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This review is based on about two months of daily use of the Urbane Pro. After I purchased it I used it every day on my tour in Ireland and England, as well as returning to Spain through France. I experienced a wide range of weather, from storm and rain in Ireland to baking heat in France and Spain. I have tried it with different types of base layers and different layers on top. I can already now reveal that I think this is an awesome piece of kit and save you reading the whole blog post – however, if you’d like to find out why I recommend it, stay put.
Why did I buy it? I saw the Knox Urbane Pro in an ad on the internet before the summer and trying it on was one of my goals during my holiday. Knox is not yet available in Spain and is not easy to get hold of in Sweden, so I contacted Knox prior to my trip to Ireland to make sure that I would be able to include a visit to a retailer on my route. They pointed me in the direction of Overlanders AMI in Gorey, Ireland, where I could try on the shirt before deciding whether to purchase it or not. The Knox layering system appealed to me as I was tired of the armour not fitting securely in my summer riding jacket. I was looking for a safer solution but without giving up the comfort of a ventilated jacket. I’m sensitive to the heat and get heatstroke easily, so I need something fulfilling these two practical needs.
The fit: I found the size L a very good fit, sizes available range from S to 3XL. I strongly recommend trying it on before buying as the Urbane Pro Shirt fits differently from conventional jackets. Because I was used to wearing my loose riding jacket I thought it felt too tight at first. The sizing advice I got in the shop was invaluable and I soon got used to the snugness of the Urbane Pro. The shirt is worn with only a base layer underneath and because of this the armour is always in the right place, protecting the elbows, shoulders and back. With my body heat, the protectors quickly mould perfectly to my body contours and I hardly notice them. I even slept in the shirt on my early morning ferry crossing from Poole to Cherbourg without any discomfort.
Safety: As the fit is snug, the armour is always in place. The armour is CE approved and the shirt itself has an A rating, which means for urban use. You kind of get that in the name, I think. As the shirt is abrasive-resistant, no extra layer is needed J at least not at speeds up to around 70km/h. However, while cruising on the highway through France I did feel a bit under-dressed and could have done with an additional abrasive-resistant layer, as my speed could hardly be compared to urban riding. But it was way too hot to wear additional layers that day and, like I said, I’m sensitive to heat.
The design: The Urbane Pro comes inthree different designs; black, black with denim details, and grey and black with denim details. It is available in male and female versions. The women’s jacket has two side pockets perfect for pocketing small things such as your keys or small wallet. I’m wearing the women’s jacket in grey and I give extra points for the cool design with black armour pockets on the grey jacket, which I think looks futuristic in a sci-fi kind of way and matches my personality. Plus, grey is my favourite colour for summer gear, it stays cool and doesn’t show stains much.
Functionality: The Knox kit works by the layer principle in a similar way to when you dress for outdoor sports; base layer – armour – warm layer/windproof/waterproof. I have tried several variations of combinations depending on the weather and I’ve been using the clothes that I had with me in my panniers, plus the Knox Olivia jacket which I will review separately later on.
I appreciate the flexibility, after putting on the base layer and the Urbane Pro I can choose other layers depending on the weather, some days in Ireland I was lucky enough to get away with only this, but honestly most days I needed a warm and/or waterproof layer.
As the Urban Pro is fully ventilated, i.e. ventilated everywhere, not just panels like other ventilated jackets, the wind cools you very effectively. Therefore, I would need a sweatshirt on top in a temperature lower than 25°. If even cooler, I would add a windcheater or perhaps a vest to keep my chest warm. In cold and rainy weather, a fleece and a rain jacket will do nicely, or the purpose made Knox Olivia jacket which fits perfectly on top and is fully wind and waterproof.
On a hot day, which for me is 28° and above, I would use the Urbane Pro with only a base layer. My favourite base layer would be a long-sleeve silk top. In temperatures above 32°, as I experienced at the end of August when riding south through France and into to Spain, I would soak my base layer with water for added cooling and/or wear a wet neck tube. As the shirt is fully ventilated, the wet base layer enhances the cooling effect nicely. With this in mind, a warning is in place – if you’re going out riding all day and the temperature is likely to cool off in the evening, pack a windcheater or you’ll get a very cold chest on your return ride. In addition, bring a neck tube to protect your neck from the insects that buzz around at dusk as the Urbane Pro doesn’t have a collar.
Is there room for improvement? I’m super pleased with the shirt, but if I would ask for one improvement it would be for the possibility to attach the shirt to my riding trousers. I didn’t find this necessary when using the shirt on its own, but when wearing many layers I missed being able to zip the shirt and my trousers together to keep it in place. Edit: there are two loops which you can use to attach the shirt to your belt, a very discrete and clever solution. (So discrete that I didn’t notice it myself).
In conclusion: I appreciate the versatility of the Knox layering system and I think the Urbane Pro is the core piece of kit. I ride all year and in all kinds of weather, I travel extensively by motorbike and I commute to work, buy my groceries and, very occasionally, I’ll go on a Sunday ride. I need great, flexible gear that fills my needs on all these different occasions. When I started riding 20 years ago, I was happy to put on whatever gear was available on the market, most of the time ill-fitting men’s gear. Times have changed though, now I want good quality gear, designed to fit a woman. I think the Knox Urban Pro shirt fits the bill.
You can read the full specs on Knox’s website and you can also download the homologations certificate for the A rating.