MXA TEAM TESTED: POD K8 ULTIMATE KNEE BRACE
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WHAT’S IT COST? $799.95 (pair), $399.95 (single).
CONTACT? www.podactive.com or (800) 999-3388.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Pod K8 Ultimate.
(1) History. The first-generation Pod knee brace was one of the most comfortable, easy-to-use braces on the market. It was ahead of its time and changed the way people looked at knee braces. We had occasional issues with the knee cups having gaps and the Velcro pads peeling off, but nothing that we couldn’t live with. The Pod K700 replaced the original Pod, and most MXA test riders preferred the original Pod to the K700. To this day, Jody still races week in and week out in his refurbished original Pod braces.
(2) Update. We had five quibbles with the previous Pod K700 brace. Most of those have been addressed with the Pod K8 Ultimate. The Velcro that held the pads in place has been strengthened. More padding was added to the shin area (we’ll talk about that more later). The synthetic tendon has more tension than before. Full-coverage guards were added to protect the entire surface of the knee, whether bent or straight. The price of a pair of K700s was $799.95. Thankfully, Pod held the price down, and the new K8 Ultimate is the same price as the old K700.
(3) Movement. The “Human Motion” hinge system is a feature that we love. It makes the braces easier to wear, because the synthetic ligament provides not only tension in one direction, but a springy feel in the other. This makes getting out of the saddle when riding easier on the knees.
(4) Straps. All of the K8 straps are numbered one through four. We all agree that the strap directly below the knee is the most important strap, as it secures the brace to your lower leg. The second most important strap is the one directly above your knee. It secures the top half of the brace to your upper leg. The other two straps, while necessary, aren’t carrying the water for the knee brace. They simply help hold it in place. When we followed the numbering system, the brace felt secure but would still slip downward throughout the day. This is common with most knee braces, because the bottom strap attaches to the part of your calf where it gets thinner, thus it has nothing to grip. As far back as the original CTi brace days, the MXA test riders have crossed the two bottom straps in an X. That way, both straps have a purchase on the fat part of your calf. We have been told time and time again not to cross the straps, but we do it anyway, because it eliminates slippage, which we consider to be the worst of all evils.
(5) Performance. The 695-gram pre-preg carbon frame (with knee cup) is light and durable. It provides superior coverage of the knee across the full range of motion. The lining is soft and gentle on the skin. Pod K8 knee braces are medical-grade products, covered by most health insurance plans if you have a doctor’s prescription. Before purchasing a Pod K8, go to their website and look at the sizing chart. If you are between sizes, the next largest size fits the best, as Pod supplies many different hinge-pad thicknesses to customize the fit to your knee.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We have two quibbles. A few test riders complained that the extra padding added to the shin area was too firm and, when straightening their legs, the padding would dig into their shins. It left a visible imprint. It got less irritating as the foam broke in, but it never went away. Additionally, the floating knee cup floats fairly far away from the brace. It sticks out farther than any other knee cup. If your pant has limited room in the knees, the K8 knee cup will be a tight fit. We’d like a lower-profile knee cup.
There is a lot to like about the Pod K8. It feels like a feather on your legs. The synthetic hinge is a winner, and the area of coverage has been improved. Unfortunately, to get the benefits of any knee brace, you have to accept a few inconveniences.