The Leatt DBX 3.0 impressed our testers with unique and innovative features that earned it our Top Pick for Innovation Award. Leatt has developed their own rotational impact protection system, known as Turbine 360. It is integrated into the shell of the DBX 3.0 for an added measure of protection. They've also spec'd the chin strap with a magnetic buckle that makes one-handed buckling and unbuckling a reality. The helmet is well ventilated and has a very user-friendly retention system to dial in the fit. The DBX 3.0 sits high on the head compared to some of the competition but still manages to offer good back of the head coverage. An adjustable visor rounds out the features and adds to this helmet's versatility with goggle compatibility. The DBX 3.0 is a quality helmet with unique features that are worthy of your attention.
Leatt DBX 3.0 All Mountain Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Magnetic chinstrap buckle, Turbine 360 system, good ventilation, goggle compatible
Cons: Sits high on the head, straps make ear contact
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Our Analysis and Test Results
In recent years, helmet safety technology has been improving with protective features like rotational impact protection systems, most notably MIPS. Most manufacturers have licensed the MIPS technology, but a few brands have created their own systems in an attempt to provide the same, if not better, protection for the user. Leatt is one of the brands that has developed a proprietary system, known as Turbine 360. It aims to reduce rotational forces on the brain in the event of an impact, while also absorbing the forces of that impact. We like to see smaller brands on the front lines of safety innovation, and Leatt is helping to lead the charge.
Protection isn't a metric that we rated, but we do feel it is the most important aspect of a helmet, so we'll discuss the Leatt's approach to head protection here.
There's more than one way to address impact forces, and Leatt does so with their 360 Turbine system. It uses multiple (10 in the case of the DBX 3.0) 3D molded rings that are made from an energy absorbing material of Leatt's own development, known as Armourgel. These small blue rings are distributed throughout the inner shell of the helmet and padding and have two primary purposes. The Turbines are designed to work as both a slip plane and an energy absorber. So, Leatt claims that the 360 Turbine system can reduce rotational acceleration by up to 40%, while also reducing head impact by up to 30%.
The SPIN system developed by POC and used in the POC Tectal Race SPIN is intended to work similarly, providing protection for both impact and rotational forces, while the industry standard MIPS only protects from the rotational forces.
Testers felt that the DBX 3.0 sits a little high on the head. The temporal lobe coverage is less than that of our fullest coverage helmets like the POC Tectal Race SPIN, or the Bell Hela Joy Ride, but the back of the shell drops down quite far to provide ample coverage over the occipital lobe.
Testers found the DBX 3.0 to be quite comfortable but also felt that it sits fairly high on the head when compared to some of the other models in the test. The coverage on the sides, by the temples, was limited, but there was good coverage on the back of the head. Testers found themselves attempting to push the helmet down farther on their heads on more than one occasion. Overall, testers preferred the fit and comfort of the POC Tectal Race SPIN, Smith Forefront 2, and Bell Hela Joy Ride over the DBX 3.0.
The fit was generally comfortable, with well-placed padding and a highly and easily adjustable retention system. The straps of the helmet and the strap yoke/splitter design was a low point, however, and it was difficult, if not impossible, to adjust the straps to a position that didn't conflict with our tester's ears.
The DBX 3.0 has several adjustable features. First, the retention system/size adjustment on the back of the head is very user-friendly with a large dial that can be adjusted one-handed. This dial adjusts the tension on the system evenly from both sides and snugs up against the occipital lobe.
The chin strap also has several inches of adjustment, but the straps around the ears and the strap splitter/yoke are somewhat of a pain to adjust. Try as we might we also couldn't seem to ever get the straps into a position that didn't come into contact with our ears. The design of this strap splitter is probably our least favorite aspect of the DBX 3.0 helmet, a far cry from the well-designed straps of the POC Tectal.
In contrast to the straps, the adjustable visor was a high point for our testers. It offers a good range of adjustability and flips up high enough to easily rest your goggles underneath it. The DBX 3.0 doesn't have a goggle clip or similar feature, but testers found their goggle straps stayed in place on the back of the helmet regardless.
The DBX 3.0 weighs in at 13.51 ounces. It's far from the lightest helmet in our test, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice that it weighs 0.7 ounces more than the POC Tectal Race SPIN, or 0.32 oz more than the Smith Forefront 2.
The features of the DBX 3.0 like the Turbine 360, the magnetic chin strap buckle, and the large, adjustable visor all add to the overall weight. It is still reasonable considering the performance, protection and features this helmet has to offer.
Testers found the ventilation of the DBX 3.0 to work well during long sunny ascents in the heat of the day. Airflow felt slightly less than that of the Smith Session but on par with our other well-ventilated helmets like the Smith Rover, Troy Lee A2, and the POC Tectal Race SPIN.
Ventilation is handled by 18 vents arranged with two long channels that allow air to flow from front to back. These channels also split the inner padding of the helmet, so there are gaps between the pads on either side of the head and those in the center. We noticed that the padding on the DBX 3.0 tends to allow less sweat to drip down our faces and onto our sunglasses than the competition. We think that perhaps the ventilation system and separated padding sections are the reason.
As mentioned above, the DBX 3.0 uses their rotational force reduction system known as 360 Turbine. In another unique and innovative move, they've also equipped the chinstrap of this helmet with a magnetic buckle. We were a little skeptical of this buckle at first since the normal plastic type we're all used to seem to work just fine, so why fix it if it's not broken? Some of our testers have used this style of buckle on ski helmets in the past, but this is the first time we've seen it on a bike helmet.
There is a very short learning curve for the magnetic buckle. At first, you want to clip it together yourself, but you soon learn to get the two pieces close together, and they finish the job for you. This system allows for one-handed clipping and unclipping of the chinstrap, something you can't do with standard plastic buckles.
Watch setting the helmet on the ground because the magnet on the chin strap will attract rocks and dirt. It does clean off with a bit of effort. To avoid the issue — hang your helmet on your handlebars, don't place it on the ground.
The Leatt DBX is well suited to all styles of mountain bike riding. Anything from XC to enduro racing is in this helmet's wheelhouse, from short laps, shuttle runs, to all day backcountry epics. The XC race crowd might steer away due to its unique styling, large visor, and slightly heavier weight, but anyone seeking a well ventilated, versatile, and protective lid with innovative design and safety features should give the DBX 3.0 a look.
At a retail price of $170, the DBX 3.0 certainly isn't cheap, although it costs $50 less than our Editor's Choice Award winner, the POC Tectal Race SPIN. For the protection, performance, and features we think it is a good value. It did earn one of the highest scores in our test selection and was awarded our Top Pick for Innovation Award for their use of unique features like 360 Turbine Technology and a magnetic chinstrap buckle.
The DBX 3.0 is a top quality all-mountain half shell helmet that has a good design and innovative features. The helmet is comfortable, well ventilated, and is versatile for a wide range of riding styles. Our testers liked Leatt's innovation and use of their rotational impact protection system, 360 Turbine, as well as the magnetic chinstrap buckle. If you're looking for a comfortable and protective helmet, but you want something a little different, then check out the DBX 3.0.
— Jeremy Benson and Dustin Schaad