Leatt X-Frame Hybrid Knee Brace
Price: $529.99 (Pair)
- Easily adjustable
- No binding
- Knee cup provides a little less coverage than other options
- Knee cup will slide down if not folded over the upper portion of the brace
What it is
- Leatt's mid-tier knee brace.
- Knee cup and brace are two separate pieces.
The X-Frame Hybrid is an Injected Carbon Composite knee brace designed to reduce ACL, MCL, and Meniscus injuries. It shares much of the same design and features as Leatt’s standard X-Frame brace which includes asymmetrical hinges with the inside hinge being 40% thinner, adjustable hyperextension protection and an easy fitting strap system. Where the Hybrid differs from the standard X-Frame and most other braces, is that the hard plastic knee cup and an AirFlex impact gel pad are incorporated into a sleeve that’s worn under the brace rather than incorporating some sort of outer protection that’s attached to the brace itself. Sizes are in S-XXL and retail for $529.99 for the pair.
How it works
- Two piece design eliminates any binding or slipping.
- Adequate protection on all fronts.
- One of the more comfortable yet cost-effective knee braces we've tried.
I’ve worn a few different braces over the years and have come to appreciate the protection they provide. I feel that the extra bulk (that I really don’t notice) and taking a few more minutes to get dressed is worth the added protection that comes with them. I have had some binding issues on other braces, which I'm fairly senstive to and not fond of, which is why I was particularly interested in Leatt’s Hybrid knee brace.
I found the X-Frame Hybrid brace to be very comfortable and relatively slim. They’re not the thinnest or lightest “off-the-shelf” brace, but they’re in the same ballpark as most of the other higher end, non-custom braces on the market. Bottom line is once I put them on, I never notice them, which is quite a compliment for a knee brace. In a perfect world, a knee brace provides protection that doesn’t come along with any downsides, but of course, that’s not always the case.
The unique feature of the Hybrid is the sleeve that incorporates the knee cup and protection for the surrounding area. Since most riders wear some sort of sleeve under their knee braces, it seems like a good idea to put the protection right against the knee and shin, thereby pretty much eliminating any chance of binding that can happen with the more typical armadillo shell style. In practice it works well. You put the sleeve on and get it in position before putting on the brace. One key that’s included in the instructions is you must fold the sleeve down over the top of the frame of the brace. I’ve forgotten and when I did, the sleeve with the knee cup slid down. Leatt also suggests folding the bottom portion of the sleeve up over the bottom of the brace as well. I’ve found that, as long as I didn’t forget that step, the knee-cup sleeve, as well as the brace are as comfortable as any that I’ve worn with no binding or slipping while riding or walking around.
The only downside I’ve found with this design is that the protection from a direct impact to the knee and upper shin is a little less than you’d have with other braces. The plastic cup that sits directly over your patella is relatively small and the AirFlex impact gel pad that sits under the cup and extends down your shin doesn’t stop you from feeling an impact. More than once, a well aimed rock came off a bike in front of me (Ed. note - If he was faster and leading races this wouldn't be an issue) and it hit off to the side or below the knee cup. The pad did its job and prevented any injury, but I was well aware and was left with some discomfort, if only for a moment.
Overall, I’ve been impressed with Leatt’s latest brace and feel like they provide excellent protection without many drawbacks. After wearing them for over one year, I’m impressed with how they’re holding up. So far, no real signs of any wear on the braces or even the material of the sleeves which I thought looked a little thin but have proven to be pretty tough. At $529 for a pair, pricing is in line or even a little lower than some of the other options in the market. Leatt is a company that has a history of providing high quality protective products and I found the X-Frame Hybrid Knee Brace to be a great addition and one I plan to continue using long after this test is complete.
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