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Old 02-05-2008, 09:02 PM   #1
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Thumb Leatt Brace compatible Jacket review, Acerbis Desertika

PackMule/RallyRAIDio.net review the Acerbis Desertika jacket, designed to be compatible with the Leatt Neck Brace.




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I am not one to normally forsake safety on account of comfort or convenience, at least with riding gear, but for the past several months, I feel like that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Since the weather has turned cooler, I’ve been frustrated by my attempts to integrate my riding jacket with the Leatt Neck Brace. Not that I couldn’t get it to work, eventually; it’s just that it was…, well…, fussy.


I know, I know; Stupid, given the consequences of a spinal injury. I guess maybe I’m always looking for the “right solution”, instead of just making due with one that works (but is sub-optimal). Whatever.


I searched high and low for an Enduro/Rally jacket purpose built for the Leatt, and the only thing I could find was some Unobtanium bit from the KTM catalog. In German. That’s when Jason, from MX1West, happened along, and mentioned that Acerbis was working on a Leatt-friendly jacket, but it wasn’t slated for production for nearly another year.


Enough of us from ADVrider ganged up on Jason that he pulled some strings (at significant cost to himself) and got the Desertika Leatt Compatible Jacket pushed straight to the top of the order (about 45 days from us picking his brain, to the jackets produced and shipped – that’s crazy in the manufacturing world, and I think points to how responsive these guys are to their customers!).



I’m now VERY happy to say that I’ve got one in my grubby little mitts.



I have experience with an Acerbis Impact jacket, which has been absolutely bulletproof -- taking much more than its fair share of abuse as I’ve sent it grating across all manner of surfaces from soft silt and mud to hardpack gravel and rock ledge. While I haven’t hit the deck hard (yet) in the Desertika, it’s made of the same tough material and I expect it to hold up equally as well.



Leatt compatibility aside, there are some very nice features to the Desertika. I find the fit outstanding – its cut is much better through the shoulders and back than any other jacket I’ve worn offroad, clearly designed for use with a pressure suit. It integrates with my Koerta perfectly.


Either the arms are longer on this jacket than my Impact, or it’s the relief provided by the generous cut in the shoulders, but they never ride up, even when moving through the entire range of shoulder motion. (To be fair, I didn’t really have an issue with the arm fit of the Impact while on the bike in the attack position, but they would ride up and bind when moving completely through the range of motion, even with a 2XL Impact)







You can also see how the cuffs are “slash cut” – this provides full coverage when in position on the bike, without having extra material bunching up on the inside aspect of your forearm. A nice touch. Adjust the cuffs tight to seal out the draft, or leave them loose to allow a bit of air in, your choice.


While I’ve seen pics to suggest this is a parka-cut jacket, rather than a traditional ¾ rally style cut, there’s a bit of a “tail” on the back and it provided full coverage even when hunched over on my streetbike during a New England test ride at temps down near the freezing mark. There’s also an inner elasticized “draft skirt” that can be used to seal the coat around your waist, no doubt much-appreciated if you’re running a pre-dawn Rally liaison or chasing the setting sun and falling temperatures down a high mountain pass. Or happen to be putting the jacket through its paces in New Hampshire, in January.


Although my testing conditions don’t yet allow me to comment on the Desertika’s hot weather performance, the biting temperatures do provide insight into how much air the well-placed vents let in. Like many other aspects of this coat, Acerbis clearly took the needs of the Rally or Dualsport rider into consideration when locating the vents – conspicuously clear of where backpack or hydration system straps would obstruct their flow (unlike many other jackets I’ve worn over the years).


Just in case you didn’t know, there’s a VENT in the upper arm…




And at the armpit.



As well as a non-zippered vent along the back.




As with all specimens of this type, there are a variety of pockets scattered about, including a clear-windowed one on the right forearm for your Rally timecard. Although I rarely use the “fanny pack” type pocket found on most enduro jackets (because it interferes with the backpack I usually am wearing), I was initially a bit disappointed to find that the Desertika didn’t have one. I wasn’t relishing the thought of storing the detachable collar in a front pocket. I shouldn’t have worried. Instead of one large mid-back pocket, there are two very deep pockets that run toward the back from the hip area – perfect for stashing the collar when not in use, and well out of the way of where a backpack would rest. Smart.


There’s also an internal pocket in the back, designed to accommodate a hydration bladder (with the requisite tube passageway) should you choose to eschew a stand-alone system. I have not tested it yet.



