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Leatt DBX 6.0 Helmet

Noah Bodman reviews the Leatt DBX 6.0 helmet for Blister Gear Review.

Leatt DBX 6.0

Leatt DBX 6.0 Helmet

Size: Medium (57-58 cm)

Color: Carbon / White / Red

Blister’s Measured Weight: 1048 g

Stated Features:

  • 360° Turbine Technology
  • Reduced Outer Shell Volume
  • 3D In-Molded V-Foam
  • Optimal Neck Brace Compatibility
  • Maximized Ventilation

Price: $499.99

Reviewer: 5’9” 155 lbs, Head circumference: 57 cm

Test Locations: Various locations in BC, MT, and ID

Days Tested: ~3 Months

Leatt has been making protective gear for quite a while, so it was only a matter of time before they released the centerpiece of any rider’s protection, the helmet. Some might recall that news of Leatt helmets came out quite some time ago, but various delays (including a fire at their helmet factory) set that timetable back a bit.

But Leatt’s helmet lineup has finally become available, and I’ve spent the last two months spinning DH laps in the DBX 6.0. Here’s how it’s performed.

Fit

Fit is pretty much the most important factor when buying a helmet. The whole point of a helmet is to keep you from vegetablizing yourself, and a good fit is key to a helmet working properly. Helmet fit is obviously specific to everyone’s individual head. Some people have wider heads, or longer heads, etc. So if possible, try before you buy.

In terms of the stated size, the Medium I rode in fit true to size. My head measures 57 cm in circumference, which is at the small end of the Leatt’s recommended range (57 – 58cm) for a Medium DBX 6.0. I’d say that’s spot on – my head fit well, and I think someone with a 58cm head would fit a Medium well too.

Noah Bodman reviews the Leatt DBX 6.0 helmet for Blister Gear Review.

Noah Bodman in the Leatt DBX 6.0 Helmet, Whistler, BC.

The DBX 6.0 has a slightly more rounded shape than Giro or Troy Lee helmets I’ve ridden, and a more oval shape than Bell helmets I’ve ridden. In terms of fit around my skull, it feels roughly similar to the Smith Forefront half shell and the Kali Avatar X full face.

As far as fit around my cheeks, it’s comparable to the Kali Avatar X. It’s not as snug as the Troy Lee D3 or the POC Cortex with thick pads installed, but it’s tighter than the POC Cortex with thin pads.

Construction and Safety

The DBX 6.0 has a laundry list of features, some of which are safety oriented, and some of which are comfort oriented.

Starting with the safety features, the DBX has what Leatt calls “360° Turbine Technology.” Basically, those are little round rubber discs that can wiggle in any direction. The idea here is very similar to MIPS — to reduce rotational impacts. Basically, when your head hits the ground, pretty often it’ll be a glancing blow. This means that as your head bounces off the dirt, part of the force is a direct blunt force (like if someone punched you straight in the side of the head), and part of the force is rotational (like if someone twisted your head really fast). The blunt force impact is bad because, essentially, it causes your brain to slosh against the inside of your skull. The rotation is also bad because your brain essentially twists inside your skull.

The 360° Turbines are intended to deal with the rotational force – they allow the helmet to rotate a little bit without rotating your head, thus slowing down that rotational impact. Along the same lines, Leatt also worked to make the physical size of the helmet as small as possible. In rotational impacts, your helmet acts as a lever – the larger the helmet, the more rotational force it can exert on your head. By keeping the helmet shape smaller, Leatt minimizes that effect.

Now, of course, any full face helmet has two significant levers built into it – the visor and the chin bar. There’s not a whole lot that can be done to minimize the potential for snagging the chin bar in a crash, but for the visor, Leatt built in break-away bolts so the visor will release in a crash before it begins to work against you.

Noah Bodman reviews the Leatt DBX 6.0 helmet for Blister Gear Review.

Noah Bodman in the Leatt DBX 6.0 Helmet, Whistler, BC.

All of those features deal with rotational impacts, but the DBX 6.0 has what they call “V-Foam” to address direct forces as well. The vast majority of bike helmets rely on an expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam to handle an impact – basically, your heads hits the ground, the EPS deforms or breaks, and in so doing, dissipates some of the force of the impact and (hopefully) slows the deceleration of your brain enough that you live to ride another day. Leatt’s V-Foam is similar to Kali’s “Fusion Plus” foam in that there’s two different densities of EPS that are molded together with the helmet’s shell in a sort of pyramid shape. Those pyramids help dissipate force sideways, rather than directly towards your head.

