How much abuse can a Leatt body protector 5.5 take? Here’s a confession: I’m not a great rider, and I crash quite a bit, especially if it’s a rally race or an enduro training session. Here’s another confession: I have an exceptional talent for landing in weird angles, and usually, it’s either on hard rocks and boulders or off banks and ledges, so while I’m on a never-ending mission to improve my riding (and landing) skills, solid armor is essential for me.
I travel in an adventure suit, but I switch to motocross gear when racing or training, and for the longest time, I had a simple chest and back protector and a pair of lightweight elbow guards because I figured the lighter, the better. This year, however, I went for the Leatt body protector 5.5, a rock-solid armor covering my back, chest, shoulders, and elbows, and I haven’t looked back since. Sure, it’s a large and bulky piece of gear to be carrying, I look like a weird Terminator and Predator cross, and it takes a while to wash and dry the thing after each race, but I’ve made it through motocross days and the Dinaric Rally in Croatia with zero bone breaks and fractures – which is a victory in my eyes.
Protection and Feel
The Leatt body protector 5.5 does appear large and bulky, but it feels like a snug exoskeleton rather than bothersome heavy armor. When riding, I completely forget I’m even wearing it as it fits really well and you can adjust the sizing to fit just right in several places. The armor is clearly built for male riders, but because the chest plates are somewhat convex and flexible, it feels like it’s a good fit (you can push the chest plate in to make it concave however if you need a little extra room for the neck brace). The fabric is moisture-wicking, a big bonus for riding in hot weather, and it’s so soft you barely feel it on your skin.
This armor offers the maximum coverage and protection you can get. CE Level 2 protectors in the chest and back with 3D foam underneath, CE Level 1 in the arms, and there’s even some flank protection to cover the ribs in the form of flexible plastic and foam plus a kidney belt which helps support the weight of the armor. Because of all that protection, it is a little heavy, but once again, you can’t really feel it when riding. The US price point for the Leatt body protector 5.5 is $289; I’m thinking it would work well for ADV riding, too, if you simply throw an abrasion-resistant outer shell over it instead of a MX jersey.
All in all, it’s a fantastic piece of gear if, like me, you tend to have an off on hard rocks every once in a while. I see some rally riders opting for soft armor instead of hard shell, but for me, I just feel a lot more confident in this exoskeleton set up and I wouldn’t go back to light, MTB-style off-road gear again whether it’s for rally racing or just riding the trails.