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Atlas Air, Leatt STX, and Omega S1 Neck Braces for Everyday, ADV, and Dual Sport Riding

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by snare, Aug 21, 2015.

  1. snare

    snare sittin and breathin

    Joined:
    May 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,030
    Location:
    exactly where I choose
    My needs :

    - To add a neck brace to my protective gear

    - To be able to wear the brace every time I ride. I live off my bike, I pretty much travel around, teaching and enjoying life. My bike is my primary, and often, my only transportation whether I am traveling one mile or 10,000.

    - To be able to wear it over a jacket or any combination of protective gear.

    - For it to be comfortable ( so I won't be inclined to 'not wear it this time' ).

    - For it to not restrict my view of the road or trail, to entirely contribute to safety, not add limits or increase risk.

    - For it to be durable and simple.

    About me and my gear choices :

    I am 5'5" (165cm), weigh about 150 lbs (68 kg), lean and muscular, wide back /shoulders, short neck. 40" (101cm) chest, 42" (107cm) chest with chest/back protector, 43" (109cm) chest with c/b protector, layer, and jacket.

    I decided to begin wearing armor attached to my body. I found most integrated armor I have tried to not stay in place well at all.
    I wanted versatility across all temps and weather and riding types. Armor I could use with a full heated liner, layers, and a wp/b outer shell or by itself on hot day trail riding, with or without humidity.
    "Commuting", on the street (long trips or short), dual sport riding, trails.

    I wanted good chest, lateral rib, back, shoulder and elbow protection on my torso. I chose and use the Leatt 5.5 Pro HD and Leatt 3DF elbow guards.
    I wear this under a wp/b shell, like the Klim Overland, the Traverse, or formerly, the FG Kathmandu. I also will stash the shell and wear this under (or over) the Klim Dakar Pro jersey, which has 840d cordura sleeves, elbows, shoulders and lateral rib coverage.

    Lower protection includes Forma Terra boots ( http://www.atomic-moto.com/Forma-Terra-Boots-Field-User-Review--Atomic-Moto_b_120.html), Leatt Dual Axis knee guards, and Forcefield Pro Action Shorts under Klim Dakar pants. I have wp/b shell to go over these.

    I wear a helmet.

    Interestingly, I am finding acceptance of wearing a neck brace similar to acceptance of wearing a helmet. Does wearing the helmet involve 'one more thing to put on'? Is it often less comfortable than not wearing one at all? Is it heavier and/or hotter than nothing? May it restrict your vision, compared to not wearing one at all?

    An excellent read on a crash and people deciding on the importance of cervical spine protection here :
    http://www.atomic-moto.com/hand-of-fate.html

    .....So, I decided to integrate a neck brace into my protective gear plan.
    I had to narrow the choices down, so after some research on neck braces that people have claimed to wear and/or were designed for over jacket wear, I came up with these three : the Atlas Air, the Leatt STX, and the Omega S1.

    I will give some information and describe my experience and thoughts on each brace.

    The Omega S1
    http://www.omegabrace.com/s1streetbrace.html
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    This is described as Omega's road/adventure touring brace. Omega uses an open front brace design, unlike many others.
    It weighs 638 grams and totals 705 with the harness. This was the middle of the pack in regards to weight.
    There is one adult size.

    Donning the brace involves placing it over your shoulders from the rear. Then the harness is clipped together using three clips, two on the front of the brace and one across the chest.
    The brace can be donned and doffed while wearing my helmet, although was much easier when the helmet was off.
    I found the design for adjusting the harness to be poor, tedious, and unnecessarily complex.
    And, for me, even with the brace adjusted all the way to its largest and lowest position, I found it necessary to use the harness to keep the brace from rising up over time.
    Adjusting the brace itself : It uses a strap that is much like seatbelt webbing in its construction,adjusting the strap was simple not requiring tools. Adjusting the front and back body yokes (to adjust table height) involved two different hex keys, 3mm and 4mm. The two front adjustments were difficult to access using the supplied hex key.
    With my anatomy (broad back/chest and short neck) and armor choice (see above), the brace would not fit properly on me.
    I had the most room with the Omega S1 when looking down, but had the most limitation when turning my head to do over shoulder checks of any of these three neck braces. Also, the yoke design that sits over the back, shoulders and chest felt confining, and limited my thoracic mobility. Some may argue that many spinal injuries on motos are due to torsional rotation and may speculate this limited thoracic mobility I experienced could be a good thing. I felt it limited my ability to stay safe and see and respond to hazards.

