What is a motocross neck protector designed to do?
A motocross neck protector, when used in conjunction with a full face helmet, is designed to help prevent neck trauma in the event of a crash. It does this by limiting your neck’s range of movement. Neck braces usually sit on the sternum and spine (or on each side of them), since the brace is lifted up off of your body, your full face helmet will contact it on either the back, sides, or front before hyperextension of the neck is possible. When contact is made with the brace, the impact forces are spread out over the whole brace which takes stress off of the neck and spine, possibly saving the rider from a neck injury.
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Should I Wear a Neck Brace for Motocross?
There is no single answer to the question, “should I wear a neck brace for motocross”. Every rider has their own preference and situation that may or may not warrant a motocross neck protector. However, no matter what type of rider you are, it is always worth careful consideration. The pros to wearing a neck brace could be as strong as saving yourself from paralysis. However, having a crash that bad is not the norm. For a slower rider who doesn’t step outside of their comfort zone too often, a neck brace may not be warranted. Some riders do not like them because they limit your range of movement. This may be true, but in many cases, those riders have not tried a neck brace that fits properly. Despite your opinion on wearing a neck brace, as far as I am concerned, the price of a neck brace is a small price to pay if it can potentially save your ability to walk. Below we have discussed and listed our favorite neck braces. Choose one that suits your needs, and chances are, you won’t regret it!
If you still don’t know if you should wear it or not, read my fresh blog about neck brace for motocross!
1. Atlas Carbon Motocross Neck Brace
The Atlas Carbon is a lightweight, minimalistic motocross neck protector that could possibly be the most comfortable neck brace around. Starting with its weight; this brace only weighs 580grams. That is barely over a pound! Considering the weight of boots, a helmet, and everything else, this neck brace doesn’t add much to the weight equation. Even if you have worn an older Atlas brace before, you should still try out the Atlas Carbon as it has been completely revamped! Atlas has always believed in the safety of flexibility, and as a result have worked hard to get naturally rigid carbon to be layered into a flexible weave. The Atlas Carbon is as a result 2.5 times more flexible than their previous plastic model. This flex slows the movement of your head gradually rather than having your head come to an abrupt stop during a crash.
Body contact is key when talking about dispersing forces that have been placed on the body. The Atlas Carbon motocross neck brace makes use of two large pads on either side of the sternum, and two pads on either side of the spine. These are the main points of contact on the body that will help lessen the forces placed on the spine in the event of a crash. However for proper body contact to be made the brace must fit right. Adjustability is one of the biggest factors to consider when looking at buying an Atlas brace. Mostly because it has a ton of it! The back piece can be moved into six different positions depending on your body type. Larger riders will have it adjusted outwards where smaller ones may have it inwards. This means that no matter your size and body type. The Atlas Carbon can be fitted. You can also add thin shoulder pads or take them away depending on how high you want your brace to sit.
Riding with an Atlas motocross neck protector is like riding without one. It has been so well designed that a lot of the time, you probably won’t notice it is there. The back isn’t connected by a solid piece of material allowing the sides to flex up naturally with your shoulders. The brace is comfortable and light, so if you’re the type who opts out of using a neck brace for comfort reasons. Give the Atlas Carbon a try!
Remember that great motocross neck protector comes with great dirt bike helmets , so have yourself protected!
The adjustability of this brace has to be the best thing going for it. Once you have it fitted correctly, it will be hard to find a more comfortable neck brace. It is also great that this brace sits either side of the spine and sternum rather than on top of them. Just another plus in the safety department from Atlas!
Pros: Lightweight (only 580 grams), Flexible, Adjustable, Does not sit directly on the spine or sternum.
Cons: It does not fit well with some chest protectors, It can also bounce around if you do not use the included straps for it.
2. Leatt GPX 6.5 Motocross Neck Protector
The new GPX 6.5 Carbon by Leatt is Leatt’s top of the range motocross neck protector. It has been designed with extensive testing and input from top professional riders. The result is Leatt’s most comfortable and protective neck brace yet! Despite the more bulky appearance of this brace (compared to the Atlas), it only weighs 600 grams. This is a small hair heavier than the Atlas but still nothing to frown about. Despite these comparisons, the Leatt is a completely different animal. The biggest difference is the idea of rigidity vs flexibility. Leatt believes that the brace should be as stiff as possible. With carbon being so stiff naturally, this was not necessarily a hard thing to achieve. The stiff brace sits on the body which easily transfers energy from a helmet, bypassing the neck and fragile bones, and onto the body during a crash.
