First Ride: Leatt DBX 2.0 and 3.0 Flat Pedal Shoes 8

Leatt completes the missing piece of the puzzle and goes full head-to-toe with the launch of their new MTB shoe line.

First Ride: Leatt DBX 2.0 and 3.0 Flat Pedal Shoes

After starting out as a company making protective neck braces, Leatt has grown rapidly over the past few years, expanding its catalog to include pretty much every piece of apparel or equipment a rider would need. There was a crucial piece missing to go full head-to-toe however, and that piece was announced today. With a line of MTB-specific shoes comprising two flat pedal models and two clipless models, you can now go full Leatt if you so wish. We’ve had the new flat pedal shoes out on the trail already, so we can tell you more about what to expect if you opt for these fresh kicks from South Africa.

Leatt DBX 3.0 and 2.0 Flat Pedal Shoe Highlights

  • Uppers made from synthetic leather and synthetic suede
  • RideGrip Sole Compound: NBR rubber blend for grip and abrasion resistance
  • Waffle Pattern: interlocks with pedal pins for mechanical lock
  • Mud Channels: stop “sole float” on pedals when walking for all-weather hiking grip
  • Medium-Stiff shank (3.0), Medium-Soft shank (2.0)
  • “Compression” laces
  • Anti-compression midsole for comfort
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-odor treated internals
  • Heal and toe protection
  • Waterproof/breathable membrane (3.0 only)
  • Raised inner ankle protection (3.0 only)
  • Anti heel-lift design
  • Sizes: US 6-12, UK 5.5-11.5, EU 38.5-47, CM 24-30
  • MSRP 2.0: $89.99/€89.99/£79.99
  • MSRP 3.0: $99.99/€109.00/£94.99

Initial Impressions

We’re always a bit apprehensive when a company launches into flat pedal footwear. It’s relatively “easy” to come up with a shoe that looks decent and performs well in general, but if you get the rubber compound and sole design wrong, the shoe won’t be able to carry out its primary task – that of holding onto your pedals come rain or shine. Leatt has developed its own rubber compound called “RideGrip”, which the company claims is both sticky and durable. The sole on the DBX shoes features a waffle pattern to give your pins something to lock into, with deeper, wider channels in the toe and heel areas meant to help evacuate mud as you walk.

The uppers on both the new shoes are made of a mix of synthetic leather and suede, with an overall design language that is quite similar to a number of other flat pedal shoes on the market. The 2.0 has more of a city-sneaker thing going on while the 3.0 is resolutely bike-specific in its appearance. The colors are muted, much like a lot of Leatt’s other gear.

Diving into the details, it becomes apparent that Leatt has not been cutting corners in the development process. There’s an “anti-compression” midsole for support, a carbon-infused anti-bacterial insole, “compression” laces that are non-elastic for a better and more consistent fit, and an “anti heel-lift” rear part to help keep your foot planted in the shoe at all times. Additionally, the 3.0 gets a waterproof and breathable membrane, and a raised internal collar to help protect your ankles. Both shoes are stitched around the toe box and feature extra protection in this crucial area.

On The Trail

Putting the shoes on for the first time, we were struck by two things: first of all, the shoes are sturdy, even the more casual 2.0 offers a reassuring amount of protection thanks to fairly thick and strong materials used for the uppers. Despite the sturdiness, the shoes are also very comfortable. There is ample padding around the top of opening and the tongue is thick and plush. The sizing is very consistent with “standard” market shoe sizing, so no surprises there either.

The 2.0 features a “medium-soft” shank, while the 3.0 gets a “medium-stiff” version. Both shoes offer ample support on the pedals, and they both feel fairly stiff while just walking around. The 3.0 is particularly sturdy of course, with a general feel that compares to Five Ten’s Impact Pro, for reference. But what with that all-important grip then? Well, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the RideGrip compound delivers in action. We say “pleasantly surprised” because having tested nearly every flat pedal shoe out there, we’ve learned to not have our expectations set too high for every new compound developed. But no such issues here, we’re only a few rides in but Leatt’s new soles have been up to the task so far.

After testing across a range of different trails and pedals, we’ve found no real major weaknesses in the grip. The rubber compound in itself is quite grippy, not flypaper-sticky like Five Ten’s Stealth compound but definitely among the “best of the rest”. The waffle sole pattern works well to give your pins something extra to work with. We’ve tested other waffle patterns that have let us down in the past, but the Leatt version does a good job. Depending on the pin layout of your pedals, it might take you a while to find the perfect foot placement, but we’ve managed to get comfortable with several pedals so far.

As we previously mentioned, the stiffness of the 3.0 makes itself known from the start, offering lots of support but also a somewhat isolated feel on the pedals. The 2.0 is marginally softer which translates to a shoe that conforms a little bit more to outside forces. It is still a far cry from flimsy, still serving up more than enough support for all-day pedaling missions or sessions in the bike park, but it’s definitely a shoe you can also wear to the pub afterwards as well without raising any eyebrows.

In summary, we’ve been impressed with the new DBX 2.0 and 3.0 shoes. They both offer plenty of protection, a comfortable fit and good power transfer on the pedals. As we’ve seen with some other Leatt products recently, the pricing is aggressive and comes in well under similar offerings from other competitors. The grip falls just a little bit short of the market leader, but it will not hold you back no matter what kind of riding you do. It’s too early to make any observations with regards to longevity at this point, but the general build quality seems very high and Leatt claims that the soles should last a long time – we’ll keep testing and report back with our long-term findings at a future date. In the meantime, we’ve got no qualms about recommending the new DBX flat pedal shoes if you feel like trying something new.

More information at www.leatt.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 46 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

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