Leatt DBX 5.0 (2018) Riding Short

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Leatt DBX 5.0 Shorts (blue)
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Tested: Leatt's All-Weather DBX 5.0 Shorts

Nice-looking, high-tech, and ready for even the wettest of conditions, Leatt's DBX 5.0 shorts get put to the test.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Leatt's All-Weather DBX 5.0 Shorts

With the mountain biking industry booming right now, countless new equipment options are available. When looking for a decent pair of riding shorts, it doesn’t take long before one is up to their helmet strap in choices. In hopes of alleviating some of the stress and confusion, we slid our legs into the Leatt DBX 5.0 riding shorts. With nearly six months of abuse, here’s what we’ve learned.

Strengths

  • Waterproofing
  • Rear ventilation
  • Pocket volume
  • Tailored inseam
  • Pre-curved knee
  • Comfort

Weaknesses

  • Noisy
  • Front ventilation
  • Few pockets with relatively small openings
  • Rear waistline material durability

Highlights

  • HydraDri three-layer shell with dirt/water-repellent coating
  • Fully welded, taped seam construction
  • High waterproof and breathability rating of 20,000/20,000mm
  • Hydrophilic

With the mountain biking industry booming right now, countless new equipment options are available. When looking for a decent pair of riding shorts, it doesn’t take long before one is up to their helmet strap in choices. In hopes of alleviating some of the stress and confusion, we slid our legs into the Leatt DBX 5.0 riding shorts. With nearly six months of abuse, here’s what we’ve learned.

Strengths

  • Waterproofing
  • Rear ventilation
  • Pocket volume
  • Tailored inseam
  • Pre-curved knee
  • Comfort

Weaknesses

  • Noisy
  • Front ventilation
  • Few pockets with relatively small openings
  • Rear waistline material durability

Highlights

  • HydraDri three-layer shell with dirt/water-repellent coating
  • Fully welded, taped seam construction
  • High waterproof and breathability rating of 20,000/20,000mm
  • Hydrophilic material, reducing condensation
  • YKK AquaGuard zippers and multi-row safety stitching
  • Pre-curved, tailored fit with 3D shaped, non-snagging knees for comfort when pedaling with protection
  • Soft touch, durable 500D three-layer, laminated and seamless seat panel
  • Brush Guard reinforcement on knees
  • Rear ventilation with zipper
  • Waterproof thigh pockets
  • Soft touch waist lining with back gripper to prevent seat drop
  • Sizes: XS-XXL (black only) and S-XL (other colors)
  • MSRP: $119.99 USD

Initial Impressions

Pulling the Leatt DBX 5.0 shorts out of their packaging, they check all the boxes of a high-end pair of riding shorts. The materials are top notch, and the craftsmanship appeared to be very good with a unique fit and materials not found in the majority of riding shorts today. Each zipper, except the fly, has a rubber strip attached to the end to for easy opening and closing, even with downhill-rated gloves.

The Leatt DBX 5.0 shorts don’t struggle in the looks department, either. The Leatt branding on each side has just the right amount of pop, while not presenting a pedaling billboard on the trail. This is true not only for the black pair we tested, but also the other colors offered (ink blue and ruby red at the time of writing).

The fabric is thinner than most shorts of the same style, and as a result, their weight is minimal. Coming in at 335 grams for the 36-inch (XL) size, the Leatt DBX 5.0 shorts are some of the lightest in their class.

Waterproofing

When Leatt made the DBX 5.0 shorts, they certainly had dark, balmy, Pacific Northwest riding in mind. The outer material has a waterproof rating of 20,000/20,000mm, which is higher than the majority of ski and snowboard gear. To better put this into perspective, Gore-Tex has been deemed completely waterproof by a large amount on outdoor adventurists with a waterproof rating of 28,000mm — these shorts aren’t too far off. Every zipper is lined with rubber strips, which makes them waterproof, too. Think you’ll be completely dry now? Leatt wasn’t convinced. They decided to line every seam with fully-welded tape just to be safe. A flash flood will end your ride before these shorts will.

Although there is a huge perk for such waterproofing, there is one noticeable setback. While pedaling and moving around, the waterproof material has a crackle and a crinkle similar to a hardshell snowboard jacket. This is apparent with every step and pedal stroke. Is it a complete deal breaker? No, not unless you are constantly trying to sneak out of the house for a ride. Once on the trail, the noise does seem to blend with all the other noises associated with riding, but the audible crunchiness never truly goes away.

Breathability

Despite the high waterproof rating of the DBX 5.0 shorts, the material offers good breathability. During long climbs in warmer desert temperatures, we never found ourselves complaining about the heat. One of the biggest attributes to the breathability are the two ventilation zippers found on the back of the legs. These zippers extend nearly the entire length of the thigh and are 10 inches long (XL). When fully open, air is allowed to flow easily and freely out of each leg to give you the closest experience to a real-life Corona commercial.

Although the two exhaust ports should be adequate for most riders, if you’re one who runs hot or just wants the best ventilation possible, having two additional ventilation zippers on the front legs would allow air to flow freely in and out of the shorts, cooling the rider even more. Additional vents aren’t a necessity but would make these shorts a bit more appealing during the hottest of summer days.

Pockets

Pockets are a must-have for many of today's riders who prefer to bring everyday items on a ride without a pack. That being said, the DBX 5.0 shorts did not disappoint. These shorts come with two, yes only two, pockets and are found on the front of each leg. While the number of pockets is not impressive, the size of these pockets certainly is. Measuring 9-inches deep from the zipper with 2-inches above and 7-inches across, the DBX 5.0 shorts will house virtually any cellphone, no matter how “Plus” it is, along with multi-tools, patch kits, or snacks for the trail. The only thing real restriction for stuffing massive items in the pockets are the 6-inch zippers.

