Best Armoured Motorcycle Vest: Guide and Reviews


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Last Updated: 31st August 2020

The vest, a simple mid layer, normally associated with your childhood and Rab C Nesbit.

Armoured vests occupy that territory between a full on jacket and a fully armoured under shirt. Here we review a number of current options on the market and offer some sage advice:

Top Pick

Knox Track Vest MKIII

Knox Track Vest MKIII

Comfort and Protection

Extremely comfortable low profile vest.

CE Level 2 back protector for maximum protection. Check SportsBikeShop

Budget Pick

Forcefield Pro XV

Forcefield Pro XV

Lightweight Protection

Highly breathable and suitable for machine washing.

A great affordable option with top notch level 2 back protection. Check SportsBikeShop

Best Armoured Motorcycle Vest Reviews

Lets look at our top options.


Knox Track Vest MKIII

Best Overall

Containing Knox’s Aegis back protector, which has movable parts to assist with back alignment and contain channels to aid venting and cooling. The MKIII utilises lightweight stretchy, machine washable lycra.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

Knox Track Vest MKIII

Designed to be compatible with Knox chest protectors (such as the Knox Micro-Lock), but this will need to be purchased separately. The garment has a good quality feel and uniquely the back protector can be removed and worn separately.

Pros

plus iconGood quality m/c washable garment

plus iconComfortable

plus iconPremium back protector (that can be used separately)

Cons

minus icon No chest protection

Check SportsBikeShop


Forcefield Pro XV Vest

Best Budget Pick

The XV is the older version of the XV-1 and newer XV-2, but strangely has chest protection that is missing from the XV-1. This ‘old stock’ item is still available from Sportsbikeshop so don’t hang around.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

Forcefield Pro XV

This vest offers a comfortable fit, utilising adjustable straps and includes Forcefield’s DRI-M back protector (removable).

This moulds well to your back (once warmed up) and the Eco vent system and Forcefield’s ‘BeCool’ material ensures good ventilation and heat porting.

Pros

plus iconReasonable price point

plus iconCE Lv 2 back protection

plus iconChest protection

Cons

minus icon No CE rating for chest protectors

minus icon Zip can come undone from bottom

Check SportsBikeShop


Rukka Kastor 3 Armoured Vest

Best Premium Pick

The newest vest from Rukka, seeks to improve the Kastor 2 and is made from abrasion resistance Cordura.

The Kastor 3 also has adjustable shoulder straps and utilises lightweight D30 CE level 2 back and has the added feature of CE Level 2 D30 chest protection.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

Rukka Kastor 3

Made with a ‘temperature regulating membrane’, making summer riding more pleasant, and also has a connection zip for Rukka jeans to prevent ‘riding up’. As this is our only review vest with CE level 2 armour we’ve awarded this our premium pick.

Pros

plus iconLightweight CE Lv2 D30 back and chest protection

plus iconGood quality, long lasting garment

plus iconGood sizing and comfort

Cons

minus icon Not cheap

Check SportsBikeShop Check On Amazon


Alpinestars Track Vest 2

Best Ventilation

Made from a ‘technical stretch net’, the Track Vest 2 has a CE Level 2 certified back protector and a chest compartment with removable PE foam. This can be upgraded to Alpinestars’ Nucleon chest protectors if desired.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

Alpinestars Track Vest 2

The vest also comes with an adjustable and removable kidney belt and offers a lightweight well ventilated garment.

Pros

plus iconCE Lvl 2 back protection

plus iconKidney belt

plus iconChest protection pockets

Cons

minus icon Limited ‘foam pad’ with included chest protection

minus icon Additional cost to upgrade to Nucleon chest protectors

Check SportsBikeShop Check On Amazon


Buse Belluno Pro Protector Vest

Feature Packed

A highly breathable vest with ‘focused’ stretch zones and a large front zip closure system. This vest has a handy rubberised waist section which reduces movement to prevent ‘riding up’ and also has an adjustable kidney belt, although some users have reported that the velcro can detach from the belt.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

Buse Belluno Pro Protector

Safety features include a CE level 2 back protector and ‘impact absorbing’ chest protectors. Some feedback has suggested sizing irregularities with back protector length, so it pays to double check measurements before buying.

Pros

plus iconPremium armour

plus iconWaist Belt fitting

plus iconReasonably priced

Cons

minus icon Suspect velcro strap

minus icon Reported sizing issues

Check SportsBikeShop


HELD – Ladies Shelter II

Best Ladies Option

A notable inclusion, as this particular vest helpfully adopts a more suitable fit for Women riders. It’s made from a hypoallergenic lycra material and includes a body hugging waist belt to gain a greater fit.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

Held Ladies Shelter II

It’s back protector utilises premium SAS-TEC armour, and is CE approved. The vest is stylish, and users report that the back protector is soft, whilst the sizing is spot on. However some feedback suggests that the velcro strap isn’t effective and the vest can ride up.

Pros

plus iconPremium armour

plus iconWaist Belt fitting

plus iconReasonably priced

Cons

minus icon Short vest, prone to ‘riding up’

minus icon Velcro strap can be ineffective for some

Check SportsBikeShop


Buyers Guide


Armoured vests generally tend to be made from an abrasion resistant material and various types of back armour.

Safety First: Back and Chest Protection

Whatever vest you get, a back protector is essential, and if possible some form of chest protection. Most vests on the market appear to contain superior level 2 back protection (look for EN1621-2 certification).

And those that do describe chest protection mainly provide simple padding but it pays to get a vest with at least level 1 chest armour (look for EN1621-3 certification).

As a reminder, there are essentially two main certification standards that manufacturers can apply to their products:

  • CE-1 – this is the lowest bar armour has to clear in order to make CE approval, and is often cheaper than CE-2.
  • CE-2  – offers a higher level of protection, and we reckon it’s the best choice, especially for back armour that looks after your spine, although it may cost a little more.

For a full guide including armour standards see our: Motorcycle Armour Guide

Armour Types

The best armour tends to be polyurethane foam, which is malleable, light and excellent at dissipating impact. The two most well named brands being D30 and SAS-TEC.

Comfort and Fit

Like any type of clothing, look out for straps and adjustment options. None of us are built the same, and some vests offer good adjustment points to minimise poor fit.

Also, heat venting and air channels are a must to ensure that you don’t end up in your own private sauna.

Conclusion

So what’s the point of an armoured vest? Simply put, it’s about options. A decent armoured vest will allow you to add back/chest protection to an existing jacket that already contains elbow pads and shoulder protection.

If you also have numerous jackets that all require different back armour, one good quality vest can cover them all and save you a fortune in back protectors.