Taking a closer look at the new technology in Pod's 2019 K8 knee brace.
Words: Guy Streeter
Knee protection for the motocross and off-road riding community is one of the most important and trickiest things to try and prevent injury. Pod, an Australian based company, has been in the knee brace game for the last 10 years and has been pushing expectations for knee braces.
Pod’s founder Geoff Maloney commented on how the brand first came into existence: “Knee braces to begin with were really about injury treatment and not about performance. A lot of motorbike racers that I grew up with like Troy Dorron and Stephen Andrews, and when I went back and saw them later in life they were all using medical knee braces as a treatment or rehabilitation.”
For a relatively small company, Pod have been able to team up with the likes of Fox and Deakin University (Geelong) over the years to produce a knee brace that is not only lighter and stronger, but also develop a patented hinge design that uses synthetic ligaments to ensure a far more superior range of motion.
The knee brace itself is patented and medically certified, made from a forged carbon composite chassis and a one piece moulded hinge housing, which encapsulates the Vectran Fibre Synthetic Ligament. “The hinge was the key to it all,” Maloney continued. “By developing the hinge system and getting the motion right, we were able to get a brace that moved naturally.”
Pod has released the new 2019 K8 POD knee brace, which is the latest version of the popular offering to hit the shelves. Using what they’ve learned over the last 10 years of development and testing with the likes of Deakin University in Victoria, Pod has made big improvements in comfort, technology and performance.
Not only does Pod listen to what feedback its sponsored athletes provide them with, but also the consumer too, which is what has made them so successful in producing such a great piece of equipment. Pod has CAD designers in-house that can produce working prototypes on a 3D printer at its facility to ensure what they are going to take to the market is actually comfortable and will work as designed.
The 2019 K8 knee brace has had significant updates from the previous model. So what exactly has been updated on the 2019 brace? Impact protection, hinge reduction, ligament strength, adaptive knee gripper, strap clips, liner material and anti-rotational strap.
Pod has moved away from the previous version of the knee impact protection system and now utilises a two panel set up which protects the knee through the whole knee movement. The guard now puts the force of the impact into the frame of the brace and not directly onto the knee, protecting from both blunt force impacts as well as anything that might pierce through your gear and into your knee.
The design is slimmer and is shaped better to the riders knee, and its construction also has a better fit for when you’re kneeling, changing tubes, working on the bike out in the bush or helping a mate push his bike up a hill climb. Geoff stated: “A lot of our customers are enduro guys who want to be able to kneel on the ground and change a tyre and things like that.”
The hinge housing has been reduced in size with 17 percent of the width being shaved off, which gives a better fit and less irritation to the medial side of the housing. Not only does it work better, but it’s lighter, works faster and allows the rider to be a little closer to the bike.
The Vectran fibre core is five times stronger than steel and uses a TPU shield which is durable and flexible, just like a human ligament. The ligament itself has been tested to 100,000 cycles without failure and has a tensile strength of 460kgs. which was really well depicted by the ligament suspending a KTM 1090 Adventure bike at the Pod office.
The K8 knee brace has a new adaptive knee gripper that made from EVA foam which works in hand with the hinge housing shim pads, stabilising the knee and helping to keep the brace in place.
Strap clips have been added to the upper and lower straps. This helps the rider to ‘set and forget’ after the initial set-up. This makes it a little easier each time you’re putting the braces on and even in storage prevents the velcro straps from sticking to loose bits and pieces in your gear bag.
The last thing I have ever cleaned, or should I say the only thing in my gear bag that I have never cleaned, are my knee braces. Knee braces generally absorb sweat, dirt and whatever else you ride through, causing bad smells and also housing bacteria. “There has been a journey in terms of odour with the liners the knee braces tend to smell a bit,” said Geoff. “So we have been working with Deakin University and now we use a close cell foam that reduces the odour.”
POD has utilised EVA closed cell foam which have a host of benefits including impact and vibration absorption, weather and chemical resistance, thermal insulation properties, and does not get heavier with water absorption as water does not penetrate the foam.
One common problem with most knee braces is brace migration – it seems no matter how tight you have your knee brace is, it somehow wants to move around your leg by the end of the day. The anchoring strap on Pod’s ‘strap one’ has been designed to help prevent this. The lower frame liner has been extended to position strap one and its clip in a way that reduces the chance of the strap moving down your calf, which in turn keeps your brace in place.
The all new POD K8 knee braces which are a premium product and go a long way to ensuring protection for your knees. The brace is now available for RRP $1139.95 for the pair, or RRP $569.96 individually. For more information visit www.podactive.com.