The GPX 6.5 features relatively large pads on the front that sit on either side of the sternum. On the back you will find a large back piece that runs parallel to the spine on either side as well. This large support structure helps disperse energy much better than smaller pads. You will also notice that there is quite a bit of material cut out of the front and back pieces. This helps keep the weight of the brace down and also provides channels for airflow to stop the brace from getting too hot. In the past Leatt got a bit of a bad name because during a crash, the forces from your helmet would be transferred to your collarbone which caused a few breaks (however if this saved the riders necks, does that matter?). Well whatever your opinion, this is not the case anymore. Leatt have now designed their braces with a collarbone cut-out to keep forces away from these fragile bones. The GPX 6.5 Carbon is also extremely adjustable. This makes it quite easy when choosing a size because there is only two sizes to choose from. Small/medium, and large/extra-large. To keep the brace secure it comes with a clear chest strap. Some riders like the strap where others do not. It all boils down to personal preference.
Our favorite thing about the Leatt braces is that they are CE certified as personal protective equipment. In order to receive this standard there is quite a bit of laboratory testing involved so it gives you a bit of proof that dirt bike neck braces work. Leatt also included an emergency release mechanism which means the brace can be easily and safely removed by medics in the event of a serious crash. As far as neck braces go, this GPX 6.5 carbon is quite comfortable. Although it is a bit hotter to ride with than the Atlas, it does fit more securely. However, some braces are more natural to move in than this GPX 6.5 carbon is. There are ups and downs for all braces. If you want something sturdy and light though, this is a great choice! The only downside is that it is rather expensive. Read on to the next motocross neck protector to see a more budget friendly Leatt.
One of the best things about this brace is the large surface area for body contact. Not only does it disperse energy incredibly efficiently, but it also keeps the brace sitting securely when riding. Another great thing is the emergency release mechanism that can make the paramedic’s job a lot easier and safer for an injured rider.
Pros: Secure fit, Adjustable, Lightweight, Emergency release mechanism
Cons: Does not feel as natural as some other braces, Pricey
3. Leatt GPX 5.5 Motocross Neck Brace
The Leatt GPX 5.5 is the model down from the top of the line GPX 6.5 Carbon that you read about above. However do not write this brace off! It still makes use of almost all of the same safety features of the GPX 6.5 Carbon. The most obvious difference between the braces is the makeup and weight. Since the GPX 5.5 is a more budget friendly option, Leatt chose to construct it out of fiberglass reinforced polyamide which in layman’s terms, is plastic. This obviously weighs a bit more than carbon, and results in a full brace weighing in at 790 grams (1.7 pounds). This doesn’t seem like a huge weight gain, but if you are a rider who hates anything extra, stop reading here and go for a lighter option. While comparing the two braces, I should mention that this GPX 5.5 comes in multiple color options unlike the carbon big brother. So for riders who like to match everything or want a brace that makes a real visual impact, consider this brace. The color options available are black, white, orange, and lime.
The GPX 5.5 motocross neck protector sits very securely on either side of the sternum on the front and the spine on the back. It makes use of the same shaped big pads as the 6.5 Carbon for energy dispersion. The rear strut has been engineered to snap before it can apply excessive force to the back. This means that no matter how you crash, the back piece will almost certainly not cause any back trauma. This was a big worry with some neck braces a while back so I am happy to see companies are improving to make the safest product possible. A downfall to this brace compared to the 6.5 Carbon is that this 5.5 lacks the same holes for airflow in the main pads. This makes it a bit hotter when riding with it. However, the price difference is quite large so there is no surprise Leatt had to skimp out on some features for this option. Thankfully no safety features were overlooked. The emergency release mechanism is still included and this brace also comes CE certified as personal protective equipment.
Riding with the GPX 5.5 is a rather good experience. It is nothing out of the ordinary, more or less what you would expect from a neck brace. It stays in place quite well thanks to the awesome adjustability. This is especially true when you make use of the included clear strap. It does feel a bit warmer than other more expensive braces but for the price, this is a really excellent option! The motocross neck protector comes in small/medium, and large/extra-large.
First on the best feature list is again the emergency release system. If you are wearing a brace then safety is already number one, and having a system to help in a serious accident is an important feature. Next is the color options. These aren’t just fancy decals, it is actually colored plastic. Why not have a brace that compliments you gear set up!
