by "Burn" for webBikeWorld
When we started our exploration of the various forms of motorcycle armor and protective clothing, I never thought we'd get beyond one or maybe two back protectors.
But here we are with the sixth article in what can now be considered as a series.
We originally thought that these type of products were very narrowly focused on motorcycle racers and track day specialists.
But apparently many different types of motorcycle riders are interested in protecting their bodies, which is surely a positive trend.
We discovered that race-style back protectors aren't for everyone though, because they are somewhat bulky and slightly uncomfortable.
The companies that make motorcycle armor are aware of this.
They have also developed products that I suppose can be classified as motorcycle protective underwear.
They are designed to be worn underneath most types of motorcycle clothing or even street clothes, if so desired.
The Bohn Cool Air Bodyguard Adventure Pants are one example, and they are also available with a matching armored undershirt.
British Motorcycle Gear, the distributor for Knox Armor in the U.S.A., sent us two other very interesting examples of this type of motorcycle protective clothing: a Knox Cross Shirt and the matching Knox Cross Sport Shorts (a tongue-twister for sure!).
Both of these products offer large areas of protective padding, and the Cross Shirt includes a built-in (but removable) back protector, hard armor on the elbows and shoulders and even a chest protector.
They are comfortable to wear, and although we don't have any scientific proof, they sure seem like they offer more and better protection than found in most motorcycle clothing, including some of the race-oriented and one-piece leathers we've seen.
The fabric used in both the Cross Shirt and the Cross Sport Shorts is a highly breathable stretch mesh. It must be woven with a high percentage of Spandex or some other type of elastic fibers, because it's very flexible and form-fitting.
Knox claims that the material is also highly resistant to tearing.
The elasticity of the material is very important to the functionality of the products, because it keeps the armor close to the rider's body. This is crucial to receive the maximum potential benefit of the armor or padding.
We've seen many motorcycle jackets, pants and one-piece leather or textile suits that fit much too loose by design to keep the armor in place if the rider falls.
And all the armor in the world will be useless if it doesn't stay in place, so be very careful when choosing motorcycle clothing to ensure the correct fit.
My experience tells me that most riders wear their clothing at least one size too big. Next time you watch a MotoGP or World Superbike race, notice the leathers worn by your favorite racer. They look skin-tight and for a good reason.
Since very few of us can afford to order custom-fitted motorcycle clothing, another solution is to wear armored underwear that does keep the armor snug.
I have recently removed the standard armor from several of my jackets and pants and I'm wearing the Knox armor underneath instead.
I've found that it's actually more comfortable, because the armor and padding stay in place and move with me. I also feel more confident that I'm better protected.
Knox claims that the Cross Shirt includes CE impact protection for the entire upper body. The shirt is made from a stretchy elastic breathable mesh, and it's worn like a jacket. It has a PEX zipper up the front and a Velcro tab at the neck to keep it secure.
The sleeves of the Cross Shirt are slightly longer than normal, because the cuffs include a thumb hole, similar to what is sometimes found on Polypropylene thermal underwear shirts used for skiing.
Wearing the sleeves with the thumb through the hole helps keep the elbow armor correctly oriented and it also prevents the sleeve from riding up on the arm when getting into a tight set of leathers or jacket.
The elbow hard armor is Knox CE-approved and backed with softer padding. It is permanently attached to the outside of the arm of the Cross Shirt, and it is long enough to cover from the elbow down about 3/4 of the way to the wrist.
The shoulders are also protected by Knox hard armor, which is also permanently attached to the shirt.
The Cross Shirt includes a full-length Knox back protector, which is attached to the shirt with a zipper on top. It hangs loose at the bottom of the shirt to allow freedom of movement as the rider leans forward.
It also includes a flexible waist strap that is brought around the rider's waist over the top of the shirt after it is zipped up.
The back protector is similar to the Knox Stowaway product we reviewed recently, and it uses the same waffle type of attached sectioning that allows it to bend.
The front of the Cross Shirt includes a section of chest padding, which is enclosed inside some mesh fabric.
It is attached to the inside of the shirt with a section of Velcro, so it is very easy to remove if desired. Dirt bike riders use chest protectors to help protect against rocks and debris, but I leave mine in on the street for added protection.
The Cross Shirt currently lists for $249.00, which may seem expensive until you start adding up the cost of a dedicated back protector, chest protector and hard armor for the elbows and shoulders.
I've found that the Cross Shirt is definitely the most comfortable way to stay protected. It's available in 6 different sizes, from XS to XXL.
The Cross Sport Shorts are made from the same type of elastic mesh fabric as the Cross Shirt. The shorts cover everything from the waist down to just above the knees. The Knox "Ultra lightweight Advance X Protectors" (e.g., padding) are removable so the shorts can be washed when necessary.
The outer sides of the legs have an upper and lower zippered pocket containing Knox soft armor padding. The padding is cut in waffled sections to maintain flexibility. The shorts seem to have much more surface area and the padding is thicker than the type of protection normally found in motorcycle pants or even leather race pants.
Each upper pocket contains a section of kidney-shaped padding that is designed to protect the hip. Each lower pocket contains a separate section of padding to protect the outer thigh.
The back of the shorts has another zippered pocket that contains a section of padding to protect the coccyx, or tailbone. There are also two small sections of thin padding that are permanently attached to the seat of the shorts.
The shorts zip up in the front and they have a nice, wide elastic waistband that closes with a YKK metal snap button. The Cross Sport Shorts are as comfortable to wear as the Cross Shirt, and I like the fact that they have more surface area of thicker padding than any of my other motorcycle pants.
I only wish that the shorts were available as a full-length underwear that included knee and shin armor! The shorts are also available in 6 sizes, from XS to XXL and they currently list for $149.00.
I really like wearing the combination of the Knox Cross Shirt and the Cross Sport Shorts. They're comfortable and the stretchy fabric keeps the armor close to my body where it will do the most good and it feels good at the same time.
This combination may be a better solution than purchasing several pieces of dedicated armor, although the only thing that it's missing is protection for the knees and shins.
|wBW Review: Knox Cross Shirt and Knox Cross Sport Shorts|
|Manufacturer: Knox||List Price (2005): $249.00 (shirt); $149.00 (shorts).|
|Colors: Black||Made In: Unknown|
|Review Date: January 2005|