A few months back the good folks at Leatt sent two of their gravity helmets to test and compare, so we pedaled around in their least expensive full-face and the top-shelf-brain-bucket. The MTB 1.0 DH V21 lid comes in three sizes and five colors, retailing for around $99 (available for backorder at Performance Bike), while the MTB 8.0 V21 currently comes in two colorways and the same three sizes, and retails for $399.99 (currently 20% off at JensonUSA).
So what’s gained or lost in that price difference? Well, at 1,287g for the carbon-diffusor shell and 1,060g for the polymer version, it’s not the weight savings you’re paying for. The more expensive helmet weighs a full 227g more in the largest size. A lot of that added weight likely comes from the fact that the shell on the MTB 8.0 covers more of the foam liner, for a cleaner moto-style look. While the MTB 8.0 helmet is expensive, it also passed motorcycle certification tests, so folks who ride moto can use it for both disciplines. The added safety reinforcements that allow it to achieve the moto rating likely also attribute to its weight gain over the MTB 1.0. While not a major nuisance, that additional weight is noticeable, and I would choose the MTB 1.0 for any ride or race where the helmet has to stay on all day.
To continue with the similarities, both helmets are neck brace compatible, they each feature the brand’s 360° Turbine Technology to reduce rotational impact energy, they both cinch tight with a D-ring on the chin, and both have fixed visors that leave just enough space for a pair of goggles. The cheek pads in either shell are removable to let a little more air in when you have to climb helmeted, but the rest of the lining is a tad easier to remove on the MTB 8.0 model. If you sweat a lot and need to wash your helmet padding often, this is a worthwhile factor to consider. The liner on the MTB 1.0 can be taken out and scrubbed, but it’s tricky to re-insert, as it doesn’t have the quick snap system that the MTB 8.0 offers.
To prevent all that sweating, the MTB 8.0 has more vents, and I found it a touch cooler than the MTB 1.0 model. There are three additional vents under the visor, two more along the side that the MTB 1.0 lacks, and the vents on the rear are fairly similar. All of the vents are covered in a tight plastic mesh to prevent insects and sticks from entering. Overall, both of these helmets breathe quite well, and I haven’t had any complaints about the heat while descending on hot summer park days. There are far more breathable helmets out there, but those added holes also increase the number of places that sticks and stones can enter as you slide across the ground. Leatt seems to have found a sensible balance between breathability and safety with both of these.
On the safety front, the cheek pads in the MTB 8.0 can be removed by pulling straight down, so they can be extracted by emergency medical staff while the helmet remains on your head. In some crashes, this is a useful maneuver, so if the utmost safety is what you’re after, the MTB 8.0 helmet has that extra base covered.
The visual field in these two helmets is broad, with none of the shell or padding obstructing your vision. While there is space under the visor for goggles, the somewhat lower fixed position keeps the goggle frame in your field of view. If you occasionally descend with your goggles off, you might need to turn them around to store the frame on the rear of the shell and only the strap passing below the visor. Also, these visors will release on impact, but it takes a good amount of force to get them to break free. Leatt likely tested this and determined the right amount of breakaway force needed to let them snap off in a crash.
To lodge a single complaint against both models, and many other gravity helmets, I really don’t like the D-ring straps. They are a raging pain in the ass to open or close when your fingers are cold or gloved, and I feel like I have to re-teach my fingers on the first run of every park visit. While I get that they are more secure than other clasps, there has to be a cleaner and more user-friendly solution to buckling up something that you can’t see. I also lack feeling in some of my fingers, so maybe this gripe is mine alone. How do you feel about D-ring chin buckles? Should they be replaced, or are they just fine?
My other main criticism is that the matte finish on the MTB 8.0 scratches fairly easily. If you like your helmet to look new for a long while, the solid black colorway of the MTB 1.0 might be a better way to go.
The overall fit in both of these helmets is fantastic. Each one fits as tight as I want a full face to be around my 61cm skull, leaving no concern that they would come off in a crash. There aren’t any hot spots, and I didn’t have any issues with headaches on long descents, which can happen with some ill-fitting lids. The MTB 8.0 feels a tad plusher, again with a feel more akin to that of a motorcycle helmet than one designed for MTB. Each of them passed the full face test of not being annoying or uncomfortable after a few hours of consistent riding.
Riders who are racing DH, or want one helmet for both the moto and the bike will be stoked with the MTB 8.0, provided they like the two color options. Folks who are racing enduro, keeping the helmet on for 6-8 hours at a time, or who just need a full face for occasional trips to the bike park, will be all set with the MTB 1.0. Leatt also has a few models priced between these two with a mix of features.
- Great protection and loads of safety certifications
- Adequate ventilation and a comfortable fit
- Removable and washable liners
- MTB 8.0 passed moto testing
Pros and the cons of the Leatt MTB DH helmets.
- Dirt naps
- Finish scratches easily on the MTB 8.0
- Price difference may not be justified for some riders