Having supplied race equipment to all levels of Australian motorsport for over 20 years, we have seen just about everything when it comes to imitation products. We also know it can be expensive to set yourself up with the equipment you need to get on track – here is why it’s worth buying a genuine product that is guaranteed by Sabelt, as a result of their stringent product testing and precise quality control. Sabelt is the only harness manufacturer with their own fully-equipped testing facility, which allowed them to produce the first FIA 8853-2016 homologated racing belt.
When you buy non-genuine, you are guaranteed nothing – especially not your safety.
For this example, we are comparing a Genuine Sabelt Steel Series 4-Point Harness (valued at $341) with one advertised to be the same from eBay, which we purchased for just over $120. The belt is claimed to be FIA approved until 2022, and supplied with a 1-year warranty – we hope to show you that it is not only a waste of money, but a serious risk to purchase and use non-genuine racing harnesses.
The videos below demonstrate the difference between fake and genuine race harnesses in the event of an accident.
Fake 4-pt Harness Crash Test
Genuine Sabelt 4-pt Harness Crash Test
Shop Genuine Sabelt Harnesses at V-Sport
Comparing Fake & Genuine Race Harnesses
At first, the packaging appears very similar – correct colour and logos, and despite the obvious size difference that comes with our genuine one being a twin-pack, you would be forgiven to think so far so good. But the high-contrast imagery on the packaging suggests it’s a scanned copy of the genuine item.
Perhaps most importantly, the fake harness packaging has no SKU or identifying features. Our Genuine Sabelt harness shows important information like serial number, manufacture date and of course the product part number.
Side by Side
The fake harness’ buckle is a very simple design, not similar at all the genuine item. Although the buckle seems to operate fine, the hardware feels cheap and rushed, with signs of paint damage showing even before the harness could be installed.
The fake harness features a similar label, but no FIA hologram or serial number.
The fake harness uses a very basic snap-hook design with no locking function or identifying features.
Additional engineering in the genuine buckle provides increased strength, weight reduction, and aesthetic value compared with the fake item.
It also has a much nicer feel with smoothed edges and operation compared to the fake item.
Our genuine harness features the holographic FIA mark of certification, and a serial number so the product can be identified and traced through the manufacturing process.
The genuine belt’s snap-lock features a refined spring-loaded clasp which can be secured with a locking pin, and also features identifying stamps.
Comparing the shoulder strap adjusters of the two belts, you can see that once again the genuine item on the right is spring-locking and once again includes quality control/manufacture stamps to prove it exceeds the FIA standard and is fit for use in a racing environment. The single-piece adjuster of the fake belt has no identifying features to suggest it has been tested or evaluated for safety. The velcro adjuster tab is also a great example of how fake manufacturers take a ‘close enough is good enough’ approach.
The difference in quality and attention to detail is clear when comparing how the Sabelt logos are stitched to the shoulder straps – which, like most other aspects of we have compared, there is a great divide in quality assurance – if this isn’t warning enough to shop genuine, see the crash test clips below.
The rear of the genuine buckle (left) shows a manufacture date, and you can see the smoothed edges and refined design of the release lever compared to the fake, missing all of the above. Finer details like this improve user experience, longevity and of course prove the certification of the belt.
Compare the stitching patterns above, where the belt material loops around to attach to snap-locks and tabs that lock into the buckle. Just by eye, you can see that the genuine belt (left) uses a much denser stitching pattern, which is surely the result of impact testing. Again, there is no guarantee that the fake belt on the right has been tested in any way.