What really sets the Desertika apart, though, and the reason that you’re probably reading this review, is the fact that it was designed to integrate with the Leatt Neck Brace, in much the same way as the one-off units worn by factory Dakar pilots in the ’07 race. The upper collar, which is secured to the main body by a circumferential zipper and two snaps, can be removed to fit the jacket perfectly around the Leatt.







No fuss, no muss. No collar-tucking, funky layering, or partially-secured zippers; just put on the Leatt, zip up the jacket, and head out riding. The first time I did this, I think I actually laughed out loud – such a welcome relief it was from the fiddling I’d become accustomed to.


I guess I really don’t have much else to say about that – it’s pretty damn simple, and does its job perfectly.



There is one particular usage that I’m not sure whether Acerbis designed in intentionally, or is just a happy coincidence. Wearing the Leatt Neck Brace, with any jacket, leaves a large area of your neck and throat exposed to the elements.





Not a problem during the summer months, I found myself searching for some protection as soon as temperatures started to fall, especially on higher speed rides. While I’ve accumulated a variety of different neck warmers, gaiters, high-tech bandannas and the like over the years, none of them seemed to do the job exactly as I had hoped.


Re-enter the “Removable Collar” (again, oddly labeled – it’s as if the design spec for the demo unit got sent off to production. No matter, I could care less about cosmetics)





It just so happens that the removable collar of the Desertika can be worn detached, inside the Leatt, to provide perfect neck coverage. How’s that for serendipity (and parsimony)?







It provides complete coverage of the area normally left exposed.




Confessions of a nostalgic Gear-Whore. The true test…

A quick peek at the rack in my basement will confirm that I’m a gear-whore; the fact that exasperates my wife is not (so much) that I buy new gear, but that I never seem to wear it – ride after ride, she sees me leaving the house in the same kit that I’ve worn for years. How would the Desertika fare?

I love this jacket, right from the very first ride. The Leatt compatibility is a godsend, but I would wear it even if I didn’t use the Brace. It fits me perfectly. I think it runs a full size, perhaps even a shade more, larger than the Impact (which is to say, it probably runs true to size – I think the Impacts, at least ’06 models, ran small). My 2XL Impact is at the limit of what I would accept for snugness. The 2XL Desertika is plenty roomy, and I suspect I could fit in a 1XL just fine. I’m 6’1”, 190+ w/body armor (and long arms).



What would I change? (and other comments)

I’d like to see some reflective bits (no pun intended), either patches or piping would be fine. Whether you’re trailriding with your buddies, running mixed on/offroad, or in a Rally Raid with thundering Kamaz’ threatening to run you down, it’s nice peace of mind to know you can be seen by others when the visibility gets poor. I’ll probably add a few reflective areas on my own.

I’ll give them a fair trial in warmer weather first, but I anticipate removing the mesh in the underarm and upper arm vents. They do flow air as-is, especially the upper arm vents, but they’ll no doubt flow a LOT more with the mesh opened up. I’m not sure why Acerbis did it this way – perhaps to cut down on dust/dirt/silt entering the jacket? I’ll take air any way I can get it (when I want it).





Speaking of the vents, the zippers are a bit tough to work closed (opening is no problem) while on the move, especially the underarm ones. This may work itself out over time (and I’ll update if it does), otherwise a different zipper might have fit the bill more appropriately. Minor issue.


People have asked me whether the Desertika is waterproof. I doubt that it is, but nor is it marketed that way. From experience, it’s damn tough to stay dry riding offroad, though – I seem to either get wet from the rain if wearing a non-waterproof jacket, or sweat if I’m wearing something that keeps the outside water out. I’ll update this when I have some experience in the wet stuff.





I hope you find this review useful. Feel free to ask any questions. And if you need a Leatt Brace to go with your Desertika, please consider ordering it from www.riderdown.org – they’re suppsed to retail for the same price from all outlets, and if you get it from RiderDown, the “profits” to into the RiderDown fund to support spine-injured riders. Let’s hope their services are in less and less need as the years go by.


In the interest of full disclosure, Jason from MX1West gave me a break on the jacket in exchange for some promo’s of his support of rally privateers on www.RallyRAIDio.net, which is why I placed this review in Vendors, rather than Equipment. He had no expectation that I would do a review of the Desertika in this forum, and when I told him I was going to, he said to give it a “brutally honest” evaluation (which this is) – I just don’t want there to be the perception that this review was in any way NOT impartial. If the mods decide that it belongs elsewhere, that’s their call.
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Old 02-06-2008, 07:27 AM   #2
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Thumb Thanks PackMule!

