Motorbike life

What is a motorcycle neck brace?

6 minutes

It is a neck brace developed to protect the cervical vertebrae in case of a fall or impact. It resembles the F1 HANS and was developed to be used on off-road bikes, but specific models have also been deigned to be used on road bikes.

What is a motorcycle neck brace?

Use of the neck brace has become more widely spread across all types of motorcycles, and not necessarily in competition. It is proven to help avoid or minimize possible neck injuries and represents a great step forward in terms of safety for motorcyclists. In fact, although it is not compulsory, it has become an essential part of the Dakar and other famous rallies, especially since 2007 when the ASO (Amaury Sports Organization), Dakar organizer, promoted an initiative to subsidize a large part of the cost of the neck brace to the riders taking part.

It is not mandatory in other disciplines either, but they are used by a good number of off-road bike riders, especially enduro and some motocross riders. Speed and trial riders do not use them, as they need to make head movements that would be difficult wearing the neck brace. However, they are starting to be used off the circuits and outside competition. That’s why there are already specific models being used when riding all types of road motorcycles, including trail bikes, which allow riders to go off-road.

Due to the wide variety of neck braces currently available on the market, prices also vary somewhat. However, to give you an idea, a neck brace can cost anywhere between 150 and 500 euros, depending on the model and the purpose for use.

A little bit of history

The first neck brace was developed by the South African doctor, Chris Leatt. As well as being a neurosurgeon, Dr. Leatt is a big fan of motorcycling, and around 20 years ago he witnessed the death of a friend after a fall while enduro riding. After that sad experience, Dr. Leatt decided to “take matters into his own hands” and set out to develop a form of protection that would prevent or reduce possible neck injuries in the event of a fall or impact.

Three years later, he sold his first neck brace and soon after founded LEATT, which continues to develop and manufacture them today, along with other protective body equipment for motorcycle users such as knee pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads, chest protectors, jackets, pants, gloves, boots, helmets, glasses, etc. In addition, LEATT not only manufactures motorcycling gear, but it is also involved in mountain biking.


How does the neck brace work?

The neck brace is placed around the neck and supports it in such a way that it limits excessive helmet movements in all directions, preventing a sudden jarring of the head from causing injuries or fractures to the cervical vertebrae. In addition to fulfilling this function, the neck brace also has to be light weight to reduce the overall weight of the rider, so the most sophisticated ones are made of materials such as carbon fiber or Kevlar.

Over the last 20 years, this neck brace has not stopped evolving, ultimately fulfilling its purpose. Various studies confirm that it reduces 21 percent of hyperflexion (extreme thrusting forward of the head), 46 percent of hyperextension (extreme thrusting backward of the head), and 20 percent of sideways hyperflexion. It also reduces pressure from the head on the neck, known as hypertranslation, by 17 percent.

Since its arrival on the market, the neck brace has proven to work and its use has become increasingly widespread, so much so that other well-known brands in the sector such as Alpinestars, Dainese, Scott, or REV’IT, among others, have developed their own.


How is the neck brace used?

It is simple to use and easy to adjust. It adapts to all types of jackets or overcoats and, of course, can be used with chest protectors, back protectors, shoulder pads, or backpacks. There are also types that can be used with leather race suits with a “hump” on the back. They obviously come in different sizes including for kids.


The neck brace limits violent neck movements, but does not prevent other movements considered essential or normal when riding a motorcycle. In addition, nowadays there are different types of neck protectors, some more basic and economical than others. The simplest are padded neck protectors that always provide some sort of protection, although they never offer the same protection as a neck brace. There are also “hybrids”, halfway between the two.

The F1 precursor

Since 2003, the use of head and neck support devices (HANS) has been mandatory in Formula 1. Neck braces limit the movements of the head and neck, and they are also useful for side impacts and largely preventing the driver’s head from bumping into the edges of the cockpit.

Since 2003, their use has been extended to all types of car racing, and it is also compulsory in practically all disciplines, including rallies on tarmac and/or gravel. The neck braces used for motorcycles are different, one of the most notable is the strap that attaches to the rider’s helmet on both sides.

Motorcyclists are the first to admit that they are the most important part of the bike, so in addition to all the precaution and expertise at the handlebars, safety in terms of equipment is paramount.

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