For Gear Guide #64 we go flat tracking in the Knox Urbane armoured shirt, ride about town in the Resurgence Ace Denim jacket and use a pair of Icon Prep boots just about everywhere. We could call this the pub issue as all three items have been designed to protect you on the road whilst looking good off the bike.
Resurgence Ace Denim Jacket
The Texas Tuxedo is all the rage at the moment and no longer is it considered a faux pas to mix and match with different weaves, as a result there are a few manufacturers offering protective versions of the timeless denim jacket. Resurgence Jeans are relatively new kids on the block and as a result are pushing the boundaries of their base materials in a bid to gain market penetration. Their fancy word is PEKEV™, and for the science click here
but it essentially means that the aramid fibres won't break down after washing and exposure to sunlight. Both pretty handy attributes for a motorcycle jacket that's designed to slide down the road and save your bacon.
And that's what it is, a denim jacket properly suitable for riding. There's CE armour in the elbows, shoulder and back, although the back isn't a full length version. As you can see there are decent zips on the cuffs and front of the jacket which do their job well and ensure a snug, breeze-free fit. At speeds likely to guarantee a night in the clink, the Ace feels reassuringly encapsulative. If they can have a fancy made-up word, so can we.
If you've read these reviews before you'll be aware of a consistent bemoaning of my fat elbows. Combined with manufacturers modelling clothing on boys who have never tugged a spanner or lifted an engine, I often struggle to find comfort in shirts and jackets. The Ace proved to be of the same cut but based on my normal jeans billowing like a wind sock after a few wears I figured the Resurgence denim would yield. On a blistering summers day I dunked the lower arms into cold water before setting off, hoping the Incredible Hulk stretching method would work. It has, to a point.
With the mercury nudging foreign holiday figures I still stayed comfortable so presumably the PEKEV™ was doing its thing, and of course I looked cool sporting double denim on an adventure bike.
With the armour removed the Ace doubles up as normal everyday wear and the horizontal selvedge strip across the front is a feature you'll either like or not, that's how it comes. The Resurgence Ace is thankfully another jacket I can use around town when the Power Ranger look might not be suitable. Another point on practicality, the pockets are good. Internal ones swallow sunglasses, a phone etc and are just below the outer top pockets so you there's no need to pack light for fear of turning up at the pub looking like a Dolly Parton tribute.
Knox Urbane Armour Shirt
In an arse about face manoeuvre a couple of us booked a day at the Flat Track Champions School run by European Champ Peter Boast. Why we didn't do this before rather than after Dirt Quake is still a mystery. Now, I'm quite a fan of being wrapped up tight and cosseted by protective armour, every time I crash i always manage to land on a joint and despite my best efforts there isn't much meat to cover mine.
For a practice day to be effective, or riding in general, one needs freedom of movement and kit that's designed properly and is fit for purpose. Knox is a brand we're all familiar with, they've been producing top-level armour for decades and their pads can be found in a wide range of jackets and trousers. But with the high chance, if not a guarantee, of spending time eating dirt I didn't want to wreck a good jacket. With just an hour's notice the good people at Knox had supplied an Urbane Shirt to keep me sliding safely.
The Urbane is designed as part of Knox's new range of practical, multi-layered protective wear. Rather than simply supplying other manufacturers they now design a line of well engineered jackets for the rider than doesn't always want to walk into the pub or office looking like a Marlon Brando wannabe or track day hero. The basis of this is an armoured under shirt, as modelled by this strapping young hot shoe (can't hold breath much longer....). As you can see it's mesh with armour on the elbows and shoulders with a full length back protector. What was surprising was the flexibility and freedom of movement allowed by such a close fitting garment. With a motocross jersey over the top I forget I was wearing protection and the ventilation was excellent. At not point did the Urbane bunch-up, slip or move the position of the crucial padding.
So, on track it works, offering peace of mind. Bike Shed Timm used up all of the crashing tokens for the day so I can't comment about impact absorption or the benefits of CE Level 1 over Level 2, so check the Knox website for tech-talk. Back in town and the Urbane shirt excels further. Whatever the stats are about crashes occurring within x miles of home I prefer not to take my chances, I'm not a cat and 9 lives isn't enough anyway. My favourite Barbour now doubles up as a bonafide motorcycle jacket for trips around the city. OK so the Barbour has the abrasion resistance of a middle aged arse cheek but with the Knox shirt I feel pretty invincible, allowing concentration to focus on u-turning twats in Toyota Priuses and numpty pedestrians Tindering kerbside.
Upon arrival at the pub, office or more formal meeting the Urbane shirt folds-up and can be stashed in sensibly sized bag, allowing you to look like a normal person enjoying their ordinary sartorial choices. Up close the details are well thought-out with a quality feel. The collar doesn't rub, the zip is easy to pull whilst wearing gloves and the small pocket will swallow an iPhone, well not one of those silly big ones.
If versatility and protection are important to you then definitely take a look at the Knox range.
Icon 1000 prep Boots
Having whiled away many an evening trying to rub scar tissue lumps out of the back of my calf I thought it time to wear some more grown-up boots when riding like an idiot is on the cards. Icon's Elsinores are an excellent boot but the styling is quite purposeful and side buckles preclude all but the most John Travolta of trousers from fitting over the top. The Prep is Icon's more subtle offering.
They're made from thick cow and have a waterproof liner sewn in, and with rear entry possible via a zipped back driving rain is unlikely penetrate. A handful of stormy rides home confirm completely dry socks, with soaking legs though, as East London's fashion laws do not permit use of the waterproof trouser. Shivering for just 30 minutes a day burns enough calories to allow for extra pretentious sprinkles on ones's organic yak's milk skinny frappacino. So, the Preps are warm, dry and sturdy as lady shot-putter.
Toes and heels are protected by rigid cups, probably thermoformed - see we know our stuff on the Gear Guide. Ankles are sheathed from danger too. The non-opening side buckles visually break up the boot and multi-task by adding another layer of thick leather over the ankle, both inner and outer. The chunky sole has metal reinforcing running through it yet long periods of walking haven't been an issue.
The full length zip opens and closes easily but the top and bottom buckles are a bit of a fiddle, to give Icon their due, I'm an impatient person to put it mildly. The fit is good and snug, I have tennis rackets for feet and there's no pinching of the pinky toe. If you're into ski socks maybe opt for a half-size up as there is unlikely to be a huge change in shape after the Preps are fully broken-in.
There is some chat on the Icon website about post apocalyptic 1980s style something or other but in my mind these are a good compromise between the protection of a full on race boot and the simplicity of a pair of rigger boots and with jeans worn over the top you could sport these on a night out without too much trouble. In fact, the Preps were barely distinguishable from other Chelsea shit-kickers at a recent dinner party and had it not been for rattling the windows at 1am nobody would have noticed I'd arrived by bike.
For once I'm looking forward to winter knowing Jack Frost isn't getting anywhere near my toes.