Oxford Original Approved AA MS Shirt Review

Oxford Original Approved AA MS Shirt Review
Oxford Original Approved AA MS Shirt Review

Riding shirts like the Oxford Original Approved AA MS have been around for a few years now and are a more protective option than wearing a Carhartt or Dickies lumberjack number on your cruiser.


  • Comfy
  • Great looks
  • Cooler than a full jacket when it’s hot


  • Fairly impractical
  • Comfort
  • Practicality
  • Looks
  • Quality
  • Protection
  • Value
  • Overall
Construction Armourlite outer shell
Type Protective casual wear
CE rating garment AA
Armour Level 2 shoulders and elbows
  • Back protector pocket
  • Belt attachment loops for a secure protective fastening with jeans
  • Press stud and YKK zipper centre front opening
  • 2 x external chest pockets
  • 1 x internal pocket

Oxford’s Kickback and later Kickback 2.0 were and are a wardrobe staple for BikeShed types and riders on the American scene for cruisers and muscle bikes, which is why I asked for one to test while riding the MCN fleet Indian FTR S.

It certainly looks the part when you’re bimbling around town or cruising to the pub, but MS Shirt has got more serious credentials than you might think hiding up its sleeves (literally).

While the Kickback only achieves a single A rating on the CE scale (limiting its usefulness to slow speed and town riding) this shirt is AA rated thanks to its Armourlite outer shell and carries CE Level 2 armour at the shoulders and elbows.

So despite its casual looks, it’s really more of a summer textile jacket than a shirt.

Is the Oxford Original Approved AA MS shirt comfortable?

Oxford Original Approved AA MS Riding Shirt

Job number one for a jacket of this type is to be comfortable. It’s supposed to bridge the gap between a fashion item and a proper jacket and so if it isn’t comfy you’d may as well just stick your usual riding kit on.

Happily, the MS Shirt ticks this box. It feels more like wearing a denim jacket than a shirt and you can certainly feel that the armour is there, but it still feels more casual than a full-on jacket.

The sleeves are lined with smooth polyester, which feels better against your skin than denim would, and the elbow armour lives inside mesh pockets to keep it in place and prevent sweatiness when it’s hot.

As well as town duties and shop runs, I have used the MS Shirt for commuting duties in peak summer. It doesn’t perform as well as a mesh jacket in proper heat (30-degrees plus) and it’s a little chilly on early morning starts but it works well as a compromise.

Is the Oxford Original Approved MS shirt practical?

Oxford Original Approved AA MS Riding Shirt

This type of kit isn’t really built to be practical, but it does have a pair of front pockets on the outside and an inner one hidden away on the left-hand side.

It’s not waterproof so you’ll have to carry something else if you think it’s likely to rain and there’s no waterproof pockets, either.

It’s just a nice and easy, comfy option to throw on as you leave the house on a warm, sunny day and that’s about as practical as it needs to be.

Does the Oxford MS shirt look good?

Oxford Original Approved AA MS Riding Shirt

I think the MS Shirt looks great. The armour is subtle and the fabric is cool and it’s cut in a trendy shacket style. The only problem I have is what to pair it with on my lower half.

You would look a berk if you wore textile or leather riding trousers with it but if you wear riding jeans then you are succumbing to the dreaded double denim.

In the end, I settled on a pair of jet-black riding jeans that are dark enough to offer a contrast to the slightly aged denim look of the shirt.

It may sound trivial, but you don’t buy a jacket like this unless you have at least some consideration for how it looks.

Is the Oxford AA MS shirt good quality?

Oxford Original Approved AA MS Riding Shirt

I’ve had a few Oxford Original denim garments over the years and I’m always really impressed with how sturdy and well put-together they feel. The MS Shirt is no exception.

The fabric feels tough and strong, all the seams are solid and well-stitched and the YKK main zip and press studs throughout feel well-attached and reliable.

What protection does the Oxford AA MS shirt have?

Oxford Original Approved AA MS Riding Shirt

The AA rating of this garment is reassuring and as it’s paired with CE Level 2 armour, it should perform ok in an accident, too. At this price point, I don’t mind that it doesn’t come with a back protector and have fitted my own.

As the shirt fits slightly more loosely than a ‘proper’ jacket, there are belt loops stitched to the inside to make sure it doesn’t ride up and leave you exposed to the tarmac in a slide, too.

Unlike some casual gear I’ve tried in the past, the armour doesn’t flap around at speed and I feel confident that should the worst happen it would stay in place and protect what it’s meant to.

Is the Oxford Original Approved AA MS shirt good value?

Oxford Original Approved AA MS Riding Shirt

A sunny day riding shirt will always be a luxury in your riding wardrobe – it’s a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘need to have’. But I don’t think that £149.99 is an unreasonable price.

A Carhartt flannel shirt with no protection whatsoever costs £65.99 and a Levis Trucker Jacket in denim will set you back £110.

Oxford’s own Kickback 2.0 costs a little less at £139.99 but you sacrifice an A from the safety rating. The RST x Kevlar Lumberjack shirt also achieves a single A rating and costs £139.99. If you want to stick with the same AA rating as the MS Shirt then the Merlin Hendrix costs £179.99.

The verdict

As far as plodding around on a cruiser or roadster goes, the Oxford MS Shirt is perfect. It’s got all the styling of a casual shirt with the added peace of mind of that AA rating and level 2 armour.

I specifically tested this product because I was riding an American roadster on long-term test but it wouldn’t look out of place on any naked bike or retro you ride. I will continue to chuck it on to nip into town on sunny days for many rides to come.

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