First Things First – Are knee braces worth it?
Latest studies have shown that serious injuries from riding dirt bikes happen as frequently as they do in football. (source) This study is possibly the most advanced scientific measurement of the effectiveness of knee braces in motorcycle riding. A total of 2115 riders actively completed weekly online surveys, documenting their riding type, hours and injuries.
The conclusion of the study is that overall knee injuries are 2.3x more likely to occur in riders not wearing a knee brace. Interestly, only 65% of riders that were surveyed actually ride with a knee brace. The most common form of injury is a damaged ACL(42.7%). Another interesting point is the overall knee injury rate of 2.2 injuries per 1000 riding hours.
What does a Motocross Knee Brace protect?
According to the same study, the most common knee injuries experienced by off-road riders involve the ACL (42.7%), meniscus (lateral and/or medial, 20.22%), and MCL (14.61%).
These injuries are most likely to occur while cornering. Most motocross riders and enduro riders extend the inside leg next to the front wheel while cornering. The correct technique does not involve planting the foot on the ground. Injuries are most likely to occur when the foot is planted on the ground, causing the rotation of the knee.
Motocross knee braces also help to prevent hyperextension of the knee when jumping and landing. Improper form when landing can cause the riders knee to be hyperextended when landing and standing on the footpegs. This can often happen as a result of a rider being off balance on landing.
To avoid this kind of injury, riders should ensure a clean launch and maintain proper technique by maintaining balanced wheel contact with the motorcycle and keeping the knees slightly bent to absorb some of the impacts when landing.
Reviews Of The Best Motocross Knee Braces
There are a few different criteria to look out for in order to get the best knee protection. These are what I consider to be among the top options to consider when looking for a motocross knee brace.
Value For Money:★★★★★
The Leatt X Frame knee brace is one of the more affordable options. In fact, the whole Leatt range of knee braces will be the more budget-friendly of the popular dirt bike knee brace brands.
What’s pretty cool about the Leatt brand is that if you somehow manage to destroy one of the knee braces, you can actually purchase the brace for your left/right leg individually. Most other brands do not have the option to purchase a left or right option.
The X-Frame gives thigh protection as well as some lower calf protection and features the floating knee brace. It’s got a dual hinge system which gives a great range of flexibility. This dual hinge mechanism is something you’ll see across most of the top knee brace options. If you prefer a single hinge mechanism – which many riders do – check out the below review on the slightly more premium Leatt C-Frame model.
The design of the Frame is nice and compact and very slim towards the bottom, which allows for the brace to slip comfortably inside your boots.
- Certified as a medical device:
- EU CA014741
- USA FDA 10048761
- CE tested and certified as impact protection: Knee EN1621-1
- Hyper extension limitations 5º, 10º, 15º and 20º for ACL injury reduction
Value For Money:★★★★★
The C Frame knee brace by Leatt is the perfect compromise between comfort and protection. The single dual hinge is ideal for the more aggressive adventure or enduro rider. This gives better feeling on the bike and improved grip and mobility with your legs.
You’re actually able to adjust the degree of hyperextension with multiple settings for different fit. The C Frames are slimmer than the X Frame which allows them to slip into your boots with ease and comfort. They’ve also been designed using carbon composite materials breakaway point on the top of the calf. This helps in severe crashes to displace force away from important ligaments and your femur.
The C Frame is ideal for riders with larger legs. The extra space on the inside of the leg makes a big difference when it comes to space and comfort when compared to the dual hinge of the X Frame.
Another difference worth mentioning between these two Leatt knee braces is the weight. The C Frame might be slimmer at the bottom, although there are more metal components which makes it slightly heavier than the X Frame. If you’re torn between the X Frame and C Frame, let your body do the talking and walking. The X Frame is generally better for skinnier guys while the C Frame is a better fit for meatier legs.
Value For Money:★★★★★
The RS9 Knee Brace by EVS is a fantastic sleek knee brace with a minimal design that still packs a load of features. Just like the Leatt braces, you’ll get the adjustable hyper-extension lockouts. This really helps to find the perfect setting for each rider's style and size. There is a wide degree of adjustment on these braces, all the way from 0 to -30 degrees.
Similarly to the Leatt X Frame, the RS9’s have a dual hinge mechanism and a free-floating knee cap which doesn’t restrict the legs natural motion.
The RS9’s are a great set of entry-level knee braces from both motocross and enduro riders. What’s different in the RS9 compared to the Leatt is the closure straps. These braces have 3 straps while the Leatt braces both have 4 straps. This is again up to personal preference. However, the RS9 buckle system is simple and hugs the legs really nicely.
What I like most about the RS9 braces is the ultra-sleek and slim design.
Value For Money:★★★★☆
This is the latest take on the ever popular K4 version 1. Rest assured the Pod K4 v.2 are medically certified and have been clinically proven to help lower the risk of severe knee injuries in dirt bike riders and off road enthusiasts. Along with the testing, these braces have received all the top CE impact resistance ratings.
POD have developed their products based on the actual human body. They have their own patented Synthetic Ligament system and Human Motion Technology. Both of these serve to protect the rider from force coming in from multiple directions. The compounds used for this are called Vectran Fibres which are 5 times stronger than steel.
One of the features I love about the POD braces is the simple to use and easy quick locking system with the low profile straps. One of the more frustrating things I experience is my straps getting caught on the inside of my pants and becoming undone. This is something that won’t happen with the K4 knee braces.
If you want the top of the range protection from POD, check out the awesome Pod K8 Model. Another awesome aspect of POD’s knee braces is that they cater for the junior riders as well. Their range of pro motocross knee braces are among some of the best youth dirt bike knee braces on the market.
