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What happened to neck braces in DH?

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8/9/2022 9:25 AM

At one point it seemed to be pretty common to see a small-ish percentage of WC DH riders and every-day park riders rocking a Leatt or similar neck brace. Now that I'm on the other side of 40 but still wanting to hit the bike park every now and then, my mind is wondering a.) if I should dust mine off for park days, but also b.) why we don't see them anymore on the WC circuit.

Sidenote: It's been 7+ years since I've used my Leatt, do these have a shelf life like bike helmets? I would assume not...*shrug*

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Remember the Lumber yard, go balls out.
www.lucentproductions.com

8/9/2022 9:53 AM

It seems like they existed due to good marketing at the time... It sounds great: be more safe = win. But, then you got one and realized they got in the way more then they helped and I think that is why people stopped wearing them. They moved around a lot and instead of looking at the trail you were noticing your brace sliding around.

I remember rumors floating around of people having the neck brace causing a collar bone break when they crashed -instead of breaking your neck, that's a better alternative for sure- but it was still negative attention.

Also it's worth noting the classic body armor dilemma: you feel unstoppable with a lot of armor and then you ride beyond your limits more often, causing more crashing than if you had not worn it in the first place. That depends on the person but I'm sure we've all experienced that to a certain extent at some point.

If we saw that people who have spinal injuries in our sport could've prevented them via a neck brace then we may still be on them. A neck brace clearly preventing those injuries that we do see doesn't seem to be what is happening... so we just don't wear them.

Do moto guys still wear them?

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8/9/2022 10:05 AM

I started wearing one last year after listening to an interview with Dr. Leatt. I had been on the fence before that. The science behind the brace and the reduced chance of a collar bone break make it a no brainer IMO. I race and ride as a hobby and I know its a matter of when I crash not if so I make a point to always wear a good helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, neck brace and spine/chest protector. I want to be injury free so I can keep biking.

When I started wearing the brace I made a point to wear it whether it was an enduro ride or a DH ride so that I was used to it, you soon forget you are wearing it. Same goes for other protective gear, on hot weather days it can be a little uncomfortable but I would rather be mildly hot than injured.

Podcast for reference:
http://pulpmx.com/podcast/guest-chris-leatt/

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8/9/2022 10:53 AM

Some moto guys still wear them. I do not. I tried one once and after two laps, the jury had decided: NOT FOR ME. grin

The brace interferes with my movements too much. I wonder if that's the concern among DH guys?

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8/9/2022 11:50 AM

Falcon wrote:

Some moto guys still wear them. I do not. I tried one once and after two laps, the jury had decided: NOT FOR ME. grin

The brace ...more

yeah I'm sure most WC DH guys are confident in their riding and also want the most comfort/freedom when seconds are on the line. My days of placing 5th at a NORBA National Sport class race are well behind me, and now that I have kids and run my own business (which can't have me out with severe injury) I'm ok with sacrificing a bit of comfort for safety at this point.

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Remember the Lumber yard, go balls out.
www.lucentproductions.com

8/9/2022 12:02 PM
Edited Date/Time: 8/9/2022 12:07 PM

Lucent wrote:

yeah I'm sure most WC DH guys are confident in their riding and also want the most comfort/freedom when seconds are on the ...more

Yes. They basically have to use marshalls to make sure that the World Cup DH guys are actually wearing the padding that the rules mandate, from what I understand. I've heard talk of racers taking the padding out of their pads and such to reduce the distraction.

Edit: It's also possible I"m conflating something that I KNOW happens in American Football, especially for high speed positions as well as an incident I remember reading about where a country's regulating body (maybe Italy) was requiring DH riders to wear spine protection, and a lot of them were complaining because they never ride with it.

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8/9/2022 12:10 PM

This article caught my eye real quick. I'm 7 weeks post C6/C7 fusion surgery from an OTB riding my DH bike doing simple bike park laps back in June. Has me wondering if I would've had one on would I still be riding instead of all buddies out having fun? It was the type of crash I've had a ton of times over the 35+ years of riding moto and MTB. I tried one back when they first came out riding moto and like many it felt restrictive and kept hitting the back of my helmet and drove me crazy. But now..... hmmmmmm... wondering if I need another one??

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8/9/2022 12:42 PM
Edited Date/Time: 8/9/2022 12:44 PM

I currently do not wear one but I should. A Leatt brace saved my life after a Kona dh bike (Operator) snapped, I almost broke my neck. I was lucky enough to receive only 2 fractured vertebrae. The doctor said without the leatt brace, I would have snapped my neck and potentially been paralyzed. Now I’m the jack ass like everyone else wanting comfort. I have forgone wearing a leatt I will prob start wearing it again.

