Date reviewed: March 2019 | Tested by: Steve Lamb | Price: £199.99 (Jacket) and £169.99 (Trousers) | www.oxfordproducts.com
Getting cold when riding in winter can be uncomfortable at best, dangerous at worst, so wearing the right kit is essential. Keeping yourself warm and dry without wanting to blow your entire Christmas budget on winter gear can be tricky, but look around and you can find plenty of decent kit without spending a king's ransom. I’ve been testing Oxford Product’s Continental Advanced Jacket and Trousers. Riding a variety of bikes (small and large) through some of this year’s coldest days, I’ve ridden over 3500 miles in the kit, which comprises a Nylon outer, Dry2DryTM removeable waterproof drop liner and a WarmDryTM removeable thermal liner. So, can budget friendly clothing stand up to a typical British winter?
At 5’6” (1.67M) and 180lbs (82Kg) (I’m under-height, not over-weight... honest!) I usually struggle to find off the peg clothing that fits perfectly, and while both the trousers and jacket are pretty much there, they are still a little on the long side, despite being ordered to my measurements. While this extra room allows some extra layering for cold days, it can feel bulky when on the bike, especially when all liners are installed.
Clearly sizing is a very personal thing, so trying on a variety of sizes is the most important method of getting the right kit for you.
The jacket is supplied with CE approved Level 1 armour in the shoulders and elbows, with provision for a back protector, which is not supplied. The trousers are provided with CE Level 1 armour to the knees, but only foam to the hips (which offers no real protection). The jacket and trousers we reviewed had not been certified to the CE standard for motorcycle clothing, but it's great to see that Oxford Products has now had the Continental tested and approved to CE prEN17092 Level A, which means they meet the legislation for Personal Protective Equipment.
From April 21, 2018, all new motorcycle clothing is deemed to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). To meet this legislation, it must be tested to a recognised standard. For more information on the law, click here.
The jacket has two large, top opening front pockets which have hook and loop fastening to the top flap and a folded over top edge to prevent water ingress. Behind these pockets are vertically zipped, lined pockets to provide some additional small item storage, and provide somewhere to warm your hands. A large map pocket with a top flap provides some extra storage on the back, but this can be difficult to access when on the bike. A further internal, waterproof pocket is provided in the zip placket, allowing easy stowage and access for your phone.
Each layer of the three-layer jacket has at least one internal pocket, handily topped with a red tag to ease location in a mass of black of linings.
The trousers have two large thigh pockets, again with hook and loop secured flaps, and two hip pockets with zipped vertical openings for smaller items, though, again these are big enough to put your hands in when cold. All pockets are lined with silky fabric to avoid scratching mobile screens etc.
The jacket's thermal liner has no fastenings other than those which fasten it to the waterproof liner or jacket. The waterproof layer fastens with a reverse handed metal YKK zipper while the main jacket fastens with a chunky YKK zipper, but in the traditional configuration to avoid cross zipping between the outer and liner. The sleeves have further zips to close the cuffs. I've been wearing Weise Grid WP winter gloves which have a bulky cuff, so closing the jacket cuff over the gloves has not been possible, but the cuffs do close sufficiently tight to allow glove gauntlets to go over them. While this not ideal, as it allows rain to run down your arm, and into your glove, on colder dry days, it does help to prevent draughts.
The collar has a snap fastening with a five-position adjustable stud. A very nice touch which allows fine adjustment around the neck. The collar also has an elasticated loop and hook to secure it open, should you need some additional ventilation.
The trousers fasten with a hook and two press studs, providing a nice secure closing. Braces and a back bib are provided to give some extra comfort for those of us who may be carrying an extra pound (or two), but these can be removed via a rear zip and Velcro tabs. The ankles have chunky YKK zippers and a hook and loop flap to cover the zipper. All zippers are a good size with extra tags on the toggles and are all easily usable with gloved hands.
