Atlas Prodigy Neck Brace Review

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

Atlas Prodigy neck brace with chest straps, and carry bag.

Atlas Brace Technologies makes three different neck braces for motocross use, each one catering to a different age group. In the Atlas Prodigy neck brace review we will be covering their mid-size model, which is designed to protect children from ages 8 – 16 years old, and smaller women.

Motocross neck braces are designed to work in conjunction with the riders helmet in a crash to reduce harmful forces acting on the neck and head, possibly preventing an injury, or lessening the degree of injury.

As with all protective equipment there are no guarantees. But Atlas aims to prevent its brace wearers from the following extreme movements: Hyper Flexion (Head forward), Lateral Hyper Flexion (Head sideways), Hyper Extension (Head backwards), & Axial Loading (Spinal column compression).

Cost: MSRP is $249.99 or $259.99 for the Ryan Villopoto Signature edition. This brace is on Closeout and is available for 50%off! (If they haven’t sold out already). Last time I checked Motorcycle Superstore and Amazon still had some.

Weight: 590g , or 1.3lb

Warranty: Every Atlas Brace comes with a limited lifetime warranty against breakage for the original buyer.

In The Box: 1 Prodigy Neck Brace, 1 Chest Strap, 1 Carrying Bag

Overall Rank: 9 out of 10

Size: Roughly speaking the Prodigy is designed for 8 – 16 year olds, but chest size is the most accurate indicator. You’re looking for a chest circumference of 29” – 33” (74cm – 84 cm) for a good fit. When you measure your child be sure to start high on the chest, go just under the arms, and all the way around. Any smaller than 29″ and you’ll want to go with the Atlas Tyke, any bigger than 33″, the Atlas Original.

Atlas Prodigy Neck Brace Overview

The Prodigy is a scaled down model of the adult version, and utilizes many of the awesome features that made the larger one so popular. A ton of research and development went into their neck brace design, resulting in a lot of innovative features. So they already had the prototype, they just needed to make it smaller. But rather than just throwing in some shims and calling it a youth, they shrunk the whole thing down, making it proportional for a child. Plus they gave it colors and designs that appeal to children.

The Atlas Prodigy neck brace features a stunning design.

Atlas knew from the gate drop that they wanted flexibility and simplicity to be their two main tenants. Flexibility is no doubt a big part of why this neck brace is so comfortable, but it also adds extra protection for its users as well. A high strength polycarbonate frame is fairly rigid, but still offers just the right amount of flex.

The main idea behind the flexibility theme, as it pertains to protection, is the brace should first absorb a chunk of the crash force before passing the residual energy onto the body. Atlas calls this attribute “engineered flexibility”, and believes it’s a major improvement over competing models with rigid frames that bring the head to a sudden stop.

Check out the front of the brace and have a look at the neck brace suspension system. I know, it sounds kind of crazy at first, but think about it. Our cars and bikes have suspensions, so why not our neck braces?

The youth neck brace by Atlas features dual independently rotating chest supports which are also flexible.Each support rotates on its own allowing the brace to sit evenly on the chest, and has built in flex which acts just like the leaf springs on an automobile. The two supports offer a broader surface area, and are lined with a special shock absorbing padding which further dissipates crash forces before passing the remainder onto the chest muscles.

Atlas created the dual support system, which straddles the sternum, in place of the single chest plate design, because some riders have experienced fractured sternums as a result of the brace resting on top of it.

Another nice feature found at the front of the brace is the entry – exit point / emergency release button.

The Atlas Prodigy brace goes on or off easily with the press of a button.

This very simple mechanism enables users to easily take the brace on and off at the press of a button. Which is great for kids, and also paramedics, should their assistance be needed.

Moving your attention on to the rear of the brace you’ll see that a similar innovation has been made there as well.

Instead of a single prong resting directly on the spine, two supports sit alongside the spine.

Larger supports are used here to spread the blow out across a broader area in this vital part of the body. The rear supports have been engineered the same way as in the front, with flexibility, and with the same unique shock absorbing padding.

The Atlas Prodigy neck brace dual rear supports spread impacts forces over a broad area, reducing pressure points in this critical area of the riders body.

Another really cool thing about this padding is it doesn’t absorb the elements the way foam does. This is beneficial because water, dirt, and sweat can’t penetrate the material. So it can’t gain any water weight, or be stained by dirt, which keeps the brace looking like new.

CNC machined aluminum axle blocks are responsible for attaching the supports to the brace. These intelligently crafted little metal blocks are remarkably simple and exceptionally efficient. This one little piece attaches the supports, enables their pivoting action, determines the fully open position by binding with the brace, and allows the supports to easily fold away for compact storage and transport.

By now you’ve probably already noticed something else that’s totally different about the Atlas brace. Aside from that rubber band, the two sides don’t attach in the rear. I believe this split back design is the single greatest innovation that Atlas made to the neck brace. It adds a ton of flexibility, providing unprecedented comfort, all the while retaining much needed strength during a crash.

The Atlas Prodigy neck brace' two sides don't connect in the rear, this allows the brace to flex, aiding in comfort.

That elastic rubber tether that you see bridging the gap at the rear of the brace is designed to prevent it from being pulled apart in an accident. Atlas warns not to intentionally stretch the rubber tether when putting the brace on over the head. This is not its intended purpose, and using it in this manner may damage it over time.

