There are no rules in removable chin bar helmet design. It's the wild west out there. You want heavy duty full coverage that's DH-certified? There are options like the Giro Switchblade. You just want something lightweight and low-profile? There's the Super 3R. But for those who want a helmet that feels like it’s somewhere in the middle, Leatt has made the DBX 3.0 Enduro helmet.
To be clear, the DBX 3.0 Enduro is not ASTM-certified for DH racing. But it has the look and, more importantly, the feel of a more traditional DH helmet. Most notably, the chin bar sits at a comfortable distance away from your face. It doesn't have the claustrophobic effect that some light-duty dual-duty helmets have. And it looks from the outside like it's ready to commit.
But if you're not ready to commit, the chin bar removes remarkably easily and intuitively, and it leaves behind perhaps the most traditional-looking half shell of any convertible helmet. The generously-vented DBX rides much cooler than the Bell Super that's been my go-to for years. And the straps feature a welcomed innovation. The straps on the Specialized Ambush helmet won us over because they're thin, low profile, and leave ample room for your ears. But they're not adjustable. Leatt offers the same comfort and simplicity, but still offers some adjustability if you want to tune where the split happens.
Another often forgotten small detail is visor retention. Mimicking the mechanism on many full-face helmets, there's a third dial in the middle of the visor to lock it down and keep it still, though it still will breakaway if / when you crash.
Oh yeah, crashing. That's what these things are for. Leatt thought of that too. The DBX 3.0 outer shell is slightly smaller than other helmets. It's not as drastic as on their full-faced helmets, but I couldn't find a helmet in the office that had a smaller outside circumference. The goal is to decrease neck strain and rotational forces in an impact. But the most significant rotational protection comes from Leatt's own 360 Turbine system.
We know about MIPS, the slippery plastic layer that deflects angular impacts. But there’s more than one way to address those forces. The Turbine system uses multiple (10 in the case of the DBX 3.0) little doughnuts made of a rubber-like material of Leatt's own development. In addition to having remarkable straight-impact absorption capabilities, they soften rotational impacts by their combined sliding and flexing.
This is the part of the helmet review where I joke about not having truly "tested" it because I haven't crashed on it yet. Now we’re at the part where I knock on wood. But that doesn't mean I didn't feel the benefits of the Turbines. One thing that bothers some about MIPS is the helmet's tendency to float around under its own weight. With the Turbine system, on the other hand, it takes a significant amount of force to deflect the helmet. So it feels more like a part of your head. This is especially valuable when the extra weight of the chin bar is attached. Without the firm fit that comes with a true full-face, there's often not enough surface area inside to keep a convertible helmet from jiggling. But there's no jiggle on the DBX 3.0, whether you're wearing the chin bar or not.
So maybe it's a good thing that there's no convention to adhere to in enduro helmet design. The DBX 3.0 Enduro wasn't concerned with fitting a mold. It's a helmet. It's got its own mold.