The trousers and jacket can be zipped together with a short run or the trousers and inner waterproof liner can be secured with a full 360º zipper run for ultimate water resistance. In the time I've been riding, I have not felt that need to zip them together as the jacket is long enough to provide a draught and leak free ride.
A pair of side waist straps allow the jacket to be tightened around the middle to provide a snugger fit and feel while upper arm straps also allow you to fine tune the fit of the arms and remove any excess bagginess that may flap in the wind. An elasticated pull cord around the very bottom of the jacket allows you to seal against wind or water ingress, through I found this extra closure not necessary.
The trousers have waist adjustment via two hook and looped straps and ankle adjustment via hook and look flaps though these did not provide a tight closure around my boot. I found the ankles to be quite loose around my TCX Clima Surround boots (review to come soon), but these have quite a slender profile. I tried them with more substantial RST Tractec Evo boots and found the fit to be better, but still not as tight as I would have liked.
For a budget friendly suit, Oxford Products have not scrimped on ventilation. The jacket is very well equipped with two large zipped and meshed openings to the front, double toggle zips to the wrists (allowing the zippers to be opened from the top while still secure around the wrist), zipped openings to the upper arm, and two further zipped openings in the sides of the back panel.
The trousers are equally well equipped with very neat vents that are revealed by unzipping the sides of the thigh pockets and opening a hook and loop fastening to the bottom of the pocket. The whole pocket then folds diagonally, and secures with a press stud, revealing a large panel of mesh to provide direct ventilation to the thigh and groin area.
All vents are located in just the right places to get some good airflow, and work very well. On the few warmer days we had over the winter and early spring, when the vents were used, they almost worked too well. Come the summer, I am sure that they will be a very welcome addition.
The jacket and trousers are both provided with removeable thermal and waterproof liners meaning that you can adjust the warmth of the kit depending on the prevailing conditions. I found that for sub-zero riding the full complement of linings kept my body warm for period in excess of three hours. Plenty of time between petrol or coffee breaks. As the temperatures rose to double figures, I found the thermal trouser linings to be unnecessary and found that I could remove the jacket thermal lining for my morning commute, only wearing a polo shirt underneath. I was very impressed with the overall warm and snug feeling of the kit and when riding pillion for a couple of hours and protected from the direct wind, even found it a little too warm!
The thermal and waterproof liners are secured via side zips and loops and press studs at the cuffs and collar. Each liner can either be secured to the next, or to the main jacket shell meaning you can protect against a wide range of conditions with ease. The cuff loops are colour coded to prevent fitment inside out which I found was very nice touch. The linings do snag on watches if you have bare arms which in turn has caused some of the sleeve liner to separate from the jacket cuff. Careful extraction of arms is therefore required. The main jacket lining is a smooth silky mesh lining meaning that even without the additional liners, the feel against bare arms is comfortable.
My commute comprises a range of roads including a stretch of very exposed motorway which seems to experience its own monsoon-like micro-climate, so I have had a good opportunity to put the waterproofing of this kit to test and I have found it to be great in all areas. All pockets and zips remained watertight against driving rain and I was more than comfortable keeping phones, wallets and other sensitive items in the pockets, no matter what the weather.
While the jacket does wet-out (when the outer layer gets soaked), the waterproof layer is doing the real work; I found that the jacket dried easily without the need to hang over a heat source. Keep in mind that during long journeys in the rain, a jacket that's wetted-out will struggle to maintain its breathability, so can see the rider sweating more.
The only water ingress I did find was purely my own fault, where the very bottoms of my jeans were wet from being outside my boots and collecting some water spray from the road.
After a couple of months of use as rider and pillion, on a variety of bikes and scooters, I have to say that I am very impressed with the Oxford Continental Advanced kit. Even in sub-zero temperatures it has kept me warm, dry and with the internal armour, secure. While I have seen some minor damage to the liner, this has not affected the use of the kit. All in all, this is a very good suit...I am not going to say '…for the price', because it's truly good winter kit. The budget friendly price is just a bonus.