Leatt DBX 5.5 Junior Neck Brace Review

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Leatt DBX Youth 5.5 Neck Brace Review

We initially purchased Leatt DBX 3 neck braces for our kids when they were racing BMX a few years ago. This is because we saw a lot of crashes in those days and wanted to provide as much protection as we could for our boys. The concept behind a neck brace is to redirect some of the force from the neck to the body and limit extreme range of motion of the neck in the event of a crash.

Leatt neck braces for kids
Leatt neck braces for kids

Early in the summer of 2017, we noticed the DBX 3 brace was not fitting our oldest as well as it used to and decided he needed to move up to a larger size. We upgraded both kids to the DBX 5.5 (one junior and one adult S/M). The Leatt DBX 5.5 is a total re-deisgn when compared to the design DBX 3.

Features of the Leatt DBX 5.5 Junior Neck Brace:

  • Retails for $299.99 USD.
  • Improved adjustability and fit – will grow with growing kids
  • Improved comfort – due to better fit and lower rise from shoulders
  • Easier to get on and off (push button release)
  • Sits lower on shoulders – allows better movement to look around while riding
  • Easier transport and storage – the rear strut folds inward making the brace almost flat
Close up (sorta) of the the Leatt 5.5 DBX Junior neck brace

We’ve had just one minor issue. The brace slightly rubs at contact points of the user’s chest and back. When used for several days in a row this can cause moderate discomfort. We were able to fix this with some well-placed band aids – some people even use tape. This issue should not be regarded as deal-breaker by any means with this product. It’s a very acceptable trade-off for the additional protection the Leatt DBX 5.5 offers your young mountain bikers.

Rear view of Leatt DBX 5.5 junior
Kids wearing Leatt neck braces
Young mountain biker wearing the Leatt DBX 5.5 Junior neck brace with hydration pack
Strut folded in on the Leatt neck brace

Get Your Kid’s Neck Brace Configured Properly

Setting up Leatt neck braces takes some time. Our local bike shop was happy to help us get the braces set-up to fit appropriately. This process took about 5-10 minutes. It’s important that the braces are adjusted and checked for fit while sitting on a bike. If you have to do it on your own, the braces come with well-illustrated instructions.

When it comes to the function and design of a neck brace for mountain biking, every company seems to have their own perspective on how it should be made. Leatt is one of the most popular brands and for good reason. The DBX 5.5 Junior is CE certified while still offering comfort and freedom of moment for the rider. The chassis of the brace has a small amount of flex to it in order to fit different body types. However, it remains rigid enough to still transfer harsh forces away for the spine and disperse it across the body. The CoreFlex rear strut has been designed to break away under sever impacts to ensure the best protection possible. Overall, the DMX 5.5 junior is a great buy for anyone who want their children to have more protection.

Yeah – Our Kids Have Crashed While Wearing Their Neck Braces

Both of our kids have crashed while wearing their neck braces. Our oldest took a pretty good tumble off a step-down and went over the bars. Our youngest has taken several smaller falls when wearing his neck brace. His latest was when he plowed over a berm with speed at a bike park last summer. In our opinion, we believe the neck braces functioned and performed how they should have. The (neck) range of motion in our kids’ falls was limited by the neck braces. Will this always be the case? We have no idea. There are several factors that make each crash unique.

While we obviously hope neither of our kids experiences the type of crash that demonstrates the true value of the Leatt brace, we are happy to have the peace of mind that the extra protection provides.

Lastly, our kids know that it’s their responsibility to wear their neck braces when conditions dictate the need. It’s just like wearing a seatbelt in the car. After a few days getting used to them, it’s just a regular habit. The neck braces go on just like knee pads and elbow pads when the situation is warranted.

5 Tips For Mountain Biking With Kids In Colder Weather

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Mountain biking with kids in colder weather

Natural born dare devils make their “worry-wart” mom a nervous wreck but also a very proud one. Jordan Soley and Jason Soley are twin 5 year old boys. Since day one, both boys have been obsessed with wheels. Tonka trucks, wagons, tractors and lawn mowers – you name it/ When they discovered a bike, it was love at first sight. And once their legs grew long enough, they were off pedaling.