Leatt also worked to make the helmet as light as possible – at 1048 grams, the DBX 6.0 is decently light for having a lot of features, but there are lighter helmets out there. For reference, the Kali Avatar X weighed in at 876 g, a POC Cortex Flow is around 1000 g, and a Troy Lee D3 is around 1125 g. Aside from just being more comfortable, a lighter helmet can reduce whiplash in a crash.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the DBX 6.0 also works well with a neck brace. I tried the helmet with a Leatt DBX 6.5 carbon, an older Leatt brace, as well as an Alpinestars Pro Bionic brace and it worked well with all of them. Notably, when using the DBX 6.5 neck brace, I had quite a bit more range of motion with the DBX 6.0 than when I used the Kali Avatar X with the same brace. That held true with all of the neck braces I tried. It was a lot more comfortable to ride with, but still seemed like it’d serve it’s intended purpose and limit my neck from bending too far in a crash.

There are also some fairly minor features that are nevertheless well thought out. For example – the cheek pads can be removed without undoing the chin strap. If you’ve had a bad crash and the helmet needs to be removed while keeping your neck stabilized, this makes things a lot easier.

The skeptical among us will undoubtedly be saying, Sure, there’s all of these slick features that are presented to us as being “better,” but do they really make any difference? I can’t definitively answer that question. They all make sense to me, and they’re all in line with what some other helmet manufacturers are doing. But I don’t have any independent way to test the helmet’s safety. Fortunately, Leatt has published the results of all of their certification testing. This is something that we at Blister have been asking for for years, and we give Leatt a lot of credit for putting those numbers out there for anyone to see.

Speaking of certifications, the DBX 6.0 passes EN1078, US CPSC, and ASTM F1952–10. That’s more or less the standard array of certifications for a top of the line DH helmet, and the reason the helmet is submitted to different standards is largely just because different countries have different testing requirements.

Generally speaking, those helmet tests consist of putting the helmet on a weighted “head” and dropping it onto anvils of various shapes. Notably, the ASTM F1952 certification is specifically designed for downhill bike helmets, and it’s testing criteria are more rigorous in that the helmets are dropped from higher, and it tests the chinbar, which most other certifications don’t.

Performance, Aesthetics, Etc.

3 Comments

  1. Neil Barstow October 22, 2017 Reply

    Hey Noah
    Another very informative review. I certainly agree with you that comfort and design should be a given and safety is paramount.
    I’m looking for an Enduro helmet and the same Leatt “turbine” shock absorber tech is applied to the dbx 3 enduro helmet v2.
    It’s an interesting helmet because It’s certified and tested to EN1078 and CPSC 1203, while the chin bar is certified and tested to pass ASTM1952. Weight is around 700 grams, or about 375 without the chin bar.

    Perhaps ATSM 1952 isn’t quite as high a certification as that of the DBX6. But it’s a much more practical hat for rides with a lot of pedalling. Lighter. Better venting and the removable chin bar all seem big advantages for “old school self assisted pedal up steady & go for it on the downward inclines” riding.
    Man, I’d love you guys to test that one for your less full on rides.

    So far so good with the DBX3 Enduro then.

    Now, my main question –
    Having heard Jonathan’s super informative interview with Sweetprotection I can justify a new helmet for sure. Especially since my Flux was probably compromised by a recent pedal clip / tree headbutt incident.

