WHAT IS IT? Used by Ryan Villopoto, Dean Wilson and
Jason Anderson, the Atlas Air neck brace is a completely
new design. It incorporates many of Atlas’ proprietary
ideas but has several major updates.
WHAT’S IT COST? $299.99.
CONTACT? www.atlasbrace.com or (661) 505-4407.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand
out with the Atlas Air neck brace.
(1) Design. The brainchild of former professional racer
Brady Sheren, Atlas’ unique neck brace was unveiled in
2012. It incorporated a split-frame design that kept the
brace off the rider’s spine, whereas Leatt and Alpinestars
used a thoracic support that sat on the spine. Sheren
believes that the energy load caused by force should be
directed away from the spinal column. The same structural
design philosophy was used at the front of the brace;
instead of transferring weight to the sternum, the Atlas
brace uses two “feet” that act independently. The new
Atlas Air neck brace follows these same principles yet has
these revisions: (a) At 1.3 pounds, it is very light. (b) The
front suspension has three times more travel than the
previous model. (c) A redesigned easy-open latch
system has fewer parts and is foolproof. (d) Billed as
“Smart Mounts,” the back supports have a reversible
design and three angle adjustments for a customized fit.
(e) Gone is the heavy rubber padding, replaced by lightweight, colored foam that comes from the running-shoe
industry. MXA initially encountered issues with bonding
of the foam to the frame, but Atlas assured us that the
problem would be solved in production.
( 2) Fitting. There are two ways to put on the Atlas Air
brace. You can slip the brace over your head (unless your
head is as big as a watermelon) or use the latch at the
front of the brace. Atlas includes optional padding that
can allow the brace to sit higher or lower. Riders with
longer necks preferred running the taller padding. Atlas
sells the Air brace in three adult sizes: small, medium
and large. To determine the correct size, we recommend
visiting the Atlas website for proper instructions. As for
customizing the fit, the rear mounts can be adjusted to
steepen or slacken the angle of the back supports. Most
testers preferred to tuck the Air brace into their chest
protectors, but it wasn’t always a snug fit. Atlas also
includes a strap kit.
( 3) Comfort. Testers liked that the back of the Air
brace sat low, because it was less obtrusive when
climbing hills or going through whoops. The brace
platform didn’t interfere with side-to-side head movement. In terms of overall weight, the Air brace is
appropriately named. It’s very light. We liked the foam
padding, because it provided cushion, could be cleaned
easily and didn’t absorb water.
( 4) Protection. It is our belief that neck braces can
limit catastrophic neck injuries. We like Atlas’ approach
to neck protection, because the split design keeps pressure off the spine and sternum. Wearing a neck brace
isn’t supposed to feel any more natural than wearing a
helmet. The intent is to protect the spine and disperse
energy across a wide area rather than directing it to a
certain point at impact. We do wish that the Air brace
had a wider platform, as it’s possible for a large helmet
to extend beyond the edge of the brace. Plus, there is
always the caveat that the lower a brace sits, the farther
it is away from the rider’s helmet—and the helmet/brace
connection is what redirects the load path away from
the rider’s neck.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We have two quibbles: (1)
Due to the two wings on the rear, it’s challenging to
properly fit the Air brace under some chest protectors.
( 2) We wish that the brace had a wider platform.
The Atlas Air brace is a worthy adversary in
ATLAS AIR NECK BRACE
the neck brace wars. It has many nice features
and design concepts that make sense.
MXA TEAM TESTED