Pros: Color options, Emergency release mechanism, Secure and adjustable fit, Well priced
Cons: Heavier than other options, Not the best ventilation, Not the most natural feeling brace out there
4. Alpinestars Tech Bionic Motocross Neck Protector
Every individual company seems to have their own opinion on how a neck brace should perform, and how it is constructed. The BNS (bionic neck support) Tech Carbon dirt bike neck brace is Alpinestars’ take. This brace is made of a carbon polymer compound to keep its weight on the low side. Despite the material make up, the brace comes in at 735 grams (1.6 pounds). This is the heaviest carbon brace on our list. Even so we would still consider it to be quite lightweight. The extra weight on it is no doubt a result of the extra material used which can be seen as a plus when you take into account the comfort of the brace. Similarly to Leatt, Alpinestars made their brace on the more rigid side of things. This is so it sits securely and is able to transfer dangerous forces in an instant.
The brace sits on the body via two front pads just either side of the sternum, and on one large back piece that sits on the spine (although there is a large cut out in the top center of the back panel). Every piece of the brace that comes in bodily contact has been lined with a compressed EVA foam. The foam is lightweight, comfortable, and disperses forces extremely well. A great thing about the Alpinestars design is the fact that it does not contact the shoulders. This keeps dangerous forces away from the collarbones and allows for free movement below. The back piece or “rear stabilizer”, is designed to pivot under pressure, lowering forces in gradual steps that would otherwise be placed on the spine. If the force ever becomes too great, the back piece will break away to further prevent injury to upper vertebras. All in all this motocross neck protector is about as safe as they come! As far as fitment goes, this thing is fully adjustable. The adjustability results in Alpinestars only offering two sizes. Extra-small/medium, and large/extra-large. The big range per size makes it great for growing riders as the brace can be adjusted as they get bigger. The pads can be changed to be either 6 or 10mm depending on the size of the rider. X-straps can be worn under or overtop of a jersey and ensure that the brace will not move around, even on the roughest of motocross tracks. This motocross neck protector is easily taken on and off thanks to its magnetized front closure system. In the event of an emergency, the whole brace can be taken apart and removed from the injured rider without causing them harm. The back piece can also be taken off making the brace easy to store.
Riding with an Alpinestars motocross neck protector is a relatively positive experience. Especially when paired with a corresponding Alpinestars chest protector. The brace is one of the most comfortable ones as far as how it sits. Something about it just seems right. This being said, it is not the most ventilated brace out there so you will find yourself sweating more than you would with an Atlas or Leatt Carbon GPX 6.5. Even so, this brace should definitely be a strong contestant for any buyer out there.
One of the best features of this brace is the progressive back piece. It is proof of the careful consideration that went into engineering this superbly safe motocross neck protector. Another great feature is how the brace sits on the body. It just feels more comfortable than a lot of others out there.
Pros: Comfortable, Progressive back piece, Uses EVA foam padding to help disperse forces, Well priced
Cons: On the heavier side of carbon braces, Can get quite hot
5. Troy Lee Designs / Alpinestars BNS Tech Carbon Motocross Neck Brace
Writing a long review about this neck brace would be rather repetitive as it is almost identical to the BNS Alpinestars neck brace that has been described above. The difference however is that this is the Troy Lee Designs version. So what does this brace entail? For starters it features the same great comfort and fit of the non-Troy Lee Designs version. It also includes all of the same safety features! The only real difference is the styling. Troy Lee Designs is known for their beautiful paint jobs and unique designs. For this neck brace, Troy Lee Designs decided to go bright yellow with their logo (other versions can also be found). They also made all of the body pieces white which might be a bit cooler than black when riding in the heat. If the Alpinestars brace appealed to you, then you might as well also consider this as an option! Pick the styling you like best, and enjoy the neck protector’s comfort and safety.
This neck brace does not lack any of the great features that is included with the Alpinestars brace.
Pros: Great neck brace (read Alpinestars review), Unique TLD styling
Cons: On the heavier side of carbon braces, Can get quite hot
6. EVS R4 Koroyd Dirt Bike Neck Brace
The EVS R4K race collar is a simplistic motocross neck brace that offers great protection at a very reasonable price. Being of minimalistic design, this brace is extremely lightweight! The adult version comes in at only 635 grams (1.4 pounds), where the youth brace is a feather at 386 grams (0.85 pounds). The shell itself is made of reinforced nylon molded into an aerodynamic design which is sturdy and reliable. Underneath the nylon is a hi-tensile closed cell PU core which helps absorb the energy from an impact as well as distributes the forces across the body naturally.
