Leatt DBX 4.0 Full Face Helmet

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Tested: Leatt’s All-New DBX 4.0 Lightweight Full Face Helmet

Leatt throws its hat in the lightweight, breathable full face helmet game.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Leatt’s All-New DBX 4.0 Lightweight Full Face Helmet

Lightweight, breathable full face helmets are all the rage in the enduro and trail riding world currently, and now protection specialist Leatt is throwing its hat in the ring with the all-new DBX 4.0. Weighing in at under 900 grams, the new Leatt lid features plenty of ventilation but also lots of innovative safety features, and just like its main competition it comes fully certified up to DH level. We’ve been testing the DBX 4.0 over the past few months, read on to find out how we’ve been getting along.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Innovative safety features
  • Very comfortable
  • Breathes well
  • Stable in use
  • Slightly heavier than main competition
  • Slightly warmer than main competition
  • Only two shell sizes makes it harder to fit all head sizes and shapes
  • Non-adjustable visor

Leatt DBX 4.0 Full Face

Lightweight, breathable full face helmets are all the rage in the enduro and trail riding world currently, and now protection specialist Leatt is throwing its hat in the ring with the all-new DBX 4.0. Weighing in at under 900 grams, the new Leatt lid features plenty of ventilation but also lots of innovative safety features, and just like its main competition it comes fully certified up to DH level. We’ve been testing the DBX 4.0 over the past few months, read on to find out how we’ve been getting along.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Innovative safety features
  • Very comfortable
  • Breathes well
  • Stable in use
  • Slightly heavier than main competition
  • Slightly warmer than main competition
  • Only two shell sizes makes it harder to fit all head sizes and shapes
  • Non-adjustable visor

Leatt DBX 4.0 Full Face Helmet Highlights

  • Polymer compound shell in two sizes
  • Removable mouthpiece
  • 360 Turbine Technology for energy absorption and protection from rotational impact forces
  • In-molded EPS + EPO impact foam for energy absorption
  • 22 vents
  • Fidlock magnetic strap closure
  • Dri-Lex® liner (moisture wicking, breathable, anti-odor, washable)
  • Breakaway visor
  • Certification: AS/NZS 2063:2008, ASTM F1952–10, EN1078, CPSC 1203
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Colors: Black, Blue, Grey, Red
  • Weight: 886 (size L, verified)
  • MSRP: $229.99 USD

Initial Impressions

The DBX 4.0 presents a burly profile and fairly toned down graphics, with an angular design language that is pretty close to the FOX ProFrame. At 880 grams (as tested) and sporting 22 vents, the new DBX lands squarely in the burgeoning “lightweight full face” category, where it will face off against the TLD Stage, FOX ProFrame, MET Parachute, as well as convertibles like the Giro Switchblade and the Bell Super DH. These helmets are designed to be worn both on the way up and the way down, thus satisfying the requirements of many official enduro races but also providing a good solution for weekend warriors looking to get gnarly on their trail rides, aka full face full timers.

The Leatt company was formed when South African Dr. Chris Leatt decided to combine his medical training with his passion for motorcycles to meet what he saw as an urgent need to come up with a device for protecting against neck injuries. The Leatt Brace was born and the first units shipped to customers in late 2006, with worldwide success spawning more models and laying the foundation for the broad catalog of action sports protective equipment that the company produces today. Against this backdrop it should come as no surprise that the DBX 4.0 sports an impressive number of safety features.

The new DBX uses an in-molded dual-density EPS + EPO liner which protects against different types of impact (EPO is a multi-impact material which is good at managing lower force impacts, while EPS crushes under heavier impacts to absorb energy). Additionally, it features Leatt’s “360-degree Turbine” technology; a set of small inserts produced from a visco-elastic material that work both to dissipate straight impact forces as well as provide a shear plane that helps limit the transmission of rotational forces to the brain in case of off-axis impacts (the latter is similar to what MIPS does although the method differs).

The cheek pads snap into place and have pull tabs to aid with helmet removal after a crash (not pictured). The chinbar is non-removable and features a softer, rubbery material on the inside that should provide a comfortable landing spot for your grill should you decide to stick it somewhere it wasn’t meant to go. There is a protective grill on the front of the chinbar that can be removed to improve ventilation here. The visor is designed to break away in case of a fall and will snap right back into place. The DBX 4.0 is fully ASTM certified for DH use, which means that both the helmet and the chinbar pass the relevant impact testing.

In terms of comfort, the DBX 4.0 offers 22 vents, strategically placed to provide enough airflow to keep you cool even when climbing. Most of the vents are long and narrow, which seems like a good way to limit the type and size of pointy objects that might otherwise penetrate a vent to cause injury in a fall. The washable liner is made of a material that is very soft to the touch and offers an extensive amount of internal padding. Each helmet is delivered with replacement cheek pads of different thickness to allow you to fine tune the fit. The chin strap uses the “Fidlock” magnetic buckle, which snaps shut automatically and opens with a simple sideways sliding motion.