    With my body and my armor choice, I did not find the Omega S1 to meet my needs. I suspect it would fit someone with a longer neck much better. The limitation on over shoulders checks for me was simply too much.

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    The Omega S1 was usable with a backpack but not the most comfortable of the three braces with one on.
    [​IMG]

    The Leatt STX
    http://www.leatt.com/shop/braces/street-stx/stx-road-870.html

    The brace I evaluated was the Leatt STX Road, Jason Britton version.

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    The Leatt STX is often also described as the "street/adventure" brace offered by Leatt.

    The brace comes in several sizes, I chose a L/XL.

    It has widely placed scapula braces to the rear and what is described as a relief for a jacket zipper in the chest brace portion. Speaking with Leatt on the phone, a representative stated that the STX series is fully compatible with the Leatt 5.5 Pro HD protector I wear. I found this to be accurate as it fit nicely in the chest slot on the protector and the scapula braces sat on the plastic of the back protector, to each side of the center slot.
    It has two red releases, on on each side and the brace can be put on or taken off by opening one please or both. I found this brace somewhat difficult to put on or take off, having to have a particular approach angle as I brought the brace to my head and neck. The neck opening was also definitely the narrowest of the three braces reviewed. I found the brace to allow the least cooling airflow of the three. I could not do either on or off with my helmet on.
    The Leatt STX Road Jason Britton I had weighed in at 808 grams (without harness) the heaviest of these three braces.
    I could definitely feel the weight of this brace, it was far more noticeable than the other two. It felt heavy and also confining.
    I found it to also limit my over the shoulder checks, but not as much as the Omega S1. The Leatt STX Road Jason Britton also limited my looking down ( although this seems to be my least used range of motion when riding).
    The harness included used two buckles and was easy to use with a jacket on. I chose not to use the harness with this brace.
    The elastic straps on the shoulders of the Leatt 5.5 Pro HD protector I wear would slip off the shelves on the STX where the straps are supposed to sit and help hold the brace in place when you are just wearing the protector.
    Brace adjustment was the most complicated but certainly not difficult. The Leatt seems to have high build quality and the most complex design.

    Although integrating well with the protector and working well over a jacket, I did not find the Leatt to meet my particular needs. Hefty, uncomfortable, and complex.

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    The Leatt STX Road Jason Britton worked with a backpack but the least well of the three braces, in my opinion. I think this was due to the width of the scapula braces.
    [​IMG]

    The Atlas Air
    http://www.atlasbrace.com/atlas-air/

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    The Atlas Air is marketed as providing "unmatched comfort and mobility".
    I have found numerous reports of people wearing these over jackets and over/in many manufacturer's chest / back protectors.
    The Air comes in several sizes, I chose a Large.
    For times when I am not wearing the brace over my jacket, the Atlas Air chest braces fit well in the chest slot on the Leatt Pro HD. The rear braces of the Atlas sit nicely on the plastic of the center slot.
    I am also able to wear either the Leatt STX or Atlas Air braces in the front slot of the protector with my jersey on or with my jacket zipped up to the front of the brace. The Atlas Air fit and worked well over my jacket (which is always over the protector).
    Adjustment was quick and easy with a 4 mm hex.
    The Atlas Air has a red release button on the front of the brace but easily dropped over my head (sans helmet). Simple and fast. If donned this way there are no pieces or latches to manipulate. The harness included with the Air is a hybrid cross x design that would not be easy to use with a jacket as you slip your arms in to it, no buckles. Essentially the harness puts two thin elastic straps over your shoulders that hook into the hooks on each side of the brace table and would help hold the brace in place. Interestingly, the elastic straps on the Leatt 5.5 Pro HD protector fit perfectly in the hooks on the Air....even better than the protector's straps fit on the Leatt STX brace ( they kept slipping right off). I choose to not use a harness with a neck brace, if possible.

    The Atlas Air I use weighs in at 616 grams (without harness). The lightest of the bunch. It is marketed as weighing 599 grams.
    I had the least restricted visibility with this brace. The brace does limit my looking down some. Over the shoulder checks went with ease and I get no restriction of my thoracic mobility.

    The Atlas Air did meet my needs and is the brace I chose to continue to use.
    It is, by far, the most comfortable ! ...being the lightest, largest neck opening, least confining, and allowing great airflow. It is the easiest to put on and take off. The design and product is super simple and robust.