This brace sits a little bit differently than a lot of the other braces out there. On the front is one wide closed cell foam piece that ensures energy is spread across the front of the body evenly, while avoiding damage to the sternum. On the back is what EVS refer to as a rear axial load absorber which transports forces away from the spine and across the shoulders and core. The brace is designed so that the head can move very naturally. The idea that EVS backs is the fact that a shelf on the neck brace can make compression injuries even worse. So instead they created a very natural but raised shape that the head can move around onto for force distribution. There is one closure system for this brace which is the rapid lock system. The brace locks at the front and can be opened for easy brace removal or to put it on.
The EVS R4 motocross neck protector allows for free movement when out on a motocross bike. Its lightweight design helps to keep it out of mind. An included strap system also helps hold the brace in place and prevents unwanted movement when riding. The only downside is that there is only one adult size and one youth size with limited adjustment. The rear strut on the back can be altered for a more customized fit but that isn’t always enough depending on your body type. However, it is great that the youth can have the exact same protection as adults! There are also two different colors to choose from.
The best part about this brace is that EVS took a completely different approach when designing their brace compared to the other companies. In doing so they have created an efficient design at an affordable price. We like the minimalistic design and freedom of movement that you get with this brace. It is similar to the Atlas in that sense.
Pros: Minimalistic, Lightweight, Affordable
Cons: Not very adjustable, No emergency release of any kind
7. Leatt Fusion 3.0 Motocross Neck Protector Vest
The Fusion 3.0 motocross neck protector vest by Leatt is something much more than a simple neck brace. It is also a chest protector! Leatt saw that riders who wear neck braces often struggle to find a chest protector that fits comfortably. So Leatt went to work designing an all in one piece of equipment that can protect not only the rider’s neck, but also their back, chest, and shoulders! Of course all of this protection comes with a bit of extra weight. The Fusion 3.0 weighs in at 2,500 grams (5.5lbs). That may seem like a lot but when you take in the amount of protection you receive and how much it covers, 5.5 pounds is minimal.
Before getting into all of the coverage and comfort aspects of this chest protector/neck brace combo, I think it is important to mention the certifications, and there are a lot of them! Firstly it has been CE certified as personal protective equipment which is the same as how the other Leatt neck braces on this list are. Next comes the CE certifications as impact protection. Here the combo armor scores a level 1 for the chest and a level 1 for the back. The shoulder protectors are also certified as CE impact protection. So if you are worried about safety or have a tendency to have some hard crashes, this all in one option may suit you down to the bone. The chest protector itself has a hard shell outside that is lined with 3DF AirFit soft ventilated impact foam. The foam is unique in that it hardens when subjected to impact. This helps absorb energy from a crash and spread it evenly around the body. The hard shell helps against puncture wounds which is a must for any woods or trail rider. The nice thing about this chest protector is that it comes in three sizes (small/medium, large/extra-large, and extra-extra-large) which are all very adjustable. Any adult should be able to find a fit that works well with their body type. The built in neck brace acts the exact same as any other Leatt neck brace. Simply put, when the rider’s helmet makes contact with the brace, the impact is dispersed across the chest protector.
This complex looking chest protector/neck brace combination offers surprising comfort when riding. The central pivot point on both the front and back of the chest protector help minimize the restricted feeling that many chest protectors have. Unfortunately is does get warm, but the protector is well vented and extra heat is one of the sad realities that we must deal with if we want to protect ourselves from injuries. The integrated neck brace works very well and is much more comfortable than putting one on a chest protector that doesn’t match up right.
The best thing about the Leatt fusion 3.0 Motocross Neck Protector Vest is the chest protector being flawlessly integrated with the neck brace. There is no uncomfortable movement or rubbing between the usually, separate devices. Another favorite feature is the use of the comfortable soft foam that lines the entire chest protector. It hardens when you need it to, and is a pleasure to ride in all other times!
Pros: Chest protector and neck brace all in one package, Comfortable, Adjustable, CE certified as PPE and for impact protection
Cons: Gets quite warm at times, Expensive, Heavier than some custom set ups
Riding with a motocross neck protector can feel restricting if you have not selected the correct size or brand for you. However, with the correct brace, you will feel comfortable and most importantly well protected against upper spinal injuries. Every neck brace that has been spoken about above offers great protection in a motocross crash situation. Take your time to pick the one that is right for you. Of course, the most important thing is to actually wear it! If a more expensive option means you will happily put the neck brace on for every ride, then I say the investment is worth every penny. It is better to be prevent injury than to experience it.
For advice on other protective equipment and dirt bike related content, please check out the other articles on this website. Happy riding!