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Leatt recently released two bicycle specific neck braces, dubbed the Leatt Bicycle DBX Ride and Leatt Bicycle DBX Comp.  Over the past month or so, we've had some time to put each of them through the Vital test program.  

The Leatt Bicycle DBX Ride (grey) and DBX Comp (white)

Before we get to our thoughts, hear what makes the new brace different from previous Leatt models from Jason McCune at Leatt:

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In general, the braces are very sturdy.  They feel as though they could take some abuse, which is great considering most of our gear gets thrown into one big bag and tossed around the truck.  We didn't find any careless flaws or sharp edges, showing that Leatt has a good Quality Control department.  One of the things that really impressed us was how tight the hinges were.  We figured the hinges would be a weak point, but there was no play even after lots of use.

As Jason mentioned, the main difference is that both braces allow for increased mobility when compared to the Leatt GPX, which has been around for a few years but is designed primarily for motocross.  Why more mobility?  Because for downhill use, many users found the moto braces to be slightly too restrictive when riding the steeps and needed more range-of-motion.

Because the main goal of the new brace is increased mobility, we wanted to see exactly how a helmet interacts with the Leatt while riding.  To do that, we came up with a pretty unique helmet cam configuration (thanks to Epic Action Cam) and sent our test rider up the hill with each brace:

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For this test, we were using a DOT approved Kali helmet.  The video shows that the helmet still comes into contact with the brace pretty often during normal riding, despite the lower padding.  However, it never felt very restrictive, and both braces were definitely an improvement over their moto equivalents.  The DBX Comp offered slightly more mobility than the DBX Ride, especially when the rear padding was lowered as far as possible using the adjustment screws.  Your personal setup will vary based on what helmet you run, your neck length, etc.  Most bicycle helmets appear to be smaller, which would give you even more mobility.

When you open the box, you'll find several sets of spacers (indicated by the red arrows) which enable one brace to fit a variety of people based on their chest size.  There is also a new "wedge" that can be used to make the back support fit more snugly.  Between the spacers and the wedge, there are a lot of different size configurations possible.  Setup was pretty straightforward and after a few test fits we were ready to ride in no time.

As noted in our conversation with Jason, the DBX Comp has more adjustments than the DBX Ride.  These adjustments affect only to the height of the padding, not how it fits.  On the DBX Comp the padding can easily be raised or lowered using a metric allen key.

DBX Comp rear adjustment screws
Straps or No Straps?
For the test video, we chose to do without the straps while using the DBX Comp model and to run them with the DBX Ride.  We found that without the straps, the brace will bounce around slightly and can be distracting.  With the straps, it's very secure and didn't move much. 

Jason informed us that it's simply a matter of personal preference - some like to use them and others don't - but ultimately the brace will perform the same.  Because of the way the Leatt is designed, it's impossible for the brace to be in the wrong position during a crash, regardless of whether it's strapped or not.

Could be Improved
After just a few rides on a dry day, we noticed that the white DBX Comp was visibly dirty (as shown below) while the grey DBX Ride still appeared clean.   As with most bike products, white may not be the best choice but it appeals to a lot of people.  Lucky for you, the padding can be easily removed and washed with the rest of your gear.  Over time, removing the padding repeatedly to wash it might lead to premature wear of the velcro or padding.

Discolored white padding
Another minor thing that could be improved was the small pieces of padding near the hinges, as shown in the image below.  They weren't attached very securely and didn't conform to the brace well.  Many riders simply remove them if they are a bother.  Some of the recent Leatt prototype models appear to have a one-piece padding design which eliminates these small pads.

Final Thoughts
Now that Leatt makes a bicycle specific model offering increased mobility, you'll be able to move your head back more and see further ahead.  Word on the street is that Leatt will also be releasing their own line of upper body protection made to integrate perfectly with the brace.

In the end, you can't be too safe.  Whether you're racing downhill, dirt jumping, or hucking off cliffs at the Rampage a Leatt is a wise investment.  Neck injuries are serious business, so be sure to protect your neck!

What do you think?  Let us know in the comments below.

For more information or to find a nearby dealer, check out the recently revamped, the Bicycle DBX product guide, and the Leatt facebook page.

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