Trail Tested | Answer Racing Elite OPS Off-Road Gear
Price: $199.95 (pant); $64.95 (jersey); $229.95 (jacket)
Answer Racing has made huge strides in popularity in recent years thanks to its refined lines of motocross apparel; most notably the Trinity line of athletic-fit, high-performance racewear as worn by guys like Ryan Villopoto, Nick Wey, Tyler Bowers, and Alex Martin. But did you know that Answer has a full line of off-road riding apparel that’s designed to specifically suit the different needs of the guys who aren’t racing in between hay bales?
Neither did we! Last weekend, we hit our local mountain bike trails with our buddy Kobi Iseri from Answer Racing, and when the subject of the upcoming trail adventure came up, he filled us in on Answer’s line of Elite OPS Enduro riding gear, which incorporates much of the technology that makes the high-end Trinity motocross apparel. We were sold! But who would test it?
With the recent rains in SoCal, we began to plan a group trail ride last week in one of our favorite spots in Central California. And as is always the case – and especially off-road – you can never judge the ability of a rider by his age, physique, or bike or riding apparel. That said, our great friend Danny Malfatti absolutely rips on a motorcycle in the hills and he often finds himself either waiting for us or riding our bikes out of tough predicaments for us when we join him for a day of fun. These days, he is riding a KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition (he doesn’t opt for a full-on off-road machine because he still loves to moto), but the last time we rode with him he kind of looked like he scored big at the Chaparral parking lot sale. You know…Fox helmet, Alpinestars boots, Fly Racing pants, and a Thor jacket… Long story short, we thought we’d enlist him to help us put some off-road gear through the wringer, and upgrade his style at the same time!
Surprisingly, Danny seemed a bit skeptical at first. Apparently, he’s chosen his riding kit for function and comfort – not fashion – and when we handed him the Answer Elite OPS Enduro kit we half expected him to ask if he really had to wear it! Haha!
The Elite OPS Enduro jacket boasts a three-layer waterproof construction, generous stretch panels for maximum range-of-motion, a generous zippered chest vent for airflow, removable sleeves, two zippered pockets on the front and one massive zippered pocket on the rear. Initially, Danny seemed most reluctant to adopt the Elite OPS Enduro jacket and ditch his old Thor coat, but once he realized it would fit over his old Fox chest protector (think John Dowd era), and hold a large Smartwater bottle filled with extra gas (don’t ask) in the rear pocket, he was good with it.
I. think that the tiger stripes on the Elite OPS Enduro jersey didn’t tickle Danny’s fancy because he asked if he really had to wear it since it would be under the jacket, anyway. He agreed when we gave him “that look,” and slipped it on. The jersey is pretty cool as it features ripstop fabric on the arms to resist tears and snags while riding through brush. Definitely a tough jersey, and fortunately for guys like our friend Danny, it also comes in tamer versions without animal print.
The Elite OPS Enduro pant seemed to impress Danny from the get-go, as its 900 Denier fabric construction in the seat panel looks quite durable, the drum-dyed and debossed leather knee panels are soft and grippy, and plenty of stretch panels and waist adjusters ensured a great fit. Like most high-end moto pants these days, the Elite OPS Enduro pant is liner-free for an unrestricted range of motion, but the leather knee panels are backed with neoprene for a little padding while gripping the bike, and an extra layer of protection against wear and tear and/or burns from the exhaust. Zippered cargo pockets can be found on each thigh, and two zippered vents on each hip allow airflow when the going gets extra tough.
Our day on the trails was epic. From giant, soft hill climbs, to super-technical singletrack, to dense valleys that forced us to dodge trees, ride over. rocks and roots, and duck beneath branches. every single minute was an absolute blast. Looking back now, that is…at the moment, it wasn’t too rad when we took a wrong turn down a valley that was too tight to pass. Ever tried to turn a 300-pound motorcycle (think: mud buildup) around, in a rut and in between trees?
At the day’s end, all of us were pretty beat, but we were all stoked about the great time we had enjoyed, miles away from civilization and the COVID-19 pandemic. After six hours in the saddle, at least one tip-over, and lots of laughs, Danny seemed very pleased with the Answer Racing Elite OPS Enduro kit. “The jacket was really nice and comfortable,” he said. “It stretched just enough to let me move around on the bike, and the zippered vents make a big difference. I opened them up at one stop and forgot, and I sure got cold later on! The pants are comfortable and have plenty of room in the knee area for braces. There was a lot of adjustment in the waist area, but I did pop the buttons open once. The addition of a rachet closure would be nice and a little more secure. All in all, I really like my new gear and I will be riding in it for years to come, or until Donny says I am out of style again.”