Letter Of The Week - Dirt Rider Magazine

Before someone has the brilliant idea of throwing the first stone, let me start with this: I've always wear expensive Japanese helmets, top of the line boots, and even a carbon-fiber pair of knee braces. I am, therefore, safety-conscious enough to deserve (I hope) an answer for the question that follows, regarding the now "popular" neck braces.As one could say that a knee brace can potentially increase the risk and seriousness of a femur rupture, due to the leverage it creates in an unlucky crash, I wonder if there's a study out there to assess the risk that neck braces poses by not allowing the head (or more specifically, the neck) to move around, eventually tucking or bending before an impact, and thus eventually increasing the risk of neck injury, and not the other way around? Don't get me wrong, I'm seriously considering spending several hundred dollars in one of the three major options out there, but I keep wondering... I'm not a pro-racer, I don't fly over triples and I can't blast through woops. I'm a 35-year-old weekend rider that will try to have some fun in local table-top-infested tracks, and I can't help not thinking that for the type of riding I do, a neck brace (or knee brace, for that matter) would do more harm than good. Depending on the answer, you might want to go the extra mile and help me out with this: out of the three (EVS, Leatt and A-Stars), which offers more protection, period? If this is a tricky one for you guys to answer, let me rephrase like this: on the AMA ranks, which one is more popular, in particular among the riders that don't get paid to wear them? Your two (more like 20) cents is appreciated.Renato Galesi
Chicago, IL
The answers are all over the board on this depending on whom you ask. Collectively as a staff we have been given the marketing speeches from each of the manufacturers, seen a lot of e-mails from readers about how the specific ones they were wearing saved their lives, used them all and we are still unsure of exactly where we stand on this issue. Like any safety equipment, we feel that taking steps to protect yourself is a great idea, yet we don't feel anything should be mandated unless it's performance is clear and there are no drawbacks. These neck support systems have a few. Limited mobility and transferring the impact loads to other areas. Right now it seem the jury is still out on exactly how effective they are and until we can come across some concrete answers to the question you asked, we won't take a stand one way or another. To confuse you further, some of the staff are wearing them, others choose not to.We are working on a very detailed helmet impact study and when we get thought with that, maybe we can look deeper at the neck support. -Jimmy Lewis