The FamousLeatt Lab

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, this is Leatt®’s home of research & development. Here Dr. Leatt and his team of engineers and designers conceptualise and test new products and constantly strive to improve existing products even further.

The facility features state-of-the-art testing and prototyping equipment that enables the team to take a product from conceptualisation, through testing, all the way to pre-production prototypes.

While the majority of Leatt®’s R&D gets done at the Cape Town facility, collaborations with international partners give our products an international flavour.

MB ChB (UCT)Dr. Leatt

At the heart of the Leatt® Lab is Dr. Chris Leatt himself. A rider, father and inventor. Dr. Leatt was in the process of specializing in neurosurgery when he assisted in the treatment of a victim of a tragic motorcycle enduro accident. A fellow rider, Alan Selby, died on the track from a suspected neck injury. It was something Chris never wanted to see again or subject his son, aged 4 at the time (and who had just started riding) to the risks of and so he left his studies and began to design what would ultimately become the Leatt neck brace.

Born and raised in South Africa, Chris studied medicine at the University of Cape Town. He began his internship in the UK in 1995, before returning to his home country to take up a position as General Practitioner three years later. He has worked in the trauma wards of several hospitals, and spent time as a registrar at the Tygerberg Academic Hospital’s Department of Neurosurgery. In 2004, he gave up his medical career to focus exclusively on the Leatt neck brace.

Dr. Leatt was also a medical officer for three FIM MX South African Motorcycle Grand Prixs, and was frequently trackside during races in Nelspruit and Sun City. In 2005/ 6, he was the injury assistant officer for Motorsport South Africa (MSA).

Dr. Leatt heads up the Leatt®-Lab in Cape Town, South Africa, where most of Leatt®’s research & development takes place. He also still participates actively in motorcycle racing.

Our ProcessTesting

The philosophy of testing at Leatt® has been to develop test rigs and methods that allow comprehensive in-house testing and exploration of product performance.

Using a range of real life scenarios similar to the types of situations that might be encountered in a motorcycle, bicycle, kart, automotive racing or other accident, tests are conducted at intensity levels that allow Leatt® engineers to fully understand and characterise accident dynamics and product / rider interaction, in order to optimise product performance.

It also gives Leatt® engineers the confidence to expect a first round approval when submitting product to certification facilities where appropriate for examination.

In the early innovation of the motorcycle neck brace, Dr. Leatt had no standard against which to test quality and performance, no theory to guide the design and no practical testing methods to measure the results.

The LabPersonnel

Chris Leatt
Leatt Lab Innovator
Pieter Keevy
Biomedical Engineer, BEng (Mech), MMed (Biomed Eng) cum laude
Cornel de Jongh
Biomedical Engineering Consultant, BEng (Mech), MScEng (Biomed Eng) cum laude


Extensive modelling and simulation is used in the development of products. Some of the tools used are:

  • Validated H-III ATD Simulations using MSC Adams, LifeMOD™
  • Detailed Spine Model using MSC Adams, LifeMOD™
  • Finite Element Analysis using MSC SimOffice™ with NASTRAN
  • FEA in collaboration with Strasbourg University
  • FEA in collaboration with Stellenbosch University
  • Mold Flow Analyses
  • Helmet FEA in collaboration with Newton Test Labs
  • Tekscan Pressure Mapping in collaboration with Stellenbosch University

Martin, OurTest Dummy

Martin, our 50th percentile Hybrid III Anthropomorphic Test Dummy, is as much part of the Leatt® team as anyone. His design allows us to accurately measure many impact scenarios and provides us with test results and, more importantly, repeat and compare tests. Martin is similar to those dummies used by car manufacturers and boasts a total of some 23 built-in sensors that helps ensure valid and reliable data. In addition to this, Martin has an interchangeable Motorcycle Anthropomorphic Test Dummy (MATD) neck for non-seat belted test conditions (unrestrained torso impacts).  On a regular basis, we swing him, crash him and drop him, all in the name of better, more reliable products.

These dummies are designed utilizing a wide range of materials, including rubber, foam, vinyl, aluminium and steel, to create a device with high bio fidelity. By using biomechanical data and combining more than thirty years of testing and development to improve the impact response of the test dummy, it has come to closely approximate that of humans. The Hybrid III 50th Percentile Male ATDs can accommodate a wide range of instrumentation including accelerometers, load cells and transducers from the head to the toes, making it a versatile device for compliance testing and research and development. The H-III 50th % Male ATD represents a 50th % (median) male occupant in mass and inertia and is the preferred test device for FMVSS 208 testing. It is regulated by the USA Code of Federal Regulations Part 572, Subpart E, as well as in the European ECE Regulations.

