EVS R4 Neck Brace Review

Reviewed by: Essex Herts MTB -
EVS R4 Neck Brace
Neck braces seem to create almost as much division in mountain bike circles as wheel sizes. Essex Herts MTB check out the EVS R4 Neck Brace to see how it works, without hopefully putting it fully to the test!

The Specs

  • The R4 comes in two sizes, adult and youth.
  • The adult weighs in at a very reasonable 635 grams, whilst the youth is a fly weight 386 grams.
  • The collar has a low profile and has been designed specifically for 2 adrenaline sports like MX and DH.
  • Like many of the collars / braces on the market, the R4 is designed to minimizes risk of axial compression, hyper flexion, hyperextension and lateral hyper flexion; in other words, reduce the risk of having a life threatening and changing injury.
  • The R4 is easy to put on – there’s an easy front entry system and a simple chest harness which is adjustable.
  • As it’s quite low profile the range of movement with a helmet on is very good.
  • The collar has soft rubberized edges for increased extra comfort.
  • Both the adult and youth models are fully and easily adjustable for sizing.
  • There are various graphics kits to allow you to customize the collar – details here.
  • EVS have a strong MX background and heritage so are no Muppets when it comes to protection for extreme sports
  • Full product details are here.
  • There’s a good overview video here.
  • RRP: £99.99 (generally available from MX shops)

EVS R4 Neck Brace
"I was initially a bit skeptical – didn’t feel like I was a good enough rider to join the young rippers wearing them as a fashion statement."

'Why would I want to wear a toilet seat around my neck’?

A few years back, think it was around 2009, I was sat on the really annoying old style two man chair lift at the top of the Chatel bike park. You know the one that took an absolute age and gave you ample opportunity to phsyc you up or out about the infamous ‘road gap’. Anyhow, on this particular ascent I noticed something interesting – increasing numbers of riders were wearing what looked like toilet seats around their neck. Yes, neck braces, or race collars as the more MX inclined members of the MTB community like to call them, had fully made the move from motorsport to DHing!

Since then neck braces have continued to create much controversy for MTBers – many riders are hugely skeptical – claiming that braces actually are likely to cause more injuries and won’t work in the event of a bad crash; to riders, including Dan Atherton, who now won’t ride anything ‘gnarly’ without one.

I was initially a bit skeptical – didn’t feel like I was a good enough rider to join the young rippers wearing them as a fashion statement – but as I thought about it more (and the increasingly challenging riding I was doing along with the increasing personal responsibility that6 everyone with a family will relate to) I decided to give it a go and purchased a EVS R4 Race Collar.

The R4 is the first and only brace I’ve used, so I can’t compare to other options on the market but as more shops now seem to be selling these it should be a bit easier to try before you buy now

Design and setup

  • The R4 comes in a nice box with some nice and clear instructions.
  • It’s pretty obvious what to do with it in terms of set up – best bet is to put it on with or without your normal amour and helmet and have a look in the mirror. If the brace doesn’t look right – e.g. it’s leaning too far forward or back, you can adjust the brace to make it a bit narrower.
  • The chest harness is also adjustable as it attaches to the main brace with Velcro.
  • I set mine up in about 10 mins at home and it’s not needed adjusting since.
  • Price is excellent – particularly if like me you’re not 100% convinced on whether you’ll get on with wearing a brace or not.
  • If you are ‘regular’ shaped in the chest – think you’ll be fine but if your particularly barrel chested or pencil thin, you might want to try one for fit before splashing the cash.
  • As above, availability in bike shops is a bit limited – you need to venture into the world of MX (and risk spending a load of money 0n an even more expensive hobby!! Beware!!).

EVS R4 Neck Brace
"The collar works really well with both the MTB helmets I’ve used it with. Visibility even with super steep tracks like Champery hasn’t been negatively impacted whilst wearing the brace."

Usability and durability in the field

  • Once set up, the brace is really comfortable to wear – think the relatively light weight helps here a lot.
  • Within 5 minutes of my first time wearing it, I forgot it was there and the brace rapidly became a ‘must wear’ piece of kit alongside my full face helmet, gloves, knee pads and 5.10s.
  • The harness seems to keep it very stable.
  • The construction is good and solid and even though it comes in bathroom white color.
  • The collar works really well with both the MTB helmets I’ve used it with – see below – and visibility even with super steep tracks like Champery hasn’t been negatively impacted whilst wearing the brace.
  • I may not be the most reliable witness but after my recent PORC stack I was fairly sure that it had done it’s job and stopped my head extending in a way it wasn’t designed to do!
  • It does look like a toilet seat – particularly in stock white = prepare for ‘toilet seaters’ to take the piss
  • Did it contribute to my broken collar bone after my most recent stack? There’s a fair bit of web forum debate about this – but the way I look at it I’d trade a collar bone break for a neck injury every day of the week!

EVS R4 Neck Brace
"It does look like a toilet seat – particularly in stock white."

Test Info

  • Tested – Spring 2012 - current
  • Riding – DH only
  • Riding style – historically = crash free since 2003; recently = hitting the dirt a lot more and harder (I blame Jon)
  • Bikes Tested with –Trek Session 88
  • Body Amour Tested with – O’Neal Stealth (soft, SASTEC amour)
  • Helmets Tested with – THE Carbon; TLD D3

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m now a convert to neck braces, and won‘t ride ‘big bike’ terrain and tracks without it. I’ve found the EVS R4 really comfortable to wear and it hasn’t impacted visibility at all. The brace comes in at a good price relative to the other options on the market and is made by a company that knows what playing on bikes is all about. What’s not to like?

If you’re not convinced by the need for this level of protection, then fair enough – everyone needs to make the ‘right’ choice for him or her. But if you are keen to join the toilet seat brigade – think the EVS R4 race collar is well worth checking out and trying.

Find out more about the EVS R4 Neck Brace here.