On The Trail

The DBX 4.0 is slightly heavier than the main competitors in the category (the new TLD Stage weighs in at a scant 690 grams, for example), but 880 grams is still very light for a full face helmet. Thanks to the generous internal liner, the DBX retains much of the classic full face helmet feel which provides a nice sense of security when pulling it on for the first time. We tested a size L, which is on the roomy side for this tester (head measurement 58-59cm), but the standard cheek pads were enough to secure the fit. Having only two shell sizes to cover a large size range means the helmet might not always offer every rider the perfect fit, so make sure you try before you buy.

We’ve been testing the DBX 4.0 for nearly five months by now, and even in the height of summer we were able to keep it on for big days out and extensive climbs.

On the trail, the DBX 4.0 breathes very well. You can really feel the vents working as soon as you roll out, and despite the plush and comfortable liner your head remains properly ventilated even on hotter days. Leatt had the good sense to not place any of the vents directly under the goggle strap, so you don't have to chose between seeing and staying cool. The mouth guard grill is removable, and we highly recommend running without it for any kind of all-mountain riding as this really helps with breathing. We’ve been testing the DBX 4.0 for nearly five months by now, and even in the height of summer we were able to keep it on for big days out and extensive climbs. Compared to the TLD Stage or the FOX ProFrame, the DBX 4.0 runs a little bit hotter, but it is still much cooler than a regular full face.

Once the trail heads downwards, the DBX 4.0 proved to be very stable in use. As previously mentioned, the size L is on the limit of being too roomy for this tester, but it still remained securely in place even as things got hectic. The large frontal opening works well with any goggles, and although the visor is not adjustable, it did not seem to interfere with our vision much if at all. We have been lucky enough to avoid taking any major diggers while wearing the DBX 4.0, so we can’t offer a definitive observation on how well the various safety features work in real life, but the helmet “feels” very solid and reassuring and all that technology as well as the certifications lead us to believe that we would be in good hands should we fail to keep the rubber side down.

Things That Could Be Improved

We would love to see Leatt offer more shell sizes to allow more riders to really achieve that perfect fit. Other than that, you could argue that it should drop a few grams to be fully competitive in this new category of helmets, but we think of this more as a trade-off that riders should make for themselves. There is something reassuring about that little bit of extra heft, and if you are looking for a lightweight full face that closely mimics the feeling of a regular full face, this could well be the ticket. It still breathes very well, despite the thick and comfortable liner, although it does come up just short of the class leaders in this aspect. An adjustable visor might be a requirement for some riders, but we should once again point out that we were never bothered by the visor's static position on the DBX 4.0 while testing it. It remains at the top of the field of view where it does a good job of blocking out the sun without causing any major tunnel vision. This does also mean you can't push your goggles up under the visor for the climbs however.

Long Term Durability

We’ve had the DBX 4.0 out on the trail for close to five months by now, and it has held up really well to abuse. The exterior finish appears particularly well suited to a mountain biker’s life of rough and tumble, it does not scratch easily and it still looks every bit as fresh as the day we got it. The liner is advertised to be odor-free and after lots of heavy sweating we can confirm that it does what it says on the box. The general construction is very solid and the craftsmanship is exemplary, which leads us to think you should be able to get many happy hours of use out of this one. Of course, the shell liner uses EPS (which is meant to deform in a heavy crash without being able to recover its original form), so you’d need to replace the helmet if you take a major slam with it, but that’s how it goes with most helmets.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The lightweight, breathable full face helmet market is really heating up, no pun intended. As the way we ride our “enduro” bikes continues to evolve, so does the need for more serious protection that can be used outside of lift-assisted environments. Leatt’s DBX 4.0 arrives to the party loaded with innovative safety features, and manages to cram it all into a package that weighs only slightly more than its key competitors. If you want a breathable full face helmet that still retains much of the feeling of a classic full face, this one is certainly worthy of your attention.

More information at: www.leatt.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 45 // Years Riding MTB: 13 // 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 Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Leatt DBX 4.0 Full Face Helmet
Riding Type Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park
Rider Unisex
Number of Vents 22
Construction EPS, EPO, polymer compound shell
Adjustable Padding Yes
Certification AS/NZS 2063:2008, ASTM F1952–10, EN1078, CPSC 1203
Bag Soft
Size S-XL
Colors Black, Blue, Grey, Red
Weight 1 lb 15.3 oz (886 g)
Miscellaneous Weight: 886 (size L, verified)
Price $229.99
More Info

​www.leatt.com

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