We were hit badly by the storm Gloria last week. There was massive material and natural destruction and people were killed, so I shouldn’t complain really as my only damage was a broken footpeg when my bike fell over. I was being a bit stupid as I had covered the bike for the rain, I thought it would be okay if I strapped the cover tightly around the bike, but alas, no. On Sunday night it blew over. Due to the rain and storm I had to wait until Saturday before I could open up the bike to check that the battery hadn’t leaked and that cooling water and oil levels were unchanged. And for the remaining days of the storm, I left the bike uncovered and hoped that the heavy rains wouldn’t cause problems with the electrics or anything else.
It is always interesting doing these kinds of chores on a busy street, I did get some strange looks and, in addition, an offer of help from a fellow biker living nearby. The new footpeg was ordered from Motor Works England – I couldn’t find a secondhand one in Spain. It arrived quickly and I love the treats that they added to the parcel.
I live in Spain, where I teach Swedish and English. My motorbike is my only mode of transport and I see myself as an all-year and all-weather rider. This means that I use it for my supermarket shopping, riding to my evening Catalan classes, as well as for trips across Europe. My priorities when choosing motorbike gear are functionality and flexibility. If it looks good, that is an appreciated bonus. I don’t like bulky gear nor do I like gear with built-in/detachable liners for much the same reason, but also because the liners can’t serve as warm layers off the bike – that kind of lack of versatility is a big no-no for me.
Knox clothing works with a layering system, which means that their items are designed to be combined and you can add and remove layers depending on the weather. This review will be about the following items: the Olivia jacket, the quilted warm layer jacket, and the Cold Killers Blue Collection sports jacket and trousers. I will describe how I use them on and off the bike, how I combine them, and how I use them with Knox’s armoured layer, the Urbane Pro which I’ve reviewed here.
I was really excited to get the opportunity to try these new items, but I had some initial concerns. How versatile would the items be? For example, would they serve me better than the general fleeces and warm layers I use? Would they be comfortable and functional? What about the looks, would I be able to use the clothing for casual wear? However, I would not have needed to worry, I have found all the items very versatile, both on and off the bike, and I have been able to combine them in many ways to adjust to the temperature. In addition to when riding, I have worn all of the items casually in my spare time and also to work. Now, I’ll talk you through the items one by one.
The Olivia Jacket I chose the blue Olivia jacket as I think everything is better with colour, but it is also available in black. For added visibility it has reflective thread woven into the arms and the upper back panel. This is a great waterproof and windproof jacket which I have worn on the bike with just the Urbane Pro armoured shirt underneath, but also with the quilted jacket and even a heated waistcoat on a particularly cold ride. I must admit that adding the heated waistcoat pushed the layering a bit, but I was still far from being a marshmallow woman. I really like that the jacket is long, this in combination with the belt, prevents cold air from coming in. A vertical zip on the lower back can be opened to allow the jacket to unfold enough to keep its shape when sitting on the bike and not bunch up. I have also worn the Olivia jacket walking to work, as it is great in the rain. All Knox outer layer jackets have side zips that run along the inseam of the arm to the waist, which make the jacket adjustable in size. When you open the zips, the jacket expands one size to make room for the armoured shirt and warm layers, while still being a true, well-fitting size when zipped up. When riding, the collar is just the right height to deflect wind and prevent water coming in, but without being too high to interfere with the helmet buckle. As an optional extra, I would wish for an attachable hood to wear when off the bike, just like my partner’s Knox All Sports jacket. I’m always very jealous of his attachable hood on a rainy day.
Quilted jacket This is a quilted, lightweight, warm layer that I use between the Urbane Pro armoured shirt and the Olivia jacket when riding. You can use it with any outer jacket or rain jacket, of course. For casual wear, I often wear it in the house when it is cold and I wear it to work as a light jacket, it goes surprisingly well with skirts. The quilted jacket is also really comfortable to sleep in if it is cold, this will be a true asset for me when I go camping next summer. The most brilliant thing with this is that it is not down but still very light and packs small – this makes it a great option for those of us who don’t buy items made with feathers for ethical reasons. The jacket has a few features that makes it an excellent mid layer: firstly, the collar rises in the back to protect the neck but is low in the front to not interfere with the outer jacket’s collar. Secondly, it zips low so you do not get the zip on your chin. Lastly, it doesn’t have cuffs and therefore it fits smoothly under an outer layer without adding bulk around your wrists.
The Cold Killer Blue collection, sports jacket The jacket has a surprisingly good fit as a sporty casual jacket. Worn on its own, it is not at all bulky, yet at the same time it fits nicely over the Urbane Pro armoured shirt for riding. This is due to the design, with wind protection on the front and a stretchable material on the back. For casual wear on a cold day, I can also wear it with the quilted jacket underneath. When riding, it is a well-fitted windcheater thanks to the combination of stretchable material and wind-deflecting panels, this means that the jacket is slim and doesn’t flap in the wind. The jacket has a specially designed throat guard that deflects the wind from your throat but without the discomfort of the zip on your chin. The wind deflecting panels have a nice fleecy lining which makes it pleasant to wear. If I would ask for an upgrade of any kind it would be the colour. I would prefer some coloured elements and/or hi-viz panels, as I wear this as an outer layer and I would prefer to be more visible. I’m now using it in combination with a hi-viz vest, but I would prefer to have some coloured sections on the jacket itself to not have to wear the vest on top.
Cold Killers Blue collection, sports pants As with the jacket, these trousers are designed with a windproof front and stretchable back. They have the same fleecy lining as the jacket and their high waist (to my navel) make them really comfortable. They are designed as a midlayer but I often wear them without long-johns underneath. I also found them comfortable to sleep in, which makes them great for long journeys when I’m camping. These trousers, together with woollen long-johns and my riding trousers, keep me warm and comfy on the bike in temperatures around +4C at least (it has not been colder here this winter). They also work fine on not-especially cold days under my ventilated riding trousers, as they prevent the ventilation very efficiently. This, I think, will be the combo for my summer riding in Sweden, where the weather can vary from quite cold to warm even in July and August. I must admit that I wear the Cold Killers trousers most nights at home, and for the Christmas period in Sweden I wore them under my tracksuit trousers indoors and when out and about. Of all the items these are my favourite, perhaps that was unexpected but I promise you, I would wear them every day if I could get away with it. However, they do look rather weird with a skirt.
Summary As previously stated, I’m no fan of detachable liners in my riding gear, they are so bulky when riding and they are then quite useless to wear off the bike. I am really pleased with the way the Knox layering system works, as it allows me to wear the warm layers when I get off the bike and still be comfortable and warm. I have not owned these items very long, just a few months, but I have worn them extensively both on and off the bike. The Cold Killers and the quilted jacket wash well in 30C, with no issues at all. I have not yet washed the Olivia jacket yet but will provide an update when I do.
If you, like me, are looking for flexible gear that you can wear on and off the bike and combine for different needs, you should definitely look into the Knox layering system. If you are interested, I recommend you try on the gear first, if possible, as you would with any motorcycle gear.