MXA TEAM TESTED: ALPINESTARS FLUID TECH CARBON KNEE BRACE
WHAT IS IT? The Fluid Tech Carbon is a lightweight brace designed to reduce the risk of knee injuries for riders with preexisting knee issues and those who want to avoid going under the knife.
WHAT’S IT COST? $349.95 (each).
CONTACT? www.alpinestars.com or (800) 727-8277.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon knee brace.
(1) Construction. The frame is composed of a rigid carbon polymer compound, and at 1.3 pounds (per brace), the Fluid Tech Carbon is one of the lighter braces on the market. The rigid frame prevents twisting, which is a necessity for maintaining knee integrity.
(2) Knee cup. An integrated patella cup protects the knee cap from impact. Two plastic shields overlap and don’t leave any exposed area, regardless of how far the knee is bent. Foam surrounds the interior of the patella cup.
(3) Customization. A unique feature of the Alpinestars knee brace is that it comes in more sizes than any other brace. It also has knee-width adjustment spacers to change the width at the hinge. We had a variety of riders with different-size legs wear the same knee brace on the same day. It only took a few minutes to adjust the size, but there were issues on some leg shapes (and this is common with almost every brand of brace).
(4) Extension stops. The Fluid Tech Carbon comes with extension stops in 0, 5, 10, 15 and 20 degrees. The stops plug into the brace’s hinges to control hyper-extension. We recommend that you experiment with the various stops to find the desired feel. Riders with past knee injuries will prefer the 15- or 20-degree stops.
(5) Straps. The Fluid Tech Carbon has the best straps in the business. The crossover design keeps the brace in place so it won’t slide down over the course of a race. Velcro secures the straps, which can be removed for washing. The neoprene backing forms comfortably around the leg.
(6) Fit . We were relatively pleased with the Fluid Tech Carbon brace’s fit. Not only did it provide stability for the knee, but the brace stayed in place throughout the course of a day. At 16 inches, the Alpinestars brace is long enough for tall riders, but not too long for those with short legs. And, as mentioned above, we really liked the strap system.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We have a few complaints. (1) The hinge adjustment spacer pads need to be thicker, as the spacers dug into our knees. (2) We would like to see Alpinestars beef up the padding, as it doesn’t provide enough cushioning upon impact.
The Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon had several major hits?the straps, frame, sizing customization and extension stops?but a few glaring issues. Try this brace before you buy it because it fits perfectly on some legs, but not all.