Fact Checked

What are the Different Types of Roll Bar Padding?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

There are basically only two types of roll bar padding available: SFI safety-rated padding and non-certified padding. There are, however, different styles of roll bar padding, with one being vastly superior over the other. The common roll bar padding shape is round padding split down one side to allow it to be placed over the roll bar. The other and better-designed style has a flat surface molded into the pad on the contact side, the side facing the driver. This style of roll bar padding is manufactured in a C-shape and is affixed to the roll bar with a molded-in adhesive.

While the common roll bar padding resembles a swimming pool float toy or a pool "noodle," the swimming pool toy should never be used to pad a roll bar. This will not protect the driver at all in an accident, and testing has shown this type of material to be no safer that a bare roll bar. Even the lowest cost and poorly manufactured non-rated roll bar padding will outperform the swimming pool toy in the event of a crash. The non-safety rated padding should be used in non-critical areas only, such as the furthest points away from the driver.


SFI-rated padding is the only padding that should be used in the driver's compartment or areas near the driver. This padding has been tested to withstand heavy impact and will help protect the driver from the devastating forces that injure or kill. Most racing sanctioning bodies stipulate that padding must be covering any roll bar that a driver's head could come into contact with. The problem with even the SFI-safety rated padding is that it is not fireproof. In order to be in compliance with one safety rule, a driver is forced to surround his body with a potential fire hazard that could potentially drip molten plastic onto his body in the event of a crash and fire.

An innovative roll bar padding named FIA-8857-2001 Type A offers a different design completely and is being used in all forms of motor sports worldwide. This padding is revolutionary in that it is not round. The roll bar padding is flat in the area that a driver would come into contact with it, thereby dispersing the forces out over a greater area and reducing the impact felt. This roll bar padding is also manufactured from a self-extinguishing material, and it will not melt or drip in the event of a fire inside of the vehicle.

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