Do you really need a set of motocross knee braces? It depends on your style of riding.
Your knees are one of the most vulnerable parts of your body. Motocross riding can take a serious toll on your knees. When you think about it, every turn you take, you are one rock away from a hyperextended knee, and when you fall, you are exposing yourself to bruising. Knee protection is one of those things that needs to be addressed after your helmet and boots are sorted out.
What is the difference between knee braces and knee pads?
There are two different types of knee protection categories. The first, and by far cheapest is knee pads. These are really designed to keep your knees from getting skinned up when you fall or sideswipe a tree. They protect against superficial damage primarily.
Knee braces on the other hand are much more complex. They are designed to both protect against superficial wounds, but also to prevent serious, season or career ending knee injuries. Knee braces are engineered to keep your knee from hyperextending in the event that you encounter an unexpected rock when turning or if you land wrong after a fall.
Should I get braces or knee pads?
This really depends upon the type of riding that you do. If you are racing, I would definitely recommend a set. However, if you are simply casually riding dirt bikes with your friends or family on the weekends and not being real aggressive, you can probably get away with just knee pads.
This article is going to be focused on motocross knee braces, not knee pads. Be forewarned. Knee braces are not cheap. If you see a set that you think is reasonably price, make sure that they are for a set and not just an individual knee. The first time I looked at knee braces I was flabbergasted at the price difference between dirt bike knee pads and motocross knee braces. After some research, I understand the difference, but still. They are pricey.
In order of priority for purchase, I would recommend first a good helmet, a good pair of dirt bike boots, a good neck brace, then a set of knee braces. You will be able to get by for a while with a set of knee pads, which are better than nothing.
The 5 Best Motocross Knee Braces Reviewed
PodMX offer a couple of different models of their knee braces. Probably the most popular is the K4 Knee braces. These are definitely a performance based model geared towards racers.
The K4 knee braces are constructed from a glass reinforced polymer frame and are light weight enough that you won’t notice them when you are wearing them. They come in at just under one and half pounds (620 grams).
One of the great features of the K4 line of knee braces from PodMX is that they are modular, meaning you can replace parts that either wear out or don’t fit the way you would like them to. Since you have the ability to truly customize the fit, they are able to provide a great level of protection. One example of how this is great is if you end up taking a spill and wearing out the knee cup, you can replace just that knee cup.
PodMX offers a technology called Human Motion that keeps the sound of the knee braces down, and has a controllable range of motion with 25 different settings of knee extention range of motion stops. The pads can be replaced as well, so if you end up wearing out the pads you can just buy a new set to replace them.
Users really love these knee braces. People use them for lots of different sports, even outside of motocross or dirt bike riding. For instance, if you are doing a sport where the knee cup could get in the way, you can remove the knee cups. Very versatile!
The one knock against these seem to be getting the fit dialed in to where you don’t get hot spots. I would argue that most of this can be alleviated by making sure that you wear knee brace sleeves or knee brace socks which will get rid of the rubbing.
The braces are attached by Velcro straps. I am not a huge fan of this, and actually prefer the lace up variety because they offer less of a chance for them to move around on you. However, once you get them dialed in, I am sure they will be fine for you.
Before you order, make sure that you look at the sizing chart to make sure that you are getting the right size knee braces. Additionally, you can either buy these knee braces by the knee (i.e. you can buy a right knee brace or a left knee brace), but I would recommend that you make sure you are purchasing a pair of them.
Finally, PodMX offers a 12 month warranty on these braces. The short time frame shouldn’t be too much of an issue since they are modular, so if a part wears out in a couple of years that you feel should be warrantied normally, you can just replace it for relatively inexpensively.
Asterik Ultra Cell 2.0
Asterik Ultra Cell 2.0 Knee Braces
I personally wear Asterik Knee Braces when I ride. I have a little bit older model than what is currently available, but they core safety and features haven’t changed a ton. They fit well and can go down inside the tops of my boots without any issues.
Recently, Asterik released their Ultra Cell 2.0 line of braces. The Ultra Cell technology has many years of real life usage behind it and has been well received by the riders. The updated version is simply a lower profile of their Ultra Cell line.
Asterik is unique in that it does not have a separate knee cap. Instead, the knee brace is designed by offering full coverage of your entire knee. This makes for what I feel is a safer and better design than the competition. Your knee cap is still well protected, but so is the rest of your knee.
