By August 28, 2008

Knox Cross Sport Shirt motorcycle armor review

I love bargains. I like buying quality gear at closeout prices. I appreciate well-made, top of the line things, but relish in finding something that will do 80 – 90% of the job at a quarter of the price. This philosophy has led me to buy products like the Tourmaster Transition II jacket instead of more expensive textile jackets made by Aerostitch, Darien, and Olympia. My trusty Teknic Chicane leather jacket is about a third the price of more fashionable/popular gear made by AlpineStars or Vanson.

The flip side of this equation is that prior season closeouts or second-tier gear may under perform compared to higher-priced competitors. Certain technological advancements may lag behind full-price equivalents, such as venting, waterproofing, or softer (but still strong) materials. One key area is armor.

The Knox Cross Sport shirt helps compensate for cheaper gear, while at the same time is a bargain: I found it online at for $115 shipped, over $200 off the original retail price.

Blah blah blah, skip to the summary.

Knox is well-known in the motorcycling industry for its high performing armor. The Cross Sport shirt is a four piece garment that is very versatile. It consists of:

  • A back and chest protector. Each piece has some venting.
  • A zip-up shirt that has shoulder armor and serves as an anchor for the lower arm pieces. The shirt is a polyester-appearing mesh and is very lightweight and stretchy.
  • Two zip-off lower arm pieces that cover the elbow and forearm.

The chest and back pieces comply with the CE EN1621-2 level 1 standard for back protectors. This means that at an impact force of 50 joules, the back protector may only transmit 18 joules to the wearer. There is a level two standard that only transmits 9 joules. High Velocity Gear’s Juggernaut is level two certified.

The shoulder and elbow armor is CE EN1621-1 level 1 certified. This means that it transmits 35 joules of a 50-joules impact to the wearer. The lower arm pieces zip off right above the elbow.

Here’s the shirt with the lower arm pieces attached. Note all of the hook-and-loop straps. This is very important because if the armor is loose and slides about in a crash they won’t protect as well and may cause friction burns. I have thin, longer-than-normal arms for my frame so being able to snug the armor down is a big deal.

A side shot of the shoulder and lower arm armor.

This is the front of the chest/back piece that can be worn either with the shirt or without. I typically don’t wear the full suit unless I am wearing my Tourmaster Transition II jacket. My Teknic leather jacket has good elbow armor and I don’t want to double-up.

A shot of the back. You can order different sizes — the sizing is based on your spine length instead of the usual sleeve or chest size.

The chest and back piece are held together by a series of closures. There is a very thick, cushioned belt that is held together by a hook-and-loop system. The chest piece has a similar hook-and-loop tab that attaches between the two sides of the belt. You put one side on, then the chest tab, then the other side. There are also connectors that hold the upper part of the chest piece in place and may be adjusted for tightness.

The Knox Cross Sport shirt is VERY comfortable. The mesh liner is soft and even though the armor is substantial it is not cumbersome or too rigid. I wore it down to Savannah, Georgia and back and the fit never bothered me. I can wear it easily under my Teknic Chicane jacket or Tourmaster Transition II jacket.

The one downfall of the system is that it is hot. I don’t wear the chest and back piece when it is over 90° F, and wouldn’t wear the whole system if it was over 85° F. I wear perforated leather during the summer, and the Knox system blocks so much air I am afraid of heat exhaustion at higher temperatures. I’d say it decreases my comfort range by about ten degrees. The flip side is that it may extend my cold weather tolerance by five degrees or so.

Don’t let this keep you from buying the Knox suit (or High Velocity’s offering, or others) — especially if you are a bargain hunter like me and save a few pennies on last year’s jackets or B-tier offerings like the Tourmaster Transition II. I could suffer a total loss of the Knox shirt and Transition II up to five times before breaking even with the cost of a more expensive suit from Aerostitch, Motoport, and the like.

The Knox Sport Shirt and other products like it offer an inexpensive way to upgrade your existing jacket. Knox is a well-known manufacturer who certifies their products to comply with two CE protection standards. The shirt has a very intelligent adjustment system to fit a wide range of body types. The zip-off lower arms and independent chest and back section makes this a very versatile, cost-effective piece of kit. Highly recommended.

Posted in: motorcycling, review

10 Comments on "Knox Cross Sport Shirt motorcycle armor review"

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  1. Starbuck says:

    I got so confused when I started reading this because I was like “sport shirt” what is that. Then I saw that is was your armor and felt dumb šŸ™‚ Oh well, good review though.

  2. drfaulken says:

    Yeah, I agree the name of the product isn’t the best. I am not sure if I prefer the testosterone-laden “Juggernaut” by High Velocity Gear to the machismo-neutral “Sport Shirt” name.

    Don’t feel dumb šŸ™‚

  3. mahuddle1 says:

    The next-to-last picture looks like something out of TMNT. I’m jealous. šŸ™‚

  4. franco says:

    I totally agree you look like KC Jones from TMNT, all you need is the mask and hockey stick. Does it keep you cooler than other gear, i get too hot when riding with all that gear.

  5. Parent Mix says:

    The next-to-last picture looks like something out of TMNT. Iā€™m jealous. šŸ™‚

  6. sports Ste says:

    That looks wicked. looks like something off the running man, i want one.


  7. ty says:

    Thanks for the reviews, doc.

    Would you mind providing some description of the robustness of the armor? Does it seem as light duty as what Dainese uses (plastic exterior plate backed by very soft, thin foam) or is it more substantial? Is the foam some type of EVA or more like rubber? Is it fairly dense or rather light? Approximately how thick is the foam?

    Thanks in advance.

  8. drfaulken says:

    Hello Ty,

    The armor feels very sturdy. It definitely feels more robust than the typical Temperfoam one gets with lower-quality gear (or even my Rev’It Cayenne Pro jacket), and better than the “Tri-Armor” found in most Motoport kevlar gear. The Tri-Armor, for example, is just two layers of Temperfoam that sandwich a layer of plastic.

    I am not sure what the armor is made out of, and would feel uncomfortable telling you what it was. I just know it isn’t Tri-Armor or Temperfoam, as I have both of those types of armor in the house. It is not rubber-like like the SAS Tec armor upgrade on my Cayenne Pro.

    The elbow and shoulder pieces do have a hard plastic shell with a foam backing. It is hard to estimate the thickness of the elbow piece, but I would say it’s about an inch thick, including the shell.

    The back protector padding is more than an inch thick, and the chest protector is about a half-inch thick.

    The armor feels very light. I believe that is due to the immense support structure afforded by the shirt and by the chest/back protector attachment system. It is very comfortable, and distributes the weight of the armor very well.

    Good luck with your research, and let me know if you have more questions.

  9. Steve A says:

    Thanks for the review. I have an earlier version of the Velocity Gear Juggernaut armor and have been pretty happy with it. But I’m looking at newer armor now after a New Year’s Day crash that left me with a separated shoulder (it would have been much worse if I hadn’t been geared up, that’s for sure).

  10. drfaulken says:

    I am closing comments to this post due to a disproportionate amount of spam.

    Please email me if you have questions about the Knox Cross Sport Shirt armor.