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How a Hans Device Works and How to Chose the right Hans Device
A Hans device is one of the most crucial parts of a driver's apparel. Of all the items of clothing, you put on to race. Your Hans device is most likely to save your life.
Whilst other components of your motorsport fit provide comfort and a level of fire protection, your Hans device goes one step further by providing your neck and head with the necessary support to survive heavy shunts or shocks.
In this article, we will cover the essentials you need to know about Hans devices, what they do, and how to pick the right brand or design.
Hans Shape and Structure
Hans and other neck support devices all use a similar concept to optimise head and neck safety. A simple U-shape design, that is placed around the neck and protrudes down the front of your body, resting over your collar bones.
The neck support is then either latched to your head or, pushes up against the bottom edge of your helmet, in both cases, the support device is there to minimise head movement in the event of a high impact collision.
The majority of Hans and neck supports work by using a compression force, between your shoulders and your helmet. Most Hans devices are fitted with tethers, that connect the shoulder section to your helmet. The shoulder, U-shaped part of the Hanse device is then firmly held to your shoulders using the harness seatbelts in your race car.
Hans devices all follow a similar design shape, the “U” format that wraps around the neck providing head support. However, the angle at which the shoulder arms match up to the helmet varies, and a lot of new drivers make an easy mistake by picking the wrong head angle.
- 0-10 degree angle: commonly used in Sprint Cars
- 20-degree angle: commonly used in FIA and vehicles with a reclined seating position, such as most Formula series and Prototype series.
- 30-degree angle: intended for racers weighing 200 pounds or more and with reasonably reclined seating positions.
Be aware, that almost all professional motorsport championships require a Hans device to compete, these devices must comply with sanctioning bodies that ask for SFI 38.1 standard. Almost all new Hans devices (from reputable brands) fit this requirement.
Racing Seats, Seatbelts and Helmets
Another thing to consider is if your car's setup is Hans compliable. Not all seats, harnesses and helmets are, so make sure you check these before buying your first neck device.
Many classic race series, do not require a Hans device, although it is strongly recommended that you do wear one. Be careful here, as a lot of classic style race seats do not support Hans use and these would result in disqualification from Scruitineering or pre-race checks.
Start by checking your racing seats. Solid, purpose-built race seats that are compliant with Hans devices, often have a recess or grove for where the back section of the Hans device sits. This should sit flush with your Hans device when sitting in the car for optimal comfort.
A quick check of the labels on your racing seat should determine whether the seat is Hans compliant. Make sure to check this before buying!
The next thing to check is your racing harness or seat belt setup. If you plan on using a Hans device, you MUST use a racing harness. Standard seatbelts will not work. A Hans device and most other neck supports, rely on the seat belts to tighten over the shoulder pads, creating pressure against your body so that it is held in place.
Furthermore, not all harnesses are compatible with Hans devices, the width of the belt is also important. A too wide a belt will not seat into the shoulder pads of the Hans correctly. Whilst a too narrow design, will likely slip out of position. Again, checking the labels and part description should quickly tell you whether your harness is fit for use with a Hans styled device.
Finally, and most importantly, your helmet must support the tethers used in your Hans device. This often means purchasing a helmet with Hans supports and or linkages/anchors. These mounting points are absolutely critical to the function of your neck support. They provide the main linking point between the shoulder and head support. Different brands tend to have different anchorage styles, so be sure to check that both your helmet anchors and neck support tethers are compatible.
Brands to be Aware off
Hans, which stands for Head and Neck Support Device was the original founder of this revolutionary tech. They are the optimum brand when it comes to neck support safety and is the way to go for serious racers.
HANS offer a range of design types and materials which provide different weights and tensile strengths. This being said, all of the Hans designs offer optimal safety when it comes to motorsport related incidents.
Be aware, that the carbon fibre versions of Hans only offer very slight weight advantages for what can be a serious cost difference when compared to the Polymer versions. For drivers looking to shave every piece of weight advantage possible, then Carbon is the way to go, otherwise, the plastic, cheaper models are just as good.
We recommend not to buy second hand, as wear and tear can be apparent on Hans devices, particularly in the fabric tethers from overuse. Furthermore, the pads that rest between the shoulders and the Hans device tend to wear over time and often need replacing every couple of years.
Although official HANS Devices are more expensive, they are by far the choice of product when it comes to neck and head support, as the name suggests.
Stand21 products structurally are very similar to Hans devices for the fraction of the cost. They use different moulding techniques and different plastic polymers to create a product with like for like design characteristics.
The Club range of FHR devices from Stand21 is a fantastic value, entry-level solution for racers looking for an FHR system on a budget, without compromising safety.
The Club range of FHR devices are constructed from a honeycomb thermoplastic which helps to keep the weight down and allows it to pass the FIA test requirements. Standard features include a sliding tether system for less restrictive movement and shoulder pads for better comfort.
Author: Matt Lambert
Owner and Writer at RightMotorsport