Allowed to ride in the house in the cold winter of Pennsylvania is where they learned to pop their first wheelies – training wheels and all. They were even hitting ramps with those things on. The next winter the training wheels came off. Winter is a great time for riding even when your too big to ride in a house.

Soley twins riding a ferry with their mountain biking family
Hitting the dirt jumps
Jordan and Jason - mountain biking brothers

Here Are 5 Tips For Mountain Biking With Kids In Colder Weather

Plan Shorter Rides

Although riding can break a sweat, we need to take note of our colder outdoor temperatures winter brings. Try keeping the rides high activity, but shorter in duration.

Layer, Layer, Layer

Sounds easy enough. Your first layer should be something that wicks away moisture, the mid layer being thermal to keep warm and the outer layer is our wind stopping layer. So go ahead and pick up that windbreaker for the holidays.

Consider A Winter Helmet

As 30 percent of body heat is lost through the head, less vents are best for winter riding. If two helmets aren’t an option especially for our growing riders you could use a helmet cover which simply goes on over the helmet. Or, try a ski cap under your helmet.

Use Running Gloves or Cold Weather Bike Gloves Instead of Regular Bike Gloves

If your kids’ hands are big enough, try cold weather running gloves instead of your biking gloves. Running gloves work great because they’re made of thicker, warmer fabrics. Many of them even have textured material such as a thin coat patterned rubber to help grip the handlebars.

Keep The Warm On The Inside

My best tip yet if the kiddos will allow is a thermos filled with warm water or better yet delicious tea for a warm hydration break.

One of the mountain biking Soley boys
Mountain biking with kids in colder weather

As for now the boys are hitting trails across America as they travel in an RV with their parents. They have noticed riding is a bit more popular in Colorado, Washington and such and are loving it. It provides the boys with a bike friendly atmosphere and more diverse riding.

Jeanette Soley - Nomadic by NatureThanks to Jeanette Soley and her family for contributing this article. Follow the boys and their adventures on Facebook at Nomadic By Nature and let them know your favorite season to ride and how you stay warm. Hey maybe they might swing by and go for a ride with you!

Scott Scale RC JR 24 Mountain Bike Review

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Scott Scale RC JR 24 bike review

When you’re looking for a new cross country mountain bike for your kid, chances are you want something that is lightweight, stiff, and spec’d with a great drivetrain. That is the exact thought that went into the Scott Scale RC JR 24 mountain bike. This is a “race ready” children’s mountain bike that can have your little rider flowing along the trails like never before.

The Scott Scale RC JR at Thunder Mountain
The Scott Scale RC JR 24 cruising along the scenic Thunder Mountain trail near Bryce Canyon.
Scott Scale RC JR mountain bike for kids

The Words That Matter The Most

Our kid says…

“This bike is good to pedal uphill because of the weight. It’s a lot lighter than my downhill bike. I like the brakes too. My hands don’t get as tired using my brakes like my last bike.”

At-A-Glance

Standover: About 23"

Stock Weight: 23.0 lbs. We’ve added a Suntour XCR air fork and converted the tires to D-I-Y tubeless.

Retail Price: $999.99 USD

Our First Look At The Scott Scale RC JR 24 

Race ready is a strong way to describe any bike, but for the most part, this Scott bike lives up to the expectations. There are a couple of things that you may need to change depending on your child. For example, the pedals are the typical inexpensive plastic pair that comes with most bikes. The other thing that might need changed is the fork. For smooth paths the rigid fork will be fine. However, our little mountain biker needed a fork with suspension to help absorb some of the nastier terrain found on trail rides. Overall the bike is a solid build that will encourage natural progression.

Brian Head - on the Scott Scale RC JR 24
Profile view of the Scott Scale RC JR 24

Let’s start off with the frame. It is constructed out of 6061 aluminum that is double butted to increase strength around high stress areas. As a result, the frame is super light and a great platform for the build. Another nice thing about this frame is the curved top tube. You will notice that when looking at the bike, the tube has a flat spot in front of the seat before bending upwards to the head tube. This makes it easy for little riders to swing their leg over the bike when getting on and off.

