After a four year hiatus playing on boats, I was ready to get back into motorcycling. With my old Rev’it Sand 2 in storage in the UK, I looked for a new jacket more suitable to the Spanish summer, where I’d be spending most of my time riding.
That meant airflow, and lots of it. It also meant a new safety standard. From April 2018, legislation came into force requiring all new motorcycle clothing sold in the EU and UK, to be designated as personal protective equipment and pass EN 17092-2:2020 tests.
Stemming from the Lake District in the UK, Knox is well known for its high quality, highly protective gloves, and armour, but less so for its protective motorcycle clothing. At the time of purchase (Summer 2021), the Urbane Pro MKII was the top of the range jacket in Knox’s collection and one of the few textile motorcycle jackets to achieve a CE-certified AA rating.
I went ahead an purchased one for use on my 890 Adventure. What follows is my review of the jacket and its performance both on and off road in the Spanish sun and beyond.
Knox Urbane Pro MKII review pros and cons
Knox Urbane Pro specs
- CE approved Class AA garment under the CE standard EN17092.
- High tenacity stretch nylon with tough breathable arrownet mesh for abrasion, cut and tear resistance in high impact areas.
- Knox MICRO-LOCK armour in the shoulders, elbows and back.
- Shoulder and elbows – EN 1621-1:2012 L1
- Full CE approved ack protector – EN 1621-2 Level 2
- Removable MICRO-LOCK chest protector can be added as an optional extra.
- YKK zips throughout.
- 2 exterior zipped pockets. One on the chest and one back pocket large enough to store a rain jacket if needed
- 2 interior low-profile pockets
- Thumb loops for added security
- Improved security belt loop system is highlighted on the inside to ensure riders can secure their trousers to the shirt.
- Machine washable garment
- Men’s Sizes S – 5XL (see size guide for details)
Rider protection and safety
The Knox Urbane Pro MKII is CE-certified as Class AA to the EN 17092 standard, the EN Standard for protective motorcycle garments. This is one level below the highest AAA protection, but a step up from A rated jackets.
At the time of launch in March 2021, the Urbane Pro was one of the few affordable AA jackets on the market. Now of course there are many AA and even a good number of AAA certified jackets, such as Knox’s new Honister jacket.
Bennet’s Bike Social in it’s discussion of the CE approval laws, describes AA rated garments as ‘More suited to touring gear’ while gear classified just A as ‘suitable for urban riding.‘
Limb and body armour
Knox is one of the few motorcycle clothing companies that develops and manufacturers its own armour. As stock, the Urbane Pro comes with a CE Level 1 armour in the shoulders and elbows, and a CE Level 2 back protector.
The armour is from Knox’s Micro Lock line, and is of a viscoelastic construction. It’s incredibly soft and pliable, but as a result, also needs to be a little thicker than similar armour to meed the EN 1621-1:2012 standard.
The good news is that it’s certified to the optional Hot and Cold testing conditions (T+ and T-), and is Type-B rated, meaning it provides full coverage for its intended application.
It is certainly nicer than the level 1 safe-tech armour in my Rev’it Sand 2 pictured below. Though without actual testing data there’s no way of telling which is more protective.
Unlike the limb armour, the back protector is level 2 rated which is a nice touch in a jacket at this price. My Rev’it Sand 2 cost a similar amount when new and didn’t even include a back proctor at all.
It’s also made of similar viscoelastic material as the limb armour, but is even more flexible. And at 540 x 310 mm and 22 mm thick, it’s one of the largest back protector inserts I’ve ever seen. The coverage is certainly impressive, but it does come at the expense of weight. Tipping the scales at 800g it accounts for over a third of the weight of the jacket itself.
Style and Fitment
As an armoured under-layer, the Urbane Pro MKII is designed to be tight fitting and worn either under a jacket, or without any jacket at all. Like many riders I found that the sizing runs small. Knox accounts for this by offering the Urbane Pro, and its brother the Honister in sizes up to 5XL.
