Knox Defender Shirt | £179.99 | www.planet-knox.com | 01900 825825 | Tested by John Milbank
As I write this review, I’m having to lift my right arm onto the desk to get my hand on my keyboard. Sitting in the back garden is my Yamaha WR250F with a twisted wheel and bent metal-braced handguards. Hitting a deep hole at about 40mph on an off-road track two days ago saw me flip over the bike, land on my outstretched arm, and drive the handlebar into my chest. If I hadn’t been wearing this shirt, I’m convinced I’d have broken some ribs, so thank you Knox (I’ve since found out that I cracked the bottom, floating rib as the handlebars pushed up and under my ribcage. I dread to think how much more I’d be hurting if I hadn’t been wearing this).
The ‘rotator cuff’ injury I have to my shoulder couldn’t have been avoided with any protection, as the impact was transferred from my palm, right up to the top of my arm. Luckily it’s a fairly minor muscle tear, and I didn’t break my collar bone. However, the tough chest protector that comes with the shirt did, I’m sure, save me from a lot more pain.
The mesh fabric shirt also carries Knox’s highest performance ‘Extreme Armour’, protecting the back, shoulders and elbows. Stretch panels and a soft leather collar mean it’s a snug, but extremely comfortable fit that keeps all the CE Level 2 approved protection just where it needs to be. Getting it off can be a little tricky after a hot and sweaty ride, but it’s only a real problem when you’ve just smashed your arm into the ground and winded yourself – then it helps to have a friend pull the sleeves off your shaking limbs.
Riding an off-road bike can be a very cheap way to have a lot of fun (as long as you don’t ride beyond your limits), but don’t scrimp on your protective equipment. The Defender should last a long time, and I will never ride a dirt bike without it.