Next is the drivetrain. It is a simple yet efficient 1×10 speed set up. This means that there is only one chain ring at the front and 10 gears at the back. Our rider loved the simplicity of only having one shifter to worry about. The shifter itself is a SRAM X5 trigger shifter which seems to work quite well with the SRAM GX rear derailleur. The wide range cassette offers quite a good array of gears enabling your child to ride at a fair pace, and climb and descend hills with ease.

Quick release seat post collar on the Scott Scale RC JR 24 in wheel mountain bike for kids
SRAM GX derailleur on the 24 inch Scott Scale RC JR
Tektro hydraulic brakes on the Scott Scale RC JR 24

A bike encouraging your child to pick up their pace can be nice. However, without good brakes, it could get a little bit scary for us parents. Thankfully Scott took this into consideration and gave the bike Tektro hydraulic disk brakes and 60mm rotors to make sure there would never be a problem slowing down. It is especially nice that they used hydraulic brakes over cable as it gives the young ones a chance to control the braking power rather than just being on and off like most cables brakes.

This bike has been designed to fit riders from ages 8 to 10 and is offered in one frame size. It is based around 24” diameter wheels. These work well for short riders because they don’t raise the height of the bike too much. Another great feature about this Scott is that it only weighs about 23 pounds. Most children’s bikes are a fair amount too heavy for them. And, they can tire your kid out quite quickly. This bike on the other hand can be tossed around easily by children on a ride. You’ll immediately notice that they can ride for longer when on the Scott compared to many other bikes.

Kids don’t want boring looking bikes. They want color and a design that will make others double take. This Scott is surely a looker (even from an adult’s perspective). It has clean lines, and a head turning black and neon yellow paint job. It just looks fast, and our rider loves that. Even the Syncros components have been color matched to the frame. This bike gets two thumbs up in the style department.

Riding the Scott Scale RC JR 24 at Bootleg Canyon, Nevada
The Scott Scale RC JR 24 does great across moderately technical terrain. We added an air fork so our kiddo could challenge the chunk of Bootleg Canyon's SD trails.

Our Upgrade – SR Suntour XCR Air Fork

We chose to put front suspension for on our rider’s bike as he is no stranger to rough terrain. In fact, he tends to gravitate towards it. Unlike most kids’ forks, this Suntour is something that really works well for lightweight riders. Since it is air sprung you have the ability to adjust the air pressure for their weight. Once the air pressure is set, you can easily make smaller adjustments to the preload via a knob on top of the right fork leg. Fully extended, the fork offers 80mm of travel but is internally adjustable via spacers to offer as little as 63mm. The XCR children’s air fork turned out to be the perfect complement to the already capable Scott Scale RC JR 24.

We review the Scott Scale RC JR 24
Confident and comfy bike control is exhibited on the Scott Scale RC JR 24.
Scott Scale RC JR with 24 inch wheels and disc brakes

Final Thoughts On This Kids’ 24 Inch Wheel Mountain Bike

The Scott Scale RC JR 24 is a true cross country bike. It looks fast, and rides extremely efficiently under the power of little legs. Depending on your child, upgrading the fork might be a good option for you. However, this is personal preference and many kids will not need it. Our rider loves the bike and always has a good time on it.  If spending a little more than average money makes every trail ride that much more enjoyable, then it is worth it in our minds.

October Audiobook Selections for Family Mountain Biking Road Trips

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October audiobook suggestions for family mountain biking road trips

Being in the car with the entire family is one of my favorites parts of going on mountain bike trips. The kids hardly ever ask “Are we there yet?” if a good story is with us. Most of the time they’re eager to get in the car and drive for hours. If you have not already heard these three suggested audiobooks, we hope you listen to the samples and give them a shot on your next adventure.

Coraline - audiobook for kids on road trip

Coraline – Written and read by Neil Gaiman

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO SAMPLE

Neil Gaiman creates a shadowy adventure in Coraline, a story of a young girl who is tired of her dreary existence. Guided by her feline friend, her sarcastic mentor, Coraline travels through a mysterious door to a flat that appears strangely like her own. She falls in love with this world and is taken in by her other mother. In place of eyes she has black buttons and despite her otherworldly appearance Coraline is taken in by it all.

