Leatt DBX 3.0 Enduro Full Face Helmet

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Best of Both Worlds? We Ride the New Leatt DBX 3.0 Convertible Helmet

Leatt enters the convertible helmet game with the new DBX 3.0 Enduro.

Rating: Vital Review
Best of Both Worlds? We Ride the New Leatt DBX 3.0 Convertible Helmet

With the rise of enduro, and more specifically the actual racing discipline, the good old helmet has found itself the subject of much attention recently. Combining near World Cup-level tech and speed on the downs with long, grueling climbs means that your helmet now has to offer full-face levels of protection yet still remain breathable enough to cope with long, hot climbs. One solution that has seen a bit of a renaissance lately is the convertible helmet, where the chin bar can be removed for better ventilation on the way up the mountain. Leatt joined that party at the end of 2016 with the launch of their DBX 3.0 Enduro lid, and since it is now finally shipping we thought we should take a closer look at it.

Leatt DBX 3.0 Enduro Highlights

  • 18 vents
  • 360 Turbine Technology – helps prevent

With the rise of enduro, and more specifically the actual racing discipline, the good old helmet has found itself the subject of much attention recently. Combining near World Cup-level tech and speed on the downs with long, grueling climbs means that your helmet now has to offer full-face levels of protection yet still remain breathable enough to cope with long, hot climbs. One solution that has seen a bit of a renaissance lately is the convertible helmet, where the chin bar can be removed for better ventilation on the way up the mountain. Leatt joined that party at the end of 2016 with the launch of their DBX 3.0 Enduro lid, and since it is now finally shipping we thought we should take a closer look at it.

Leatt DBX 3.0 Enduro Highlights

  • 18 vents
  • 360 Turbine Technology – helps prevent rotational injury using a similar concept to the MIPS system, but uses 3D moulded Armourgel which stiffens on impact to protect against vertical impact.
  • PC outer shell in three sizes (S, M, L)
  • 3D in-molded impact foam for better energy absorption
  • Leatt claims up to 30% less impact for the head
  • Leatt claims up to 40% less rotational acceleration to the head and brain
  • Moisture-wicking, breathable, anti-odor washable liner and cheek pads (using zinc pyrithion)
  • Hydration ready (with optional hands-free kit)
  • Two click separation of jaw guard via buckle
  • Magnetic Fidlock chin strap buckle
  • Breakaway visor
  • Goggle compatible – visor moves up out the way
  • Chin bar conforms to ASTM1952 standard
  • Helmet certified to and passes EN1078, CPSC 1203
  • Weight – 838 grams with chin bar, 432 grams without chin bar (verified, size L)
  • MSRP: $239.99 USD

Initial Impressions

Out of the box, the DBX looks like a serious piece of kit. There are plenty of vents and the overall design is elaborately sculpted. Compared to a regular DH full-face helmet, the DBX has a narrower profile, especially noticeable when you view it from the front. The other standout aspect of the design is the very prominent chin bar, which protrudes a fair bit more than we are used to seeing on our full-face helmets.

With its roots firmly planted in protection, Leatt has put a lot of thought into how to make the DBX a better helmet. Pursuing a stated goal of looking to do more than just hold your head together in the event of a crash, Leatt also wanted to improve impact management and reduce rotational forces transmitted to the brain in off-angle crashes. They dubbed their technology “360 Turbine”, the reason for which is obvious to the eye: a series of turbine-like inserts made from a soft material that hardens on impact and that sit between the liner and your head, thus providing that extra bit of float required to manage the aforementioned impact and rotational forces. If the story seems familiar it’s probably because of MIPS, the Swedish system that was first to market with rotational force protection and that can now be found in helmets from many manufacturers. In the absence of truly verifiable, independent data it’s all we can do to take Leatt’s word for it, but they do claim a significant reduction both in low-speed impact and rotational force transmission with their 360 Turbine technology, which sounds like a good thing on the face of it.

Continuing our internal examination of the DBX, we find a fairly thin liner, strategically placed chin pads, and a harness-based, adjustable retention system that is activated with a single dial. Additionally, there is room for an integrated, hands-free hydration hose that can actually be attached inside the chin bar to provide easy drinking without removing your lid or even taking your hands off the bars (an optional add-on to Leatt’s own hydration packs).

