Summer is fast approaching here in the Southeastern United States and things are heating up fast around here. In order to beat the heat this year I have replaced my Knox Zephyr jacket with the new Urbane Pro Mark II Riding Shirt. Not that there was anything wrong with the Zephyr but ever since getting the Klim Ai-1 airbag vest the Zephyr, which was already snug, was just too tight to fit over the vest. With the Urbane Mark II I ordered a size larger (XL) to accommodate. Since the Urbane Pro Mark II is a new product for this year it took a few weeks to arrive but now it’s here and has already been out a couple of times for “shakedown” cruises. A review is underway now which will be published to webbikeworld.com soon.
“But what if it’s really cool out for some reason the Urbane, a partially mesh jacket, isn’t going to keep you warm?”
As it happens, the other day I was asked by Viking Cycle if I would be interested in a review of one of their products. Taking a quick look at their offerings I saw there were a couple of textile jackets that might do the job for those not too hot, not too cold days. In particular the Ironborn jacket has a cut that I like and appears to offer mulitple vents. This could make it a good “all-rounder” for those days between Spring and Summer and between Summer and Fall. (Of course those days are getting shorter and shorter here in Tennessee.)
The Ironborn Jacket in Military Green (photo via Viking Cycle)
While the look and feature set of the Ironborn aren’t really that hard to find in other textile jackets from other manufacturers, the fact this jacket sells for $74.99 might get some attention, however. Usually I wouldn’t give riding gear at this price point a second look as one often gets what one pays for. However, the jacket has an interesting look (especially in the military green color) and Viking Cycle claims the shell is CORDURA®. They also include CE approved armor and an insulated vest liner.
Now this all sounds a bit too good to be true (OK, more than a bit) but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and take delivery of one of these jackets for review. The most important factor here is that they specifically asked for an honest review. Anyone who has read my reviews in the past knows while I may not get “mean” in a review I will call it as I see it, for better or for worse.
Intrigued? Me too.
Keep an eye out here and on the Motorcycle Words social media for a review of this jacket from Viking Cycle
The Nexos gloves to me are the next logical step up in protection from the Orsa Leather MKII gloves which I reviewed previously. Not that the armor and protective features are a huge step above but rather the Nexos gloves have a substantial gauntlet offering protection over a larger area than the short-cuff Orsa gloves.
A black or white and black color scheme is available, with the gloves shown in this review being the latter color scheme. I chose the white as it should be a little cooler on sunny days and, of course, the bright white offers more visibility over the more stealthy all-black version.
Knox offers up the Nexos gloves as either a “Sport” or “Touring” glove depending on how one interprets their website. The description on the Nexos product page refers to them as “The Nexos Sport Glove” but they are listed under the “Touring” category in the product listings. Let’s just call them sport-touring and leave it there.
There are several hard armor pieces on the gloves but they are not as plentiful or large as on a full racing glove. They are also relatively lightweight and flexible which leads them to have easier storage in small spaces over some full-on sport or racing gloves like Knox’s own Handroid gloves.
Product: Zephyr Summer Riding Jacket Manufacturer: Knox Made In: United Kingdom Sizes: Small to 5XL Color(s): Black, White and Black Price: £229.99 (GBP) from Knox / $330.00 (USD) from Revzilla
Summer riding gear is always a compromise. Protective riding gear typically requires lots of ventilation for hot weather riding which means mesh materials and/or vents be incorporated into the design. This amounts to a lot of holes which, let’s face it, are going to reduce the integrity of the garment as “air” is not a very good barrier to abrasion.
Full mesh jackets will typically offer the best ventilation for street riding but there are some downsides to the typical mesh jacket. One, most mesh will tear up much faster than a solid textile or perforated leather. Two, all mesh jackets I’ve encountered tend to be a bit loose fitting and the shell is very pliable. This can allow shoulder and elbow armor to move in the event of a crash so it may not be in the ideal position to protect from impact.
Adding solid textile and/or leather to impact zones can help improve abrasion resistance performance at the expense of ventilation. This compromise does improve abrasion resistance but it may not address the often “loose” fit of these type of jackets.
To get around this some riders will go “off label” and use gear that may not be designed for the street or that is not designed to be used as standalone protection. The former often consists of armored off road jackets or shirts where hard armor is attached to a thin mesh shell to provide impact protection. These are typically designed to be worn under a jersey and are not necessarily designed for protecting riders from the types of crashes that can occur on the street.
The latter “off label” item is the armored shirt. These shirts comprise a thin textile shirt with impact protection armor like one would find in a street riding jacket. The protectors are usually softer and designed for the higher speed impacts that can occur in a crash on the street. The problem here is that there is little to no abrasion resistance as these shirts are designed to sit under a proper street riding jacket.
The drawbacks mentioned above are not always enough to deter some riders from going those routes in order to beat the heat. Those willing to accept the risk will wear these items and hope for the best. If there was only a happy medium….
Product: Orsa Leather MkII Glove Manufacturer: Knox Sizes: Small to XXL Color(s): Black, White and Black Price: £89.99 (GBP) from Knox / $130.00 (USD) @ Revzilla
I want to start off by saying that I haven’t been fan of short cuff gloves for the past several years. Concerns over the lack of wrist protection combined with some “less than strong” wrist securing methods had me looking towards full gauntleted options.
So how did I end up looking at (and then buying) these short cuff gloves?
Last year when I started looking for a new Summer glove I took a look at Knox as I appreciate their focus on safety and protection. Among the various glove options offered by Knox were the ORSA Leather MKII gloves. These are short cuff gloves with some perforations to combat Summer heat and protective features to combat everything else. They appeared so focused on protective features I had to give them a a go.
As one would expect from the name, this is the second iteration of Knox’s Orsa Leather glove. The MKII version is certainly more of an evolutionary than revolutionary update and that’s a good thing. The original ORSA Leather glove was well received and you can read a detailed review over at webBikeWorld where Alice Dryden tried them out in 2016.
(In full disclosure, I somehow missed Alice’s review when looking for new Summer gloves. Maybe I wasn’t ready to look at short cuff gloves again at that time?)
The MKII came out last year (2017) and brought with it some subtle, but welcome changes. The overall styling has been updated and I think the white version in particular looks better on the MKII. Other changes include additional elasticated area and the fit has been “changed” as well. I can’t speak to the fit of the previous version but Knox says they changed it, so, umm, there.
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