When it comes to riding gear, I’m not exactly a fussy rider. I’m happy as long as the gear is sturdy, durable, and protective. For years, I’ve been traveling in ADV gear and although I did have some lightweight off-road gear for one hot summer riding parts of the Trans America Trail, I’ve never made the full transition to full-on off-road riding gear.
That is, until I decided to compete in the Hellas Rally Raid this May.
After doing the Trans Alen Tejo Rally in Portugal in my Klim Artemis suit earlier on, I knew that ADV gear just wasn’t going to cut it for Hellas. For one, I needed more freedom to move riding in rally conditions. For another thing, I knew I was bound to come off more than once, and I feared my ADV setup just didn’t offer enough protection – the Greek terrain is all rocks and boulders, and I wanted something more technical and durable to keep me safe. I kept my jacket as I didn’t have any elbow or shoulder protectors, but I decided to try out knee braces because just the ADV pads felt too flimsy for serious off-road riding.
Enter Leatt, a company that makes exceptional protective gear for off-road riders and motocross racers. The company was founded by Dr. Chris Leatt after he witnessed his friend’s fatal crash at a local enduro race. Following the tragic incident, Dr. Leatt began designing his first neck brace to help riders avoid fatal neck injuries. Soon after, Leatt Lab was founded, and the company continues to make state-of-the-art protective gear for riders creating more and more impressive products each year.
Leatt Z-Frame knee brace is a high-tech creation. Although at first look, they seem a little heavy and appear like something off the Iron Man costume, they are surprisingly comfortable to wear even if you’re spending 8-10 hours on the bike daily. Most of the time, I’d forget I was even wearing them. The hinge system allows for plenty of movement, but at the same time, it prevents hyperflexion. Putting them on felt like I was dealing with some serious armor, which is reassuring when you’re preparing for your first enduro rally. But once you’ve done all the adjusting and the knee braces are hugging your legs comfortably, they feel lightweight and flexible. I was a little unsure whether they would be compatible with my Sidi Crossfire 3 boots but, after some buckle adjustments, the fit was perfect.
They come with knee brace socks and a variety of pads so you can adjust the fit. The hinges are thin enough so you can feel the bike just fine, and the protection level is unparalleled.
I came off more times than I care to admit on those notorious Greek mountain trails hitting stones and rocks, but thanks to the Z-Frame knee braces, I didn’t have so much as a bruise on my knees or shins. I spoke to dozens of other riders at the Hellas Rally, and it seemed that Leatt has become synonymous with off-road gear. The knee braces and neck braces received the most positive feedback and it seemed lots of riders were either already wearing Leatt, or saving up for Leatt gear for the future. The awesome thing about the Z-frame knee braces is that not only they’re ultra-protective, but they’re also durable, so the seemingly high price should more than pay off long term. These things do feel like they’re indestructible, and I’m now seriously considering switching to off-road gear full time, especially as I’m planning to do more of the Trans Euro Trail and the Bosnia Rally in the coming month.
Should you invest in the Leatt Z-Frame knee braces? It all depends on where you ride, and how. If it’s mostly paved roads and some graded dirt tracks, you may well get away with your ADV gear. But if you’re hitting some gnarly off-road trails often or are planning to do motocross or enduro racing, this gear can be, quite literally, a lifesaver. So if you’re looking for some serious hardware for those trail rides, look no further.
Leatt Z-Frame knee brace specs:
- Injected composite chassis
- Slim hinges for superior bike feel
- Aluminium hinge covers for rigidity and endurance
- Reduction of forces to limit knee injuries: ACL, Meniscus and MCL
- Certified as 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
- Low-profile shin bone pad for excellent boot fit
- Comfortable, easy-fitting and low-profile strap system
- Customized fit with interchangeable hinge padding sizes