With a 38″ chest, I’d be a size small in most jackets. By Knox’s size charts I’m a medium, but I sized up to a large in order to allow me to wear a baselayer under the jacket, and to fit my heated vest or a lightweight thermal layer underneath.
In this size, I found the jacket was a nice comfortable fit, but still tight enough to the body to prevent the armour from moving.
The jacket is a slim European-style cut, and in my opinion looks great, provided you have a slim or athletic build. If you’re carrying a few extra pounds it’s certainly going to show.
Comfort, ventilation, and performance
My initial riding conditions after buying the jacket were the hot dusty trails of Spain, as well a long motorway miles, between Alicante and Barcelona, sometimes even up to Girona. Covering such distances would see me on the bike for up to 7 hours a day.
I’m pleased to say that the jacket was comfortable to the point that I forgot all about it. It does a good job of being breezy, but isn’t a free flowing as some mesh jackets out there. For road riding from 20-29c it’s fine. When the temperature increases, as it did on my ride to through Zaragoza where is reached 44c, you really want to cover up to prevent dehydration from roasting hot air being blasted at you all day.
Off road, and on gravel trails, its operating window is somewhere narrower. If you’re working hard and playing at being an enduro rider, jumping logs and whatnot, then this probably isn’t the jacket for you. But for just enjoying the scenery, and tackling faster free-flowing trails it performs well.
The jacket, is supposed to have some stretch built in. It does, but it’s limited to the larger black non-mesh panels, and thin low-abrasion mesh. The thicker parts of the mesh in torso, rear, and on the arms is non-stretch.
As a result of the stretch material movement is the jacket is decent but not spectacular. The main area it falls down is when lifting or raising your arms. The whole jacket is pulled upwards as there’s no decent stretch in that direction. While you won’t necessarily be riding your bike with your arms in the air, reaching for bars provides a similar but less extreme movement. The stretch around the circumference of the jacket helps offset things here, but in my opinion, it would benefit from more upwards stretch.
Pockets and zips
On thing I really missed is having multiple large pockets. The Rev’it Sand 2 had two inner chest pockets, two large cargo pockets, two hand pockets, and huge rabbit pouch at the rear. You could pretty much carry everything you need for a long day in the saddle.
The Urbane Pro had a chest pocket, two inner pockets, and a rear pouch. The chest pocket is good for keeping a set of ear plugs, and that’s about it. The inner pockets can fit a small phone (iPhone 12 mini) or a small wallet. The problem is you wouldn’t want to keep anything in them as the items end up digging into you when sitting.
The rear pocket is mostly useless and inaccessible when wearing the jacket. It’s too small to get a decent rain jacket in (which would bulk out the back too much), and the zip is too stiff to easily access with the jacket on.
In fact if I had to pick a flaw with the jacket it would be the zips. I’ve lost count of the amount the times the zips haven’t flowed freely, or just flat out refuse to budge without some gentle coaxing. It’s not something I’ve experienced on any other jacket, and while some zip lubricant helps, it really shouldn’t be necessary.
Layering and keeping warm
The Urbane Pro is designed to be the protective layer in Knox’ seasonless collection. The idea is that a tight fitting abrasion resistant layer is better closer to the skin, as it holder armour in the right place. The idea has been catching on, with a number of manufacturers now offering abrasion resistant armoured under layers. Adventure Spec’s, Super Shirt is great example of this concept pushed to the extreme.
For cold weather riding the Urbane Pro is supposed to be paired with Knox Dual Pro. A 3-in-1 jacket consisting of a synthetic down-like mid-layer, and a water resistant soft-shell outer. Then for truly wet days, there’s also the Wellbeck waterproof jacket. Oddly though it’s 10,000mm hydrostatic head, is only the same the Dual Pro shell.
My idea of keeping warm is a little different to Konx’s. I like to wear a merino base layer and a heated jacket. Then wear an insulating layer over this, and eventually an external windproof shell. This is difficult with the Urbane Pro. Its close-to-the-body styling means really you can’t get much under it without it becoming bulky. My heated vest is just thin enough, but does leave the jacket a little tight in some areas.
