Pod K4 2.0 Knee Brace Review: Off-Road Confidence Builder


Knee braces are as essential a part of my off-road riding gear as my helmet—a bit ironic given I’ve spent more years riding without proper knee protection than with. My excuse back in the ’80s was that there wasn’t an option like the Pod K4 2.0 composite knee brace. Plastic knee guards were the standard and did well enough in my novice years. I wasn’t racing, so my tip-overs and crashes were not high-speed affairs.Pod K4 2.0 Knee Brace Review: For SaleHowever, we all know you don’t have to be going fast to get hurt on a motorcycle. So, when I tore my ACL one month after Ultimate Motorcycling Editor Don Williams tore his, we both decided it was time to upgrade our gear. Since then, we’ve both worn knee braces religiously to avoid a repeat visit to the surgeon.To those who have not worn knee braces, they can look off-putting. The bulky appearance suggests they might be awkward, uncomfortable, and interfere with your movement on the bike. In fact, it’s surprising how quickly they can blend into your routine—just like your helmet.Pod K4 2.0 Knee Brace Review: PriceThe Pod K4 2.0 knee brace consists of a composite frame, CE-rated impact guards that cover your knees, synthetic ligaments within a hinge housing that allow the brace to move naturally with your knee, and adjustable cuffs that secure the brace to your leg. Yes, it adds a few extra minutes to my gearing-up routine, but it’s worth every second.By the time I throw a leg over my bike and twist the throttle, I’ve completely forgotten about the additional armor strapped to my body. Actually, that’s not quite true—my amygdala grudgingly acknowledges the first-class protection I’ve donned and looks for other things to worry about. It’s liberating to head across the desert floor, skirting rocks and surfing volcanic debris without viewing every hard surface as a potentially catastrophic danger. While the K4 2.0 can’t guarantee I’ll never hurt my knees should I fall, the braces considerably reduce the risk of injury.Pod K4 2.0 Knee Brace Review: MSRPThe most significant protection the Pod K4 2.0 knee braces offer comes from the frame and synthetic ligaments. They are designed to transfer stress away from the knee joint to reduce the risk of damage to the knee’s ligaments.The brace does not impede the natural movement of my knee. Instead, it works to support the joint via Pod’s proprietary Human Motion hinge system. It mirrors natural knee movement while resisting irregular motions beyond the normal range—twisting forces and hyperextension that would damage knee ligaments.Out of the box, the Pod K4 2.0 knee brace allows your knee to extend completely straight. You can insert included dampers on each side of the hinge housing to progressively slow down your knee extension and lock it 5 degrees short of full extension. Because of my ACL history, I’ve taken advantage of this extra protection. I can’t say I feel the damping effect in my riding, but I like that it prevents full extension.Gripping the bike with my legs initially felt different when wearing leg braces, but I quickly adapted. The K4 2.0 is slimmer on the ‘bike side,’ so there’s still plenty of useful feedback from the bike.The Pod K4 2.0 brace also provides straight-up impact protection via the two-piece hinged Impact Guards. The lower piece has a well-cushioned pad that gives full coverage to your patella. The upper guard is a hard plastic shell that glides smoothly over the lower piece when your leg is straight. Working together, the two provide excellent coverage from both the bike and the ground in a mishap. The K4s also make kneeling comfortable when adjusting the air pressure in my tires.The knee braces are held on by four adjustable straps that are numbered to remind you of the optimum order to cinch them down. Being mindful of this detail when putting the K4s on helps reduce creep as your body moves on the bike.The two middle straps have a Quick-Loc Clip designed to secure the straps faster than the Velcro straps alone by allowing you to preset the strap length. However, taking the extra few seconds to manually thread the straps gave me a better fit, and the clips were prone to fall off the straps and get lost when I didn’t have the braces on. Also, the clips make removing the braces awkward, as I have to squeeze my leg to reduce the tension and allow unhooking the clip. The Quick-Loc Clips are a nice idea, but not fully realized yet.Pod K4 2.0 Knee Brace Review: Off-Road MotorcycleIdeally, you will have a local Pod Active dealer fit your K4 2.0 knee braces. If that’s not possible, there are YouTube instructional videos on how to size and fit your braces on the Pod website. There are also videos for maintaining, cleaning, and swapping in new parts, as the knee brace is rebuildable.Depending on how often you ride, Pod recommends replacing the synthetic ligaments—like your own, they stretch over time with heavy use. In four years of trail and trials riding with the original K4, I eventually wore out the synthetic ligaments in my left and right braces. So, they
do wear even with less severe use, albeit at a slower rate. A replacement pair of hinge ligaments runs $30 per brace, considerably less than a new ACL.Two useful accessory items are the Knee Sleeves ($35/pair) and Brace Bag ($35). The first few times I wore the Pod K4 2.0 Knee Braces, I didn’t use the Knee Sleeves. I had my usual full-length riding socks in my gear bag, and you need short riding socks to use the compression sleeves. The K4 braces certainly work without the Knee Sleeves, but once I remembered to pack short socks and could use the sleeves, I was a convert.Pod K4 2.0 Knee Brace Review: BagThe Knee Sleeves protect your skin from any Velcro abrasion from the edges of the straps. They further ensure that the Pod K4s stay in place, as the top and bottom of the sleeves are designed to fold over the top and bottom of the knee braces, with generous silicone strips on the cuffs that grip the braces. The sleeves make pulling riding pants over the braces that much easier.I also like the accessory Brace Bag. Instead of jamming my braces loose into my gear bag where the Velcro straps get caught on my riding jersey or pants, the Pod K4 2.0 braces have their own perfectly sized carrying bag. It zips fully open, allowing both halves to lay flat, and there is a handy long mesh pocket inside the top half. I’ve found the Brace Bag to be the perfect place to store my jeans and t-shirt once I’ve changed into my riding apparel, as the inside of my gear bag is invariably dusty and sandy.Serious knee braces can help prevent serious knee injuries; once you’ve made the investment you’ll never look back. At $550 a pair, the Pod K4 2.0 Knee Braces are well-designed, comfortable, and add a huge amount of confidence to my off-road riding. The Pod K4 2.0 Knee Brace is CE-certified as a medical device and for impact protection. The cost may be covered by your health insurance, as it is an FDA-registered medical device that prevents knee injuries.Pod K4 2.0 Knee Brace Fast Facts

  • Sizes: XS/SM; MD/LG; XL/2X; 3X+
  • Colors: White/Black; Graphite/Black

Pod K4 2.0 Knee Brace Price: $292 MSRP; $550/pair

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