Review: Leatt DBX 4.0 Mountain Bike Shorts Offer Mad Protection

Leatt is known for offering mountain bikers high performance protection from head to toe. So it might seem strange that the company is producing a pair of shorts; after all, shorts are just clothing, right? Not when the team at Leatt gets involved.

Leatt’s bike shorts line offers three levels of quality, and the DBX 4.0 shorts I’ve been testing are the mid-range shorts with a suggested price of $99 USD. The shorts do not include a chamois so buyers will need to purchase one separately. Apparently there’s at least one part of the body Leatt is not yet ready to protect.

The DBX 4.0 shorts feature a long cut that falls just below the knee, even for a tall rider like me. This ensures uninterrupted coverage when worn with a pair of knee pads and shin guards, and the cuffs are designed so that they don’t snag on protective gear.

Starting at the top, the DBX 4.0 shorts sport a hang loop that’s handy for motel sink laundry operations. A grippy inner waist band prevents the shorts from riding down while riding trail. The waist band is adjustable via external velcro straps that are incredibly strong–I experienced zero issues with the band slipping or inching during my tests. It’s also easy to adjust the waist band mid-ride, even with gloves on, thanks to the oversized pull tabs. A two-button closure system adds redundancy in case a button pops off.

The zippered fly on the DBX 4.0 shorts utilizes a chunky YKK zipper that seems unlikely to get jammed with stray pieces of thread like a fine-toothed zipper might. Leatt uses the same zippers on the two front pockets, which are deep and easily-accessible during the ride.

Outside, the shorts I tested have bold Leatt graphics with neutral colors, though the company also offers these shorts in orange/teal and fuel/white (apparently “fuel” is also known as blue). The outside of the shorts are water and dirt resistant.

Speaking of resistance, perhaps the most noticeable feature is the weight of these shorts. Leatt isn’t taking any chances when it comes to abrasion with the DBX 4.0 shorts, which are double- and even triple-layered in the seat. The outer layer is stretchy and feels a bit rubbery in places, and is almost certainly rip-stop. The side panels are not quite as stretchy and feel almost like a thick, canvas tent material.

The overall cut is spot on for mountain biking–there were zero seat snags during my tests. And while baggy, the shorts aren’t overly flappy in the wind. The extra length does make them a bit uncomfortable while pedaling, but no more so than wearing a pair of knee pads, which many owners will choose to pair with these shorts.

Inside, the shorts include a soft, pajama-like meshy liner. The liner is sewn in, and again, no chamois is included so most riders will probably wear these over a chamois.

The DBX 4.0 shorts are well designed and feature both high quality material and construction. However, I have to take issue with Leatt’s description of these shorts as “breathable” and able to keep riders “cool regardless of the riding conditions.” Yes, the shorts feature 5 “laser cut” ventilation holes on each leg but these do little to alleviate the heat that builds up inside, especially when pedaling for extended periods. I was hot every time I rode in these shorts, even during springtime night rides. By nature, the extra thickness needed to add protection and durability to these shorts does make them hot. Unfortunately Leatt hasn’t yet found a way to upend the laws of nature.

The Leatt DBX 4.0 shorts offer the most protection and durability of any shorts I’ve tested, and are the perfect compliment to riders’ bike-park apparel.

Thanks to Leatt for providing these shorts for review.

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