The Urbane Pro MKII armored shirt follows the lead of its close relative, the Zephyr (and Zephyr Pro) in stepping up the protection to the point where it can be worn as a standalone piece of protective gear. With a full set of impact protectors included this armored “shirt” provides very good protection for the street rider while also offering generous airflow for warmer days.
Very good airflow
Durable AA abrasion-resistant construction
Very good included armor
Smart looking design
Sleeve mesh can be a little scratchy against bare skin
With the Summer of 2021 fast approaching (or already here depending on my publish date), I found myself looking for a new hot weather riding jacket. While I felt that I had a nearly perfect solution for warm weather riding with my Knox Zephyr jacket, my new (as of fall of 2020) Klim Ai-1 airbag vest required that I get something new.
My Zephyr was a size large and while it fit nice and snug on its own, the Ai-1 vest added enough extra bulk that the Zephyr was stretched close to its limit. This didn’t bode well for the ability of the jacket to accommodate the inflation of the airbag, and it also made the collar stand pretty far from my neck.
Long story short (too late!) I let the Zephyr fly to a new home and had planned on getting a larger size for 2021 to better fit the airbag vest. However, when I looked at Knox’s offerings this spring, I noticed an update to the Urbane Pro armored shirt was coming soon.
This latest update increased the abrasion resistance over the previous version which brings it in line with the Zephyr for protection. Based on the images online, the Urbane Pro MKII appeared to have more mesh area than the Zephyr so perhaps it would flow more air.
Of course, I had to be sure. And there was only one way to find out.
The Urbane Pro MKII Armoured Shirt
While the black version might not stand out as much, the grey color reviewed here (I think it looks more silver) not only helps to reflect away some heat, it also improves the visibility of the rider. The Urbane gets its asymmetric look on the front from the left side chest pocket which cuts into the front grey mesh panel.
Lots of Mesh
Mesh comprises a majority of the outer shell of the jacket with most of the front panels and sleeves being mesh and the back is essentially entirely mesh. Some areas of black are also a stretch mesh adding to the perforated panel party going on here.
The Urbane is available in all black, a dark blue “denim” color, and the silver/black version reviewed here. There is also a variant called the Urbane Pro Utility MKII which adds exterior pockets for those who want more storage. It uses the same basic design but is available in “Olive” and “Camel” colors.
If you like pockets the Utility version may be for you as the storage is somewhat limited on the Urbane Pro MKII. There is one small, zippered exterior chest pocket and two medium-sized interior pockets. There is also a rear pocket at the lower portion of the jacket that runs the width of the back and has a vertical zipper on the left side. This rear pocket is intended for storing a rain cover but can easily store other items too.
None of the pockets are waterproof nor are they pleated for expansion. The interior pockets use a stretch material to expand but I don’t see bulky items being stored in these places as it won’t be comfortable for the wearer.
Knox doesn’t seem to go in for creating “shouty” products and the branding on the Urbane reflects this. On the front, the only visible branding is the hexagonal Knox logo on the zipper pulls. On the right side above the waist is a KNOX name and the hex logo and on the left, there’s just a small hex logo.
The right bicep gets a flexible, black rubber patch embossed with the KNOX branding on it. One really has to look closely to make out what it says which can also be said for the small one by ¼ inch (25×6.3mm) metal tab at the back of the neck. This tab has the KNOX name and the hex logo engraved in it. So branding is there, but it is decidedly subtle.
The outer shell is composed of different fabrics with the grey areas of mesh being KNOX’s arrownet mesh which is a very tough and not very soft fabric. It has a high tenacity designed to resist abrasion which is part of why the Urbane receives its AA rating.
“Different” sums up the Urbane Pro MKII pretty well as the appearance is relatively unique in the motorcycle apparel space. While the Zephyr had a sport riding jacket look, the asymmetrical styling and slim cut of the Urbane Pro MKII (“Urbane” from here forward) definitely stands out when viewing a web page full of riding jackets and shirts.
Over the shoulders, elbows, and behind the neck is a solid fabric that has some stretch and offers the highest abrasion resistance expected in these potential impact zones. It is also used in portions of the sides of the jacket along with a stretch mesh.
The stretch mesh doesn’t have the durability of the arrownet and is only used in areas of low potential impact like portions of the sides and a strip on the inside of the arms. Together, these materials create a tough exterior while still providing significant stretch to allow the jacket to fit closely and comfortably.
Behind the mesh panels on the sides is a thin cotton liner which is also found in the sleeves while the front panels are unlined. The pocket for the back protector uses stretch mesh on the portion against the body while the outside facing portion inside the pocket uses the cotton liner.