I appreciate the thorough review!

One minor question...

What size did you get and what size are you?

Thanks!
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Old 02-06-2008, 07:47 AM   #3
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Size/Weight

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpringOly
I appreciate the thorough review!

One minor question...

What size did you get and what size are you?

Thanks!

Thanks, Spring Oly!

I briefly mentioned this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Packmule
I think it (ed: the Desertika) runs a full size, perhaps even a shade more, larger than the Impact (which is to say, it probably runs true to size – I think the Impacts, at least ’06 models, ran small). My 2XL Impact is at the limit of what I would accept for snugness. The 2XL Desertika is plenty roomy, and I suspect I could fit in a 1XL just fine. I’m 6’1” and a bit, 190+ w/body armor (and long arms).

I tend to like my clothing a bit on the loose/unrestrictive side. I'm a shade over 6'1", and am porting out (damn winter) just on the fat side of 190lbs right now. I wear an Acerbis Koerta pressure suit (which is awesome, BTW) underneath.

I seem to go for an XL (tall, if I can find it for the torso and arm length) in most motorcycle jackets. I ordered the 2X Desertika because my 2X Impact was pretty snug through the shoulders and arms. The Desertika is definitely cut much better for use with a pressure suit. I'm happy with the 2x, and someone quite a bit bigger than me could also wear it and still be happy; In retrospect, I could have gone for the 1x and done quite fine, too.

Does that help?


Edit: I guess that was just a wordy way of saying the Desertika fits true-to-standard-size.


Call Jason or Amy at MX1West and they can advise more specifically, I'm sure.


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Old 02-06-2008, 10:24 AM   #4
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I asked the mods, we agree it deserves to be in Equipment.

For anyone wondering about the line between vendors and equipment, when the review is thorough, complete, and critical in nature, it can go in Equipment even if there was a discount or whatever, provided disclosure is present. If the vendor is the one making the post, even if it meets those criteria, it should stay in vendors.

We mods reserve the right to define "thorough, complete, and critical" in a totally subjective manner, but this qualifies...

So, off with you to Equipment!

PS: Great review, PM, and definitely something I'm interested in as I haven't yet found a good solution for riding with the Leatt.
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Old 02-06-2008, 11:29 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neduro
I asked the mods, we agree it deserves to be in Equipment.
Thanks, Ned. I wanted to err on the conservative side, which is why I posted it in Vendors initially.


Quote:
PS: Great review, PM, and definitely something I'm interested in as I haven't yet found a good solution for riding with the Leatt.

It really is nice to just zip-n-go.
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They don't expect you to finish. That's why it's the Dakar. -- PPiA


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Old 02-06-2008, 07:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PackMule

Just in case you didn’t know, there’s a VENT in the upper arm…



Nice, thanks for putting this link in your sig. Also, it's a good thing those are labeled, otherwise you'd only be able to fit a few quarters in all of those awkwardly placed pockets.
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Old 02-07-2008, 08:43 AM   #7
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thanks for the thorough review!

i was wondering about whether the neck piece could be worn inside the brace like that. i'm curious if you have worn it that way on an offroad ride and if so, whether the zipper or seam(s) of the collar bothered your neck at all.
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Old 02-07-2008, 02:08 PM   #8
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Great review, Acerbis usually make great stuff I would expect this to be no exception. Full durability testing shall commece this spring!
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Old 02-07-2008, 02:26 PM   #9
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Great report Nate - really appreciate the info on sizing as well. Interesting about the neck piece, I have the same question as Zen Slug. I hope they have plans for some additional color options also.
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Old 02-07-2008, 04:35 PM   #10
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Neck Piece

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zen Slug
i was wondering about whether the neck piece could be worn inside the brace like that. i'm curious if you have worn it that way on an offroad ride and if so, whether the zipper or seam(s) of the collar bothered your neck at all.

Zen, and Bruce, good question.


With the winter weather here, that's the ONLY way I've been able to ride -- with the neck piece in place!


The longest ride I've been able to muster has been about an hour -- and no problems with comfort or chafing in that time period.