You quickly forget that you are wearing these knee braces. They are very comfortable, and thanks to their hinge system, you have very natural movement.
These knee braces are not cheap. But that is no surprise considering the amount of research and development that has gone into creating these knee braces. They are not cheaply made and are extremely high quality.
Since knee injuries are so common in motocross and dirt bike riding in general, I think that it is a justifiable expense. At this point in my life, I am not willing to risk a season ending injury, surgery, and months of rehab because I didn’t wear knee braces. I put these on along with my neck brace, helmet, and boots, every time that I ride.
EVS Sports Axis Knee Braces
Don’t let the sub par attempt at a neck brace from EVS make you think that they don’t offer high quality products. In my article on neck braces, I was understandably disappointed at their offering. However, when it comes to knee braces they have a good, reasonably affordable option.
The EVS Sports Axis Knee Brace set is going to be quite a bit cheaper than the others that we talk about here. It is still not cheap, however it does provide a good amount of coverage for your knees if you are not willing to shell out a ton of money (relatively speaking, they are still not inexpensive).
The patented hinge system allows for natural range of motion that is embedded in their Knee Cap. This should provide the necessary protection that you need when you fall.
Additionally, they have adjustable lockouts to prevent knee hyperextension. This is a feature that is relatively common among knee braces, so it is good to see that they have included it.
Since these are a cheaper option, you should not expect the world from them. The main complaint from users is durability. The lining seems to wear easily and they don’t hold up to the test of time very well. Just know that going in. These are probably not a one and done purchase. They may last you a season or two, but certainly don’t have the longevity of some of the other options.
That trade off might be acceptable for you given that they run about half the price of other options.
Mobius X8 Knee Brace
The Mobius X8 knee braces are another of the upper tier of knee braces. These are used by pro motocross riders all over the world. The X8 uses a pretty innovative internal cable system that works as the underlying principal for protecting your knee.
The Continuous Cable Routing System, or CCRS becomes tighter when forces are applied to the knee. Essentially the way this works is as the knee starts to move out of the normal plane of movement, the cable system becomes tighter, compressing the knee joint with the brace body and preventing the knee from moving in a way that would cause damage.
The X8 does not have a knee cap, similar to the Asterik knee brace. Instead the entire surface of the knee is protected by the body of the brace instead of individual parts like you would see with the PodMX knee brace. While there is visible knee cap, there is a replaceable patellar pad that is located inside the brace to help against bruised knees.
The only user complaint are around sizing and comfort. Some users say that these braces are not as comfortable as the Asterik braces, but they are also a little cheaper. Additionally, if you decide to get these braces, pay special attention to the sizing chart. Since these braces use a different protection system, make sure that you measure correctly before purchasing.
All in all these are a very popular knee brace with high marks. Just make sure that you measure your knee before you order. I like the CCRS system as it seems like a good, nonintrusive way to protect your knee that progressively provides more support as your knee moves further outside the desired range of movement.
Leatt C-Frame Knee Braces
Last but not least is the Leatt C-Frame Knee Braces. Leatt is a company that is developed around extreme sport protection gear and they offer a few lines of knee braces and these are their premiere offering.
This knee brace is actually medically certified with both the FDA in America and the EU certifying body. It has been CE tested and certified for impact protection as well.
The C-Frames include an adjustable hyperextension limiter to prevent ACL injuries and a fixed hyperflexion limiter to prevent against meniscus injuries.
These are a low profile knee brace and have been engineered with failure points where the brace frame itself breaks before it causes damage to the thigh and shin bones.
Overall, Leatt has put a ton of research into these braces and they are a great option for anyone that needs knee braces and are partial to the Leatt name.
Dirt Bike Knee Brace Accessories
The main accessory that you will want to consider is a set of knee brace sleeves or knee brace socks. These are essentially thin pieces of material that go inbetween your skin and the knee brace. They will keep you from developing sores or hot spots as a result of wearing your knee braces.
So there you have it. The top 5 knee braces for dirt bike riding. Knee braces are a significant investment, so be sure to make your selection carefully. While they are expensive, so is getting knee surgery and dealing with a potentially career ending injury. Wrap your knees up and stay safe out there!