MXA TEAM TESTED: ASTERISK CELL KNEE BRACE
WHAT IS IT? The new Asterisk Cell knee brace is a refined and more durable version of all that have come before.
WHAT’S IT COST? $699.00.
CONTACT? www.asterisk.com or (951) 268-6790.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Asterisk Cell knee brace.
(1) History. We haven’t had the best luck with Asterisk knee braces. Previous generations of Asterisk knee braces were generally bulky and somewhat fragile, but there were design features that had potential. The problem? Asterisk braces rarely held together. A great design does no one any good if it doesn’t stand the test of time. Asterisk now has a new owner, Mike Beier. You may remember Mike from his AMA Pro, European Hardcross and beach race success. Mike kept the Asterisk knee brace features that were solid, tossed out the problematic elements and redesigned the overall configuration.
(2) Features. Legs comes in different lengths, widths and shapes. To design a knee brace that fits every individual rider is almost impossible. This is why CTI knee braces were so popular (and expensive). They were custom-made to fit the rider’s legs. The Asterisk Cell may not be a custom brace, but it does have the A.R.C cuffs that adjust and customize the fit of the brace at the thigh and calf. This custom feel is backed up by the Cell’s free-motion hinge. It moves with the natural arc of each leg. The brace’s frame is made of a carbon fiber matrix and offers a full-coverage patella cup to protect the entire top of the leg from the ground—and that pesky handlebar.
(3) Performance. The most important thing when buying a set of knee braces is getting the right size. On Asterisk’s website there is a sizing chart. It will tell you to locate the middle of your kneecap and where to measure the circumference of your leg to determine which size brace will fit you best. Do not skip this! We tested a size large. When we got ours, the first thing we did was adjust the A.R.C cuff at the thigh and calf. This made for a custom feel. The plastic cuffs are able to form to your leg, unlike some of the super-rigid cuffs that make for an awkward fit. The new-generation Asterisk braces didn’t feel bulky (until we wore some tight-fitting pants). Tighter-fitting pants don’t restrict movement; they just force you to squeeze the pants over the brace rather than sliding them on. The full-coverage patella cup definitely adds size to the brace but is well worth it. We never worried about striking our knees on the handlebars. The free-motion hinge moved with our knee. It was another feature that made the brace feel custom. Unfortunately, on the first couple of rides, test riders developed a hot spot from the third strap’s inner bracket. The bracket sits at an angle on the brace’s frame and can hit the skin and irritate it. The fix was to make sure that this strap was well above the belly of the calf so it couldn’t slide down. We angled the strap a bit further down and didn’t tighten the strap as much as usual.
(4) Durability. This was the first set of Asterisk braces that we have ever tested that had no issues with durability. After a few months of abuse, the only sign of wear was that the paint had rubbed off on the inner hinges. Kudos to the new owners for taking a product with potential and making it into something great.
(5) Options. The Asterisk Cell comes in red, white and black, and is sized from small to extra large. Asterisk also makes an Ultra Cell brace that is $50 more per brace and utilizes a BOA system instead of the four straps on the Cell brace.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We have three minor quibbles. (1) The inner strap bracket needs to be mounted in a better position. It has the potential to cause skin irritation. (2) The braces are on the bulky side for athletic-fit pants. (3) The Velcro attachments need better adhesive.
MXA RATING: This is not the Asterisk brace of the past. The Asterisk Cell knee brace is now a functional knee brace that is comfortable, has a custom feel, is durable and offers superior protection.