The straps feature a “splitter” which is of fixed length on one side, whilst offering adjustability on the other, a smart way to use the cleaner, split strap design while still offering the necessary adjustability to account for different head shapes. The clever magnetic "Fidlock" buckle is meant to be easy to operate with just one hand. The chin guard features a simple mesh grill, and the breakaway visor is fairly small whilst offering a large degree of angle adjustment.

And now for the DBX’s party trick: the removable chin guard. Simply open the two big buckles on the side of the helmet and the chin bar slides right off, leaving just a classic, extended-coverage half-shell in its wake (essentially identical to the DBX 3.0 regular half-shell, just with slots for attaching the chin bar). Now, that does also leave you with a rather large chin bar to store on the way up the hill, but it’s arguably easier than having to ride down with a half-shell strapped to your pack, should you opt for the 2-helmet solution (remember that enduro racing often requires you to wear a helmet on the climbs – if it’s just you and your mates out there, there’s not much to stop you from just strapping a full face to your pack and climbing helmet-less, if we’re being honest).

Converting the DBX while riding/racing is only part of the story though. It’s nice to have the option to customize the level of protection for a given ride, without having to splurge on two helmets. Granted, we don’t feel like the DBX can replace a “real” full-face when it comes to knocking out laps in the park, but that is not really how it is being marketed anyway. It’s more about those riders looking for a bit more protection for their all-mountain and enduro rides, without resorting to a hot and bulky traditional full-face.

A note on certification and standards: the DBX 3.0 is certified to EN1078 and CPSC 1203 standards, which means it is fit for use as a bicycle helmet. The fact that the chin bar “conforms to the ASTM1952 standard” does not mean that the helmet as a whole is “certified for downhill use”. There are some convertible full-face helmets out there that DO have this certification, such as the new Giro Switchblade for example, or Fox’s non-convertible but super-breathable Proframe.

On The Trail

Putting the DBX on for the first time is a bit strange, for anybody used to a classic full-face. With thin, sometimes minimalist padding, and a harness-based retention system, the overall fit and general impression are much closer to a trail lid than to a full-face. The helmet is very light, and it also does not hug your skull the way a full-face does. The upshot of course is ventilation on a whole other level, but it comes at the price of “feeling” less protected. There is something very reassuring about all that padding in a full-face, and even the way it muffles sound helps create that extra feeling of confidence. That is not what you get with the DBX 3.0, to be perfectly clear.

Once you dial in the fit, the DBX is stable enough in use, and once you cinch down the adjustable rear harness it stays put even in very rough terrain. Up or down, it’s easy to breathe in the DBX and the helmet is very well ventilated – to the point that we could run it in full-face mode even during very warm days. We did find that the fit worked better with a smaller goggle, as the frontal area of the helmet can interfere with the top of a larger goggle even though the frontal opening is very large. In general, the front of the DBX tends to extend a bit further down compared to certain other half-shells, which means it works better when you have a solid piece of eyewear to help hold it up a bit. The fit with sunglasses is acceptable, although a tiny bit more room for the arms of the glasses would be helpful for certain models. We also found that the chin bar sits very far forward and quite low, which is obviously great for breathing but left us feeling a bit more exposed than with a traditional full-face. Once again we should point out that the intended use case is slightly different, and so is the overall experience on the trail.

As a half-shell, the DBX works great. The fit is comfortable and you can run it both with goggles and with riding glasses. Once again, the helmet is stable on the trail, and breathability is very good. Sadly, the position of the vents does not let them double as storage space for your riding glasses, so you’ll need to find somewhere else to stash those on long hot climbs. Pushing the visor up to store the goggles sort of works, although you may have to slide the goggle strap down on the helmet to find a secure location for it in this configuration – it pops out of the strap grove fairly easily when the goggle is pushed upwards.

Unbuckling and removing the chin bar while wearing the helmet is easy, whilst putting it back on is slightly more complicated. We eventually got the hang of it, but it was certainly easier in the beginning to actually take the helmet off to re-attach the chin bar.

As for storing the chin bar on climbs, a lot depends on your riding pack. It’s generally easy enough to use your pack’s straps to attach the chin bar, but the shape of it means that it may end up dangling around a bit. On a bigger pack it will generally be more stable, especially if there is a dedicated helmet carrier to use.

