At A Glance
Leatt is synonymous with the Neck Brace. So much so that it's easy to forget they make a wealth of other mountain bike and motorbike products. With few companies making them, Leatt is certainly at the top of their game and their kit can be found around the necks of plenty of high profile downhill racers.Buy Body Armour on
The neck brace's popularity has varied over the years and in some periods of downhill, it was part of the uniform, whereas now there is a big mix of those who do, and those who don't. Leatt's wealth of research suggests that no doubt wearing one is safer than not, and it can prevent serious life-altering injuries from occurring.
The DBX 5.5 sits in the middle of the neck brace range with the 3.5 sitting below and the 6.5 being a carbon version. Made of reinforced polyamide, the brace prevents extremes of motion of the neck and prevents your helmet making contact with your body. Available in a range of sizes, the brace is then adjustable to fit the individual. As you would expect, the brace is CE tested and approved as Personal Protective Equipment.
The Spec list for the DBX 5.5 is impressively long but the main claim is a reduction of up to 47% in the risk of a serious neck injury. The 5.5 is also easy to adjust with a sliding front and rear SureFit adjusters to get it just right. Weighing in at 790g it is easily removed with a simple push-button release and the whole thing is durable and easily cleaned.
On The Trail
Fitting the neck brace is crucial and the instructions with the brace take you through what you need to do. It's important to get the angles right and fortunately, the DBX 5.5 is very easy to adjust. A simple push-button opens up the brace and can be clipped around the neck. At this point, there is then support at the front and rear. The rear padding, or 'rear thoracic strut' extends down your spine and the front rests on your chest. Immediately it feels comfortable and far less intrusive than you would think.
What sets this neck brace apart from older Leatt braces is that it is super easy to adjust, with tool-free adjustment front and rear. The front and back pads can be adjusted easily to make sure the brace sits neutrally on your shoulders and doesn't interfere with your helmet. This is done simply with a plastic catch which when released, allows them to slide forward and backwards. The rear thoracic strut can also be adjusted to the correct angle with interchangeable wedges that bring it in line with your back and prevent any gaps. There is then an optional strap, which goes around your chest to hold the neck brace in place.
Once on with a full-face helmet, things feel pretty normal and other than at extremes of motion the helmet doesn't' contact the brace. When riding, it's easy to forget that you've got it on and you can just get down to riding. If you stop for a break, then it removes at the pop of a button so you never feel trapped!
Comfort or lack of it is the usual concern for those who are considering a brace, and it's clear with the DBX5.5 that this is not an issue. Sure, you know it's there, but that could just as easily been seen as reassurance as it could be an irritant. The only way is to try and realise how unobtrusive a neck brace can be.
It works well with or without the chest strap, the strap just keeps things even snugger and will most likely come down to personal preference. In the event of an injury, there is an emergency release on the other side to be able to remove the brace without interfering with the neck.
If you spend a lot of time in a full-face helmet, doing uplift and hitting the park, then it's hard to think of a reason why you shouldn't invest in a neck brace. It's always hard to know where to draw the line with protection kit, but given the sort of injuries, the brace can help prevent, Leatt makes a compelling argument. It's not cheap, but then its a high tech piece of kit designed to keep you safe so hard to argue with on that front.
Easy to adjust and comfortable to wear on the bike, there are now even fewer reasons to not use a neck brace. For those gravity-fed riders who live in a full-face helmet, the BDX5.5 is an easy and effective way to increase your safety margin with little compromise.
This review was in Issue 60 of IMB.For more information visit Leatt
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.