After her parents are kidnapped, Coralline travels back through the door to save them. She is confronted by new friends and stranger truths before she strikes a deal to save herself, her parents and her new ghostly friends. Coraline uses her wits and bravery to find her way out of the other world and she succeeds in dismantling the nightmarish place created by the other mother.

Listen to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on your next mountain biking road trip with kids.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – written by J.K. Rowling and read by Jim Dale

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO SAMPLE

Jim Dale’s soft and commanding voice brings the world of J.K Rowling’s creation to life in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This is the first story in a series of 7.

Harry Potter is the boy who lived – and is currently under the stairs in his aunt’s home. Treated like a servant, bearing the brunt of his cousin’s bullying, Potter is unaware of his magical heritage. After ten years of living at Four Privet Drive, Harry receives a letter delivered by a gentle giant of a man named Hagrid. Harry learns that he is a Wizard and has been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Guided by Hagrid, Harry prepares for his new life away from his relative’s home. He learns of his fame, retrieves his inheritance, boards the Hogwarts Express and meets Hermione and Ron. Harry’s time in Hogwarts is met with excitement and danger as he is confronted by the villain who tried to kill him as a baby.

The Witches - enjoy it on your next family road trip.

The Witches – written by Roald Dahl

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO SAMPLE

In The Witches, Roald Dahl takes us to a place where witches are real and they hate little children. The narrator is a young boy and his grandmother tells him about the wicked oculists. He learns what they look like and that they can be anyone he encounters.

The narrator travels with his grandmother and when accidentally spying on the withches’ convention at a hotel, he learns that they have a dastardly plan.

Video – Horsethief Bench Drop-In, Mountain Biking With Kids

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Horsethief Bench Drop-In, Video

The Horsethief Bench Drop-In Is Still A Bad Hoss

With the continuing rapid growth of mountain biking, a lot of new trails are being built that encourage new and younger riders to get started in the sport. And, in my neck of the woods – existing trails have even been modified in the last couple of months to accommodate novice through intermediate mountain bikers as well as more hikers and horseback riders. I suppose this is fine in some areas because a growing population of enthusiasts want access to trails close to home that their entire family can enjoy. On the flip side, this is really upsetting to some advanced riders who desire new trails that favor a higher set of skills. And, trail organizations are put in the difficult position of doing their best to make sure everyone is happy.

Taking all of this into account, it’s wonderful that the Horsethief Bench Drop-In is still in tact. When I saw someone clean this for the first time a few years ago, it was one of the most amazing feats on a mountain bike I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness in-person. If you’ve seen this stretch of “trail”, you know what I mean.

The drop-in composed of several steep rolls and drops with a couple of hard turns thrown in for even more danger. Those who want their wrists, noses, collarbones and bikes to remain in tact just walk it. Some can make it about two-thirds of the way down until they get to the first gnarly step which is the first real crux.

Horsethief Bench Drop In

Just like his 10 year-old brother, our oldest kid, Wyatt – has had a fantastic season on his mountain bike. With the help friends like Steve Goodman of Hyland Cylclery; Courtney Nash and Eric Brown of WMBC – he has increased his skills exponentially this year. When we recently visited Fruita, one of Wyatt’s goals was to get the Horsethief Bench Drop-In off the list.

After he marked his line with a few placeholder rocks and some sweeping, he got it on the first try.

5 Family Friendly Mountain Bike Rides In Colorado

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Five family friendly mountain bike rides in Colorado

Colorado Has Some Of The World’s Best Mountain Bike Trails

From the Western Slope to the central Rocky Mountains to the Denver foothills, mountain bikers have their choice of thousands of miles of beautifully crafted trails and trail systems to savor. In the following article we will explore five family friendly mountain bike rides in Colorado. For a more advanced bike ride for kids in Colorado, check out the write-up on Prospect Trail in Telluride.

Mountain biking with kids in Fruita, Colorado – 18 Road

Fruita – 18 Road

About 20 miles east of the Utah state line is the Western Slope’s mountain biking mecca of Fruita. There are a few great trail systems in the area but be sure to stop for some laps along the Bookcliffs at 18 Road.

