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Schroth Harness System for the MINI

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If you've never done a driver's school, then your missing a tremendous opportunity to learn a lot about the MINI. Last year I participated in a school given by Phil Wicks at Gateway International in St. Louis. I learned two things. One, the MINI is an absolutely amazing performer, of which, I came nowhere close to its capabilities. Two, in order for me to explore those dynamics fully, I would have to invest in something that was going to deep me planted in the seat. At Gateway, I spent too much energy gripping the wheel and pushing my right leg against the stereo pillar in efforts to maintain good seating. Prior to my next school, that would have to be remedied.

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Very little effort was put into product research before I bought the belts due to the good reputation they have with other enthusiasts. Another plus was that the harness only required use of existing attachment points and that was critical in my decision process. I was not interested in drilling or welding. I also liked the fact that it had been DOT approved. Another selling point was the “anti-submarining” design. That prevents the driver from sliding underneath the belt if there's a front impact.

Installation of the belts is straight forward. To get started, you should purchase a set of Torx head sockets. Not a bad investment since that seems to be the only type of bold used on the MINI anyway. You simply unscrew the outside seatbelt bolt located on the floor and insert the Schroth attachment. It does require bending of this piece to allow proper fitment. The second step was a little more demanding, but makes sense once you get started. You have to remove the rear seat cushion to gain access to the driver side outside belt attachment point. After backing out the bolt, it is replaced with an appropriately sized bolt included with the system. Once again, some bending is necessary to fit the metal attachment. The cushion should be replaced in the reverse order. Now it's time to snap the belt in and fit it to your physique. One suggestion, spend the extra coin on the shoulder belt pads. The belts over your shoulders will definitely cut into your neck without them.

Snapping in is simple and straightforward. Use the existing inside rear seat female belt latch and the newly placed rear outside male latch to connect behind the driver's seat. Run the two straps between the headrest posts. This requires raising the headrest out of the seat and putting back down once the belts are in position. For the front, use the existing inside female belt attachment and the newly attached female point on the floor to connect the front harness. The only thing left to do is slide yourself in and clip together. Make sure the waist belt is tight before pulling down the chest belts.

Another suggestion, back your seat slightly, tighten the belts, and move your seat back to its original position. This helps insure a snug fit. Forget about reaching for anything other than the steering wheel and the stick, or turning your shoulders for backing up. The four-point harness keeps you well planted to the seat facing forward.

Since installing it, I've used it for street use as well as a driving school at Blackhawk Farms. As it turns out, it's really not practical for use in daily driving. Strapping in and out is time consuming. As I mentioned earlier, once the belts are fastened it's difficult to perform necessary functions as reaching the climate and radio controls. I recall the first time backing into my garage and trying to turn around to look. I couldn't! It was like being glued to the seat. Which was exactly what made my track day a true driving experience. Unlike the previous event at Gateway where it was a constant effort to remain in the seat, I could focus on hitting the apexes. Blackhawk was a more technical course than Gateway. Had I not had the Schroth harness, learning the lines would have required extra concentration. My hips remained planted in the center of the seat. I didn't require pushing my left arm against the door for additional support. I could relax my grip on the wheel. Can you imagine doing all this and trying to have fun? As comparison, I had the experience of riding in the passenger seat with a stock belt. The difference was obvious. I was all over the seat. I am convinced that the stock seats, especially with leather, are no match for the cars suspension. If the MINI came with seats such as those in the Mitsubishi Evo or the Volkswagen R32, the Schroth Rallye 4 harness wouldn't be as critical. That not being the case, the Schroth harness is a must for a genuine track-day driving experience.

Rating: 4 (out of five)

[Review written for MotoringFile by Steve Dybedock. Photos courtesy of Brad Herman]

The Schroth Belt retails for $229.95 and is available at HMS Motorsport, Promini and OutMotoring. You can read the full set of official installation instructions here and an even better real world install guide here.

If you have any reviews that you think belong on MotoringFIle send them in via our contact link above.

Written By: MF Reader

  • lexbomb

    Best investment I ever made for AutoX. Just make sure to shut the door before you snap in.

  • Robert

    Are they easy to remove(reversal) after setup is complete?

  • http://leftthis.com Dillon

    …great story,Gabe. Also,I like to know if the seats and restraint system for the JCW kit has four-point harness system? Peace,Dillon

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Dillon,

    The Schroth belts fit any MINI including those with the optional JCW seats.

  • dotBob

    Is it legal to use a four-point harness for daily driving? Without a roll cage, the harness may be more dangerous than a regular 3-point seat belt, since it doesn't allow the body to bend forward in case of roof collapse, hence the requirement for a roll cage in the more advanced driving events where a four-point harness is mandatory.

  • dotBob

    BTW, a CG-Lock may be more appropriate for daily driving and the occassional autocross, since it holds the hips in place, but allows for free movement of the upper body. I don't have one yet, but for less than $45, I plan to purchase one soon.

