10 Dakar Rallies, tens of thousands of kilometres adventure riding all across the globe and a world famous training school. Si Pavey doesn't need much more said about him. A fantastic rider, with a brilliant understanding of the requirements for learning riders.
The adventure clothing market is a flooded place. Dozens of suits made by even more brands complicate matters hugely. Acerbis are an Italian company that specialise in motocross and enduro parts and clothing. They’ve slowly edged their way to the fringes of the adventure/dual sport line after first producing a travel-ish suit several years ago. The Acerbis Adventure Suit landed in ’15, with a in-the-boot pant that has recently been expanded to an over-boot style. We gave it to Si Pavey, to test, brutalise and determine worthiness.
In the adventure clothing market, we are inundated with garments produced by companies harking from road and touring heritage. They produce some fantastic kit; well designed and superb at keeping the elements out whilst providing great crash protection. However, there are downsides, especially for those who like to explore more difficult off-road riding. Over time the line has become blurred by brands as they seek the perfect balance between road and off-road comfort. The further one ventures into the single track, desert or forestry, the more you crave something a little lighter, more flexible and off-road savvy. In the last 24 months, more off-road centric brands have released clothing that sits firmly at the ‘dual sport’ end of the spectrum. MSR, Troy Lee Designs and Acerbis all sell suits that are aimed at the exploration happy, back-road rider.
The Acerbis Adventure Suit finds itself at the lower-mid end of the price range, with a combined price of £360. The suit is packed with both form and function to fit the needs of that target customer. I’m a great example of that person, where the off-road and more challenging environment is my happy place. The jacket is split into three separate garments; the main jacket made of a Nylon 600D fabric, a quilted inner vest and UREAMAX waterproof membrane. The jacket comes with CE approved elbow and shoulder pads. The back protector is not included, but there is space to fit one. An inbuilt hydration pack holder is located on the back of the jacket and the sleeves are removable. Ten pockets are dotted around the jacket as well as a good selection of vents, a multi-position neck closure, drawstring adjustable waist and reflective panelling. The trousers and jacket zip together as well.
“There isn’t excess material to the jacket and that keeps the weight low and freedom of movement good.”
The trousers, much like the jacket, come with a separate zip-in warm weather lining and waterproof membrane. The Acerbis Adventure trousers is available in two different fits, baggy and standard versions. The former is an in the boot design and the latter design to go over the top or your boots. On each thigh you’ll find a pocket and two vents located on the hips. The waist is fully adjustable and uses a hook button closure system. As with the jacket, the armour is CE approved.
The Wearing Part
The details of a riding suit can make or break the experience you have. For me, the first marker is the fit. This is entirely personal. For reference, I’m 180cm tall, and around 85kg’s. Our test suit is a medium jacket, medium trouser combo and the fit is incredible. It’s cut well and has a relatively slim, balanced fit. It’s not too flappy but at the same time I’m never restricted in my movement. This is extremely important for riding, be it reaching the ground on the tarmac or reaching for the bottom of a hole on the dirt. There isn’t excess material to the jacket and that keeps the weight low and movement good. I’m a big fan of material being pleasant to wear and retaining the freedom of movement required for all that travel riding can throw up. From this perspective the Acerbis Adventure Suit is very good. The material keeps the jacket light and free feeling. As a result it’s comfortable to wear in more difficult riding situations and hotter environments.
The main issue around a lighter material regards how well it’ll hold together should you choose to inspect the tarmac a little closer. The material and stitching have not been put through an EC testing standard and is unbranded 600D nylon (ie. not Cordura). That doesn’t mean it won’t perform and keep your skin together but there isn’t any standardised reference point for the abrasion performance.
