New for 2014 from Leatt Corporation is the Leatt Five Five Neck Brace, which as an end result of exhaustive laboratory and field testing is indisputably the most technologically advanced device for aiding in limiting a motorcycle riders head movement in the event of a mistimed landing or crash, and limiting a rider's head movement during these adverse conditions lessens chances of Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI), or Vertebrae damage from unnatural movement, or compression of the neck, both of which are possible with a trip to the ground, and can be life changing in an instant as documented in our article on the ineffectiveness of neck donuts and the potential hazards associated with not wearing a neck brace.
If you're not already aware, Leatt Corporation is a Cape Town South African originating company founded by Dr. Chris Leatt, an established trauma surgeon with an active involvement in off-road motorcycling, and is widely known and recognized among motorcycling communities globally as the pioneer of the neck brace.
In a constant effort to improve the safety of riders, and the protective qualities of their neck braces, for 2014 Leatt Corporation completely redesigned their flagship neck brace, as doing so allowed them to expand upon features of their existing and proven neck braces, allowing better dynamics and protective qualities of their neck braces, which has ultimately resulted in an easier to use, less restrictive and more protective neck brace than previous models as we'll go over below.
Everything. For 2014 Leatt overhauled their original design with knowledge gleaned from nearly a decade's worth of observation, research, testing and development with their flagship neck brace, which allowed Leatt to expand and improve upon existing features, while eliminating multiple optional pieces, resulting in a neck brace with unparalleled comfort, protection and mobility, while greatly simplifying the fitment, adjustment and use of this new generation of Leatt braces, ultimately resulting in a less restricted and better protected rider.
New on the Leatt Five Five is the introduction of a simple push button release with an audible "Click" and a visual indicator (Visible only to an assistant) that confirms the brace is fully secured, vs latches of which some riders experienced trouble with on previous models, which included the GPX Club, as well as the more advanced GPX Race brace.
Additionally, In the event of needing to remove the brace from an injured rider, the Five Five brace can easily be disassembled via the push button release, and a 1/4 turn fastener opposite the push button that is similar to a Dzus fastener, of which can be easily manipulated by EMS personnel, adding another level of protective qualities by allowing a medical technician to safely disassemble, and remove the brace from a downed rider using nothing more than a flat blade screwdriver, or the edge of a coin.
With previous versions of Leatt's neck brace, a rider would be daunted with a plethora of interchangeable parts in a bag, along with a neck brace that arrived in multiple pieces with an allen wrench to enable interchanging, or repositioning of components, so in an effort to simplify the use of Leatt's braces, the Five Five brace comes preassembled allowing a user to take it out of the box, putting it directly on, and have it properly adjusted in seconds.
Additionally, through use of locking levers, and included optional padding, the Five.Five brace doesn't require any tools to perform the necessary adjustments often required to properly fit a brace to the wearer, as detailed in the multilingual instruction booklet that accompanies each brace.
Due to most neck brace's construction, with the rear thoracic strut, a neck brace can occupy as much as, or more space than a helmet within a gear bag. For this reason, Leatt Corporation designed the Five Five brace in a way that the rear supporting thoracic strut not only works with the bodies natural movement, after use the rear strut can be neatly folded inward, greatly lessening the brace's footprint in a gear bag.
More importantly, Instead of a single, rigidly fixed rear throracic strut as can be found on past models of Leatt Braces, as well as competitor's braces, Leatt enginered the rear strut of the Five Five to disperse any loads over a wider area of the wearers back while relieving the spine of pressure through use of a split thoracic strut, while also adding a hinge, which in turn allows the brace to work more naturally with the wearer, resulting in a more comfortable and protective brace which stows easily after use.
With reports of previous model neck braces breaking the rear thoracic strut off in violent crashes, which was nothing more than a simple matter of physics where a force takes the least path of resistance, ultimately breaking off the rear thoracic strut under extreme load. New on the Five Five brace is multiple engineered failure points designed to yield (fracture) at lower thresholds than what were often reached before breaking the rear thoracic strut of older versions, further protecting the rider by allowing individual components of the brace to break before placing excessive load on a rider's chest or back.
With the brace properly adjusted and fitted to the wearer, (which is much simpler to achieve than with past Leatt Neck Braces), the Five Five allows ample mobility, allowing a 360 degree field of vision without interference, which can be achieved by looking over each shoulder, such as when doing a "Look Back".
However the brace's limiting qualities are quickly realized when attempting to look beyond the fields of vision necessary for safe and efficient operation of a motorcycle, such as looking up in the sky, or directly at the ground beside or immediately in front of you, neither of which are necessary, nor recommended if working to achieve ideal control and faster lap times.
Although the aforementioned aspects are seemingly restrictive, these limitations are better than prior models, and are necessary and acceptable since there is no reason to look beyond what the brace allows during a ride or race, and any more allowance would render the brace's protective qualities less effective in the event of a crash.
Once the brace was properly situated on our rider's shoulders, which was easily achieved by repositioning the sure fit adjusters, and removing the optional shoulder pads to achieve the proper rim clearance from the helmet as illustrated in the accompanying instruction booklet, our test rider commented before even heading out on the track that the neck brace felt very confidence inspiring and once seated on the bike, it was evident that the brace would allow an acceptable range of motion, only limiting extreme or excessive head movement that wouldn't be necessary during it's intended use.
Heading Out on the Track With It... the brace's presence quickly faded whereas our rider felt completely unrestricted, as merging onto the track while looking over one's shoulder for oncoming riders was effortless and without restriction, as well as looking ahead (as you should), or over the tops of jumps was possible without the helmet contacting the brace's strike points.
What this ultimately results in is a brace which allows a rider to SEE WHAT THEY NEED TO SEE. However, The brace will interfere with your head's movement if attempting to look up or down beyond a rider's necessary fields of vision when riding, which is exactly what it should do as this limitation is what helps protect your neck from unnatural movements or compression in the event of a crash.
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