sure things go just right with the seat.

My girlfriend actually brought up an example that I thought was apt for this topic. In her Volkswagen, she's got her seat and steering wheel in a particular position that's comfortable for her. If I were to borrow her car, I would find the seat too close to the pedals in order to be comfortable. I could fit in it, but I wouldn't be able to drive the car comfortably. I'd need to move the seat back, in order to sit there for a long time.

The same is true for your kart seat, especially if you get a kart from someone else second-hand. You need to get the seat in a space that's comfortable for you, and then adjust the things around it as needed. You can fit in several different seating arrangements, but they may not be ideal for you to be comfortable. If your chassis happens to have a default setup guide, or you know of a distributor for your chassis, start with their baseline setup and then adjust as needed.

Of course, you'll need to scale and corner weight your kart to get the most out of this excerise, but you get the idea. Personally, that half a second that you might 'lose' from having the seat outside of the 'ideal factory setup', you'll be able to get back by being able to drive more comfortably for a longer period of time. That's really much more important.

“How do I make sure that I’m comfortable?”

Here is an easy exercise to check to see if you’re comfortable.  - Get a buddy and put your gokart on a flat surface. Put your ribvest on, sit in your kart and have a five minute conversation with your friend. After five minutes of just sitting in your kart, take notice of places that feel uncomfortable on your body.

  • Is the seat too tight to breath properly, or are you able to wiggle around too much? 
  • Can you reach the radiator to pull tape?
  • Are your knees cramped against the wheel? Does it take too much effort to move a pedal?

If you're uncomfortable just sitting in your kart for five minutes on the ground, how can you expect to be comfortable on track? That small incorrect pressure from the side of the seat being too tight can send enough of an inappropriate body signal to make you unconsciously lift a tiny bit off the throttle in during a slide, or be unable to move properly to put in the right amount of steering input. Also, being uncomfortable is mentally exhausting, as it's taking capacity away from focusing from the road ahead of you and putting those unwanted pokes and prods.

The reason why this exercise you sit in your kart for a few minutes is important. Although it seems tedious, it gives your body some time to adjust to how comfortable you are without the noises, vibrations and distractions of being somewhere active like a racetrack always brings. I find that when I'm at the track, I'm so excited to get out there that I end up blocking out some of the little things that aren't quite right on the kart. Those little things can cost you a tenth of a second here and there.

After you get your seat fitted properly, do a shakedown run to make sure that everything is working properly. Make sure that you write the measurements of the seat down in your karting logbook. The distance of the left and right side from the front, angle of the seat, and height of the back of the seat from the axle. That way, it will save you some time with the next kart that you’re working on.

So the next time you get in your kart, ask yourself - "Am I comfortable in this thing?"

Want to learn more about mounting a seat? Take a look at this Kart360 video of the guys at J3 Competition mount a seat to a DD2 TonyKart.

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