Leatt invited select members of the motorcycle and cycling press to the debut of its "redefined" helmet development program, where we were given a high-energy presentation of the South African protection firm's innovative full-face DPX Motocross and DBX Downhill lids - after which, we were then asked not to show pictures of either until a yet-to-be announced date later this Summer. Disappointed? Me too, but I'll spare you the Prom date fail joke and get straight to the images and information related to their development that Leatt's hyper-animated sales director Phil Davy gave us permission to share. It's well worth the look.Armourgel
Leatt did not invent, nor formulate Armourgel, but they got very excited when they saw high-speed films depicting how only four millimeters of the stuff could prevent bullets and steel wedges from breaking actual shin bones harvested from human cadavers. Armourgel belongs to the family of visco-elastic polymers that are quite popular in the protection field, and this one is claimed to provide equal protection at only 25-percent of the thickness of its competitors. For those who aren't up to speed on the material, the polymer's locking molecules allow it to remain very flexible until it receives an impact, which then causes the visco-elastic structure to become hard and tough. Armourgel is used by Leatt as impact protection for its lightweight knee and elbow guards, on the back of its gloves, and also as the active elements in some of its chest and spine protection gear. Turbine 360
Leatt's engineers figured out a way to use a visco-elastic material to form a circular energy displacing button. The Turbine 360 is designed to be placed between the riders's head and the EPS liner in a helmet. The Turbine's shape allows the rider's head to rotate slightly within the helmet liner and it also protects the brain from low-speed impacts, which have recently been targeted as the number one cause of concussions among off road moto riders and cyclists. In a second fancy video, scientists dropped heavy rubber balls on two different visco-elastic polymers. The ball stopped dead on Leatt's sample and bounced off of the un-named beta materal. The inside of Leatt's DPX and DBX helments use a number of Turbine 360 buttons, spaced roughly three inches apart, that are pinned into the EPS foam liner with plastic rivets. Only the padded liner stands between the buttons and the rider's head, so the Turbine buttons become the first point of contact after an impact. The side benefit that the buttons provide is that they can protect the rider from multiple low-speed impacts without damaging the helmet's EPS liner. Leatt claims that conventional EPS liner-type helmets are safe for only one significant impact and do not provide adequate slow-impact protection.Rotational Impacts
I am barfing back information that we were given at the Leatt launch, but if it's true, then it explains why everyone who is in the helmet making business has been scrambling to adopt anti-rotational protection since the MIPS system
was released a few years ago, and more recently, the debut of the 6D helment design
. The statistics were that the average DH or moto helmet is designed to keep the force of a direct impact below 80 G and that direct impacts up to 140 G were survivable. Both hits will result in a concussion to some degree, but the key word is "survivable." That said; consider that a substantially smaller rotational event - only 40 G - can kill a person, and you may want to consider adding rotational protection to your next helmet purchase. Pesently, there are no official tests nor standards to suggest safe magnitudes for rotational impacts, so Leatt tests with its own apparatus and has established its own maximum impact-force standards.In-molded V-foam Liner
Leatt's third line of defense against head injury is a special, two component, in-molded EPS liner that was developed by Kali Protectives.
and used under license by Leatt. Leatt calls it V-Foam construction, and it utilizes a harder, outer layer of EPS foam that is molded directly into the rigid outer shell of the helmet and co-molded to a second, softer EPS layer which has a number of conical spikes which nest into it. The three elements: in-molding, dual-density EPS foam and the conical spikes, dramatically reduce the thickness necessary to mute impact force, so the helmet can be made much smaller and lighter weight - which is an additional benefit in the case of a whiplash or a rotational impact. Leatt's new helmets are 5 to 20-percent smaller in profile than its major competitors - 12-percent smaller than a TLD D3 lid - and reportedly, with equal or better protection. The Moto helmets pass DOT certification at lighter, non-DOT-certified European weights. The DBX DH version, while sharing the same shell and technology, is not DOT certified.The Best of the Rest
The Leatt helmet's 11 large vents(16 in the DH model)
use plastic reinforcements around their perimeters, so they can be made larger than we are used to seeing on a full face. The moto vents use a high-impact screen that reportedly passes the DOT pointed-plunger test, while the non-DOT DH version uses a simple bar to keep the bugs out. The shell is EVAC ready and the cheek pads feature an emergency removal tab that pulls the foam pads out from the fabric liner so that friction against the face will not hinder the process of getting a rider's helmet off safely. Finallly, the visor is mounted with break-away screws that have an Allen hex removal function to allow its owner to easily extract the broken studs from inside the helmet shell.
So, we apologise for feeding you a heck of a lot of information about a helmet that we are not allowed to show you, and to tell the truth, Leatt also left us wondering why they were too timid to allow us to release pictures of the very finished looking production prototypes that were on display at the event. Keep an eye out for the new helmet at Glen Helen speedway if you ride Motocross in Southern California, and we'll keep the pressure on Leatt for an earlier release date of the DH version. In the meantime, the projected weight for the carbon DPX 6.5 is 1190 grams and for the fiberglass/Dyneema shell version, 1250 grams. The DH helmets are not yet finalized, but they will use the next size smaller shells and thus will come in at slightly lighter weights. Prices will range from $599 to $399 USD.
The SP-1 brace hydration pack holds half a liter of water and features
a quick disconnect hose so you can mount the hands-free bite valve
permanently in your helmet's chin guard. MSRP: $79 USD.
More New Kit From Leatt
Leatt also showed a number of products, both new and improved, at the launch that should interest AM and DH riders. Leatt's naming protocols have changed to a numerical system, with 6.5 as its top-line offering and 4.5 as its more affordable model. Most of the items which were shown were moto-products, but among them were a few tidbits that caught my attention.
For gravity riders and hard core enduro racers, Leatt has a low-profile hydration pack with a spine protecting insert between the bladder and the rider. If you want to add a chest protector to ride your moto, it can be attached to the crossed straps of the hydration pack.
Not new, but worth mention is a compact, half-liter water pack that straps onto the rear support of the Leatt neck brace and feeds, hands free, through the chin protector to the mouth.
Leatt used its new Armourgel to construct enduro-inspired lightweight elbow and knee protectors that look promising. And, for dads who envied their kid's Fusion one-piece upper-body protection kits, Leatt now makes one for adults. The chest and spine protection vest incorporates a Leatt neck device, which makes the system easy to put on or remove.
The DH neck brace has been modified with a new curve to allow more mobilty and has thinner padding. All 5.5 and 6.5 neck braces use a new 30-second adjustment system that solves the hassles of dialing in the original models.
DBX 6.5 Neck ProtectionHydra 4.5 Spine Protector/ Hydration PackAirflex Knees and ElbowsAirflex Lite GlovesFusion Upper Body Protection for AdultsLeatt