There was a time when bike kit was just that, kit to wear on your bike. It’d be heavy, dirty looking, not very flattering and occasionally it would just about do what it was meant to – protect you and keep you warm and dry (if you were lucky). Kit was something you’d ride about in but wouldn’t really want to be seen out in by anybody you knew.
Thankfully things have moved on quite a bit, modern technical fabrics are very good at keeping the weather out, they wick moisture away from the body so you don’t get wet from the inside, they stop cold and wind getting through and even the zips can be waterproof. Armour has come on a long way too, it’s not so many years ago when racers stuffed a bit of foam in their leathers for protection, that moved on to foam pads being used in road riding kit and companies like Knox began developing ever more impressive protection for race and road. In fact former racer and Knox founder, Geoff Travell is cited as having produced the first motorcycle body armour, back then it was under the Pro-Tek brand name. He also manufactured and sold the first back protector, aimed at the racing fraternity originally. Over the years Pro-Tek evolved and the company became Knox, a name we’re all familiar with today and one most road riders will be protected by one way or another. The company may have been the first to specifically develop motorcycle protection but they weren’t the last and soon they were being copied by other firms eager to cash in on the success of this new armour phenomenon. Knox were still ahead of the game though and in 1995 became the first company to gain CE accreditation for their Knox branded motorcycle body armour, all this from a British company based in the Lake District.
At 2Commute we’ve ridden thousands of miles in various Knox products, from body armour (many leading brands use Knox as their OE armour) to Handroid gloves and the fantastic Cold Killers range of thermal base layers. All of which have done exactly what they were designed to do. I’d recommend any of the knox products to my closest riding friends and a few years ago I ordered a set of Cold Killers for 25 members of my scooter club.
At Motorcycle Live at the end of 2014 Knox broke the mould again by launching their innovative Studio Collection, a multi layering, multi functional and very stylish range of clothing to be ridden in and worn casually if required. We’ve been trying one of the jackets and an armoured undershirt out for the last few months, here’s how we’re getting on with them.
At first glance you can be forgiven for thinking the Studio Collection is just a range of casual clothing made by a bike specific manufacturer. In actual fact this is one of the simplest but most effective ways of making bike clothing look great, whilst functioning perfectly for both comfort and safety. Knox are well known for layering and they’ve used that knowledge to create this range and make it look great, no matter how you wear it. It’s a three-part system; firstly they designed a new Knox Armoured shirt. As with all the Studio Collection, the shirt is available in both male and female styles. It’s a very comfortable garment, thanks to the flat locked seams and stretch fit. It’s also very light and thin, so heat doesn’t build up inside and it’s not bulky to wear. It has Knox Lite CE approved armour on the elbows and shoulders and a Level 1 CE approved back protector as standard. Because the jacket is fitted (available in sizes S – 3XL) the armour stays in the right place all of the time and it’s easy to just put a jacket on over the top, especially a Studio Collection jacket as we’ll find out later. I’ve found myself wearing the shirt with other jackets as well, the Knox Lite armour means it isn’t as bulky as some armour.
The look, feel and styling of the Leonard is second to none. It’s a very smart jacket and I’ve been wearing it off the scooter as much as I have on it. The beauty is that it doesn’t have armour fixed inside so it can be worn as an ‘ordinary’ jacket without making it look like you’ve been working out. It’s the kind of item you can ride to a rally or event in, take the armoured shirt off when you get there and wear the jacket all weekend. The really clever but simple part about the Studio Collection though is the underarm zip system, it means the full length arm and side zips on the jacket can be unzipped to make the jacket a size bigger, this means you don’t need a bigger jacket to accommodate the armoured shirt. You simply choose the size that fits and unzip it when using the armour. Very effective and the jacket is a much better fit as a result.
In use the Leonard jacket looks great (there’s a range of stylish men’s and women’s jackets in the new Studio Collection), is very comfortable and not half as bulky as a conventional bike jacket. It’s light, waterproof and even on it’s own was warm enough in early spring, add a Cold Killers Sports Top, or a couple of layers (or the Knox thermal quilted jacket, £39.99) and you could wear it for most of the year. The Leonard is very soft to the touch and even after a few months it still smells lovely. That’s because it’s made from 100% high performance waterproof and breathable modern waxed cotton (not to be confused with old wax jackets that left marks on your clothing and smelt terrible after a while), it also has fully taped seams, a 10k breathable membrane, YKK Aquaguard® water resistant front and pocket zips, Knox branded detailing, cotton interior lining and removable collar and cuffs. It’s available in sizes S-XXL and costs £249.99. Visit www.planet-knox.com to see the full Studio Collection.
If you’re in the market for a great looking and fully functioning jacket that can be worn on or off the bike I suggest you check out the Knox Studio Collection. I’m so impressed that I’ve just ordered a Lea wax jacket and armoured shirt for my other half to wear. She’ll be reviewing it when she’s got some miles out of it.