By: Jason Giacchino
The Leatt Neck Brace
The helmet for your neck.
Moto GPX Sport Brace front view.
Let’s be honest for a moment. Considering how
much emphasis modern motocross/ ATV race gear
places on safety, it’s kind of surprising that
one area in particular has until recently been
largely neglected: the neck. Crashing is
a fact of life in the rough and tumble world of
off-roading; and in the not-so-distant past,
there was little to prevent serious neck injury
as a result of impact other than the give
provided by the foam lining inside a helmet.
That has all changed thanks to the dedicated
efforts of Leatt who have made it their mission
to bring realistic neck protection to the
masses. We are entering the era of choice when
it comes to neck protection and more and more
professional racers are opting to sport a Leatt
Brace as a standard piece of their weekly armor.
In an effort to shed some light on the benefits
of wearing neck protection, we’ll also take a
look at how the system works and how it is
designed to fit properly.
The idea behind the Leatt Brace is a
surprisingly simple one: to bring the head to a
controlled stop after impact by providing an
escape for the forces that would otherwise be
transmitted through the rider’s neck. The
structure of the brace is made up of both
cushioning padding and a rigid frame with the
goal of energy absorption and redirection in
mind. What does all of this mean in English?
Very simply if you think of an impact (be it
with the ATV, another rider, or the ground
itself) imagine what happens as the rider’s
helmet goes from moving very quickly to stopping
suddenly. The inertia would normally be
transmitted through the helmet itself and right
on through the structure supporting the helmet--the
rider’s neck. The Leatt gives these forces an
“escape route” by transmitting the jolt directly
from the rider’s helmet into the brace where it
is then distributed onto other body structures
such as the shoulders.
The system is fairly simple and better yet works
just as claimed. So why then isn’t everyone
sporting one? The answer is two fold: 1) Price.
The Leatt goes from anywhere between $400 and
$600. Sure that’s a lot of coin to throw down,
but in the grand scheme of things the money is
being very well spent. 2) Fears and Doubts. A
lot of riders fear that they won’t be able to
get proper use out of the brace or doubt that
they’ll bother wearing it on race day.
Additionally some riders express concern for the
brace limiting their mobility or inhibiting
their side-to-side head motion. The good news is
that many of these concerns are red herring. We
won’t lie and say that the brace is completely
undetectable (especially at first), but it takes
no more getting used to than the first time you
wore a chest protector to keep the roost from
bouncing off your sternum.
Let’s start by addressing concern of proper
sizing. Leatt’s website has a section devoted to
making sure you get the proper fit out of your
brace. Through their how-to video tutorial,
anyone can manage to get their brace dialed in
perfectly. Also, when properly fitted, it is
much easier to forget you are even wearing the
brace. The customization of fitting is
accomplished through different-sized adjustment
pins that are included with the brace.
Additionally there are two means of wearing the
brace: With a securing strap that connects
around the rider’s torso and without (which
means simply allowing the brace to rest freely
on your shoulders). The main difference is that
riders who love to catch massive air may seek
the additional support of the body strap to keep
their brace from floating up. So as long as the
Leatt rests freely on the shoulders and body, it
can do its job properly.
Moto GPX Sport Brace back view.
The next biggest concern seems to stem from
uncertainty as to whether the brace works with
chest protectors. The short answer is yes, it
certainly does. It’s a given that it will work
better with some than others, the fact is that
it can be made to work for most any chest
protector the market currently has to offer.
According to our industry sources the worse case
scenario is being required to remove a little
material from the chest protector to allow the
brace to sit on your shoulders.
Out back the brace has unique support as well.
Each Leatt comes standard with a 10-degree
thoracic support installed. Smaller riders have
the option of running the included 17-degree
strut to allow the support to fully follow their
back. As we said above, the brace is very
customizable and designed to work with any body
The company has been devoting its R&D budget to
producing Leatt neck braces for specific
applications. At the time of this article’s
writing they offer three distinct options: The
Moto- GPX (this is designed specifically for
motorcycles/ATVs), the Moto-Kart (karting), and
the Moto-R (race cars). The reason for the
variances has most to do with the interaction
between the brace and the corresponding riding
gear. Could other versions be made to work for
ATV purposes? Perhaps but we strongly recommend
going with the model designed specifically for
our unique application.
Interestingly enough the Moto-GPX model is also
recommended for downhill mountain biking, which
is a popular way for MX racers to train.
Additionally the brace is designed to work with
female riders (the company recommends the small
size for the ladies).
The bottom line is that as riders, we all hope
the day never comes where we would need to rely
upon the protection of a device such as the
Leatt brace. The good news is that riders no
longer have an excuse for going out unprotected.
As the old adage goes, it is better to wear
extra protection and not need it than to need it
and not have it!
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