Like other armoured shirts this one is made of stretchy fabric; unlike other armoured shirts the Knox Urbane Pro Utility’s abrasion-resistant material makes it CE-approved riding protection in its own right.
This means it can be worn without an outer jacket, which makes it perfect for the hot weather of Southern Europe.
Having worn this for 2500 miles I think of it as a bit of a game changer. It’s called a shirt, but I think of it as a very comfortable jacket that allows exceptional freedom of movement. All this makes it very easy to live with on a full day’s ride.
The fabric and soft armour hug and mould to my shape, which is probably the reason it is so comfortable. Add thumb loops into this tight-fitting cut and it’s a jacket that gives confidence, if the worst should happen, that the armour has a better than average chance of staying in place.
I did my best not to review this particular feature - apologies if my commitment to the reader falls short.
Added to this is the benefit that an over jacket, for warmth or rain protection, doesn’t need to be motorcycle clothing.
I wore a Knox Kenton motorcycle jacket over this shirt when I needed it, which meant I took one jacket away with me for use on the bike and as casual wear in the evening. This left space in my panniers for more useless items to be packed and never used.
Photography: Joel Blevins
Most well-ventilated jackets have mesh panels hidden behind a zip or Velcro closure panels. The difference with this jacket is that it is made from a mesh fabric, which allows air to flow freely through it.
In warm weather this is excellent; the disadvantage is that when the weather cools you can’t close the vents, you need to put on an over jacket.
The jacket has five external pockets that fasten with Velcro and two internal pockets that sit at hem level. On such a close-fitting jacket the internal pockets have a limited use, although small and light items will easily fit.
The two lower front pockets and the rear patch pocket are the most useful. The front ones easily take a phone and wallet, while the rear pocket would be useful to carry a light over jacket.
Unfortunately, the front chest pocket is not large enough for my phone and the left upper arm pocket is hard to reach and undo (maybe I am less flexible than I used to be) so I never found a use for it.
When I first used the jacket I was disappointed that it couldn’t be zipped to a pair of trousers. Then, after about a week of use I discovered the security belt loop system. You put your trouser belt through these hoops and the belt goes on your trousers to secure them together.
This system requires motorcycle trousers with belt hoops and at first this was a bit of faff, but I soon got used to it. Knox, I have a suggestion for you... shouldn’t you tell me about this feature in the paperwork you provide with the jacket?
My other suggestion is about the name... ‘Urbane Pro Utility’ conjures up images of paved streets in a town, yet in my opinion this shirt is not just for the paved streets. I feel it’s equally at home in more rugged areas you may want to visit.
A separate chest armour insert can be fitted to a Velcro strip behind the front zip. I didn’t review this, although it’s an optional add-on I am seriously considering.
According to the Knox website I can upgrade the shoulder and elbow armour to CE Level 2, which would make it the same as the standard back armour included with the jacket.
I question whether this should already be provided at the price this jacket sells for, though perhaps Knox would argue that some riders prefer the flexibility of the lighter CE Level 1 armour.
To conclude, I feel this jacket is a useful addition to my motorcycle clothing and has lots of advantages - particularly in hot weather.
I need to do a bit more work to get the right thermal and waterproof layers to make this an all-year-round choice. If I can achieve that I’d use this jacket as the basis for a similar approach I use for my walking gear, which involves layering up or down to suit the weather conditions.
Once I fit the optional chest armour I can see me using this jacket on roads, green lanes and unpaved roads.