With trail names like Chutes-and-Ladders, Zippity-Do-Da, MoJoe, and PBR (pumps, bumps, and rollers), the singletrack fun is endless. Prime Cut offers an easy 2 mile ascent to most of the downhill goodness. Warm up with the sweeping turns of Kessel Run and then progress to the berms and tabletops of PBR. More advanced riders will enjoy the thrills of the Zippity Loop and the ridge descents.

Parking at the upper and lower lots is free so let the bike loose and enjoy the singletrack of the North Fruita Desert.

Phil’s World

Just east of Cortez in unique Southwest Colorado, nearly 30 miles of pristine singletrack squiggles its way through the arid, high desert. The trails are fast and flowy and will put a smile on the faces of kids and adults alike. There are a handful of loops to choose from, each well marked and ridden in a clockwise direction, so the ride can be as long or as short as desired. Views of the Wilson group mountains abound as riders weave their way through scented Juniper trees and the rollercoaster of undulating buff singletrack. Rib Cage is a must-ride downhill trail with table tops and banked berms that will leave riders wanting more.

Parking is spacious and free but be kind and drop a suggested $3/person in the pay box to support the Southwest Colorado Cycling Association’s (formerly the Kokopelli Bike Club) continued and appreciated maintenance of the trail system.

Mountain biking with kids at the Pueblo Reservoir

Pueblo Reservoir

Just off the I-25 corridor in Southern Colorado are 30 miles of singletrack that snake their way in and out of the Pueblo Reservoir coves. Typically an area that doesn’t see much snowfall, this network is usually rideable year round. Most of the trails skirt the mesa overlooking the lake but there are a few slot canyons to explore to test the technical skills. Elevation gain is minimal but the quick ups and downs coupled with miles of twists and turns make this clay shale dirt ride fast and fun. Tiptoeing the bluffs above the water, the tame trails are excellent for beginners and the trail system can be interconnected to create a unique ride every time.

Although free parking can be found on the outskirts of the trail system, support the State Park and snag a day use pass at the main trailhead.

Mountain biking with kids in Waterton Canyon

Waterton Canyon

The foothills Southwest of Denver is home to Waterton Canyon, a truly scenic gorge graced with the South Platte River flowing steadily throughout. Although more of a service road than a trail, a 12.5 mile out and back ride through the canyon yields itself to the sight of big horn sheep scaling the canyon walls, fly fishermen searching for trout, and water cascading through Strontia Springs dam. This segment is the gateway to the Colorado Trail, a nearly 500 mile stretch of trail threaded from Denver to Durango.

A fantastic introduction to mountain biking, this section welcomes all skill levels as the technical and physical aspects are minimal. The ride gradually climbs 1000 ft in the course of 6.25 miles to the dam. Enjoy an easy pedal back to the parking lot!

The trailhead parking lot is free and restrooms are nearby.

Phillip S. Miller/Ridgeline Open Space map

Phillip S. Miller/Ridgeline Open Space

South of Denver is a fairly new trail system just west of Castle Rock. Phillip S. Miller (PSM) and Ridgeline Open Space boast a combined 17 miles of singletrack to enjoy.

PSM offers 4 color-coded loops full of quick grunt climbs and short, rippling descents. Although only a moderate amount of elevation is gained, the views from the top of the park display the beauty of Castle Rock’s buttes.

A bridge over Wolfensberger Road connects PSM to Ridgeline Open Space where riders can floss the rollercoaster of trails, navigate switchbacks, and let loose on the fun descents. Cresting the ridge offers views of Pikes Peak to the south and Mt. Evans to the north. The network is sign-posted alphabetically at every intersection so it is easy to ride the entire outer loop or bypass letters for a shorter ride.

Parking is free at the Coachline Trailhead or the Miller Activity Center.

Amy BaumgartnerAmy Baumgartner is the creator of The Single Track Beat, a blog devoted to her love of mountain biking. Amy has lived in Colorado for 7 years and has dedicated her free time to exploring the state’s singletrack. She and her husband are travelers and adventure internationally in search of the best mountain biking in the world.