The lining is very thin and not really noticeable. I was concerned that this liner might lessen ventilation but spoiler alert, it doesn’t. We’ll look at that in more detail shortly.
Weight with all the armor in place might seem a bit high at 4lb 9oz (2.07kg) for this size XL jacket but the culprit for that weight mostly comes from the included CE 2 back protector weighing in at 1lb 8oz (.68kg) The jacket itself only weighs 2lb 2oz (.96kg) which is very light for a jacket with AA abrasion resistance rating.
While the exterior seems simple enough, the interior shows the complexity of putting together the various panels. There is a lot of stitching visible on the inside and while it looks busy, all the stitching is neat and tight with no loose or pulled threads to be found. Despite the multiple panels required to make up this jacket everything folds and lays down smoothly demonstrating that the panels are precisely cut.
Protection is what KNOX is all about and the Urbane is an excellent example. Starting with the outer shell, the arrownet mesh and solid textile areas feel tough. The arrownet mesh is less soft and rougher in texture than the nylon mesh found in most mesh gear. It was definitely built for protection and less for comfort and this is likely the reason KNOX chose to line the interior of the arms to have something between the mesh and the rider’s skin.
The high tenacity solid textile may have some stretch but it has the feel of being “all business”. I have a feeling it would take plenty of sliding on the pavement to reveal the yellow MICRO-LOCK armor underneath.
The shoulder and elbow protection included with the Urbane are from KNOX’s MICRO-LOCK series of armor. MICRO-LOCK is a very soft and flexible material that stiffens under impact. While there are other brands of protectors that use a similar principle, these seem to be more flexible than most.
CE Level 1 is the default type included for the shoulders and elbows with the Urbane while the back protector is a CE level 2 and that back protector is very large and robust. It is also the softest back protector I’ve ever encountered. You can see in the photo how I rolled it up. It was easy to do this and as you can see it is also well perforated for ventilation.
All of this together makes for a reasonably protective piece of kit for the street rider. However, I would like to have the option of getting CE level 2 armor for the shoulders and elbows as well, and it turns out you can get that too.
While not an option from Revzilla, which is where I purchased this jacket, if one orders directly from KNOX, there is an option to have that armor upgraded at the time of purchase for an additional fee. Of course, exchange rates being what they are right now, it might not be the best choice economically.
I was going to order the upgrades from Revzilla but found them out of stock at the time of this writing. In fact, I couldn’t find any stateside online retailers with them in stock (likely thanks to COVID) so I opted to just order a set directly from KNOX. It ended up costing over $80.00 (USD) so it may not have been the most inexpensive way to do this but I’m a safety nut so what ev’s, right?
The new pieces arrived the day before I was to submit the review so fortunately, I was able to add some comments on this here (without having to revise). The new CE level 2 armor for the elbows and shoulders is, as expected, thicker than the level 1 items. The overall dimensions are the same, however, so they still fit into the armor pockets without issue.
Once installed, the Urbane does fit a little differently, particularly in the shoulder area. I noticed that I can feel the portion of the sleeve/torso that goes through the underarm area is now a little snug. I didn’t find it uncomfortable but it was noticeable that this area fit closer. Obviously, one’s build will determine how much of an effect this has on fit. For those interested, the correct item numbers for these level 2 pieces are 362 and 363.
For those of you who follow my reviews here at webBikeWorld, you might recall that last year I reviewed the Klim Ai-1 airbag vest. I have continued to use this vest whenever I ride so I ended up removing the fantastic KNOX back protector in lieu of the vest with its airbag protection and built-in back protector. Since the airbag components are integrated with the built-in protector I can’t really exchange it for the KNOX.
In addition to upgrading the shoulder and elbow armor, the Urban includes a hook and loop patch on the inside of the left front for connecting a chest protector. KNOX has an option in the form of their Micro-Lock Chest Upgrade but I would think most protectors designed to connect to the “loop” side of hook and loop would work in this case.
I was pleased to see that KNOX includes a way for riders to fasten the Urbane to their pants, although it does require one’s riding pants to have a belt. On the lower left and right sides of the interior are sets of loops through which one can pass a belt. The idea is that in the event of a slide, this will prevent the Urbane from sliding up and exposing skin to the road surface.
I appreciate that KNOX has included this attachment option as it increases the overall safety of the rider when there is a connection between a jacket and pants. The drawback is that one needs to have riding pants that use a belt, which isn’t always the case. Also, in order to attach/detach the jacket from the pants, one has to remove their belt (but the connection should be sturdy enough to hold up in a crash).
