Product Review: Leatt STX-RR Neck Brace

Ken_Leatt_STX-RR-croppedI’ve had several people ask about the Leatt STX-RR brace that I wear on the racetrack. Well, here is my review.

Here's the illustration Leatt publishes on their website arguing for the use.

Here’s the illustration Leatt publishes on their website arguing for its use.

Should You Wear a Neck Brace?

I decided to invest in a Leatt STX-RR neck brace after a recent medical scare prompted me to do all I can to protect my neck from trauma. But, is the Leatt STX-RR neck brace a worthwhile investment for you?

A neck brace is not a piece of equipment that many motorcycle riders consider. However, it’s common to see motocross and off-road racers wearing neck braces. Do they know something we street riders and roadracers don’t?

While many people claim that there is not enough evidence saying they are effective, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence from off-road racers that neck braces work. That said, there are stories around of broken collarbones that may have been the result of contact with the brace. Even if these stories have some truth, I’ll take a broken collarbone over a broken neck anytime.

Another reason few road riders wear a neck brace is that they are expensive (See below).

The Carbon Leatt STX-RR

The Carbon Leatt STX-RR

The Leatt prevents hyper-extension and hyperflexion in a crash.

Click the photo to see an animation showing how the Leatt prevents hyper-extension and hyperflexion.

How the Leatt STX-RR Works

The RR brace rests on the shoulders and features two scapular wings in the back that straddle the aero hump on my racing leather suits. There is also a hinged sternum support wing at the front that allows me to tuck behind the windscreen.

During a crash, the brace prevents the head from snapping forward, back and sideways to a point where neck injury can occur. It is essentially a table surface that the bottom rim of the helmet contacts during a crash. When the helmet contacts the brace, the energy from the head and helmet is redirected to the shoulders, upper back and chest to protect the cervical spine.

More About the Leatt STX-RR

The STX-RR is the racing version of he STX Road model. The road model can be used on the racetrack, but the RR has a few features that make it a better choice for track riding.

The STX-RR is made from superlight carbon fiber and weighs only about one and a half pounds, compared to the less expensive and heavier fiberglass STX Road model . The RR version also differs from the STX Road model by utilizing a solid fixed ring setup with two emergency releases, which requires the rider to slip the brace over the head. The street STX Road features a locking hinge design that allows the rider to fit it by clamping it around the neck.

The RR uses a lighter, simpler spacer fitting system compared to the street version, which comes with several different sized inserts to customize fit. Both models come with optional straps for securing the brace in place. I used the straps for several track days, but it takes more time to attach them. Besides, I feel confident that the brace will stay in place without the straps.

However, the most significant difference between the RR and the Road versions is that the RR model has a lower profile, which means that it is farther away from the base of the helmet. This reduces effectiveness somewhat compared to the Road version, but the lower profile, in conjunction with the hinged front wing, allows the rider to move more freely when going from hanging off in corners to tucking fully behind a windscreen on the straights.

Maybe MM93 should consider a Leatt brace?

Maybe MM93 should consider a Leatt brace?

Fitment

Fitting the brace properly requires adjustment of the swiveling scapular wings, which are marked for precise degree adjustment, as well as removal or placement of front, rear and side spacer pads. Measuring the distance from the bottom of the helmet to the top of the brace is important for the brace to be most protective and comfortable.

After a session on the racetrack, I determined that the brace was sitting too close to my helmet, preventing me from turning my head fully in certain corners. Removing the shoulder spacer pads solved the problem. The combination of light weight and proper fitment means I can ride without noticing that I even have the brace on.

Amazon labels the RR as being size Large/XL. But, it appears that here is only that single size. Leatt says the one size fits riders from approx. 140 to 225 pounds. That is the size I wear and I am 15 pounds and 5′ 10″.

Living with the Leatt

I’ve used the Leatt for most of the track day and racing season. People often ask me whether the brace restricts my head movement. I ride a Triumph Street Triple R as my track day bike. The upright position of the Striple means I have little issue with restricted movement. Only in very tight corners do I feel the brace make contact with my helmet. However, when I ride a supersport motorcycle, I find the brace to be more restrictive. But, I suspect that with further fiddling with the adjustments, it can work on nearly any bike.

