Knox has brought the slim fit, Micro-Lock armor, and AA level protection of their Urbane Pro MKII jacket to a pair of ventilated riding pants. The aptly named Knox Urbane Pro trousers are designed as a warm/hot weather solution for the rider desiring good protection in a comfortable and close-fitting garment.
Most riding pants, mesh as well as most solid textile ones suffer from a loose cut. This is why, in most instances, I use MX-style knee/shin protectors instead of integrated knee armor when riding in mesh and most other textile riding pants. I wanted to find some mesh or other style of well-ventilated pants that fit close so as not to require separate protectors.
I found a good option in the Dainese New Drake Air pants last year, and I have been pleased with how they have performed in the ventilation area as well as the full coverage of the knee/shin protectors in these pants. The cut is close enough to where I feel confident the protectors would stay in place.
This year Knox released a pair of riding pants under the Urbane name, and that had me thinking. Did Knox go ahead and make a pair of riding pants that fit close using stretch materials and included mesh panels for hot weather riding? The description seemed to suggest this, so I had to get a pair and find out for myself.
The Knox Urbane Pro Trousers
At first glance, the Urbane Pro trousers have a similar appearance to black chinos with a slim cut. Black is the only color in which these pants are available at this time, and when I say black, I mean it. The entire outer portion of the Urbane Pro trousers is black, including the button at the waist, the rivets, and the leather Knox logo patch at the rear. We’re looking at “ninja level” stealth here.
Personally, I would like to see some reflective material used here or there for nighttime visibility. A lighter color option like silver/grey would also be welcome as it would provide some visibility and could help reduce heat absorption. These are designed for hot weather, right?
When I received my Knox Urbane Pro MKII Armoured shirt earlier this summer, one of my first thoughts was that I would love to have some pants that match the fit and cut of that armored shirt. The Urbane series of garments, and the Knox Zephyr jacket, fit close and snug to the body, which isn’t typical for most mesh riding apparel. Often mesh gear fits a bit loose, which I find lacking for two reasons;
One, loose fabric typical of mesh gear tends to flap in the wind when riding speeds start to exceed 40mph, which can be annoying. And two, loose fabric means that armor that is integrated in the garment may not be in the right place in the event of a crash.
Branding is very subtle, with only the Knox hexagon-around-K logo embossed on a black leather patch along the waist. One could also argue the hexagon-shaped key ring sewn on the front right of the pants is also an iteration of the Knox logo, but that might be a stretch. Suffice to say that besides some very small print on the waist button, the word Knox is not visible on the outside of the pants.
The Urbano Pro trousers have a reasonable heft to them, weighing in at 3 lbs, 5.5oz (1516g) with the included armor installed. This puts them at the literal higher end of the scale compared to most mesh pants. Many mesh pants just don’t give the feel of durability like I get from handling these pants.
Pockets and Fasteners
An unusual count of seven pockets is found on the Urbane Pro trousers in an odd configuration. There are two front pockets cut in the style of the typical “jeans” look. At the back are two rear pockets in the traditional “seat” locations but up near the waist are two additional rear pocket openings bringing the total rear pocket count to four. I’m not sure what the idea is here. It seems it could get very crowded around one’s seat if all pockets were used.
The front pockets and the upper rear pockets are deeper than one might expect and should easily hold larger mobile devices, wallets, etc. None of these pockets mentioned up to this point have any sort of closure, but there is one pocket with a zip.
The seventh pocket is located on the side of the right hip and has a zippered closure for its seven inch (18cm) opening. This is described by Knox as a “discreet” pocket, but the thin, corded zipper pull does sort of give away the position. It’s the perfect place to store items that you want to make sure don’t fall out during a ride.
The only other zipper on the Urbane Pro trousers is the main zipper at the front. This is a YKK zipper, which is solid and smooth enough – though the pull-tab is a bit small for being handled by gloved hands. Above the zip is a standard button arrangement that makes use of a very sturdy .75 inch (2cm) button.
Knox Urbane Pro Trousers Construction
The outer shell of the Urbane Pro trousers is made from a combination of nylon, spandex, and Knox’s arrownet mesh. The upper portion of the pants, from about mid-thigh and up, use a high tenacity nylon fabric which also contains a few percent of spandex. This fabric doesn’t have the high sheen and thin feel of your typical nylon.
Instead, the material feels thick, heavy, and flexible. The material isn’t prone to the “swish-swish” often heard when walking in other nylon pants. It is a bit hard to describe, but this material seems very durable while still offering the comfort of stretch and a pliable overall feel. No easy feat and something I’ve not experienced in other riding pants.
At mid-thigh and down is Knox’s arrownet mesh material covering the back of the legs and a good portion of the front. Over the knee and shin is more of the solid nylon/spandex fabric for extra abrasion resistance. This is a good amount of mesh material, and the arrownet mesh provides good-sized openings that, in theory, should provide a lot of airflow (more on that later).
Inside, the pants are lined with a thin cotton material which is also used for making the pockets that hold the armor in place. This material is thin and light and breathes a good amount for a cotton fabric. I would have preferred something more like a lightweight polyester or nylon mesh as it could provide more airflow.
The build on these pants from Knox is very good, with the stitching appearing to be very even and tight. I didn’t find any loose threads inside or out either. The main fastening button seems well secured, and overall, the pants have a very solid quality feel to them.
