If you’re the type of rider who doesn’t need a neck protector for your weekend rides, you can be forgiven for not paying a lot of attention to Leatt in the past. The company is known for producing the first bicycle-specific protective neck brace in 2010, the DBX, and if you’re a regular Singletracks, reader you’ve no doubt read Syd’s reviews of the DBX (here, here, and here). The DBX neck brace is still great, but clearly Leatt is not content to rest on their laurels, as this year’s product lineup shows.
There’s a trend in mountain biking, partially driven by the rise in enduro racing, toward more minimal armor, and Leatt has riders covered with the new Airflex line of elbow and knee protection. Airflex uses “Armourgel, a non-Newtonian gel that locks up the molecules and becomes hard on impact.” This is similar to the 3DF material used in previous knee and elbow guards but isn’t nearly as bulky, allowing it to flex and move with the rider.
In person, these protectors look and feel like arm or knee warmers, and even XC/trail riders should have no problem putting this stuff on for a ride. Leatt claims the material works great in hot and cold temperatures which is good news for riders, especially in colder climates where similar materials become stiff in sub-zero temps.
Leatt also showed off a new version of the 3DF Hybrid knee/shin guard that utilizes velcro straps exclusively to eliminate the need to slip the guards on/off. Once again, this is being driven by enduro racing, where riders are looking for an easy way to take guards off between downhill stages. Of course the tradeoff is comfort–velcro straps tend to dig into the skin more than a wide sleeve.
Leatt has a new line of DBX gloves, which includes the DBX 4.0 Lite and DBX 4.0 Windblock. Both versions feature Armourgel protection on the knuckles and also on the two outside fingers to protect against tree and rock strikes. Just be sure to get the right size glove so that the knuckle protectors line up with your actual knuckles. I tested this glove by punching a wooden display, and the glove worked great–until the glove shifted, leaving my knuckles exposed. Guess I need to move down a glove size. 🙂
The DBX 2.0 Enduro Lite is a new pack from Leatt designed with integrated back protection in addition to normal hydration pack features, like space for water and cargo. The outside material is super burly and looks like denim, which I’m totally digging. Leatt includes a helmet strap system and even GoPro mounting points on the shoulder straps.
The back protection in the DBX Enduro is made up of several layers of rigid foam material, and the cool thing is that riders can add or remove layers, depending on how much protection they expect to need for the ride. With full protection, the pack is honestly pretty heavy so for more casual rides, many will choose to eliminate some of the foam layers to get the weight down. The pack is also designed to be waterproof.
Finally, I was shocked to find out that Leatt designed their own hydration bladder for the Enduro pack. There are a ton of hydration packs on the market today, but most rely on bladder systems from one of three vendors. Not Leatt–their bladder is custom-designed to be dishwasher safe with a detachable inner baffle, and they even offer an inline water filter for use in the backcountry. Oh, and the hydration bladder pouch within the pack has a reflective panel to keep your water cold (or warm, for sub-freezing adventures).
Full Face Helmets
Leatt just released a couple new helmets, including the DBX 5.0 Composite and DBX 6.0 Carbon, and naturally the helmets are designed to work with the company’s signature line of neck braces. The rear is scooped out just a bit to allow better movement in conjunction with a neck brace, and offers excellent overall coverage.
Just like with the hydration pack, Leatt worked on the design in house, right down to the screws that hold the helmet’s visor in place. These screws are designed to break away in a crash, and many riders choose to simply replace breakaway plastic screws on other helmets with titanium (non-breakaway) ones for convenience. This isn’t safe, so Leatt:
1. Includes replacement screws right in the box.
2. Designed a better screw. The cap breaks away, leaving the screw part embedded in the threads below. However, the cap breaks away in such a way that a small allen key can be used to remove the lower portion of the screw (even the screw head itself can be used for extraction–if you can find yours after the crash).
Leatt also designed a port for a hydration hose, to make it easier for riders to hydrate on the go without removing the helmet or doing the awkward chin guard dodge / water bottle squirt.
Leatt continues to innovate, and it’s great to see the company’s vision for an integrated MTB safety and protection system. What will they dream up next?