The small details of the suit are genuinely well thought out. The wrist closure for example, works very well. It’s a good sized opening and nicely designed. When you want to properly restrict the airflow, it can be done without having a huge bunch of material around the wrist, so getting more winter friendly gloves over the top is easy. In keeping with their off-road roots, Acerbis have made the sleeves of the jacket fully removable too. This is a detail I am a big fan of. In hot weather, being able to remove and stuff them in the back pocket reduces body temperature dramatically and makes riding in heat a load more pleasurable. It’s a heavily off-road biased feature and for me it works fantastically. The removal is simple and easy, with the zip running straight around the shoulder/armpit area.
“The full neck closure flap is then pinned back to the left shoulder and provides fantastic airflow…”
One of the finest features of the jacket is the inclusion of a hydration pack holder. Maintaining good hydration is imperative, regardless of the style of riding. The design of the hydration pack holder and the routing of the hose keeps the system unobtrusive. The top of the bladder holder has clips to hang the bladder from and even with a full 3 litre unit in place the jacket sat well on your shoulders. The hydration pack is easily accessible from the back of the jacket making refilling a synch.
The two-part neck closure aids this well and is one of my favourite elements in the jacket design. The neck closure can be open where the jacket hold across the sternum area. The full neck closure flap is then pinned back to the left shoulder and provides fantastic airflow without the jacket falling backward and pulling on your shoulders or neck when the hydration pack is full. The material around the neck is a soft, anti-scratch material too and it does the job. For the colder weather the neck can be closed as normal and has two options for neck width.
The internal waterproof membrane layers do their job but do restrict the movement available. The waterproof is a full sleeve garment, with the additional quilted warm layer in a vest shape. The trousers are the same design. This type of layering is another very personal element. While the Acerbis does this in a decently functional way, especially with the warmer layer being a vest, this type of system always suffers slightly from water ingress. It’s very much a personal preference situation. The same happens in the trousers as they move from being a prime fit to a touch tight with the additional layers in. It’s workable but not my preferred solution as the suit fits looser without the internal linings.
The armour is a generic foam design, covering the shoulders and elbows. It’s functional, CE approved and sits okay on your body. It is generally not too noticeable but there isn’t any option for placing the armour in different positions. The armour is about what you’d expect in this price range, where its functional rather than exceptional.
One of the best designed element of the trousers, is the over boot fitment. The suit was originally only available with an in-the-boot pant. Acerbis have got the new design spot on, with it being able to accommodate a variety of boot sizes. We wore them with both Sidi Adventures and BMW’s extremely chunky GS boot, both of which fitted comfortably. The closure design allows for a close fit on a large variety of boot so you’re unlikely to catch on a footpeg whilst fitting and getting dressed is very easy.
“The Acerbis Adventure Suit is fantastic value.”
Like a lot of jackets, there is a great mix of external and internal pockets, including a nicely sized one across the lower back. We have had an issue with some of the popper studs, with the plastic cover coming off. The closure of these does make the jacket feel a touch cheap, with the studs being really stiff to open and close. The plastic coating is far too hard as well. It’s definitely an annoying issue and something we hope they solve as its the biggest drawback in the suit.
The Acerbis Adventure Suit is fantastic value. The Italian brand have produced a well-fitting, thought out suit. The cut is great, the main neck closure and hydration pack fitment are well designed, the venting is effective and it comes with a fully waterproof liner and cold weather liners. With a retail price of £365.00 it represents great value, especially for the more off-road inclined amongst us.
I’m a big fan of the comfort and freedom of movement, the removable sleeves and the allowance for bigger, off-road friendly boots. All the zips work very nicely and as of yet have held up extremely well. The biggest let down is the popper studs, which are too stiff. In the price range there is stiff competition, but Acerbis have nailed the details for the off-road biased/dual sport market.
If you’re heavily road biased its probably not the best suit available, but if you’re always looking for the dirt trails and riding in challenging climates it’s a great option. It has worked almost flawlessly in South Wales and Southern Portugal, dealing with cold wet mornings and humid, hot afternoons in challenging single track, fast dirt trails and sweeping mountain roads. As of yet it hasn’t let me down or be found wanting.
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