Let me start off with why I think my review is especially relevant to other riders. If there’s one thing in life that I don't want to repeat again, it’s ACL and meniscus surgeries. I’ve been unlucky enough to have had this procedure done on both knees, and to say I’ve been less than confident about sticking my leg out in corners since then would be an understatement, due to the fear of re-injury. After recovering from both knee surgeries, I decided to toss the shin guards I'd used before, and look into a proper knee support. At the same time, I was also looking for something that I could use for multiple sports, including riding Read More »
Let me start off with why I think my review is especially relevant to other riders. If there’s one thing in life that I don't want to repeat again, it’s ACL and meniscus surgeries. I’ve been unlucky enough to have had this procedure done on both knees, and to say I’ve been less than confident about sticking my leg out in corners since then would be an understatement, due to the fear of re-injury. After recovering from both knee surgeries, I decided to toss the shin guards I'd used before, and look into a proper knee support. At the same time, I was also looking for something that I could use for multiple sports, including riding moto, mountain biking, and even surfing or snowboarding. The added support and confidence they provide is now a requirement before I throw a leg over my bike. If you’ve had knee injuries, I’m sure you can relate, and if you haven’t then I suggest you read on. Knee injuries are one of the most common you can sustain on a bike, and can also be one of the more painful recoveries to endure. Since I've experienced different brands of braces like CTi, Alpinestar, and even POD’s K700 series, I hope to bring some great insight as to what the new POD K4 Series knee braces have to offer and who they might be a good fit for!
POD K4 Series Knee Brace Features:
- Glass reinforced polymer frames.
- 12 month warranty on frames .
- Interchangeable parts to easily customize and maintain your own brace.
- The brace adapts to a variety of activities and sports through the ability to easily add or remove impact guards as needed.
- Self tracking patella guard that follows and protects the knee through the motion.
- The brace adapts to a variety of leg sizes with easily adjustable straps and hinge spacers for a secure fit.
- Control Range of Motion (0 to 25 degrees extension stops).
- Easily refurbished.
- Choose from three separate frame sizes, available in left and right side to ensure a custom fit.
- MSRP: $549.95 for a pair.
I’ve always been a fan of POD’s products and even owned a pair of the K700 POD braces, which was POD’s previous top tier full carbon offering, so I was interested to see what they had come up with for this new model. At first glance the braces look strong, with a smooth semi-gloss white finish and nice wide straps. The design and feel of the joint system and support areas are top quality. When I first picked up the new K4 braces I was blown away at how light they were in comparison to my older carbon braces, while appearing to offer more support area on the upper and lower frames, with wider straps on the backside for comfort. The K4’s are made of a glass-reinforced polymer material and even come with a 12-month warranty on the frames.
The brace is surprisingly flexible in how the upper and lower portions of frame contour to my thigh and calf when trying them on for the first time. Some of the main highlights when first trying on the K4 braces were the wider straps, the added protection above and below the knee cap guard, plus the light weight and flexibility of the frames. The braces come with quite a few extra parts and pieces that will allow for customized fitment, and degrees of articulation for the main joint. It’s even possible to get a set of these covered by insurance if you talk to your doctor regarding your specific knee injuries, since the POD K4’s meet certain medical certification requirements.
On the Track
I have about 20 rides on the POD K4 braces now and have ridden with them on backcountry singletrack, motocross tracks, an Arenacross track, freeride jumps, and sandy whooped-out river beds. I’ve also decided to test the versatility of the K4’s and went mountain biking, hiking, and boarding with them, too! The braces went on easily and for my specific leg sizing I ended up using two of the included circular velcro fitment pads, which gave a nice snug fit around my knee cap so that there's no wiggle room whatsoever.
The first time I rode with knee braces a few years back, I noticed that the ability to grip the bike with my legs felt a bit detached, but this odd feeling was not as apparent with the new K4’s and their slim frame. In fact, the contours of the newer brace helped me pinch the bike with my knees and thighs, without causing any rubbing or pain on my inner knee area. One thing that has always irritated me about knee brace straps is that when you go to dress or undress, the velcro straps have a way of catching on the inside of the pants, making them difficult to adjust without stripping back down. One addition that could be beneficial would be to create a clip-in quick release design for the straps vs. the velcro strap that is wound through the eyelets of each strap section. This is a small detail, but would decrease the time it takes to put on and take off the braces while getting ready.
After about an hour, I did experience an uncomfortable pressure on the very uppermost part of my shin, but after taking the brace off realized that I could simply remove the lower protective guard, which resulted in zero discomfort for the rest of my use. I think my favorite thing about the POD K4’s is that you can remove all the guards, or only specific guards, and retain the rigidity and support that the frame offers for your knee. I found this to be extremely useful when I went hiking and mountain biking, but didn’t want to have all the guards on the brace. This stripped the brace down to just the frame for great support while being slim and light. I also intend on using these while wakeboarding, since I've felt like I need more support out on the water.
The K4’s include the ability to adjust how much articulation the brace has, so if you happen to be recovering from a knee injury and can’t fully extend your knee, or maybe it’s just uncomfortable, you can actually lock out the rotation of the joint to suit your preferences. This will also help in the event of a crash where you might have otherwise hyperextended your knee. All these adjustments are removable and customizable on the K4, to best fit the rider’s comfort within seconds.
So far, I've had a few spills in the corners while wearing the POD K4’s, and I’ve even pressure washed them after a particularly wet and muddy ride without a sign of concern on the braces. The soft spacing pads and velcro strap pads have all been through the washing machine and show no signs of wear, other than the “Right Side/Left Side” writing showing some minor fade on the brace’s tags. The material looks and feels to be of the highest quality, and I don’t see myself worrying about the integrity of the brace during a crash. The velcro has held up and done its job just fine, and I look forward to seeing how many years these bad boys will last me!
Vital MX Rating: 5 Stars - Spectacular
Now that I’ve touched on the quality, the design, and utility of the POD K4 braces, I want to provide my thoughts on who would be the ideal consumer for this product. If you ride motocross, off-road, mountain bikes, snowboard, or do any other activities that put major stress on your knee and can possibly put you in the surgery room like they did me, you're a candidate. If you haven’t already looked into knee braces, you should start after finishing this review. If you've already done your research and are in the market, I would highly suggest looking at the K4’s given their killer price point for the quality and comfort you receive, plus their versatility. In closing, I can say that the fan in me for POD has been rejuvenated with these new K4 braces.
About the Test Rider
Shelby Paget - is a ginger that has been rockin' two wheels since he was three years old. Growing up riding singletrack and trails in the hills of NorCal with his brother and Dad until he got his first taste of the Motocross Racing scene at 14. He's been hooked ever since! Whether he's working on looking better than he really is for the camera or doing cartwheels down the straights, he's always looking forward to getting back on two wheels whenever he gets the chance. This 5'11", 150 pound ginger will be riding as long as he has a wrist to twist!
Review by Shelby Paget // Photos by Tyler Paget