Really there’s not a great way to have a quick and sturdy attachment like this save for the traditional mated zippers on pants and jackets. I’ve had jackets that used loops that could snap closed over a belt but I always worried about how reliable those snaps are going to be in a crash.
Fit, Comfort, and Ventilation
Normally I wear a size medium (42) in most riding jackets but in KNOX and some other European brands, I tend to end up in a size large. In my previous KNOX jacket, I found that a size large fits me perfectly. Since I started wearing a Klim Ai-1 airbag vest, however, I needed to go up a size in order to accommodate the extra bulk.
Sure enough, this size XL ended up fitting over the vest just fine with room to stretch in the event the airbag gets deployed. I feel this lines up well with the size chart which suggests a size large for a 41-43 inch chest and 44-46 for the XL so one should order according to the suggestions.
One thing to note is since I’m going one size larger than normal, the sleeves feel slightly long when my arms are hanging at my sides. Reaching forward takes care of the extra half-inch or so so this isn’t an issue when riding. This is not a reflection on their sizing, just the result of the fact I’m wearing a larger than normal size for the sake of the airbag vest.
Zipping into the Urbane finds it feeling much like a fitted leather racing jacket. The jacket fits snug around the torso and closely around the arms. The latter is important as it helps keep the armor in place in the event of a crash. For riders that prefer a relaxed fit, this might not be their cup of tea.
The Urbane is designed to stretch even if one is right at or a little below the actual “size” in order to maintain that close fit. Even if I put on the jacket without my airbag vest underneath, it still fits closely enough that I doubt it would flap about in the wind on the highway.
I prefer riding gear to fit closely so I find the overall comfort very good when wearing the Urbane. The only issue I can think of is that I can sometimes feel the “scratchy” arrownet mesh on my forearms through the interior lining. It’s not really distracting but, if I have to find something at which to pick, it would be this.
Once I receive the CE2 armor upgrades for the shoulders and elbows I’ll return with some comments on whether these affect the comfort as they are thicker than the default CE 1 armor.
In a word, excellent. The arrownet mesh uses a coarse pattern rather than a fine one with large holes allowing for a lot of airflow. The front panels, which have no lining, do a great job of letting in air. Since I started wearing airbag vests in 2018, getting good airflow has become more difficult. Now, just in time for a third summer wearing an airbag vest, the Urbane gives me hope for a cooler summer.
While the arms of course flow a lot of air, I noticed that I could actually feel air coming through the narrow strips on the front of the Ai-1 vest. I could also feel air flowing out the back as well and overall the ventilation is improved over the original Zephyr.
But What About Cooler or Wet Weather?
As the Urbane is certainly geared towards warmer and dry weather, the fact that it fits very close to the body makes it a good candidate for use under Adventure jackets in cooler/wetter conditions. This is how the whole “armored shirt” was originally designed to work. A base layer with impact protection was worn under an outer layer that provided abrasion resistance.
Of course with the high abrasion resistance of the Urbane Pro MKII, it is now a “No Jacket Required” piece of kit but that doesn’t stop one from layering over it. KNOX offers waterproof and insulated/waterproof jackets designed specifically to be worn over the Urbane and Zephyr. There is a very thin and light waterproof option that can be stored in the rear pocket of these garments.
I already had a waterproof rain jacket I used over the Zephyr which as expected fits just fine over the Urbane. While I’m sure the KNOX rain jackets work well they are only available in black. The REViT! Cyclone rain jacket I have is a bright HiViz color which I prefer to have in the rain for visibility.
For cooler days, I recently purchased a thermal bicycling jacket. To me, this made a good combination with the Urbane as bicycling jackets are designed to be form-fitting and it does indeed fit nice and snug over the armored shirt. This thermal jacket is also lightweight and relatively thin making it easy to pack and be available when needed. With Summer nearly here I haven’t had a chance to test this combination in cooler temperatures but I’ll report back later this year.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m pretty taken with the Urbane Pro MKII armored shirt. I get that certain aspects like the appearance and preferring the snug fit are pretty subjective but that’s true of most things we review.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the pricing isn’t exactly budget-friendly but at the same time, it isn’t extreme either. Whether it seems reasonable for cost is, much like the appearance factor, a subjective thing.
Objectively though, the Urbane offers good protection for the street rider for both abrasion and impact resistance. It’s also easy to upgrade to even tougher protection for the shoulders and elbows as well as adding an optional chest protector. Wrap this all up in a durable mesh shell and you have a piece of kit that stands well on its own and can also be the “armored base” to additional layers.