If you have landed on this page, it means that you love dirt bike riding and you care about your safety as well.
We can’t deny the fact that dirt bike riding is thrilling and exciting.
However, the sport can also be dangerous, and that is why you need to make sure that you purchase all the protective equipment that you will need to keep you or your loved one safe while on the road.
One such protective equipment that you need is a neck brace although some people argue that it isn’t necessary.
So, should you wear a dirt bike neck brace while riding? Personally, I’d recommend that you wear a neck brace whenever you go out riding to protect your neck and ensure that you stay safe.
Neck braces hit the dirt bike scene in 2007, and 12 years later, dirt bike riders are still torn as to whether or not they should put them on while riding.
But, one thing is for sure, neck and back injuries are among the worst injuries that dirt bike riders suffer whenever they are involved in an accident.
This is the primary reason why leading companies such as Leatt have invested a lot of money in research and development to create something unique that can minimize the damage to the neck region, spine, and spinal cord in the event of a crash.
Although there seems to be so much debate about the use of dirt bike neck braces, I wouldn’t encourage you to go riding without protecting your neck region.
Throughout this post, I will provide you with all the essential information that you need to know about dirt bike neck braces and why you should consider acquiring one if you don’t have it yet.
A Brief History of the Neck Brace
Leatt Neck Brace
The invention of the dirt bike neck brace is down to one man and a tragic accident that he witnessed.
In the early 2000s, a South African doctor and avid dirt bike rider Chris Leatt saw something tragic while he was training his son to become a rider.
A follow rider died while on a racetrack after crashing badly.
Following the accident, it was discovered that the follow rider died as a result of severe injuries sustained by his spinal cord and back.
Keen to protect himself, his son, and all the future riders, the enterprising young doctor embarked on a mission to develop a neck brace that would protect dirt bike riders from such injuries in the future.
Chris Leatt’s first neck brace was unveiled in 2004, but it didn’t attract high sales volumes.
This neck brace was designed to protect the neck region and the spinal cord endings in the area so that riders didn’t suffer from spinal cord injuries during a crash.
However, it took almost three years for this invention to be accepted by dirt bike riders. As the neck brace popularity started to grow, several companies came up and began to develop their own versions of neck braces to address the same risk.
Today, many companies such as EVS and Alpinestars market braces that do the same job as Chris Leatt’s original brace that was produced in 2004.
What Are the Primary Roles of a Neck Brace?
A dirt bike neck brace is specifically designed to perform two essential functions. First, it directs all the harsh forces that are put on your neck during a crash away from the neck region and disperse them effectively across your entire body.
The second function of a neck brace is to limit the side to side and back and forth movement of the rider’s head in the event of an accident.
The restricted head movement plays a crucial role in preventing hyperflexion and hyperextension in the event of a crash.
Hyperextension usually occurs when your neck is bent too far backward while hyperflexion will take place when your neck is twisted too far forward. This will ensure that the spinal endings in the neck region aren’t damaged when you are involved in a crash.
The Axial Loading
To help you understand further the importance of a neck brace, I think it will be good if I explain the concept of axial loading when a crash occurs.
The axial loading can simply be defined as a force that pulls or pushes your spinal cord when you crash.
Whenever you crash, the axial loading will push your head first into an oncoming obstacle and then push the force generated as a result of the impact straight down on the top of your head into the neck region.
The overall impact of axial loading can be quite catastrophic if you have not put on anything that will repel the force and distribute it evenly throughout your body.
This is the primary reason why you need to wear a dirt bike neck brace whenever you go out riding.
Alpinestars, one of the leading neck brace manufacturers, believe that the most significant and likely cause of severe neck injury is axial loading.
The company reports that the damage usually occurs within five and eight milliseconds of the initial impact.
How Can a Neck brace Prevent Axial Loading?
At this point, I know that you are most probably asking yourself how a neck brace can prevent axial loading and prevent the rider from sustaining injuries.
Well, this safety equipment works on a relatively simple principle.
When you put on a neck brace, it will sit on the upper chest and back of the rider which limits head movement during a crash.
As long as your head isn’t moving when you crash, chances of preventing spinal cord injuries are relatively high.
You need to keep in mind that the spinal cord may not be as strong as the vertebra.
The spinal cord contains the nerve endings and the spinal fluid that can’t be replaced at all. This is what the dirt bike neck brace protects.
You may have noticed that every brace company has its own unique design of the neck brace.
The various designs represent each company’s take on what their engineers believe that will provide maximum protection in the event of crash.
It is actually quite impossible to tell whether one neck brace performs better than the other.
However, it is quite easy to see that any dirt bike neck brace is much better than having none at all.
Some high-quality motocross neck braces have well-designed thoracic struts that break when a certain amount of pressure or force is applied to them.
The primary reason why this is done is to ensure that the brace doesn’t dig into the rider’s back and cause injury in the event of a severe crash.
There are also a lot of myths about braces breaking neck bones although there is no evidence to support such claims.
Who Should Wear a Neck Brace?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you need to make sure that you wear a neck brace every time you go out riding.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or skilled rider, everyone can crash, and the worst can happen when you least expected.
Some parents tend to believe that neck braces are for young riders and not adults.
This is the reason why you will see a lot of kids wearing neck braces, yet their parents don’t seem to bother about their own safety as well.
However, I’m here to remind you that neck braces is a worthy investment that you shouldn’t forego.
Should You Go for a Cheap or Expensive Neck Brace?
While shopping for your neck brace, you should let price dictate what you go for.
Any trustworthy company will provide you with braces that value safety as their top priority over anything else.
You can choose your brace from either the entry level or high-end models.
I will also remind you that just like any other dirt bike safety equipment; you will get what you pay for when it comes to neck braces.
Although you may get a neck brace for cheap, it may be a little bit heavy and won’t provide maximum protection in the event of a crash.
The slightly expensive models tend to be lighter and also provide more adjustment options to enhance your comfortability while riding.
Personally, I prefer the high-end brace models since they are more comfortable and guarantee maximum protection.
Just like any other protective equipment, the choice of whether or not to wear a neck brace is entirely with the rider.
In the US, the only bit of dirt bike protective kit enshrined in the federal law is the helmet.
Everything else beyond the helmet is a matter of personal choice, but I would highly encourage you to think about your own safety every time you go out riding.
Increased protection safeguards your life and lowers the probability of sustaining life-threatening injuries if you crash.
Therefore, make sure that your kit bag contains a dirt bike neck brace to be on the safe side.
Do you own a neck brace and you are using it? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.