I've done a bit of research but can't seem to find much information on how neck braces actually work to protect the neck. There are many views on whether they are actually effective in reducing serious injuries (in the same way it took a long time for ski snow board helmets to be proven).

Neck Braces are a recommended safety item by the UCI for downhill events, unlike full face helmets which are mandatory, but all racers wear them.

What do they protect and how do they do that?

  • 3
    The most dangerous fall is a face plant, where the head/neck is extended backwards. The spine is "designed" to absorb a fall where you tuck your head and roll, and it bends easily in the forward direction with relatively low danger of fractures or spinal column injury. Not so when the spine is curled backwards with any force -- fractured vertebrae and spinal injury is fairly likely. Presumably the brace is primarily intended to prevent this backward curl. Jun 12, 2014 at 11:13
  • Not all downhill riders wear them.
    – cherouvim
    Jun 12, 2014 at 11:46

2 Answers 2


A neck brace limits range of motion to protect the neck and spine


A neck brace restricts any extreme movement of your neck during a crash. In other words, it prevents your head from tilting too far forward, backward, or to the side, all of which can damage the spinal cord. A spinal cord injury can, at best, keep you off the bike for six to eight weeks or, at worst, put you in a wheelchair. Why take the risk of serious injury?

As for statistics Nascar instituted HANS like 13 years ago and they feel they have statistics that demonstrate that it is effective.
I get Nascar is not the same as a bicycle but once you protect the head the next thing you need to protect is the neck.

  • 1
    Nascar (motocycle and other race car) drivers have significantly heavier helments than bike riders. I do not believe the statistics can be that scientifically applied to cycling, but it is probably as good a starting point as you will find and makes for a good marketing stratagy.
    – mattnz
    Jun 13, 2014 at 3:35
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    @mattnz A system that limited head motion was shown to reduce injuries. From that I would conclude that limiting head motion in another sport would also reduce injuries. Not arguing with you. You stated your opinion and I have stated mine.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 13, 2014 at 17:12
  • @mattnz Your head is pretty heavy in and off itself. Usually 2.3kg to 5kg, according to Wikipedia. Now deccelerate that mass from 8m/s to zero during an accident within 20cm, and you get forces in the ballpark of the weight of a hundred kilos (20cm = a*t*t, a*t = 8m/s => t = 1/40*s => a = 320m/s^2, F = a*m = 320m/s * 5kg = 1600N, this is approximately the weight of 160kg). Feb 2, 2019 at 23:22

I should think that they only work in conjunction with a full face helmet in that the helmet's angular motion range (up, down, left/right tilt) is restricted in such a way that on crashing, the typical "break-neck" motion (sharp snap of the neck) is avoided.

However, this is just an educated guess.

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