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8/9/2022 12:49 PM
Edited Date/Time: 8/9/2022 12:50 PM

It’s been disproven that Leatt Brace causes a collar bone break, if anything it may even help a bit in a crash. I personally use Leatts lightest offering and I will say with full confidence that it kept me from a neck/spine injury when falling off New Growth at highland mountain bike park. The brace actually stopped my head from rotating backwards too far and could feel it work in the moment by altering the load throughout my upper back instead of the tiny bones In The neck. I wouldn’t be caught going hard doing DH without one ever again! As far for comfort, yes there’s some limiting factor that takes a few rides to get used to then I forgot it’s on. Also…. I’ll take minor discomfort over a broken neck any day.

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8/9/2022 1:06 PM

I still occasionally use my Alpinestars neck brace when I ride Moto. But it has definitely fallen out of favor in the Moto community with very few riders using it. You can on occasion still see the OG neck protection, the donut! Lol i think Carson Mumford uses it sometimes.

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8/9/2022 1:30 PM

There was a 10 year study on neck braces that everyone should read - https://www.actionsportsems.com/case-study-neck-brace. I've been wearing one for years. As far as freedom of movement etc - invest the time in setup and also have your brace on when you're trying out helmets to check for interference.

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8/9/2022 2:00 PM

I finally got a used one just in time for my last mountain bike ride at Vital Ditch Day a few years ago. I wore it without all of the fancy straps and had no issues with comfort or it hitting the back of my helmet.

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8/9/2022 2:32 PM

Lucent wrote:

At one point it seemed to be pretty common to see a small-ish percentage of WC DH riders and every-day park riders rocking a ...more

Helmets don't have a shelf life - that's a myth. They certainly get worn out with use, abuse, or improper storage, but time isn't what does them in.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26902784/

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Founder of Abit Gear MTB shorts

8/9/2022 3:03 PM

JVP wrote:

Helmets don't have a shelf life - that's a myth. They certainly get worn out with use, abuse, or improper storage, but time ...more

They do if not stored in an air tight, light-less box. I’ve worked at shops with back stock of cheap helmets that have been around for years, and the sun damage and exposure to heat/cold cracked a few of them without even taking them out of the box. While it might not be visually apparent, the closed cell foam does degrade and can become brittle. Basically if you’re questioning it, replace it.
Anyway, I digress.
The neck brace dilema has been on my mind. If I raced DH and rode more park I would definitely invest, plus more body armor. But, 95% of my rides are pedal access with small climbs scattered throughout the descents. Knee pads and long sleeves are enough for me on those rides.

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Making bikes go fast since 2020

8/9/2022 3:29 PM

I tried one for a season, and found that because of my downwards sloping shoulders combined with long-ass neck, my head could still move far enough that I felt the potential difference in injury was not enough to outweigh the difficulty in movement I felt. So I gave up on it, but periodically reconsider my decision...

I think if you wear it more you get more used to it, but the riders at the pointy end of the sport probably prefer the unhindered movement, so don't wear them, and then aren't used to them.

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8/9/2022 3:58 PM

I mainly found it to be a problem riding really steep stuff or in deep berms. Couldn't get my head round far enough to see the next section of trail. As soon as I became aware of it I found it hard to not be distracted by it.

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8/9/2022 4:06 PM

On my dh bike I literally try to wear it every once in a while. I usually get annoyed and distracted. On my moto I never ride without it. I will keep trying. I have modified chest protection that plays nice with the leatt and the Alpinestars models. I know it’s smart. But fuck if the damed things throw me off a ton on my mtb. And I send much bigger stuff on the bike. But rode way faster way chunkier garbage on moto.

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PNW ROOTS
ROCKY MT. HIGH

8/9/2022 5:08 PM

Laurie Greenland talks about why he stopped wearing one in this podcast: https://www.downtimepodcast.com/laurie-olly/
Basically it caused issues when he went to a longer reach bike, which also made his riding style less wild. With the new body position he couldn't hold his head high enough with the brace.
He's definitely stepped up his racing game since he made those changes.

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8/9/2022 8:59 PM

I just got used to wearing one when im riding my dh bike. It's come in real handy on 2 distinct occasions.

1st occasion i speared a tree.
2nd occasion i went otb in the "do not otb' spot.

Yeah, its annoying... but I've known too many people who have gotten spinal chord injuries... i can make do with a little discomfort when scoping berms. I've kinda just gotten used to it i guess?





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8/10/2022 1:04 AM

Seems a little odd that most (if not all) of the Pivot/Leatt Team doesn't wear a Leatt neck brace. It must be too much of a hindrance for them.

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8/10/2022 2:15 AM

Still use mine EVERY time I ride the DH bike. While I agree in the "dress for the ride not the crash" mentality (in that, the more pads an armour I wear I feel more likely to crash. That is for trail riding, XC an DJ.
When it comes to DH, I'm not just crashing the bike.. I';m crashing the bike on steep gnarly Welsh mountain sides, and it's the crash that I don't see coming that I want to be protected for!! Especially in the steep hills.