The Urbane Pro trousers have an AA CE rating which it shares with the Urbane Pro II armored shirt that I recently reviewed. This “middle tier” between A and AAA is where apparel designed for commuting and touring/sport-touring seems to fit in best. For pants that are nearly half composed of mesh, the AA rating is pretty impressive. For more details on the AA CE rating, Bennets has a detailed article here.
Shipped with the Urbane is a set of CE level 1 Micro-Lock knee and hip armor. Micro-Lock is a very soft, bright-yellow material that becomes rigid under impact. This is typical of a lot of motorcycle gear armor these days. I really like Knox’s Micro-Lock armor as it is particularly soft and pliable compared to the competition.
I’d prefer to have a CE level 2 option for the impact protectors but including level 1 is pretty standard in the industry. Unlike the Urbane Pro MkII armored shirt, there is not an option to order the pants with upgraded armor. There are replacement pieces available to upgrade the knees, but the hip armor is a unique size in Knox’s lineup, and I don’t see a direct replacement that might fit.
If you’ve read my reviews on riding pants before, you ‘re likely ready for me to talk about how I prefer to use strap-on knee armor as most textile pants do not hold the knee armor snug enough to the leg to remain in place during a crash. The Urbane Pro trousers are much better than most in this regard, and I feel “OK” just using the knee armor that comes with these pants in the intended pockets.
However, just because these pants fit close “ish” on me, the fit will vary depending on the wearer’s build. One thing that I feel Knox missed out on is the lack of height adjustment for the knee armor. The armor pocket has just one compartment with no way to hold the armor at different positions to adjust for different riders’ heights.
Knox Urbane Pro Trousers Fit, Comfort, and Ventilation
Over the past year and a half during COVID-19, I’ve somehow managed to avoid the weight gain phenomenon known as “COVID 15” and, in fact, have lost about ten pounds and two inches from my waist. As such, I ordered the Urbane Pro trousers in size L, which are listed as a 34-inch waist.
When the pants arrived, I was pleased that they did fit very close to true size, with the waist actually measuring around 34.5 inches. This gives a little extra room, but since they have some stretch in the material, I think being right at 34 would have been even better. Since the sizing is slightly generous at the waist, I make use of the five belt loops to keep the pants secure at the waist with a belt.
As for the inseam, they are listed as 33 inches, and this was accurate. Since they are a bit long for my 30-inch inseam, Carmen was able to hem them up a couple of inches for me. In the process, she ran into some trouble as the arrownet mesh broke her sewing machine needle (after a couple of jams too). She finished this by hand, but I did actually like the fact the arrownet mesh was showing how tough it is.
Could it have been a coincidence, or is this stuff just that strong? Hmmm.
A good fit usually leads to a comfortable garment, and the Urbane Pro trousers are no exception. The pants are a bit heavy compared to regular jeans thanks to the armor and heavy-duty materials but this doesn’t really have much impact when in the seat. The stretch material of the solid textile areas makes them comfortable when seated, standing, and walking.
Thanks to the thin, cotton interior lining, the rough arrownet mesh material is kept away from direct contact with the wearer’s skin. This has the upside of keeping the rough mesh material from feeling scratchy, but it has a downside too, which I’m about to get to.
While not a completely mesh pant, almost all of the rear and about 45% of the front is an open weave mesh material (arrownet). This would suggest a lot of air is going to flow freely through the Urbane Pro trousers, but it’s not as much as I one might expect. It’s certainly not as much as I was hoping for.
This “less than expected” airflow comes from the cotton interior lining present in the pants. This thin lining designed to keep the scratchy mesh away from the skin also has the effect of reducing the flow of air. Yes, some air flows through, and it’s not like the pants are stuffy, however, one just doesn’t get the blast of air normally felt in other open weave mesh garments.
I found, of course, that the lower leg does a better job of getting airflow thanks to it receiving a direct blast of air versus the thigh areas where the air flows “over” the surface. This is good or bad, depending on your particular motorcycle. My 2006 Sprint 1050 dumped so much heat at one’s shins that mesh pants were not usable on that bike. My Ninja 1000 only gently warms the same space by comparison.
From my own experience with the Urbane Pro MkII armored shirt, I can say that the areas that don’t have the lining behind the arrownet mesh do flow a lot of air compared to portions of the shirt that include the cotton lining.
I would like to see a soft polyester or nylon mesh lining in lieu of the cotton type as it might provide more airflow and still soften the interface between the arrownet mesh and the wearer’s skin. Perhaps an optional “unlined” version could be made? Of course, I’m not an apparel designer, so there may be a method to Knox’s madness here that I’m missing.
I was hoping for a little bit more from the Urbane Pro trousers. The airflow is “OK” without being great, which is a bit of a letdown that I feel is due to the lining. I think the open mesh alone would offer more cooling airflow if the liner were a different material or simply absent altogether where possible.
I think another color option besides black would be appreciated as it would add some visibility and also possibly be cooler in direct sunlight. It could be this first iteration is only in black for now while Knox gauges overall interest in these pants. Adjustability of the knee armor height would also be a welcome addition and doesn’t seem like it would be something difficult to add.
So with those issues out of the way, I should say that the Urbane Pro trousers are a very good start. The fit is excellent, and the construction is solid. I think there are very few mesh riding pants available that offer the protection one gets from these.
While they don’t flow the most air compared to some other mesh pants, they are still a very good option for warmer weather, and they are comfortable enough for use on long-term touring duty. Paired with the Urbane Pro MkII armored shirt, the Urbane Pro trousers with that shirt make for a very good warm weather riding setup and one I’ll be putting to use often over the coming weeks and months until the weather cools down.