    Inspired by that interview, I’ve looked at MIPS which apprently involves an internal frame that, in “trail designs” grips the head using the XC style” tensioner/retention device to help it tighten. So the entire head is “gripped”.
    Trying it on though reveals very little damping in the “rotational float” – which had me wondering about the benefits.
    Ståle Møller, Mr Sweetprotection was very firm about the importance of a good snug fit. I get his point.
    Leatt write about better basic protection AND reduction of rotational force. Nice.
    But, of course, there are almost always voids between the skull and the inside of a helmet, the internal pads just don’t touch everywhere, (unless you’re amazingly lucky I guess).
    So. I’m wondering how effective those turbines are when/if they are not all touching the head.
    On the DBX 3 the rear tensioner isn’t apparently part of the damped rotating mechanism as far as I can see (unlike MIPS). So, it got me thinking.
    I realise you’ve likely only handled the tested v6 helmet, but those turbines are the same, it seems. Maybe it has the V-Foam licenced by Kali too.
    Just wondered if you have any thought on how effective the turbines are.
    I guess, in an impact, the head might push into the loaded area and thus “fit” against the turbine pads, so allowing them to do their job.
    Maybe you discussed this with Leatt?
    I was looking for some stuff from Leatt about this, but their youtube channel seems to be more about showing riders in action (sometimes on pretty crazy “bikes”).

    It’s plainly a pretty serious company where protection is involved so my money’s on Leatt just now. Hitting a tree would be a hard way to find out though.

    Any thoughts please Noah.

    & might you test the DBX enduro V3 sometime?

    Thanks man
    Great review.

    N

    • Noah Bodman Author
      Noah Bodman October 23, 2017 Reply

      Hi Neil,

      We actually just got a DBX 3 Enduro – so we’ll have a review on that once we’ve spent a bit of time with it.

      But as to your question regarding the Turbines – I think it’s tough to say how effective they are in the real world. I know Leatt has done a fair amount of testing, and their tests most definitely show that the 360 Turbines help. But, like MIPS, the Turbines are primarily intended to address rotational impacts, and that situation I think is somewhat inherently complicated to test. I would say most crashes have some amount of rotational force involved, but depending on the specifics of the crash and the impact, that rotation may or may not be problematic. And then, depending on how the rotational forces are introduced, a system like Leatt’s Turbines may or may not be able to address those forces.

      So I guess my take away with the 360 Turbines, MIPS, 6D’s ODS, and Kali’s LDL is that they almost certainly work as advertised to reduce the effects of a rotational impact. But it’s not every crash where those features will come into play, so those features really work to improve safety in a fairly specific set of circumstances. What I don’t know, and can’t really say, is which of these systems works best. My hunch is that each system has a particular set of circumstances in which it’s superior. E.g. if your crash looks like “this,” then MIPS does the best job of minimizing the impact, but if it looks like “that” then the 360 Turbines do a better job. But given that this is 1) speculation, and 2) even if it’s true, I don’t know which system works best in which situation, and none of that really matters because 3) I don’t know what my next crash is going to look like.

      So at the end of the day, I think these systems are worthwhile, and I’ll continue to buy helmets with some sort of technology for addressing rotational impacts. But I’ll also continue to ask the companies to release more (and better) test data on that subject so that we can all make a more informed decision.

      Cheers,
      Noah

  2. neil barstow October 23, 2017 Reply

    Hi Noah,
    I’m pleased you have the Enduro version to test.
    I’ll really look forward to reading that piece.
    Yeah, you’re right, nobody knows about real world crashes as against a rubbery surfaced test-form behaviour. Like you, I think some kind of rotational damping can’t be a bad thing as long as it doesn’t increase helmet size too much, or reduce foam thickness too much either..
    This linked piece is pretty informative from helmets.org (The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute). https://helmets.org/mips.htm

    My original post was too ling, sorry – but DO you perhaps have any thoughts about my question about how those turbines might work in circumstances where the head isn’t filling up all the helmet (as it rarely does)?
    As you’ve had a head inside the DH version of the helmet and now have the V3 too, I guess you can feel the ability to rotate once its on.
    It’ll be interesting to read whether you feel the DBX 3 Enduro V2’s rear retention device / tensioner kinda “locks the head in” potentially reducing the effect of the turbines.
    I saw that Giro’s rear retention device rotates WITH the MIPS liner part, i.e. separately from the helmet. Leatt’s doesn’t
    I wrote
    “there are almost always voids between the skull and the inside of a helmet, the internal pads just don’t touch everywhere, (unless you’re amazingly lucky I guess).
    So. I’m wondering how effective those turbines are when/if they are not all touching the head.
    On the DBX 3 the rear tensioner isn’t apparently part of the damped rotating mechanism as far as I can see (unlike Giro’s Montaro MIPS).”

    Maybe your “money” will move from being on the 6D to the DBX 3 Enduro V2 for trail-rides.

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