MXA TEAM TESTED: LEATT GPX 5.5 NECK BRACE

May 19, 2014
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WHAT IS IT?
The GPX 5.5 is the newest addition to an expansive line of neck braces from a leader in neck protection. It boasts a variety of creative features that offset it visually from every other Leatt brace.

WHAT’S IT COST? $349.00.

CONTACT? www.leatt-brace.com or (800) 691-3314.

WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Leatt GPX 5.5 neck brace.

(1) Construction. The 5.5 has a completely new chassis. Crafted from fiberglass-reinforced polyamide, this brace isn’t as light as Leatt’s more expensive braces, but at 1.85 pounds (adult large/extra large), it is not cumbersome or bulky. Unlike the other adult neck brace offerings from Leatt, the 5.5 doesn’t have a removable liner. We consider this a benefit, as cleaning the 5.5 is a breeze. The dense, injected-foam padding on top of the brace is durable enough to withstand a pressure washer—on a low setting, of course. Also, note that the rear thoracic strut and chest struts have a split design for improved comfort.

(2) Adjustability. Gone are the spacing pins, which changed the distance between the front and rear of the brace. Instead, the 5.5 uses SureFit adjusters that allow the user to move both the thoracic strut and front of the brace forward or rearward for an optimal fit. This is a much faster way to change the fit of the neck brace, as it doesn’t require tools. The rear thoracic strut pitch can be adjusted simply by swapping out rubber extension stop bumpers. Leatt has done a masterful job of simplifying the adjustability on the 5.5.

(3) Fit. It only took a few minutes for our test riders to find the best comfort settings on the Leatt 5.5, which was much easier to figure out than the other Leatt braces. Leatt includes rubber bumpers on the shoulders to decrease the distance between the brace and helmet. Riders with shorter necks removed them, while those with long necks didn’t mind the proximity of the 5.5 and their helmets. It did take some time to adjust to the single-button release system. Note that the 5.5 cannot be completely separated. Fortunately, the rear thoracic strut rotates inward for easy storage inside a gear bag.

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(4) Performance. We immediately noticed that the 5.5 brace sits lower and provides more range of motion than previous Leatt braces. Is this a good thing? It depends. A brace that sits closer to the bottom of your helmet is better at transferring the load of a crash sooner, but it does impede mobility. A brace that sits farther away from the helmet makes the rider feel more comfortable but requires the helmet to travel further before it contacts it. Still, a large number of riders refuse to wear neck protection because it limits their range of motion. The 5.5 is a compromise.

(5) Price. The GPX 5.5 retails for $349, which is on par with the Leatt Race Brace ($359). It is $150 less than the GPX Pro and GPX Pro Lite, but $50 more than the GPX Trail.

WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We have a couple of quibbles. (1) The 5.5 isn’t very light. (2) Although the range of motion has been improved, riders with long necks should find increased safety in the GPX Race brace, which sits closer to the helmet.

The Bell Moto-9 Carbon is a comfortable, safe helmet that has some cool features, but it is hard to justify the Carbon’s extra price for the very small weight savings.

The Leatt 5.5 is part of the new generation of neck brace designs—easier to adjust, sleeker-looking and lower profile. There may be a trade-off in overall protection, but Leatt hopes to expand the numbers of users by making neck braces more appealing.

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