The EVS R4 prototype is small and allows for the most freedom of movement out of any neck brace we’ve tested.
In recent years a new piece of protective equipment has become an almost essential addition to a rider’s gearbag – the neck brace. For well over a decade EVS Sports has offered the RC1 race collar, a basic foam neck roll and arguably began the neck brace trend. Companies such as Leatt and Alpinestars upped the game with plastic and carbon fiber braces that restricted neck movement to battle the hyperextension and compression that could result in neck injuries. These systems have increased safety but at a high price to the wallet. Just take a look around your local track, and you can see many riders are willing to shell out the $300 to almost $700 for a brace that may protect them from one of the worst case scenarios on a motorcycle. The problem is not everyone can afford the high price for protection.
EVS Sports also has a brace that is comparable with the Leatt and Alpinestars brace called the RC EVO, but for us it is just a bit too bulky to ride comfortably in. Limiting head movement and redistributing the force of an impact are the cornerstones of the neck brace, and the approach by all thus far is bigger is better. Not anymore.
Last year at the Indianapolis Trade Show, EVS released information on a new neck brace they have in development called the R4. Touting a compact frame and a low price, the new EVS brace looked to be a solution for the two biggest drawbacks to modern neck protection, expense and bulk. At just $119 for the adult brace and $99 for the youth model, the new brace looks to ease tension in the wallet of safety minded riders.
Last week, I got the opportunity to test out a preproduction prototype of the new R4 while riding with EVS Cool Guy Bobby Ali. In just one lap, I was sold on the new neck brace. The profile limits the normal range of motion so much less than any other braces I’ve worn, especially to the rear. This isn’t much of a problem on the MX track, but it can be out on the trail when looking up a steep hill. The forward or downward mobility is just slightly more than the competition, and side to side the brace doesn’t hinder movement whatsoever.
Ali explained the reason that EVS can make the brace so small is the hard polished shell that deflects the blow from your helmet after redistributing the initial shock. This also prevents the brace being pushed into the collarbone, which has an issue with other braces. At the rear of the brace is a short, wide back piece than rests higher up on the back than the long thoracic plates on the Leatt and Alpinestar braces. The thinking behind the short design is to limit the leverage of the brace on the upper vertebrae in the event of the head being snapped back. In front, the brace rests directly on the chest.
Putting on the brace is a piece of cake. The R4 opens in the front and is held close by an ingenious plastic tab and a hook and loop strap. A very simple and easy to use strap system holds the R4 in place and is required due to the small size of the back plate.
After a day of riding in the prototype R4, I feel the smaller and simple design of the R4 is the way to go. I don’t like extra bulk when riding, and the prototype EVS neck brace is the most slender brace I have ever had the opportunity to test. I can’t wait to get my mitts on a production version which is slated to be available in September. Until then, I’m hoping Bobby will forget that he loaned me one of his prototypes; my fingers are crossed.
Adult – $119
Youth – $99