Knee Protection


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How to choose motocross knee protection: While any injury can decrease our performance on the bike, there's a set of joints that stand out as a real problem zone for motocrossers, and they're your knees. Whether it be a direct impact, side-load, or twisting motion you're worried about, there are ways to protect the knees and keep your legs functioning as smoothly as possible.

Knee Protection Types

When it comes to knee protection, there are two main types to check out. The less expensive route would be knee/shin guards that are geared more towards preventing injuries from impacts, with plastic outer shells, and rubber/gel padding on the interior. The second type are true knee braces, where their primary purpose is to support and protect the ligaments in your knees from stretching, twisting, and tearing, but which also do offer some impact protection.

How Much To Spend/Materials and Construction

Your entry-level or lower-priced options will always be knee guards, while knee braces are on the higher end of the scale. Knee guards start as low as $15, but can top out at near $100. The lower-priced options are fairly basic, providing a plastic cup area over the knee, a hinge, and a shin guard, along with two or three straps to hold it in place your leg. As the pricing goes up, typically over $45, you'll find additional protection added; such as different gels or materials to absorb energy, along with extra segments to cover the lower part of the thigh. At these higher prices, the knee guard may even appear to be a mini-knee brace, but is not deigned with true knee support in mind, as a brace is. Companies will typically continue to call these knee guards, to prevent confusion for the consumer.

True knee braces definitely come in higher on the price scale, starting at around $300 and going to about $700 for most consumer models. Once you jump into the custom brace market, prices will go well over $1000, but typically people buying these braces are having them prescribed by their doctors as a medical device, and have insurance support to cover some or all of the cost. The lower end of this range to the top end aren't too much different, outside of materials used in construction and the closure systems used to attach them to your leg. The most basic of these braces are made from an injection-molded process with plastic, using hinges, a patella cup to protect the knee from impacts, and velcro straps to attach them to your leg. The higher up the price range you go, the more adjustability you'll find; such as lock-outs to limit the range of motion (useful if you have a prior knee injury), and other  adjustments to better dial in the braces for your individual leg size and shape. Other things that come as the price increases include lighter weight materials, such as carbon fiber or other carbon resins for the brace's frame, which makes them both stronger and lighter than the base models. Lastly, you'll find different attachment systems at the top, such as cable and reel closure systems; along with X-straps, which more evenly disperse the load on your leg and keep the braces in place better.

What makes these different from knee guards is the actual design. The brace frames, hinges, and straps are all designed to support the knee and transfer energy to other points in your leg, relieving stress on the knee ligaments and protecting them from damage. Certain brands have different philosophies on biomechanical hinge designs and how a knee should be supported via straps. Also, certain legs size and shapes (bow-legged vs. straight) can affect how certain braces will fit and work for you. Because of this, trying on braces before you buy can be very important. For the most accurate results, it's best to try them on with the sock and boots you would wear them with. If you're at your local dealer, ask someone on the staff about fitment, as usually someone in store has received instruction from local rep of that brand as to what they're looking for in fit.

Now what should you buy? Two things will dictate this; budget and feel. To put it simply, some riders do not like being in knee braces. Some pros, such as Kevin Windham, went nearly his whole career without a set and preferred knee guards. The majority, however, do use knee braces. Many like the preventative safety aspect of protecting their knees, along with the extra material between your knees and the bike, which can make the bike easier to grip. In the case of knee guards, the pricing is quite low, so going towards the $50 and above models for the extra protection features can be highly recommended. Now with knee braces being a higher investment, anything is better than nothing. But most importantly, go for the set that fits you best, both for all-day comfort, and protection. There are many pros over the years that have had team knee brace sponsors, but will wear a different model or even brand as the fit is that important (like a helmet). Ultimately, if it doesn't fit properly, it's not going to do its job well, no matter how good a deal you got on them.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, the Vital MX Forum is a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders.

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