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VitalMX’s First Ride: Leatt Z-Frame Knee Brace

“A knee brace for the masses? Leatt’s budget-friendly Z-Frame has a simple design yet is still a certified medical device and CE certified for impact protection.”

 

 

VitalMX took our newly launched Z-Frame knee brace for a ride to give you their first impressions of it.

Replicating the mechanics of the knee, the Z-Frame brace either deflects or absorbs impact as required. Certified medical device and top-rated impact protection that won’t break the bank, this is where science and performance mesh to deliver pure, unrivalled Thrill!

“For serious motocross riders, not wearing knee braces is pretty much taboo. But truth be told, there are pros and cons to knee braces, and casual riders could argue that the price and complexity of high-end knee braces would steer them towards being knee-guard only riders. Personally, I’ve had minor knee injuries wearing both knee pads and knee braces, so I’m not totally dedicated to one or the other. I like the feel, comfort, and freedom of movement I get from pads, yet I do have that back-of-the-mind thought that knee braces could do me better if/when I go down,” they said.

 

“According to Leatt, they’ve taken what they’ve learned from developing the C-Frame and X-Frame braces and applied it to their new Z-Frame. To keep the price down, the chassis has both glass-filled nylon and carbon injected sections, rather than carbon fiber, like premier braces. The chassis is also made of just three main sections, the thigh plate, the shin plate, and the knee cup, affixed by a simple dual-pivot hinge on both sides of the knee. The hinges are completely enclosed and it doesn’t look like you can replace any parts.”

There is, however, multiple inserts that limit the amount of extension allowed by the brace. There are 5, 10, 15, and 20-degree options. Also, on the inside of each hinge, there are pads that are velcroed in place that are replaceable with different thicknesses, and I’ll get into those in the ‘Fit’ section.

What is pretty cool about a sub-three-hundred dollar brace is that it is both impact and medically certified. According to Leatt’s website, the Z-Frame adheres to the medical device codes of EU CA014741 and USA FDA 10048761 and meets the CE certification of Knee EN1621-1. With a cursory search, I couldn’t find any details on what the medical certification actually denotes, but the CE certification is a straightforward impact test making sure a certain amount of force is stopped by the brace.”

“Bike/brace contact is pretty natural feeling. I did feel where the hinges were, but they are flush enough with the brace to give a confident leg grip on the bike. They are also thin enough to have your knees feel pretty close to the bike. Some other braces have given me sore spots on the shin where the brace stops, which didn’t happen with the Z-Frame. Downward migration is a common issue with knee braces and the Z-Frames held their ground really well.”

The Takeaway

“First off, the Z-Frames are not as stiff, rigid, or light as carbon fiber braces on the market. They are also half the price. I would say that this knee brace is a natural step up from high-end knee guards and the perfect knee brace for the first time knee brace wearer. I would also say that they might be great for guys and gals who have worn knee braces but find them to be bulky and distracting. After a few laps, I stopped noticing the braces and this could be that the chassis has just a touch of flex to give a more comfortable ride. Lastly, three hundred bucks isn’t cheap, but it is much easier to swallow than most other braces on the market and, in my opinion, you get what you pay for.”

 

CLICK HERE to view the full review.

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