  • lexbomb

    Robert, They're a snap to remove. Just the two anchor clips stay in the car after installation, and you hardly notice them. It only takes about 20 seconds to clip in or clip out the harness. Just make sure when you race, you slide the OEM plastic clip retainer all the way up to the top so it doesn't go flapping around and distract you.

    As far a daily driving… I don't know what our friendly neighborhood police would think, but if I were a peace officer, I'd be a little suspicious of someone driving around with a bright blue or red harness on. It's easy to take it in and out.

  • ScottinBend

    ….and by far the cheapest way to keep in the seat is to yank the belt forward quickly to engage the lock at just the right spot and then buckle yourself in. Takes a bit of practice to get the right spot, but it has worked for me in all of my years of AutoX'ing.

  • Derek

    Oh great. Another thing to put on the gotta have list…

    Thanks for the info.

  • Paul C

    Been using the Scroth mini belts for track days for 2 years now, very pleased. Only issue came up at BMWCCA track day event at Lime Rock this spring. the four point belts are not allowed. They required us to run with standard belts only. Potential submarine effect in case of crash was given as reason, I disagree with the reasosn as emergency tensioners built into the MINI you will not submarine under the belts in case of crash. I know this is case as I totalled my first MCS Works in a street crash and the tensioners fired and held us in perfect. May not be a scientific test this is why I disagree with the ban on the 4 point belts in the MINI by the BMWCCA at their track days.

  • Jay S

    Excellent review. I purchased these belts from SoloRacer.com last spring and have been using them for autocrosses (26 events this year!). They make a huge difference over the stock seat belts. I haven't taken my car to the track yet, but I wouldn't hesitate to use theme there either. I think the rollover safety issues are overblown. I went with the black harnesses with black pads… http://www.soloracer.com/mini.html

  • Gavin

    I have these belts and I have used them at an SCDA track event. They clip in and out, so there is no need to use them every day if you don't want to. The hardware receiver stays in place but the belts come out. Indeed, you have to remove them to use the rear seats or to be comfortable up front – you can't reach the radio or glove box when properly strapped into a 4 point harness. As far as submarining in a crash, these belts have several features that mean it won't happen. Firstly they use the stock anchor points, including as others have mentioned, the tensioner system. Secondly the lap belt part is in the same place as a factory belt but is slightly wider (always fasten and tighten the lap belt before the shoulder ones). Thirdly, (and this is what makes these belts different to other 4 point systems) they have a section of belt in the inboard shoulder strap that will release in a big impact. This means that one shoulder will move foward more than the other, as it would if you were in the factory 3 point belt. This means that you will interact with the seat, wheel and airbags in the same way as if you were in a 3 point system but you will be better strapped in in non-accident scenarios. Obviously it's important to get a left and right pair and put them in the correct sides. The worst case is people who fit 5 and 6 point harnesses with stock seats or with seats that aren't designed for them. Most of those systems need special seats and roll cages to attach the upper belts to. A 5 point with the crotch strap around the front of a seat (even a bucket seat) is where submarining will really happen. I've got no affiliation with Schroth other than owning a pair of harnesses, but I did buy mine from the US distributor (HMS Motorsport) who explained all the different systems. They sell 4, 5 and 6 point systems as well as roll cages and seats, so they know what they're talking about!

  • John Dewey

    I bought the Schroth before my first track day, I used it for the Phil Wicks school as well as for Solo I (at Blackhawk) and Solo II.

    One day I was on Grid at BFR and realized I had forgotten to put the harness in the car, I had no choice but to run with out it. I will not make that mistake again!

  • matt

    Question: The instructions for the harnesses indicate mounting the driver side connection (the point near the driver door) under the bolt that goes to the floor for the seatbelt slider. 2004 and 2005 models don’t have this mounting point or slider, as the driver seatbelt bolts director to the side pillar. Has anyone mounted the 4 points in a 2004 or 2005, or have any additional information on this?

    Thanks, Matt

  • Matt

    I drive an R32 and am looking to step into a JCW as a commuter car, so Im bouncing around this site to see what people are saying about tracking their minis. I also race formula mazda and want to make sure you all know that if you run a harness, you need to run a rollbar/cage. A harness without a bar is dangerous and most racers and instructors I know wont ride/drive a car and wear a harness without some sort of renforcement. THe roof may collapse in a rollover and you may have a serious head injury or worse as a result. I saw it happen in a GTI a year ago at a track day…

    Happy racing…motoring

  • Pingback: MotoringFile » Archive » MotoringFile Review: JCW GP

  • Chris

    There is some question of safety with the harnesses and a lack of a roll cage, and its a good idea to question this.

    I wanted to point out, though, that the Schroth harnesses are DOT approved, and I would have to think that if they were more dangerous than the stock belts, they would not obtain said approval. Any thoughts?


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