I meant to include this pic in the review (and thought that I had), but it illustrates my setup:




With the chest plate of the Leatt over my Koerta, in the front, it's business as usual (as if I had on neither the Leatt, or the Desertika collar). All that I'm in contact with is the body armor.

In the back, with the thoracic member of the Leatt tucked inside the back plate of the Koerta, I guess the collar is against my body. I've never noticed it.

I've actually got the collar on now, sitting at the computer, and where the circumferential zipper is is below the level of my t-shirt collar; in fact, well below, by an inch or better, almost everywhere. The only place it's even close is right around the back of my trapezius muscle.


I would say I don't notice any difference in comfort whether the collar is attached to the jacket body or not.



I took a pic of the underside of the detached collar, which I'll upload to my smug as soon as I can find the cable. You'll see the corduroy type stuff that's actually in contact with your neck, and also that there's a good bit of material that extends past the zipper. I think this is what would make it very difficult to modify a "normal" jacket for use with the Leatt, while still retaining the ability to wear the cut-off collar in the manner that we're discussing.


Make sense?
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Yes, I have a Dakar problem -- that there are 50 weeks of the year without Dakar!

They don't expect you to finish. That's why it's the Dakar. -- PPiA


Get your sweet Pyndon DakARTwork here

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Old 02-07-2008, 10:21 PM   #11
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Great review Nate!

Tempting, but... not being waterproof makes it a lot less desirable in the Pacific NorthWet. I hear Klim is working on a Leatt compatible (Jonah was wearing the Klim proto recently) and I'm sure the other jacket mfr's are getting with the picture soon too. Good for all of us!
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyborg
Great review Nate!

Tempting, but... not being waterproof makes it a lot less desirable in the Pacific NorthWet. I hear Klim is working on a Leatt compatible (Jonah was wearing the Klim proto recently) and I'm sure the other jacket mfr's are getting with the picture soon too. Good for all of us!
I wish this were the case because I love Klim gear, but this is the response I got from them:

We have some enduro riders wear our Valdez Parka with the brace, but we are not releasing a Parka specifically designed for that brace.
Good Luck

Brad Madison
National Sales Manager - Klim USA

I'll be going with the Acerbis jacket.
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:25 PM   #13
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Laugh Great review

Great review.

Wished I had read this before buying the KTM jacket ( Leat compatible) I searched prior but could not find anything. I like the water back option of tbis jacket, the KTM does not have a waterback pouch, only a hole for the tube...go figure!

Does this jacket give shaving rash also?
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Old 02-10-2008, 09:59 PM   #14
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After watching people fit and wear the Leatt neckbrace im a bit surprised no-one has read the manual. The manual says not to wear the bace over anything, it has to touch skin or a thin shirt. And when the distributer that i got it off sold it to me and fitted me up he told me the same thing.

Ive got the koerta pressure suit and found that the shoulder guards actually restricted my arm movement when wearing the nackbraceand that with the acerbis dessertika on aswell i was a bit uncomfortable. I then got my dianese armour and it fits much better.
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Old 02-10-2008, 10:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PackMule
Zen, and Bruce, good question.


With the winter weather here, that's the ONLY way I've been able to ride -- with the neck piece in place!


The longest ride I've been able to muster has been about an hour -- and no problems with comfort or chafing in that time period.


I meant to include this pic in the review (and thought that I had), but it illustrates my setup:




With the chest plate of the Leatt over my Koerta, in the front, it's business as usual (as if I had on neither the Leatt, or the Desertika collar). All that I'm in contact with is the body armor.

In the back, with the thoracic member of the Leatt tucked inside the back plate of the Koerta, I guess the collar is against my body. I've never noticed it.

I've actually got the collar on now, sitting at the computer, and where the circumferential zipper is is below the level of my t-shirt collar; in fact, well below, by an inch or better, almost everywhere. The only place it's even close is right around the back of my trapezius muscle.


I would say I don't notice any difference in comfort whether the collar is attached to the jacket body or not.



I took a pic of the underside of the detached collar, which I'll upload to my smug as soon as I can find the cable. You'll see the corduroy type stuff that's actually in contact with your neck, and also that there's a good bit of material that extends past the zipper. I think this is what would make it very difficult to modify a "normal" jacket for use with the Leatt, while still retaining the ability to wear the cut-off collar in the manner that we're discussing.


Make sense?

You should wear the frt plate of the Leatt inside the Koerta.
Also the Koerta should fit nicely over the shoulder plates but below the upper shoulder ridge.
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