Tony upgrades to Knox Micro Lock armour | REVIEW
An often overlooked aspect of modern scootering is of course rider protection. Happily though, if you take a look around you at a rally there seems to be more and more folk wearing protective gear now.
SLUK contributor and Speed Demon Tony Higgs gives us his view on how protective clothing has evolved since he started out in the 1980s. He also gives us a review on his recently purchased versatile knee protection armour now available as an upgrade from Knox.
Getting on a bit
Scooterists of a certain age feel the need for some protection (no not that type!). I’m referring to protection of your ageing carcass and limbs in the event of a slight mishap whilst out riding your scooter.
The In Crowd
As time goes on I am looking for the next adventure or different experience as I ride and it is taking me onto some previously unchartered roads for my little 10” wheels – hence my thoughts turning to wearing improved riding gear. There are some very stylish companies out there now supplying protective clothing and I thought it time I joined the ‘In-Crowd’.
I bought myself a pair of armoured jeans made by REV’IT a couple of years ago supplied by The Urban Rider shop in Fulham (the In-Crowd definitely go here I can tell you). The jeans are comfortable to wear and have nice little features like a reflective seam on the turn-ups (HipsterVille here we come).
Lube eases the rubbing
They also came with Knox knee armour that is inserted from inside the leg into one of the two height pockets depending on how lanky you are, or your shin-to-knee-cap relationship. But I could not really get on with the knee armour. After a wearing for a while, all that close firm rubbing made it all a bit on the sore side really. I have heard stories of cyclists and runners using a petroleum based jelly to prevent this type of abrasion but it’s all a bit too much hassle really and to be honest it was getting all a bit too sexy for my liking.
Jonnny protection back in the day
I spent my formative scootering years during the 80s riding with little more protection than a Johnny in the pocket of a flight jacket bartered from the local outdoor market and a snug fitting karate slipper or moccasin upon foot. I heard the rhythm method was also a popular alternative at the time to the good old Johnny for protection but both were of little use when binning your scooter on a dark wet Welsh road on the way to Aberystwyth. I miss the use of the phrase ‘rubber johnny’. Anyway, times and tastes change and the best scooter related protective adornment of the time was probably the orthopaedic boot created by Dr Marten himself. It was a sturdy fashion statement that offered a reasonable level of protection to the foot and ankle even when skanking on the dance floor.
90s Barbour micro universe
Jumping forward a decade to the 90’s, I actually went back in time for scooter riding apparel. The DeLorean was left in the garage in this instance as I purchased myself a jacket and matching trouser set from the waxed cotton range by Barbour. I realise now that I was merely copying the scooter racers of the late 60s or maybe even ahead of my time in wearing this now most fashionable garment but it did stink a bit. I rode up from London to Scarborough through the torrential rain and floods in the Midlands during ’98 and just felt a bit greasy really when I arrived. Just like the problems in the bedroom, a little bit of wax always seemed to come off onto your hands, neck and face and it was not a pleasant feeling. Looks like we are getting back to the Vaseline again but I was my own worst enemy when stowing this slippery twin set under the stairs upon my return. I put it away in a wet condition and over the winter months it actually grew legs and walked out of the house by itself! There were cultures growing on that material that looked like they would develop into their own micro universe – so it had to go.
Broken Boney Tony
We all felt a little bit more naughty in the noughties and I was now looking at and appreciating motorcycle riding gear more especially after a spill on the A12 in 2002 that killed my GP240 but luckily didn’t kill me. A Levi denim over my Schott flight jacket did not save my collar bone which broke into three pieces during the initial impact. ‘Broken Boney Tony’ was aware that some scooterists had been wearing proper protective riding gear for years and I felt now it was becoming a bit less ‘bikerish’ and less ‘power ranger- ish’ (if that is even a word). So off down to Motorcycle City I trotted and then began my now continued relationship with decent protective riding gear.
Knox to the rescue
So back to my knees and the armoured jeans! I managed to rip one of the Knox knee pads last year when hurriedly removing my REV’IT jeans in a petrol station forecourt toilet near Frankfurt on the way to the Euro Lambretta Rally. Don’t ask, but it was 35 deg C and I was beginning to overheat a little down below, ‘eeek’! When researching earlier this year, I opened the Knox website to discover if replacements could be found for the damaged knee armour. Knox is a UK manufacturer of 36 years and they were promoting and launching a new armour product – Micro-Lock – but typically it was only supplied with their jackets and trousers at that time.
A simply worded email request was sent to Knox customer services and with an informative reply received along the lines of ‘not at the moment but it will be shortly’, thanks were given. Fast forward two months and I’m opening a parcel from an order I placed a few days previous after getting the nod from customer services. Two bright yellow replacement knee pads in the new Micro-Lock range now in my hand and soon to be on my knee, priced at £19.99 plus the postage. I must say they are far softer than the original pads supplied and make wearing the jeans much more of a pleasurable experience and that can’t be a bad thing. They’re also replacement elbow protectors too in a suitable armoured jacket.
Unlike our current PM Teresa May, Knox suggests their Micro-Lock range is not simply ‘strong and stable’ but ‘Smart, Soft & Stable’. They go on to say “New Knox MICRO-LOCK back and limb protectors are the softest, most comfortable protectors Knox has ever made and totally contour to the body. Knox MICRO-LOCK uses SMART technology and properties to keep the armour super soft to touch but it locks when impacted. The locking action increases the amount of impact absorbed by the protector and reduces the energy passed through to your body. All parts are CE certified with both Level 1 and Level 2 options for both limbs and back”.
There you have it
So there you have it. Not the most exciting thing on the planet but important none the less for the safety and comfort for your old ‘Chips & Peas’ (Cockney translation required here).
Words and armour pics: Higgsy SDSC