Phil Davy, general manager of Leatt Brace USA, has always on the cutting edge of protective apparel.
Last week Leatt introduced some of the upcoming 2014 products, including several prototype pieces still in development. We caught up with Davy to ask how about highlights from the new lineup as well as the technology behind the gear.
Dealernews: What are some of the highlights from the new 2014 products?
Davy: We developed a new kid’s product that’s a chest protect/neck brace combination [see image]. If you’ve been out to any kids motocross races lately, a lot of kids are wearing these things they call “rodeo vests.” They’re basically a plastic sheet that wraps around the rider and goes over the shoulders as well. While they have a certain amount of impact protection, they’re never backed by foam. This makes it difficult to wear a neck brace with them, but these kids wear them because the parents want them to.
Ours uses non-Newtonian foam, similar to D3O, that firms up when you strike it; the whole body structure is made up of that and then it has a neck brace built into it as well, so it’s super easy to put on, easy to wear, and we’ve got kids sizes of it as well.
We’ve been working on it for a while, and it was a rough idea at first. It’s easy to conceptualize things like this, but you quickly find that it’s quite harder to make them actually work.
We showed it to some of our big mail-order partners to place pre-orders for them to make sure we had ordered enough. People are coming in and seeing this and ordering 500, 600, 800 at a time, so obviously they were stoked on it and they think it’s going to sell like crazy.
When we go to our distributors, over 50 all around the world, we show them our new product and part of the meeting is always, ‘What would you like to see from us?’ And for the last four years, they have all said exactly the same thing: they’d like to see a knee brace. So we now have developed a new knee brace, but we went about it in a completely different way from everybody else.
A lot of other manufacturers seem to use the original knee brace concept, which was a medical rehabilitation product, then adapt it in such a way that it is supposed to stop injuries. And knee brace technology is actually fairly effective, having probably saved tens of thousands of knee injuries, but we thought we could do better.
So we went to whole bunch of knee surgeons -- Dr. Leatt researching this for about three years. We came up with a prototype design from a design that is completely different from everyone else’s. In fact, it only has one hinge on it because only one hinge is necessary to make it work.
It features a plate system [see image, above] that is different from the “cage” type that everyone else is using. Those are good, but those are not the ultimate version of what knee braces are going to look like, as we are carrying it to the next generation of what knee braces need to look like to stop more knee injuries than current technologies are allowing. (continued)