A final note on the straps: we love the ease of use of the magnetic “Fidlock” system. You basically just need to bring the two sides of the buckle towards each other, and they snap right into place – to open, just slide the two buckle halves sideways and they pop right out again. It’s super secure in use, and very easy to manipulate. When matched with the adjustable harness and strap splitters of the DBX, it adds up to a very user-friendly and efficient system.

Things That Could Be Improved

With due credit given to how well the DBX ventilates, we still feel like the chin bar could be brought closer to the face. This would further improve the level of protection it can offer, maybe not just in terms of a classic face-to-ground scenario but also with regards to things like branches and other protruding objects. A small opening lets less stuff in.

We also think that that Leatt could have shaved some material off the top of the front opening of the helmet. As it is, it tends to push down into your field a vision just a little bit (depending on your eyewear too), which could have been alleviated by cutting back the frontal lobe area just a bit, or giving it more of an upwards angle.

Long Term Durability

This is only a First Ride review, so we can’t provide any real life feedback on actual durability. The DBX seems to have been assembled with care, and the materials feel like they will be up to the job. We did note that we had to press a few of the hook-and-loop patches that hold the liner back into place as the glue appeared to have come a bit undone, but once we did that, they didn’t move anymore. Other than that minor niggle, the overall build quality is confidence-inspiring and feels worthy of the $240 price tag.

What’s The Bottom Line?

As mountain bikers, we’re often searching for that perfect Goldilocks product, not too hot, not too cold, not too soft, not too hard – in short, we’re a bunch of spoiled little brats always looking for an opportunity to complain about something. When it comes to our helmets, wouldn’t it be nice if they could be lighter, stronger, and more breathable, all while not costing too much and still protecting us as much as a fully decked out carbon DH lid? If that sounds like it’s asking a bit much, that’s because it is. However, if you are willing to compromise on some of those aspects, you’ll find that you can get really close to your ideal product. If it’s the uncompromising protection and that unbeatable snug feeling of a fully decked-out, DH full-face you’re after, the Leatt DBX 3.0 Enduro isn’t for you. It is however perfect for those riders looking for a little bit more peace of mind on rowdier trails, all while not cooking their heads on the way back up. Add in the fact that it can easily be converted to a pure half-shell thanks to its removable chin bar, and you’re looking at a very credible offering for anybody loathe to spend money on more than one helmet.

More information at: www.leatt.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord 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 Johan Hjord and Nils Hjord

Specifications

Product Leatt DBX 3.0 Enduro Full Face Helmet
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain, Trail
Rider Unisex
Number of Vents 23 total, 18 without chin bar
Construction Polycarbonate shell in three sizes with 3D in-molded impact foam and 360° Turbine Technology
Adjustable Padding Dri-Lex moisture wicking, breathable, anti-odor and washable inner liner
Certification EN1078, CPSC 1203
Bag Yes
Size S, M, L (sizing chart listed in images above)
Colors Black/White, Brushed, Ink, Ruby
Weight
  • 1 lb 10.5 oz (750 g)
  • 0 lb 13.2 oz (375 g)
Miscellaneous Bicycle Enduro Head and Brain Protection with Removable Chin Bar
  • 360° Turbine Technology
  • Reduces up to 30% of head impact at concussion level
  • Reduces up to 40% of rotational acceleration to head and brain
  • Optimized ventilation for riding and effective even at low speeds
  • Visor with breakaway function for rotational reduction in a crash
  • Removable chin bar
  • Hydration ready (with optional hands-free kit)
  • Fidlock magnetic closure system
  • Price $239.99
    More Info

    The DBX 3.0 Enduro helmet offers world-class protection with 360° Turbine Technology. Turbines made of 3D molded energy absorbing material are set inside the helmet. This technology has two main advantages, namely the reduction of rotational acceleration to the head and brain and the absorption of energy upon impact at concussion level.

    Engineered to help you go from downhill to uphill riding without having to change helmets. Made of a polycarbonate outer shell, it is lightweight and, the helmet’s key differentiator is that it is equipped with a removable chin bar. The helmet is also super ventilated – even at very low speeds.

    For more info, visit the Leatt website.

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