By Tom Kaiser
One of the biggest surprises for the ATV aftermarket at this year’s Dealer Expo was the growing roster of big-name companies showing off neck brace prototypes.
EVS Sports and SixSixOne Protection had innovative takes on the concept on display. Even more, Alpinestars is in the testing phase with a brace of its own.
Neck braces for ATV riding might be a new concept, but it looks like the industry is in the thick of a neck brace race.
Since some of the biggest names in the ATV aftermarket business are getting involved, you can bet neck braces will be seen on the shoulders of more racers.
Alpinestars is still tweaking its brace, a traditional design similar in concept to Leatt’s, and has recruited dirt bike riders Chad Reed and Ryan Villopoto to wear them as testers.
“We are developing a brace,” said Tim Collins, of the communications department at Alpinestars. “Our target release date is mid-summer of this year.”
Pricing information, design details, photos and an exact release date were still unavailable at press time.
EVS Sports, a company known for its rugged knee and kidney braces, sees neck braces as a continuation of the company’s directive to be the “original protective gear company.”
The company has marketed its RC1, 2 and 3 race collars for more than five years and says it was the first MX company to offer a collar designed to lessen the occurence of neck compression and collarbone injuries.
Its new neck brace, still branded as a collar for consistency’s sake, is called the RC Evolution. The Evolution is available in a range of colors and sizes.
Todd Lentz, director of sales at EVS, says the product is the result of collaboration with orthopaedic doctors, chiropractors, university professors and racers.
“We won’t rest as a company until we have mastered the art of protective gear,” he said. “Even though we feel we’re approaching that pretty closely, you can only say perfection has been reached when no rider will ever sustain an injury.”
EVS’ Evolution is similar to Leatt’s Moto-GPX brace ($395-$595), but priced much lower at $170.
As for the brace’s distinctive design, EVS says the market and company demands that safety gear not be seen as a negative part of a rider’s gear.
At SixSixOne Protection, Erick Bartoldus said the company “saw a need to build a better neck protector and wanted to integrate chest protection with the brace” because so many riders use both of them.
Bartoldus says the company’s unique design spreads the impact forces over a greater area in the event of an impact. Bartoldus says the idea came from riders the company hosted for an event.
There is some thought in the industry that the first generation of stand-alone neck braces put too much impact pressure on the rider’s collar bone.
“The Guardian is different because it takes the best of both worlds and makes a great product,” Bartoldus said. “Everyone that rides should be wearing some sort of neck protection.”
To spread the word, SixSixOne plans to work with race teams and riders, and also plans to spread the word through the media.
The Guardian will come to market with a $350 price tag, competitive with Leatt’ entry-level braces.