New or Used Equipment?

We get calls and emails pretty regularly asking if we have any used equipment for sale. I realized this would be a great opportunity for a post reviewing the merits of buying new or used equipment.
Helmet – Would you put your child in a used car seat you bought at a garage sale? Helmets are the most important part of your safety equipment and likely the only one you will ever actually utilize. Buy a new helmet and one that fits you well. If you have facial hair and want to keep it, many organizations will require a balacava so make sure to wear one when you are testing helmets.
Right now is the time when inventory is switching out to SA2015 helmets and the SA2010 helmets are on closeout. This is a great time to score a deal as the SA2010 helmets are on closeout pricing with up to 25% off retail. The SA2010 helmet is good until January 2022 so you will still get plenty of years out of the helmet. If you have a big wreck you should replace it anyhow. If you race a bunch it might be pretty nasty by the end of 5-6 years anyhow.

Race Suit – I bought my first race suit and went with a cheap one ordered from cheapest place I could find. It fit like crap and I sold it for $50 to a friend this year. I replaced it with a used race suit bought from a known rallyist in the PNW that I know takes good care of his gear. I know of only one incident in rallying where a race suit saved a life or prevented injury.
On the other hand, you will be spending all day for a few days in a row wearing this suit. Having one that fits well and is comfortable is very important. I suggest our Denver based customers visit Wine Country Motorsports who keep a large selection of suits in stock and try some on. We are a dealer for them so you can buy the suit through us or buy it at Wine Country and encourage them to keep stocking suits! At the very least you can get an idea of what size you are and what you like or don’t like about suits and different features.

Gloves, Shoes, etc. – Again, I’m sure you could find used ones and they would be fine but I find wearing used shoes to be gross and somewhat feel same way about gloves. But they aren’t products that used ones are going to potentially have fatal catastropic failures, like seats or helmets could.

Seats – In the USA, most people use FIA homologated seats and most of the rally sanctioning bodies require these. The FIA standard states the seats expire five years after manufacture, but this rule is not currently regulated in the USA (but is in Canada). The governing body in the UK, the MSA, questioned the validity of the five year rule so they performed their own independent testing. If you want to read the whole report it is . To summarize, they took a variety of seats from 6 manufacturers that were around five years old and had been actively used in race/rally cars. All the seats would have visually passed scrutineering and been allowed to compete. They subjected them to closer visual examination, x-ray, ultrasound, and a few were subject to dynamic crash testing using the FIA homologation standard. Of the nine seats tested, two were suitable for future use, two were suitable with close future monitoring, and five failed tests. Of the five subjected to crash testing, only one passed.
I am not going to be a hypocrite here as both seats currently in my race car are over five years old. But I know I should probably replace them. And if you don’t have seats, you should probably buy new ones as there is no telling what damage you can’t see and what kind of use the seat has been subjected to.

Tires – Used tires are a great cost saver! We are starting a new tire consignment program to facilitate the sale of used rally tires. For rallycross, if it’s round it’s probably fine to compete with. For stage rally or hill climb, more careful consideration should occur. Rally tires can get very hard with age. I have seen old tires completely shed their outer layers of rubber, delaminate, and massive cracks in the sidewall. While this may not be an issue at rallycross, having something happen at 85 MPH with a thousand foot exposure racing up Grand Mesa might be a cause for concern. Before buying used tires you should always inquire about the age of the tire. Some brands, specifically Michelin and Hankook have not been sold in the US for years so the tires will be old. I used to run only used tires, mostly take offs from Tanner Foust who always wanted a brand new tire for every stage so his used tires were in very good shape and were stored indoors at Flat Irons warehouse. I’ve seen other teams storing used tires in and around an outdoor shed with high sun exposure. The more you know about the tires age and storage the better. Age will result in hardening of the compound which can be less competitive.

Used equipment can be a great way to save money and get on stage quicker! But make sure and think about what the used equipment is! A used Nascar suit is probably fine. A used helmet from Ken Block is probably not. Cheers!