Testing &Rigs

Several test rigs make up the core testing facilities at the Leatt® Lab. Developed and built to be cost effective to use, they are capable of reproducing a large range of the testing and dynamic scenarios used by more expensive certification rigs.

Destructive Drop Rig

On this rig we test braces to fracture point in an attempt to gain an understanding of failures experienced in the field. Forces in real-life accidents can therefore be replicated and used in further brace testing and design.

We also use this rig to ensure that new materials are strong enough but not too strong and that the failure points designed into the brace are maintained.

Dynamic Impact Rig

The Dynamic Impact rig is used to qualify products to standards such as EN 1621 range used for motorcycle body protection as well as being used to determine performance of new materials.

Helmet Impact Rig

A helmet impact rig capable of being adapted to test to all current helmet standards used in Europe and USA, namely:

  • DOT
  • Snell
  • ECE R 22.05

It is used to explore the performance and interaction of neck protection devices and alternative helmet designs for motorcycles and other sports activities such as skiing, horse riding, cycling and skating including rotational acceleration – a devastating head injury vector.

Pendulum Rig

The Pendulum test rig has been by far the busiest of our rigs.

Built to be able to reproduce in-house testing to the level of international facilities and also to validate our simulation models developed in MSC ADAMS and LifeMOD™.

This rig has been used to develop a test protocol and a suite of six tests that Leatt® believes comprehensively characterise the performance of a motorcycle neck brace.

Extensive man-hours have been spent researching, setting up and conducting these tests, analysing the results and refining the test protocol.

Using these tests Leatt® engineers ran a series of comparative tests of several motorcycle neck braces then on the market [2009] measured against a baseline of a rider without a brace.
Pendulum rig setup

The results reinforce our conviction of the soundness and pre-eminence of Leatt®’s Alternative Load Path Technology (ALPT™) and the performance of the Leatt neck brace across ALL tests reflect the depth and thoroughness of the research, the design and the testing that has created the Leatt® family of braces.

Sled Rig

A large pendulum was developed to mimic high speed impacts that typically occur during motor vehicle sports accidents. The pendulum structure was designed and built to be able to swing a 400kg cockpit type assembly into a hydraulic stopper, which results in impact forces of up to 45G’s over a time period of 50 milliseconds.

A 50th percentile Hybrid III ATD with a total of 23 sensors was used to measure the forces on the vehicle occupant. An eDAQ Lite was used to capture the data at 10 kHz and to trigger the Photron SAE 3 high speed camera which recorded at 1000 fps and a resolution of 1024 x 1024. nCode Glyphworks was used to post process the data according to the SAE J211 protocol.

A large flow was created to allow the engineer to review and compare up.

Tensile / Compressive Tests

The Tension / Compression rig is a relatively simple but very useful and very busy piece of the Lab’s equipment.

Among its many uses is physical quasi-static testing of brace components and other products conducted in accordance with Leatt®-developed manufacturing specifications.

For quality assurance purposes and in addition to normal quality acceptance inspection, random samples of production batches are also regularly tested.

Neck Brace Effectiveness Statistics

“Over the years we have overheard and had conversations about the positives and perceived negatives of wearing various kinds of safety gear, in particular neck braces. Regardless of make or manufacturer people seem to think they are “bad”. This perception may be based on old designs, personal experiences, social media commentary, and/or a total lack of knowledge when it comes to body mechanics.

We as a team feel our riders need to be educated on the mechanics of a neck brace, what it can and cannot do. Furthermore, we must dispel these myths about a product designed to help protect the cervical spine and potentially save a life. The same can be said for seatbelts and air bags many decades ago. We feel the results of this actual patient data is proof that neck braces are providing the results intended since their creation. This is something the manufacturers of these devices have known for several years, and we hope the extensiveness of this report (and other reports like it) will finally show people real world data. We feel the manufacturers are on the right path and the data from the study will back up their claims.”

Great Lakes EMS Inc (Action Sports EMS)

Get the full document here.

Knowledge LibraryDocuments

Leatt Neck Brace White Paper

Research and Development Efforts towards the Production of the Leatt-Brace® Moto GPX Unrestrained Torso Neck Brace

Swedish Motorcycle and Snowmobile Association letter to Leatt

A letter from SVEMO, the Swedish Motorcycle- and Snowmobile Association, regarding casualties in 2011.

Cervical Injury Statistics

Statistics on Cervical Injuries

Turbine White Paper

Research and Development Efforts towards the Development of the Leatt Turbine System

C-Frame Knee Brace White Paper

Research and Development Efforts towards the Production of the Leatt C-Frame Carbon Knee Brace


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