The next difficulty is getting something over it. Typically a soft shell or down jacket etc.. these need to sized larger than they otherwise would be, which then means they aren’t as well fitting when using them off the bike. Outer rain gear doesn’t really suffer this problem, as most waterproof motorcycle layers are made for fit over motorcycle gear anyway.
With all this on, you’ve then go the problem of multiple necklines terminating in a similar place, and some loss of mobility in the shoulder areas where non-moto specific gear usually suffers due to the armour.
The Dual Pro solves most of these issues as it’s sized specifically to fit over the Urbane Pro, but is another £230 or €280 outlay, for layers that many of us already own, and that are inferior technically, to those layers. For example, the inner quilted jacket isn’t as insulating as my Rab Microlight, which then raises the question which one should I take when touring.
Upgrading the Knox Urbane Pro 2 armour
After a year of ownership, I decided that it was time to upgrade the armour the jacket. The Micro-lock level-1 shoulder and elbow armour was extremely comfortable, but it’s not the lightest, thinnest, or most breathable stuff out there. As such, I set about sourcing some compatible level-2 armour.
My first port of call was to Knox themselves who told me that their Micro Lock parts 362 and 363 are the level-2 upgrade armour for the Urbane Pro jacket. As it was just more of the same though (and substantially thicker) I wasn’t interested.
Instead, I asked about the new Micro-Lock Compact that is included as standard in Konx’s Honister jacket. Unfortunately I was told that it wasn’t available to the public yet. In any case I was curious, and I asked Knox for the testing data on its Micro Lock series armour. this is something easily accessible from the likes of Forcefield, Sas-tec, Alpinestars etc..
Unfortunately Knox refused to even share the mean average values, and instead replied with some spiel about how Knox was the first company to provide motorcycle armour and that is nothing higher than CE Level-2 and so they don’t feel the need to share data. At which point I decided to abandon Knox entirely and look elsewhere. If there is one thing I can’t abide it’s companies that aren’t up front and transparent.
I first turned to Axoc. In case you don’t know, Axoc is a Belgium company specialising in ultra thin and pliable motorcycle armour. The Company currently makes the thinnest motorcycle limb armour around at just 7mm thick.
My concern though was that flat armour, wouldn’t conform or be as comfortable as armour which is pre-curved. This is probably more true for looser fitting clothing, but I didn’t want to take the chance.
Alpinestars Nucleon Flex Pro limb armour
The Alpinestarts Nucleon Flex Pro armour is CE level-2 rated (just), and T+/T- certified meaning it has been tested in conditions from +40c to -10c. The means residual-force transmission of the Alpinestars Nucleon Flex Pro is just less than the 20 kilonewton limit required to be certified as level-2 amour. Knox doesn’t publish their testing data, so I can’t say how close the original level-1 Micro-lock armour is to the Alpinestars Nuclean Flex Pro in energy absorption.
What I can say is that Alpinestars armour is extremely flexible and has some of the best venting ever seen in motorcycle armour. The elbow protectors slide easily into the armour pockets, and removal is also much easier than the Knox items, but the shoulder protectors are a strange shape, and require some modification to fit.
Once in the jacket compresses the armour well and holds it close to the body. Remember although this armour isn’t completely flat like some out there, the curves are mild so it does still require decent compression to hold it in place. Its weight is comparable to the Knox armour and the flexibility and movement is good. One big difference though is the Knox armour has cut-out sections in it so it conforms to your elbow better when bent. The Alpinestars armour doesn’t have that. As a result, it tends to bunch a little at the sides when the elbow is bent.
Unfortunately after several weeks of testing, I’ve come to conclusion that the Alpinestars Nucleon Flex Pro armour is a no-go in the Knox Urbane series of jackets. The elbow pads fit in nicely but being thinner and slightly smaller than the original Knox items, they don’t offer as much coverage. The shoulder armour, is huge, but very flat. When cupped it too didn’t cover as well as the OEM armour.
