Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon Knee Brace Review
Having ACL replacement surgery after severing it in a dirt bike crash, it was imperative that I do what it takes avoid returning to the operating table. I still wanted to ride dirt bikes, so it was time to get serious about knee protection with the Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon knee brace.
With a high-tech customizable superstructure, the Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon knee brace requires a bit of time to set-up for your knee, but it offers protection from hyperextension in a fall, along with a patella guard and resistance to side impacts.
The first order of business is to adjust how much extension you want to allow. With the use of plastic spacers, you can allow your knee to go fully straight at 0 degrees, or you can restrict it in five-degree increments to 20 degrees.
With safety as the highest priority, this choice was an easy one for me — I went with the 20 degrees of restriction. There’s no need to have my leg out straight, so the sooner the brace begins to restrict unwanted movement, the better.
The Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon comes in two basic sizes — S-L and XL-XXL — with need spacers included to allow you to give yourself an exacting fit. No, it won’t be quite the same as a custom-made orthopedic brace, if you put the time in to get it right, the Fluid Tech Carbon should fit your knee confidently.
The Fluid Tech Carbon is sold as left and right braces individually for $350 each. This is not a place to cut corners — protect both of your knees.
Once the fitting is done, you should be unless you gain or lose a large amount of weight or do some major muscle mass building. Perform the fitting at your leisure at home — this is not something you want to do in a hurry at the track or while your friends are waiting to hit the trail.
After setting up the Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon knee brace, all you have to do is use the four Velcro-assisted buckles on each unit. As you’ll have eight straps total (you will want a pair) to thread through the buckles, allow some time to do this right. If the knee brace is too loose, it will move and not do its job when needed. I fight it a bit tight in the pits, as the straps are elastic and move with you as you bend your knees.
The next step is to make sure you have compatible riding pants. For adventure riders, this won’t be a problem, as any over the boot adventure pant I’ve worn is roomy in the knee area. This isn’t the case with inexpensive off-road riding pants. I tested the Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon knee brace with Alpinestars Techstar pants and Fly Racing Evolution 2.0 Spike pants. Both have plenty of room for the brace.
Boots shouldn’t be an issue, either. Tested with Sidi Crossfire TA (top-of-the-line), Gaerne G. Adventure Aquatech (midline), and Fly Racing Maverik MX (budget-friendly) boots, there was plenty of room inside the boots.
If you’ve never worn a serious knee brace, you will feel restricted in the pits when walking around, particularly with the 20-degree restriction tabs installed. Don’t let that put you off. The Fluid Tech Carbon brace is there for riding, not walking.
I was amazed at how quickly the Alpinestars brace became transparent for riding. If you’ve fitted them right, they have a natural feel on your knee, while giving you that confidence you get from a properly fitted helmet.
Jumps, corners, pushing off of the ground — they all feel much better with the knee brace on. The hyperextention protection isn’t kicking in, but the brace also keeps your knee from moving from side-to-side, and that feels great when coming off ACL replacement.
There’s also an elastic strap that connect the top and bottom pieces that works in conjunction with the hinge. It gives you a reassuringly slightly taught feel that further stabilizes your knee. You want to feel that your knee is protected, and the Fluid Tech Carbon delivers that peace of mind. If you like an outside source to vouch for the brace, this unit is CE Certified to EN 1621-1 (K type B) standards.
One might expect that the brace might get hot when the temperature rises. Fortunately, there’s plenty of air space in the Fluid Carbon Tech, so you just want to make sure you have vented pants that can flow air. On cooler rides, it’s not even an issue. Constructed of carbon fiber and plastic, the Fluid Carbon Tech is also light weight.
A high-quality knee brace is something you will quickly adapt to having on your leg, and will quickly feel as essential as a helmet. I will never again ride off-road — adventure, MX, enduro, trail, trials — without serious knee protection, on both knees.
The Alpinestars Fluid Tech knee brace meets my exacting standards for both protection and comfort, giving me the confidence needed to make a full recovery off-road from ACL replacement surgery. My advice: Don’t wait until you need two of these braces to get one. Prevention beats recovery every single time.