While the cargo capacity of these pockets got us excited, it didn’t take too long before we felt like we were hauling a junk drawer around the trails. Two hand pockets above these huge pouches may offer better compartmentalization of said junk.

Sizing & Fit

Unlike some riding shorts, the DBX 5.0 offers a slimmer and more tailored fit. This was very evident when throwing them on for the first time. Normally a 33-34-inch waist, we opted for the 34-inch size. Putting this size on, we noticed that everything from the waist to the knee was fairly tight with the crotch area being the tightest (wink, wink). They were quickly swapped for the larger size 36 and that provided a bit more room for our posterity.

A feature that made sizing up possible are the elastic bands with adjustable Velcro straps found on both sides of the waist. We were able to bring the straps several inches inward on each side and this allowed a more tailored waistline fit.

Even after sizing up, the crotch area felt a bit tighter than other shorts. At first it felt a bit abnormal, but we grew to love it in a way — the shorts never snagged on the saddle during technical maneuvers, which set the DBX 5.0 shorts in a league of their own.

Because the bulk of this short is made from a highly waterproof-rated material, they don’t offer much stretch. Regardless, don’t count the DBX 5.0 out for being comfortable. The cut of these shorts contour well with rider movement. The knees are pre-shaped to match the bend of knees at riding position and offer enough room for hefty knee guards.

To increase the conformity of the shorts, there is a strip of flexy material, similar to that of leggings, that starts from one hip and wraps around the back to the other side. Inside the waistline, Leatt placed a grippy silicone-printed strip along the back that help secure the shorts, ensuring the trails remain G-rated with no plumber-crack moonlighting.

Although the perfect fit was arduous to initially find, we were able to get close by up-sizing and utilizing the Velcro straps. Because the DBX 5.0 shorts do fit slightly differently than other brands, we’d strongly recommend trying the shorts on before buying so you know you get a fit that works for you.

Long Term Durability

Through our testing so far, Leatt's DBX 5.0 shorts have held up very well despite one fatal flaw – being in riding position proved to be a bit too much for the stretchy material just below the back waistband. Although the stitching has stayed in place, this more fragile material has pulled apart. The rest of the material hasn’t shown major signs of wear, which is nice considering the amount of abuse they have experienced.

To increase the durability on the inside of the legs, Leatt added a 500D three-layer that has held up to the constant rubbing and friction that occurs when pedaling.

Another issue we encountered happened even before we could get the shorts on. To help release the dual snaps above the zipper, Leatt stitched in an extra rubber tab for grip. When tugging on this tab, it ripped off almost immediately. Without the tab in place, unsnapping was as familiar as other shorts and getting them on or off was essentially unaffected.

What's The Bottom Line?

When looking for a great pair of riding shorts, the Leatt DBX 5.0 checks many boxes riders require. The looks, waterproofing, ventilation, pockets, and snag-free fit really make these shorts shine. Although the waterproofing is a plus, the crackling and crinkling fabric noise could pose an issue for those wanting a quiet trail experience. Durability-wise, the shorts held up quite well except for the back panel. Unfortunately, such a flaw could easily sink the entire ship and render the shorts unusable down the road. The sizing and fit certainly shouldn’t be taken for granted, as they tend to be a bit tighter than other shorts on the market and we recommend trying them on before buying. A lot of time and effort went into developing the DBX 5.0 shorts, and it certainly shows. Aside from a few issues with sizing and an extraneous rubber tab malfunction, they have seen a lot of mileage and have been a very good pair of shorts.

New for 2019, Leatt has introduced an updated version of the DBX 5.0 short. Thanks to a material change, they now feature improved four-way stretch and waterproof/breathability ratings.

Visit www.leatt.com for more details.

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About The Reviewer

Lance Starling - Age: 30 // Years Riding: 17 // Height: 6'3" (1.91m) // Weight: 190-pounds (86.2kg)

Lance got his first mountain bike in 2001. Fast-forward 17 years and not a day has gone by that he hasn’t completely obsessed over the sport. This obsession has transformed him into a mountain bike guru whose love for picking apart components and gear is similar to a honey badger consuming king cobras. Nothing is left untouched. His playful riding style generally keeps him more in the air than on the ground and whatever tricks he lacks he makes up for with a good ol’ bar hump. Never at any time have consumers have had it so good and with over ten years in the industry as a certified mechanic and gear expert, Lance is devoted to helping those riders find the perfect gear to meet their needs.

Photos by Lance Starling

Specifications

Product Leatt DBX 5.0 (2018) Riding Short
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Rider Unisex
Shorts Type Shorts
Material HydraDri three-layer shell with dirt/water repellent coating
Hydrophilic material, reducing condensation
Soft touch, durable 500D three-layer, laminated and seamless seat panel
Brush Guard reinforcement on knees
Soft touch waist lining with back gripper
Pockets 2 waterproof thigh pockets
Vents Zippered vents at the backs of the legs
Size XS-XXL (black only) and S-XL (other colors)
Colors Black, Blue, or Lime
Miscellaneous High waterproof and breathability rating of 20.000/20.000
YKK AquaGuard zippers and multi-row safety stitching
Fully-welded taped seam construction
Pre-curved, tailored fit with 3D shaped, non-snagging knees for comfort when pedaling with protectors
2017/2018 model years version
Price $119.99
More Info

www.leatt.com

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