Click on images to enlarge

pod-0441WHAT IS IT? The Pod K4 knee brace is the updated version of the Pod K300.

WHAT’S IT COST? $549.95 (a pair).

CONTACT? or (800) 999-3388.

WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Pod K4 knee brace.

(1) Update. Each time Pod updates one of its braces, we are pleasantly surprised that some of our quibbles from the previous tests have been tended to. The MXA wrecking crew had two complaints about the previous Pod K300 knee braces: (a) We wished the patella guard offered more protection for our knee caps. (b) The straps needed to be longer. On riders with big calves, the bottom two straps were maxed out. The Pod K4 designers met us three-quarters of the way by offering more patella protection, as well as lengthening a few of the straps. Additionally, the top strap received a small elastic piece of fabric to contour to your thigh.

(2) Movement. The Human Motion hinge system is a feature we love. It makes the braces easier to wear, because the synthetic ligament provides not only tension in one direction but a springy feel in the other. This makes getting out of the saddle when riding easier on the knees by requiring less effort to do so.

K4_FRONT_RIGHT_45_FLAT-2(3) Installation. At first our test riders had some issues with the Pod K4 brace. The ankle part of the brace was digging severely into their shins. The problem? Like most men, we didn’t read the directions. In our opinion, putting a knee brace on should be dummy-proof. The problem surfaced when we placed the brace on our leg with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle. This is how we put on every knee brace we have ever worn, but Pod told us that we were wrong. Pod told us to put the brace on 1 inch higher than normal. This felt odd, because the ankle portion of the brace was sitting away from our shin, but at least it stopped hurting. Finally, we tightened the straps in order from 1 to 4. Pay the most attention to straps 1 and 2, as these are the straps that do all the work. Be sure to snug 1 and 2 down very tightly. As for the bottom strap, it doesn’t do much at all. If the straps are still digging into your shins after everything is snug, then you need to strap them even higher on your thigh.

(4) Performance. The Pod K4 is slimmed down by a 1/2-pound from the K300. It hit the scales at 1.1 pounds. The K4 provides great coverage of the knee at the full range of motion, plus the gap above the knee cup. The lining is soft and gentle on the skin, although some of the padding was overlapped out of the box, causing skin irritation. No big deal, as the pads are held on by Velcro so they can be readjusted to fit better. We like that the Pod K4 offers extension stops to work with each rider’s particular knee injury. We’d also like a negative stop so that the brace can hyperextend a few degrees. Why? Because some riders’ legs are shaped in a way that the K4 brace would fit them better if they had this option. The floating knee cup hovers about an inch away from the knee cap at all times. This caused issues with some riding pants that have limited room in the knees. You will get the pants on and off, but it will be a tight fit.

(5) Insurance. Pod K4 knee braces are medical-grade products, covered by most health insurance plans if you have a doctor’s prescription.

podk4_back_right_flat(6) Sizing. Before purchasing the Pod K4, make sure to go to their website and look at the sizing chart. The K4 brace comes in three different molds. Each mold fits two sizes. The K4 brace is offered in extra small to extra-extra large.

WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We have three quibbles. (1) It surprises us that Pod wants us to put the brace on in a non-conventional manner. We think Pod should fix the geometry of the brace instead. (2) The knee cup sticks out more than we like. It bulges out in your pants when you bend your knee and hooks on the liner when putting your pants on. (3) The bottom two straps are too short for riders with big calves.

MXA RATING: Every MXA test rider wears knee braces, whether or not he has suffered a knee injury. Tastes run from Brooklyn Bridge-style braces to will-o’-the-wisp designs. The Pod brace was a revelation when it came on the market, because it was light, durable and comfortable (once you got it dialed in). The Pod K4 has all the potential in the world, but first you have to learn a few tricks.