|Leatt GPX Trail Brace, Body
Adventure, Dual Axis Knee Guard
The perils of outsourcing.
by Martin Hackworth
Photos: Martin Hackworth, Megan Broyles, JR Hackworth, Leatt
the past six months we've conducted long-term evaluations of
GPX Trail neck brace coupled
with both the brace-ready Leatt
Adventure Body Protector and the
Shock Doctor chest
protector. We have developed very high opinions of the GPX
Trail neck brace worn with either under-the-jersey body armor or an
external chest protector. I have become convinced enough of the value
of the low-profile, nearly unobtrusive GPX Trail brace that I wore it
on the Tour
of Idaho this year. This was a
not a decision that I made lightly since one is generally hot at least
as much as they are cold on the Tour. Several months of use in all
types of weather had convinced me that the potential benefits
of the brace greatly exceeded
the potential for overheating. Well that and
a couple of my buddies carted off MX tracks with deep bruises on their
chests and backs where the brace did it's job. Sold!
The GPX Trail brace is a lower-profile, lighter version of the standard Leatt MX brace that allows a little more unrestricted head movement. It is an outstanding product, simply the best neck brace I've ever used, and something that I now ride without reluctantly. It's very easy to get in and out of, and when coupled with any brace-ready armor, it is nearly unobtrusive in use.
While moving, I have been unable to discern much difference in ventilation with or without the brace. It does, however, get hot when you are just standing around in it, so I remove the brace whenever I got off the bike for more than a few moments.
My only nit with the GPX Trail brace is that when it rains, or the humidity gets high enough, the brace will squeak against the bottom of my KLIM ECE F4 helmet, and it'll drive you nuts after a while. I'm pretty sure that a brace cover fixes this, but in the meantime I just screw in the earplugs a little tighter when it rains.
The Leatt Adventure
Body Protector is another story. When I pulled the pressure suit style
Protector out of the plastic bag that it came in, I discovered that the
supplied hanger (something that you'll actually need to hang up the
armor after use) was defective - a harbinger of things to come.
The Adventure Body Protector is well-designed. It's a little heavier than it probably needs to be, but it wears well once you have it on and fitted to your particular torso. The ventilation is much better than one would expect by looking at it. Protection is superb and integration with the Trail GPX brace is seamless. High marks all around. What lets down the Adventure Body Protector is it's construction. The sewing is poor, zippers don't match (not even the same length) and the whole thing is poorly assembled. Assuming the unit that we received is not the only one of these with quality control issues, the folks at Leatt must be going crazy over the fact that such a well-designed product is currently sabotaged by abysmal assembly. If Leatt wants to keep selling these, they need to address their issues with poor assembly.
Leatt GPX Trail Brace
Leatt Adventure Body Protector and Dual Axis Knee Guard
| One of the reasons
that I suspect that
I am not the only one with an Adventure Body Protector that
isn't exactly a sterling example of craftsmanship is that the Leatt
Dual Axis Knee Guards I ordered
up for this year's Tour of Idaho suffer from the same issues.
Just out of the box, these CE approved knee guards look great. They are fabulously light, very well-ventilated, very protective and, at less than $100, a bona fide bargain as well. These are perhaps the best knee guards in their price range ever designed. It's the assembly, once again that leaves something to be desired. My particular issue with the Dual Axis Knee Guard has to do with the straps. Yes, I have calf muscles, but far from the biggest pair that anyone is likely to strap a set of these around.
The straps on both of my Dual Axis Knee Guards are obviously way too short, even at maximum extension, for anyone who is not a skinny 10-year old. We checked, just to be sure, and they are indeed the proper adult size. The straps, nonetheless, would dig grooves into my leg muscles each day that were still there the next morning. I almost binned my $90 knee guards at a gas-station dumpster rather than deal with them any longer after about the third day on the trail. If the straps were even an inch longer (they really need to be two or three) the fit and comfort would be superb. It's maddening to see such an otherwise great piece of gear let down by quality control issues.
GPX Trail Brace, Body
Protector Adventure, Dual Axis Knee Guard
The Good: GPX Trail Brace rocks, design is good throughout
The Rad: Seamless integration between parts
The Gnarly: Seams need some integration
Leatt GPX Trail Brace: $299.00
Leatt Adventure Body Protector: $229.00
Leatt Dual Axis Knee Guard: $89.00
Tour of Idaho Tested 2012