The one thing you need to consider when investing in any protective gear is that it won’t work unless you actually use it. Putting the brace on is very simple, but there were several times when I  forgot to slip the brace over my head before strapping on my helmet. Once I realized that I forgot the brace I had to take my helmet off, put the brace on and replace the helmet again. Grrrr.

The Leatt STX-RR

The Leatt STX-RR box

Co$t

The Leatt STX RR retails for $549.00, which is $150.00 more than the STX Road, but the lightweight carbon construction and articulating sternum section make the RR a better choice for track day riders and roadracers.

So, you have to determine for yourself whether a neck brace is worth the cost and inconvenience. Knowing that the neck is vulnerable to all sorts of loads that can lead to lifelong injury or death, I think it’s worth considering.

Have you crashed while wearing a neck brace? If so, how did it work?

Buy the Leatt STX-RR or STX-Road by clicking on the links below and help support this website.

 


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Ken is author of "Motorcycling the Right Way” and "Riding in the Zone" (book and blog). He is also the "Street Savvy" columnist for Motorcyclist Magazine, and former longtime author of the Proficient Motorcycling and Street Strategies columns for Motorcycle Consumer News. Ken is Lead Instructor for Tony's Track Days, a 20 year Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor, and owner of Riding in the Zone Motorcyclist Training.

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5 comments on “Product Review: Leatt STX-RR Neck Brace
  1. Andrew Douglas says:

    I’m a very conservative, safety-conscious track rider, so I have no problem investing in anything that can reduce the risk and cost of injury. I rode with this brace for more than two seasons and the review is accurate. Once on, the RR is not too noticeable even on a supersport, though not “invisible” to the rider. I did find that removing one of the rubber pads (the one at the back of the neck) improved mobility noticeably, as did pushing the brace back after slipping it on.

    At the end of this season, I did sell the brace… not because I was unhappy with it, but because Helite released a new track-oriented airbag vest, the GP Air. I upgraded to that and am very happy with it, but due to its high price it is not for everyone. I’d still recommend the Leatt RR to anyone wishing to up their protection.

  2. Bill Cool says:

    Thanks for the review Ken – this is the most comprehensive comparison of the Road vs. RR I’ve seen yet, including Leatt’s own descriptions!

  3. Joshua Coombs says:

    I’ve been wearing an STX-RR this year as well and am quite pleased with it. I did have one get off at the track, and did walk away with a broken collar bone.

    Looking at the worst case scenario, the brace broke my collar bone: The force that was transferred into my shoulder blew it apart. I should post the x-rays, it wasn’t your normal snap in the middle, the end away from the brace split down the middle like someone was trying to split firewood. The amount of force estimated is supported by the heavy instant bruising and GIANT lump I had after the crash. The impact marks on my helmet show it was an angled hit that tried to rotate my helmet and head to my left. There are no signs of the brace itself touching down on the pavement other than abrading the strap on one side while I was sliding on my back at one point. Putting those pieces of data together says sans brace my head would have been forced around well past my comfort zone. I normally can get a stiff neck just by moving wrong, etc, let alone what tumbles do to me. I didn’t have any neck discomfort after the crash, either immediately or down the line. I can’t imagine the state of my neck had the brace not limited the range of motion of my head in that incident. That to me, even assuming it broke my collar bone sells me on the brace.

    Now, if it didn’t cause the break, I still walked away with zero neck trauma, the stated goal, so absent any evidence to the contrary again the brace is doing it’s job. I’ll be getting one for my dirty adventures as well ASAP.

    • Ken Condon says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience Joshua. The debate goes on about whether these braces are effective or not, but stories like yours make me feel pretty confident that they are worth the investment.

  4. Paul Duval says:

    I haven’t purchased a brace for the road course yet, but I have MANY crashes in my MX brace. I’m quite sure that my head goes through much less range of motion in a violent tumble with the brace on. I can’t say that I know it prevented injury, but less movement (flexion/extension) = less risk of injury.

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