What’s more, despite its flexibility, the armour itself is quite hard. On short journey’s it was fine, but on longer rider (say 30 mins plus), it began to create uncomfortable pressure points. That is in stark contrast to the Micro Lock armour, which is super soft, and all day comfortable.
Instead, I think the go-to replacement armour outside of Knox’s own, would be either Forcefield’s Isolator, or Sas-Tec’s SC-1/EVO, both achieve massively impressive test results.
Sas-Tec SC-1/15 back protector
The back proctor in the Urbane Pro is already CE level-2 rated and one of the best in the business. It’s all day comfortable, and ultra pliable. Really it just flops and bends in your hand. This comes at a price though. It has to be thicker (2.2cm) to offer the same protection. And with increased thickness comes increased weight.
Having found that the weight of the back protector could sometimes cause neckline of the jacket (which is already on the slim side) to uncomfortably press on my throat, I thought I might as well switch it out too.
While there might be anything more protective on the market than Knox’s original level-2 back protector, there is certainly something lighter. One of the issues in the replacing the back proctor here though is the sheer size of the thing. Few companies make anything near the size of the included protector.
The closest I found was the Sas-Tec SC-1/15 XXL. This a top rated back protector CE-certified as Level 2 under EN1621-2:2014, and yet less than half the price of most other protectors on the market. There really isn’t much else to compare to it.
The XXL size was slightly larger than the original Urbane Pro back protector, and required cutting to size. This is easily done with a craft knife or quality pair of scissors. Of course when cutting armour down to side you never the nice smooth rounded edges you get from the factory. Since the Sas-Tec back protector didn’t have tapered edges anyway, it wasn’t so much of a big deal. Though non-tapered edges do make the armour more visible when wearing the jacket.
The oringal Knox back protector is super soft and comfortable. If you were to hold it at one end horizontally, it would immediately flop or droop over. In contrast the Sass-Tec protector initially feels quite firm. Putting the jacket on for the first time felt like I had a board down my back. Within a minute though it started to warm up and conform to my body shape. As such is was just as comfortable as the Knox item.
Overall the Knox Urbane jacket is a great on road and light off-road jacket, and given the same options as I had at the time of purchase I’d likely buy it again. I think it particularly excels at being an around town jacket especially in the summer, but can also be used for touring and long days in the saddle. I rode some 750km days in jacket without issue.
My issues with the jacket were more small niggles. Zips sticking every now and again, the neck being pulled upwards by the heavy back protector, and the accessibility of pockets. None of these major issues, and I was happy to sell my Rev’it sand 2 and keep the Urbane Pro as my sole jacket.
Now if you were ask me if I’d buy it again given the new choices on the market, that is another question altogether. There are now a number of jackets on the market rated AA or above that push the envelope a little further.
Pando Moto for example offers AAA rated base-layers that perform a similar function to the Knox Urbane line, yet use a variation of polyethylene stretch fabric in the impact zones, that allows for a remarkable amount of airflow without needing mesh.
Then there’s the Adventure Spec super Shirt. An AA rated garment with Forcefield Armour designed to be worn almost as a base-layer. This not only solves the layering issues with the Knox Urbane, but is also more flexible, and breathable. Then there’s Bowtex with its Elite AAA Level under shirt.
The one thing the Knox jacket have over some of these is style, in that it looks great as a jacket in its own right. That however seemingly comes at the cost of being thicker and heavier it lacking the new 4-way stretch comfort of its new competitors.
Knox Urbane Pro MK2 vs Knox Urbane 3, and Knox Honister
Knox updated its in collection in late 2022 and early 2023. It added the AAA rated Honister jacket, and a new updated Urbane Pro MK3. The Honister comes as standard with Knox’s Micro Lock Compact level-2 armour as does the new Urbane Pro (while remaining AA rated). The Honister doesn’t flow as much air as the Urbane Pro MK2 or MK3 though, as the mesh back has been replaced by nylon.
In my opinion the new MK3 would be the jacket buy if you wanted level-2 armour, otherwise the original Urbane MK2 is still available at the discount price of £179.99 leaving some £70 available to upgrade the armour if you wanted.