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    The Atlas Air was the most comfortable of the braces reviewed when wearing a backpack.
    [​IMG]
    #1
    Xchemie, cyberdos, Elad and 9 others like this.
  2. cliffy109

    cliffy109 Long timer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2009
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    1,993
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    Holy crap dude. That's a fantastic and very thorough review. I have the Atlas brace and have often wondered if I made the best choice. After reading this, I think I did! When this one needs replaced, I'll probably get another (this time, I'll splurge for the Air model).
    #2
  3. docjekyll2002

    docjekyll2002 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2015
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    San jose
    Wish i had the Atlas. I will get one eventually.
    #3
  4. shelglass

    shelglass No Place Like Home

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    May 19, 2009
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    St Louis
    Kudos for for this write up very informative.
    #4
  5. TripleDubYa

    TripleDubYa Intrepid Explorer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    110
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Question about wearing the Atlas over a jacket. I reviewed the manual and it hints around the notion of wearing over a jacket. Snare, I wanted to get your thoughts on wearing this over a typical ADV style jacket that has integrated armor.
    #5
  6. snare

    snare sittin and breathin

    Joined:
    May 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,030
    Location:
    exactly where I choose
    It has worked fine for me ( over the Kathmandu, the Traverse, and the Overland )and before I purchased it, I called Atlas to ask if it would work and the representative said it would be fine over a jacket.
    #6
  7. TripleDubYa

    TripleDubYa Intrepid Explorer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    110
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Thank you.
    #7
  8. cliffy109

    cliffy109 Long timer

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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    I have the standard Atlas brace (not the Air) and can report that it works quite well over a standard riding jacket. I ride with either the BMW Rallye 3 or the Street Guard. On the Rallye, I don't even notice it. The Street Guard is a BIG and bulky jacket but even with that, it rides only a little high and still does not interfere with my mobility.
    #8
    boulderbrian, Repoman87 and snare like this.
  9. NVTS

    NVTS Arrivee Secteur Special Supporter

    Joined:
    May 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,386
    Location:
    Big Lick Virginia
    Thanks for taking the time to compile your findings. I went out today and ordered the Atlas Air.
    #9
    snare likes this.
  10. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

    Joined:
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    Wrong Leatt.

    Should have had the DBX or the GPX, both have the rear thoracic braces close to center. They are listed under the Off Road section.

    The STX set up is the one for Street for sure. The wide thoracic braces are designed as such I think to clear the hump on the Sport bike leathers. "Unique rear scapula wings designed to accommodate back armor or aerodynamic hump". It seems it would also be set up for the forward lean of a sport rider too. I have no idea why the road brace is considered the one for Adventure riding. Seems the off road one would be it.

    I dont' know the comparisons, but the DBX/GPX has an adjustment for the thoracic brace to suit rider chest thickness front to back, with both the front and back adjustable for fore/aft movement. I forget about the side to side.

    I haven't had any issues using the DBX with a Scorpion MX helmet and First Gear Kilmanjaro Air coat.

    Still, some information is better than none. If you get a chance to try out either the DBX or GPX do so and add your comments here.
    #10
  11. snare

    snare sittin and breathin

    Joined:
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    When I called Leatt, I was told that the 5.5 GPX .." is not designed to be worn over a jacket and we do not recommend it. The STX is the one you want."

    Thanks for the info on the GPX/DBX.
    #11
  12. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    It still sounds like you picked the right one from your test.

    Any of them will be better than none should it be needed.
    #12
  13. waylongway

    waylongway madmax Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2009
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    4,106
    Location:
    NorCal
    Thanks for all the hard work and time...!!:whip
    Been looking......:scratch

    Atlas Air.............. :rilla
    #13
    snare likes this.
  14. mcrider18

    mcrider18 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
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    113
    Snare,

    Thanks a bunch for the thorough info and insight! Great write-up. You answered two key questions that I had with your review, (1) "Speaking with Leatt on the phone, a representative stated that the STX series is fully compatible with the Leatt 5.5 Pro HD protector I wear." and (2) "When I called Leatt, I was told that the 5.5 GPX .." is not designed to be worn over a jacket and we do not recommend it. The STX is the one you want."

