Gear Guide - Acerbis Ottano
By Ross Sharp - 14 Aug 19
I've been doing more and more greenlane and adventure riding recently, mostly in a 15-year-old Hein Gericke jacket (the trousers stopped fitting a decade ago) and my well used Revit Zircon - review here. It was about time I looked less scruffy but I wasn't quite ready for rally raids so didn't need a 100% race oriented suit, so figured I'd give the Acerbic Ottano range a go.
I'd first seen an Ottano Jacket on the back of suave enduro hero, Italian motorcycle journo and personality, Roberto Ungaro, and seeing as I have a bit of a penchant for slightly eccentric Italian things I thought I'd take a closer look.
From what I can make out (my command of Italian is rather rusty after a decade out of the sella) Roberto was integral to the R&D team who developed the Ottano range for Italian off-road gear and apparel powerhouse Acerbis (pronounced A-cherbis). Oh, and Ottano translates as Octane.
The website images of guys tooling around on XT500s in the mud slightly misled me and I didn't read the description properly, or listen to Roberto's description in the YouTube video. In my head I had the Ottano range as enduro gear for the fashion conscious, but that's not quite it.
The Ottano range caters for different types of riding, from "urban off-road" to light enduro. Neither retro and nostalgic, nor modern and too technical. Protective wear for the guy who rides to work on a BMW GS then goes touring and exploring at the weekend. There are riding pants that could sort of pass as regular office trousers, full-on MX type gear and bunch of stuff in-between, including jumpers, gloves and a rather cool looking fanny pack.
It's actually quick a novel concept as currently there is a bit of a gap between hi-tech gear and trendy stuff that doesn't work in the real world, beyond the Instagram lookbook.
I chose the Short Jacket, which I figured would be ideal for my green-laning and wannabe exploring needs. Prior to choosing though came a lot of deliberation. Truth is I'm just not bold enough to wear white trousers and a two-tone blue and green ensemble. Roberto could pull-off the look, but I figured I'd just be taken as either colourblind or clueless.
I was taught that blue and green must not be seen without a colour in-between, and I think I stand by that, hence ordering the safer, single colour option. According to the Acerbis description and website, and the photos here, my jacket is supposed to be beige. It's simply not. It's olive green. Not a military hue but the colour of a slightly insipid hotel olive that you get in a Martini. Previously all blue and also dark grey were the colours in the Ottano range. I wish they'd stuck with a more conformist palette. But the greeny beige works well with other favourites, the Fuel/BSMC Sergeant trouser and regular denim.
I just couldn't bring myself to order white trousers. In fact I'm on a self imposed ban for any white garments. Too much time spent with greasy hands or near to oily things, so I went for the Adventuring Pant, in blue. Again, not the same colour as the pics below. They're slightly more petrol blue in real life, and as such I haven't worn them yet. The colour clash is too much for my conservative dress sense.
Essentially the Adventuring Pant is a waterproof textile enduro pant with a couple of vents on the thigh and lightweight, removable armour for the knees. I insisted on an extra large pair to fit over my massive MX knee braces and padded shorts, which has rendered them no use on the road as they're massive when riding without the protection beneath. I think I'll swap them for the Ottano Pants 2.0, the everyday chino-type trouser.
The jacket though has barely been off my back, I've worn it for everything. Greenlanes, long motorway missions and commuting to work. I love the thing, so far. At the Malle Mile a few weekends ago I counted seven people in the space of the three hours I was there comment on the jacket. Positively too.
The outer shell is a waterproof Cordura with stretch panels around the elbows. There's a removable thermal liner, a myriad of pockets and of course - full armour. Oh, and there's the rather obscure molle webbing on the back, including a grab handle!
Initially I thought the military style loops were a bit of a gimmick, but I've since changed my mind. The last thing I want to attached to my back is anything pointy or hard that could smash my spine during a crash so I didn't give it much credence as anything other than an attempt at fashion. That was until I forgot my backpack on a day that turned hot rather quickly and I sweltered with the full length thermal lining in place. Once removed I Rok Strapped the liner through the molle, and voila. Or whatever the Italian equivalent is. Waist poppers and side straps cinch-in the abundance of material to prevent flapping, and more importantly ensure the jacket doesn't ride-up in a spill.
The grab handle also seemed superfluous, until I was wishing I'd worn it while trials riding in Mid Wales the other week. A seriously steep rock section went a bit wrong and I was stranded with a bike balanced on top of me. I couldn't reach my friend's outstretched helping hand and he had nothing to get a purchase on, and I ended up at the bottom of the climb in a dusty heap. If only I had a jacket with a grab handle... that wasn't on a hanger in my van 400 years away. Doh!
I like the plethora of pockets too. The outer phone/wallet one is easily accessible and velcro fastened so feels secure and faff-free. There's also an internal high level zipped version for the same items, as well as one lower down and tow decent waist pockets for sticking cold hands in. The liner also has a phone sized stash.
Then there's the full length zipper pocket on of the front. I'm still bemused as to what it's for. You could literally hide a cat in there. Or an 18v Dewalt drill. Or perhaps the jacket liner - damn, didn't think of that. It's actually a vent that doubles as a pocket. But I'll just stick with it being curious Italian design, until I'm told otherwise. On the other side of the asymmetric zipper is another vent. Useful on a hot day but I found it just as easy to fasten the top buckle, the one just below the collar, and open the main zip. Probably not as safe this way but better for cooling.
And that's probably the main downside of this jacket and what's stopped me from using it for actual enduro activities - it gets hot! There are no sleeve vents and the mesh lining does not extend all the way down the arms. So if wearing a t-shirt sweaty skin becomes sweatier thanks to the synthetic lining. It could be made from a breathable fabric but I didn't feel much breeze. While I'm moaning, another gripe is with the liner. The poppers along the edge are perfect but the pair of sewn-on buttons to secure to the inner sleeve are a pain. You can't just pull the jacket off without holding the cuffs as the buttons simply undo and the liner pulls out. A couple of poppered loops would be better.
For winter I'll be needing to do the collar up, not something I enjoy as I always feel choked and restricted. The Ottano jacket is relatively generous around the neck and there's anti-chaffing fabric on the flap extends around to a left popper which should keep out the chills. In summer though there's a slightly odd arrangement to secure the flap. You have to roll it around itself and click another popper. Seems like a bit of an afterthought. Unless again I've missed a trick.
For my sins I live in the UK, and while the rest of Europe is enjoying their summer holidays I've just ordered a winter coat and have given up on expecting more than a 3 consecutive day's break in the incontinent clouds hanging over London - winter is coming, sigh. The Ottano Short Jacket is ideal for nearly all my current activities and I'll probably go for something more focused and extreme from the Acerbis range for proper off-roading, especially as I've now become rather attached and don't want to tear and scuff this jacket on the trails.
As you can see here I wore the Ottano Short Jacket on a recent press launch as I figured it would suit a wide range of bikes, in a photographic sense. I could have used a leather jacket but that sucks if it rains, I couldn't be arsed to take waterproofs, and a traditional café racer style number looks OK on Guzzi V7 but a bit silly on a Tuono V4. First world problems!
If I was an Acerbis ambassador like Roberto I'd be wearing the 3/4 length Adventuring Jacket this winter, with a their turtle neck jumper beneath. I'm a fan of the Ottano range and am glad to find out that it's more than just a foray in integrating Italian design flair into gear that actually works. I just wish I was flamboyant enough to feel comfortable in the harlequin colour schemes.
The full Ottano range is here
And keep an eye out for another review coming soon. I've just ordered new plastics for my 2017 Yamaha WR250.... I kept it stock for as long as I could....
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