My First Impressions

The moment I grabbed it out of the box I was nodding my head yes, and thinking, “Yeah….this thing is nice!” My next inclination was to unfold the rear supports. Upon doing so I was once again like, “Yep, that’s good!” The way it feels when you move the supports back and forth.….Atlas claims that all of the brace’s components have been precision machined.…..evidently that is a true statement.

When trying the brace on I wasn’t overly excited about the feel of putting it on over my head. It was tolerable, but that’s about the best I can say about it. But you don’t have to worry about that with the Prodigy brace, since it opens in the front.

Before buying the Atlas brace I had been riding for a little over a year with the original Leatt Brace. I liked the Leatt, because I liked the idea that I was doing what I could to protect my neck. I put up with how restrictive it felt for that very reason. But when I heard about the Atlas Brace from pro mx racer Ryan Villopoto on t.v. I was like, “Oh! What’s this?” I promptly Googled Atlas Neck Brace and pounced on a deal I found that was well under MSRP, (I’ll link you to the same spot in a minute).

Anyway, getting back to trying on the brace. It felt a little weird putting it on over the head like a helmet, but once on it was a pretty nice fit. Although not perfect. What you want to see here is the rear supports contacting the back, the chest supports contacting the chest, and the shoulder pads also in contact with the body. No gaps. My brace sat with a very small gap at the chest. But I opted to keep it anyway since it was so minimal. Plus it was a little better once I put on the straps.

I was starting to get a little excited now, thinking this brace might just be all that I hoped it would be. Anxiously grabbing for my helmet I wondered if the problem I was having with the restricted feeling had been solved. Standing in my bedroom I strapped on my helmet, assumed the attack position, tilted my head back to look down the imaginary track, then….thud! The range of motion was considerably better, so I was really stoked about that….but dang….what’s up with that sound? There is no padding on the top of the brace, so when it contacts the helmet it makes a noise.

I repeated the motion several more times, thud, thud, thud….hmmmm…. that’s going to take some getting used to, I thought.

Then, with my shoulders shrugged up a little, as if holding on to handlebars, I looked to the left, and then to the right, HA! Complete freedom. Nice!

But one last obstacle lay in my path. Does it fit with my chest protector? At first it didn’t seem like it was going to, but then I realized that one good solid tug would just barely stretch it over the brace. A nearly perfect fit!

At The Track

Gearing up at the track, hoping for a killer ride day, I pulled out my new brace and passed it around to my friends to make them jealous. They had the same exact reaction as I did, a nearly instantaneous approval.

Now to take it for a test drive. As I wait in the starting gate, I bang my helmet on the brace a few times….eh…that sucks!….I hope I can get used to that.

But after a few laps on the track I knew I had a winner. I almost didn’t even notice the brace at all, except for this one spot where there is this fast strait away leading into a big step up jump. I felt a little pressure from the brace there, and heard that noise, which, by the way, isn’t so bad when muffled by the sound of a dirt bike. Aside from that though I was pleasantly surprised that the “thud” noise was all but gone.

I guess I was exaggerating my head movements while standing there in my bedroom, tilting my head further back than I actually would while on the bike. Or maybe I didn’t have the brace properly positioned on my shoulders. I don’t know. I’m just glad it didn’t turn out to be the nuisance I thought it was going to be.

O.k. let’s talks about the straps here for a second. Personally, I like them. I think it’s more comfortable that way. And I’m confident it will be in the right position if I ever need it during a crash. Plus it only takes about 15-30 seconds to put on. But I know there are people who prefer not to use the straps for some reason. If that sounds like you then you’re going to love this brace. Because the weight of it, and the sticky padding, go a long way in helping this it to stay in place. Even without the straps.

Getting The Right Fit

You can’t go to your local shopping mall and try on different sizes of neck braces to get the right fit. Atlas knows that. That’s why they design their neck braces with adjustability. Of course, the most important thing is taking accurate measurements, and selecting the right size. But you may want to do some fine tuning to get a better fit.

The rotating chest supports allow a good fit for a range of torso sizes.  But if it’s still a little too snug on your chest and back then flip the rear support inserts to make it longer. The reversible inserts can also help you get a little extra value out of your purchase. As soon as your kid outgrows the brace, just flip the inserts and keep on going.

The Atlas Prodigy youth neck brace has reversible rear support inserts making the brace able to fit a variety of torso thickness.

Conclusion

I’m very happy with my Atlas neck brace and see no reason to look any further for a brace that better suits my needs. But for the sake of Safety First Gear’s readers I will be purchasing and reviewing every single motocross neck brace on the market. Plus, who knows?

Maybe I’ll find the new Leatt GPX 5.5 to be the best. Or maybe the Alpinestars BNS, or the EVS R4 will be the leaders of a category or two, if not all around winners. Whatever the case may be, I will be getting to the bottom of it in this series of neck brace reviews.

As stated at the beginning of this article, there are no guarantees that this device will prevent a neck injury, just as helmets don’t necessarily prevent concussions. But I think we can all agree that they certainly do provide a very useful level of protection.

If your child is participating in the dangerous sport of motocross, then you’ve got to give him every advantage possible. That’s just being smart. That’s all it is. Give your kid all the protection you can, and know that you did all you could do.

Shop & Compare

(MSRP: $249.99) Item on Closeout. Selling for over 50% off!!!

Motorcycle Superstore (limited supply)

RockyMountain ATVMC (out of stock)

Amazon (limited supply)

 

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