MXA TEAM TESTED: TROY LEE DESIGNS CATALYST X KNEE BRACE

October 19, 2012
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WHAT IS IT? Developed by Troy Lee Designs and VQ OrthoCare, the Catalyst X is an affordable knee brace built for serious riders. 


WHAT’S IT COST? $300 (each); $550.00 (pair).


CONTACT? (951) 371-5219 or www.troyleedesigns.com.


WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Troy Lee Designs Catalyst X knee brace.


(1) Frame. Composed of 7000 series aluminum, the Catalyst X is durable and extremely light. We were able to flex the frame under a heavy load, but the frame maintained its shape. The length of the brace measures 15 inches, which is several inches shorter than most competitive knee braces. Testers enjoyed the frame design, as it didn’t put too much pressure on the shin or thigh area.


(2) Hinges. The Catalyst X contains a relatively simple mechanical hinge design that accepts various flexion and extension stops. These stops prevent the knee from being hyperextended or, for those with flexion issues, from bending too far inward. Simply remove a set screw from each side of the hinge and install the desired degree stop. TLD offers extension stops in 5-degree increments, from 0 to 25 degrees. Test riders without serious knee issues preferred the 15-degree stops. Flexion stop options are in 15-degree increments, from 45 to 90 degrees. All of these options are included with each brace. 


(3) Sizing. TLD designed the Catalyst X to fit every conceivable size and shape of rider. Selecting the proper size requires a tape measure. The upper and lower portions of the brace bend around the leg once the strap has been cinched down, making for an excellent fit. 


(4) Straps. The Catalyst X comes with four adjustable Velcro straps. On the back of each strap is an adjustable neoprene cushion to prevent the straps from creating uncomfortable pressure points and the brace from slipping. The design is simple and works well. Not once did the brace slide up or down. The brace even has an integrated adjustable PCL strap for increased stability. We understand the shelf appeal of white straps, but we found that after several rides the vibrant white turned a dingy brown. Fortunately, the straps can be removed for safe washing. Also, we would like to see fabric tabs on the ends of each strap for easier removal. 


(5) Weight. At a featherweight 1.6 pounds, the Catalyst X feels light. The decreased weight is the result of a thin, short aluminum frame. If you’re looking for a bulky brace, the Catalyst X isn’t for you.


(6) Patella guard. Troy Lee Designs and VQ OrthoCare developed what they have coined as the “Tibial Docking System.” What does this mean? The heavy-duty plastic patella cup is woven into dense neoprene that’s anchored to the frame. We like the design, but wish that the patella cup was larger and extended farther up the knee. Unfortunately, there is an exposed 1-1/2-inch area above the patella?perfect for a handlebar to penetrate. 


(7) Liner. The cushioned liner is attached by Velcro and is easily removable and washable. We recommend washing the liner parts by hand with detergent. We’re happy to report that time and again the liner didn’t shift or fall off the brace after repeated wash cycles.

WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We have a few issues. (1) While they look great on the shelf, the white straps get dirty. (2) Riders who prefer a taller knee brace won’t like the Catalyst X. (3) The patella cup needs to cover the entire patella area. (4) Without tabs, the Velcro straps are hard to undo after a moto.

For a first-time effort, the Catalyst X is a good buy. It isn’t a full-blown carbon fiber orthopedic knee brace, but it is perfect for shorter riders or those looking for a preventative knee brace. 

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