If your neck brace is interfering with your concentration or hitting your helmet I would say it's poorly adjusted/fitted. I really do not notice mine at all....

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Callous Hands an Bloody Shins since 1979

8/10/2022 2:20 AM

Lucent wrote:

At one point it seemed to be pretty common to see a small-ish percentage of WC DH riders and every-day park riders rocking a ...more

JVP wrote:

Helmets don't have a shelf life - that's a myth. They certainly get worn out with use, abuse, or improper storage, but time ...more

Brevard_Bikewrench wrote:

They do if not stored in an air tight, light-less box. I’ve worked at shops with back stock of cheap helmets that have been ...more

I have all my old helmets. About 15 years worth on the shelf crashed or shelved them due to being 3 or 4 years old. I would dissagree as I picked up my oldest an stuck my finger into the poly as hard as I could.... No give whatso ever, felt solid like wood!!

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Callous Hands an Bloody Shins since 1979

8/10/2022 5:10 AM
Edited Date/Time: 8/10/2022 5:11 AM

djjohnrodriguez wrote:

There was a 10 year study on neck braces that everyone should read - https://www.actionsportsems.com/case-study-neck-brace. ...more

Maybe I’m missing something, but this study compares injuries with and without a neckbrace and shows way more injuries without but also says no one is wearing a neck brace. So what is the sample size of riders who are actually wearing a brace? If a small number of riders in the study are wearing a brace it’s possible there’s too small of a sample to do this kind of comparison and not really apples to apples.

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8/10/2022 5:43 AM

JVP wrote:

Helmets don't have a shelf life - that's a myth. They certainly get worn out with use, abuse, or improper storage, but time ...more

age no, heat yes. so if you leave your helmet in the car on a hot summer day on a regular basis that will result in degradation to it's mechanical properties over time.

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8/10/2022 5:48 AM

Jonzilla wrote:

I have all my old helmets. About 15 years worth on the shelf crashed or shelved them due to being 3 or 4 years old. I would ...more

pushing on it with your finger is nowhere near close to the forces it would experience in a crash.

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8/10/2022 6:04 AM

weren't there a couple companies making integrated chest protectors w/ neck braces? i can't seem to recall who.

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8/10/2022 6:47 AM

djjohnrodriguez wrote:

There was a 10 year study on neck braces that everyone should read - https://www.actionsportsems.com/case-study-neck-brace. ...more

I am not advocating using/not using the neckbraces but this study is fundamentally wrong in terms of reading and using data. Just plain wrong.
The reason is simple: it doesn't take into account the percentage of people who wear and don't wear neckbraces.
Example:
Statistics 1 - 239 recorded cases of injury without the neckbrace, 26 cases with the neckbrace.
Stated conclusion that injury is 89% more likely without neckbrace is wrong, because it doesn't take into account that most riders don't wear neckbraces. There is 9 times more injuries of people without neckbraces because there is about 7-8 times more riders who don't wear the neckbraces. (23% were wearing in 2012, 12% in 2022 - Whistler opening day data).
So if you take this into account, then 239/7 = 34 (to compare apples to apples)
26 injuries vs 34 injuries - doesn't look like 89% more likely wink

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8/10/2022 7:14 AM

ciechan wrote:

I am not advocating using/not using the neckbraces but this study is fundamentally wrong in terms of reading and using data. ...more

on a quick glance, i'd also argue that study also suffers from sample selection bias - they are only assessing patients who *experienced injuries*, and assessed that data set for brace vs no brace. it doesn't seem to include the group of riders that wear neck braces who crashed and were uninjured, which i think would be important to assess (as the whole point of neck braces is to prevent injury).

that said, i don't think their findings are necessarily wrong the way they are presented, just the percentages and likelihoods they are claiming are off.

should also be noted - this study was on motocross riders, not downhillers / mountain bikers.

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8/10/2022 7:26 AM

djjohnrodriguez wrote:

There was a 10 year study on neck braces that everyone should read - https://www.actionsportsems.com/case-study-neck-brace. ...more

ciechan wrote:

I am not advocating using/not using the neckbraces but this study is fundamentally wrong in terms of reading and using data. ...more

Go look at #5 and #6 in there, those two give you the raw numbers of outcomes for each and you can do your own math.

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8/10/2022 7:27 AM

onenerdykid* wrote:

Seems a little odd that most (if not all) of the Pivot/Leatt Team doesn't wear a Leatt neck brace. It must be too much of a ...more

On one of Bernard Kerrs recent WC videos he was holding some cut out foam floor matting for his back protector and elbows. Forget which round it was but one of the European countries that mandate it for the race. Not ideal for Leatt but him being comfortable and being on the Podium must outweigh mandating he has to wear all their gear i guess

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