    I have the same Leatt STX Road, Jason Britton version and wear it as ATGATT for all types of riding. I plan on getting the Leatt 5.5 Body Protector 'compression jacket' and have wondered if I should pair it with the Leatt GPX 5.5 Neck Brace. Now I know my STX will work with the Leatt 5.5 Body Protector both with or without a riding jacket. Thanks again!

    #14
    snare likes this.
  15. snare

    snare sittin and breathin

    Joined:
    May 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Thanks for all the kind words. I am glad to contribute. My hope is it will help people make a decision about wearing a brace and which brace that will best meet their needs.

    Loving the Atlas Air myself !
    #15
  16. currenv

    currenv Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
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    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI and San Miguel de Allende MX
    I'm away from home now but will be considering a brace when I get back home in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the info and I may be checking back for advice.

    Vinnie
    #16
    snare likes this.
  17. Valentino

    Valentino Been here awhile

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    Excellent review - many thanks Snare :thumb
    #17
    snare likes this.
  18. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    What kind of jacket?

    The STX is designed for that big honking hump in the back of a lot of RR jackets and leathers, plus probably the back braces. None of the other braces would work with that style of jacket or leathers.

    I also found what their answer was back before the STX brace was made. You see, their Adventure model brace, the one I have to figure was made for adventure bike riders, was basically the same as my DBX and the GPX, but padding wasn't replaceable and slightly less adjustment. Did they figure adventure riders would not be wearing coats?


    Here is a video from Dennis Kirk with the Leatt Club and Adventure, the Club (GPX) has adjustment on both the front and back tables to suit a rider. Plus in another Kirk video with Leatt's logo in it, the fitment guide where they specifically say the brace can be worn over the garment. I'm thinking it should be adjusted to suit if done so with the back pad still in place. that was Leatt's thoughts two years ago, before the Jason Britten STX with the widely splayed thorasic struts, clearly to miss the hump on a road race leather or jacket, was made.

    That said, I think the recommendation from them reflects the new product. Before, it was okay to wear with a jacket, now not recommended since there is a new product designed to do so, but clearly, from what I've seen and read as well as the name reflects, it was developed for the sport and stunt riders more than adventure or off road riders. So I'm good with what I'm doing, using the DBX/GPX since it was okay originally and nothing interferes with it in use.

    Either way, I wore mine over an enduro style jacket, First Gear Kilmanjaro Air, without back pad. With adjustment of the back strut, the back pad could be insertec.

    I present this information to make sure anyone that considers the Leatt products is fully informed of the possibilities.

    After all, with similar design among all of them, why would the others be compatable wtih coats and not the Leatt? It is, they just have one designed for sport riding that they recommend for adventure as well, but the old ones do fine with proper adjustment per Leatt's previous comments.

    This is not to say Leatt is the best of the bunch. I am saying if a rider is considering Leatt braces, I think the DBX/GPX is the one to have over The STX for adventure and dual sport riding since they have very similar rider position to general off road and mx rider position versus stunting and sport bike rider position. In spite of Leatt's new recommendations. It just makes sense. Same seating, same position, same brace.
    #18
  19. O Captain My Captain

    O Captain My Captain Upsetting the apple cart

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    Snare - excellent write up!

    I also just got a Leatt 5.5 Pro HD vest and think it is a great piece of kit. I've been wearing an older Leatt GPX neck brace with the center back support for the last five years and I feel naked riding without it.

    Prior to picking up the 5.5 Pro HD vest I'd been wearing my Leatt neck brace in conjunction with a Knox Gilet Air chest/back protector which has served me well, though I've been looking for something that better incorporates the Leatt neck brace and the 5.5 Pro HD vest seems to be the ticket. My brace fits into the vest slots perfectly front and back, and I wear a custom-tailored Firstgear Jaunt jacket which basically has the collar widened a bit to accommodate the neck brace.
    #19
    snare likes this.
  20. snare

    snare sittin and breathin

    Joined:
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    I am finding the Atlas Air to fit exceptionally well over a Klim Overland jacket ( over my Leatt 5.5 Pro HD torso protector ).

    Also, most people are unaware that Leatt has two versions of the STX neck brace.
    - The STX RR is designed for the tuck of road racing and track days
    - The STX Road is the one they market for the more upright posittion of adventure/street/touring. The STX Jason Britton Road brace I reviewed was just a limited edition colors version of the STX Road, not an RR.
    http://www.leatt.com/shop/braces/street-stx.html
    #20