Value For Money:★★★★★
The mobius X8 have been specifically developed to minimize the risk of damaging your three different types of knee injuries: lateral bending, lateral rotation, and of course hyperextension. Believe it or not, the X8 have taken 7 long years of product testing and development to get to where they are today.
This is the only set of knee braces offered by Mobius and you can see this in the attention to detail of this product. The X8’s come in a wide variety of sizes so finding the right fit won’t be a problem.
Included in your box is a set of hyperextension adjustments that you can use to customise the fit and feel of the braces to match your preferences perfectly.
These braces also have the dual hinge systems, which allow for an awesome range of motion compared to single hinge systems. What I love about the Mobius knee braces are the extra large, soft, and comfortable straps. The straps also have an amazing level of adjustment that lets you really set up the knee braces to a really comfortable position.
What I don’t like about the X8 is the low level of ventilation compared to some of the other dirt bike knee braces. Although, on the flip side, the full coverage of the knee cap prevents some of the best knee cap and knee protection that you’ll find in motocross knee braces.
Best Youth Motocross Knee Brace
Many motocross knee braces also come in youth sizes. Of the dirt bike gear that I’ve reviewed in this article, you will find youth motocross knee braces from POD K4 as well as the Leatt C Frame model.
Youth Dirt Bike Knee Guards
I’m not the biggest fan of knee guards. Simply because of how little protection they offer against painful twisting of the knee joint. But, I must admit, everyone starts off with knee guards before progressing to the more serious gear. If you’re looking for a good quality kids knee guard check out these options.
Alpinestars Youth SX 1 Knee Guards: These are really comfortable and super lightweight knee guards designed specifically for kids. It’s fully CE Level 1 protection certified. Two straps and a dual pivot system make for great mobility and range of motion
Leatt Youth 3DF Hybrid Knee & Shin Guards: These put a lot of focus on both comfort and protection. It’s important for riding gear to be comfortable, especially for kids as this helps ensure that they actually ride with the gear, instead of sacrificing protection for comfort. They’re also CE certified. The main difference between these and the Alpinestars is the 3 strap closure system.
Check out these other important youth gear reviews:
What To Look For
Many of the top knee braces are fitted with a dual hinge system. One on the outside of the leg and another on the inside of the leg. Really aggressive motocross riders tend to prefer the dual hinge system for maximum protection.
Adventure riders and enduro riders might prefer the single outer leg hinge as this gives a better range of motion and ability to grip the tank with your knees and thighs. This really is a matter of personal preference. I ride enduro, often for hours at a time, with a dual hinge system. No problem for me. Also make sure the hinge mechanism is made from proper alloy hinges
Leg Width & Brace Size
Knee braces are all designed differently. Pay careful attention to the sizing charts on the brand pages to get an accurate measurement and the best fitting brace. Dirt bike knee braces with a dual hinge system are often larger and more bulky than a single hinge system. In addition, they typically fit better on thinner legs while the single hinge gives more space for larger legs.
Straps & Closure
Make sure that the closure mechanism works for you. Some of the parts are fitted with 4 straps and a cross over sock coverage while other gear has 3 straps. It’s not important to worry about the number of straps, but rather the comfort of the straps and their ability to keep the braces fitting nicely against your legs.
It’s worth speaking to your insurance company before digging into your own savings account. Some insurance companies will cover certain knee braces if they are considered to be durable medical equipment.
Should I wear knee braces for motocross?
The short answer is yes. Knee braces offer significant protection for motocross riders. In a sport where injury is common, the most logical answer is to wear all the necessary protective gear. Here’s an essential list of top youth dirt bike gear that every kid should wear while riding dirt bikes and motocross.
Should I wear knee braces for enduro?
Typically anyone that rides dirt bikes, including enduro riders should also wear knee braces. Knee injuries are common to both motocross and enduro riding disciplines.
Knee Braces vs Knee Guards
Knee guards are cheaper but do not offer the level of protection provided by knee braces. Knee guards do a decent job at protecting your knee against direct impact from hard objects like rocks, tree branches, and of course the ground.
Knee braces provide additional knee support to help prevent both direct impact, as well as rotational forces. I also find this piece of dirt bike gear to be a real confidence booster for my safety and riding ability
I should also mention that dirt bike knee braces are generally one of your more expensive pieces of dirt bike gear and certainly more expensive than a pair of knee guards.
Best Dirt Bike Knee Guards
Now I know this article is for the people interested in knee braces. But I also know that there is at least one guy that isn’t yet ready to invest in an expensive piece of dirt bike gear when there are cheaper (although less effective) options available. If you are going to opt for knee guards, let me at least give you some ideas for which ones you should consider.
EVS Epic Knee Pads: These have been designed with the EVS high end knee brace technology in mind. Keeping things as simple, yet providing some of the most advanced knee guards on the market. I’ve suggested these because of their sleek design, full coverage and CE EN 1621-1 safety rating.
Fox Racing Titan Pro Shin Guards: A bit more basic than the EVS pads but still a pretty good piece of gear, as far as knee guards go.
Taking a moment to appreciate the complex design of the human knee and all the surrounding ligaments – it’s vital that we look after the knee joint so that we can continue walking well into our later years. Along with a dirt bike helmet, dirt bike boots, and neck braces, knee braces may just be one of the most important pieces of dirt bike gear. Knee cover and knee cap protection is particularly important to prevent acl injuries.
All of the braces that I’ve reviewed in this guide will offer adequate protection for either you or your child. It comes down to a matter of personal preference and budget limitations. My personal pick for the best dirt bike knee braces would be the Mobius X8. They might not be big on ventilation, but they sure have the safety aspect covered.