As a manufacturer of the world's most popular frontal-head restraint, Autosport Performance safety partners SCHROTH know a thing or two about making top-end safety devices.
Their most recent offering, the SHR Flex, is only the latest example of their pioneering approach to driver protection, developed over the past 70 years.
Designed to pass the US-standard SFI Spec 38.1, the Flex device is eligible for competition in the States and non-competition use in the UK - meaning for now it's licensed as a track day product. SCHROTH will submit the device to the FIA once the governing body defines how new devices are homologated.
The Flex can be used in virtually any vehicle that uses two FIA or SFI shoulder belts as part of the driver-restraint harness. It is available in medium and large sizing, which is based on body size and shape, and at $575 (£438), the device falls into the middle of the price range for the SCHROTH-produced HANS device - which, by the nature of their design, are restricted to specific types of racing.
Among the technological advances achieved with the Flex is a dynamic articulating collar and angle-independent low-collar design, which means it is not restricted to a specific type of car or seating position. This makes the Flex ideal for use on trackday events, where clients and instructors alike sample multiple cars.
Multiple GT champion and trackday guru Calum Lockie tested the Flex recently and reports that he would be interested in using it regularly for trackday coaching, citing its comfort and ease of use.
An integrated padding system, and the pliable legs that form-fit the device to the user's upper body and chest, allows for enhanced comfort compared to a more rigid frontal-head restraint. The device also comes equipped with SCHROTH's patented Slip Stop System and Retention Winglets to keep the belts in place after a secondary impact or in particularly intensive off-road scenarios, such as rally raids.
"It is light, and, owing to rubberised construction, good for jumping in and out of customers' cars without scratching or bashing trim," says Lockie.
"The hinged construction is great. Different cars have different seatbelt arrangements and it often happens that the rigid carbon HANS doesn't fit well and tends to be uncomfortable, particularly on collar bones, and is sometimes very hard to get properly tight."
Lockie notes that the twin-web system allows for easier head movement, another plus point for its use on track days - and adds that "the Flex has narrow shoulder strap flats with a small upright to hold the belts in place, which is excellent for narrow-belted cars."
The Scot uses a HANS device normally and has those posts fitted to the crash helmet, which is different to what the Flex requires. SCHROTH explains that this is because the HANS clips are patented, so the Flex attachments "are designed to be mounted to the exact same position as the HANS clips and use an M6 thread, as do the HANS clips."
SCHROTH's user guide highlights the change required if the driver's helmet has HANS clips attached: "Remove and screw on the SHR Flex - this is allowed. If your helmet is pre-drilled without a threaded insert, the SHR Flex also comes with an M6 insert to slide into the helmet."
To avoid risking serious injury, avoid using the device with double-shoulder belts and/or with any type of sternum strap.