Leatt STX Road Brace | MC Tested

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Gron4 Photography

The neck is the most vulnerable part of a motorcyclist’s anatomy. Cowhide, Kevlar and polycarbonate protect every inch of a rider’s body except his neck, which is ridiculous when you consider that it’s impossible to ride with a severed spinal cord. Dr. Chris Leatt, a South African neurosurgeon-turned-inventor, created his revolutionary neck brace for motocross racers in 2006. Now the Leatt brace has been adapted for road use, offering streetbike riders similar protection against potentially catastrophic neck injuries.

The primary difference between the STX road brace and the GPX off-road model is the use of a pair of foldable, rear-mounted “scapula wings” in lieu of the single, centrally located “thoracic strut.” These provide the necessary clearance for back protectors and the aero humps found on street-riding gear. Both braces function the same way, interacting with the helmet rim to limit neck hyper-extension and create an alternate load path that transfers head impact energy away from the neck and onto stronger, less-vulnerable sternum and shoulder bones.

The upper flanges are designed to deform in a controlled manner to absorb impact energy, acting like crumple zones, and carefully shaped clavicle cutouts keep the brace from contacting the fragile collarbone. Though the brace isn’t specifically designed to protect the collarbone, the company says it can prevent the helmet rim from striking it in some scenarios.

The CE-certified STX comes in three sizes: S/M, L/XL and XXL, sized according to the rider’s height. Adjustment pins connecting the front and back halves are available in four widths from 0-30mm, to accommodate different chest depths. Properly adjusted, the brace fits snugly but not tightly over the shoulders. Too tight and it can ride up in certain positions and not fall back down, potentially restricting head movement. Optional adjustable elastic straps can be installed to hold the brace in place, but these are redundant if the brace fits properly.

Bright-red hinges on both sides allow the brace to split front-to-back, and it goes on or off in seconds. At speed, you don’t notice the low-profile STX at all. Most helmets only contact the brace at the limits of normal motion, but check compatibility with your preferred lid. Shoei, Arai and Bell helmets worked, but a deep-skirted Icon was an interference-fit. Even hanging off, the brace didn’t impede visibility through corners. It doesn’t rattle, either—nearing 170 mph on Road America’s front straight, it still stayed put.

The only issue is tucking behind the fairing. Lay on the tank and the thin, blade-like collar pushes up and crushes your windpipe, making it impossible to maintain a full aerodynamic tuck. This is why you don’t see any professional roadracers rocking the Leatt yet. Speed trumps safety, at least in the Pro ranks.

Aerodynamic compromises are less crucial to recreational riders, however, and the type of impact the Leatt brace best protects against—where the head strikes a blunt object like a curb or car door—is more common on the street than at the track. After a few weeks of use we feel as naked without it as we would riding without a helmet or gloves.

Leatt Stx Road Brace
Price: $395-$410
Contact: Leatt Brace
www.leatt-brace.com
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

We appreciate the added protection, but wish it didn’t choke us when tucked-in.

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