Leatt DBX 4 Shorts NSMB AndrewM (12).JPG
EDITORIAL | REVIEW

Bomber Bottoms (Leatt DBX 4.0 Shorts)

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (unless noted)
Date Jun 1, 2020
Reading time

Hot & Heavy

I pull the Leatt DBX 4.0 shorts out of the box and toss them across the back of a chair for the first time. They catch the wooden backrest and gently drape over it in utter silence. Words that immediately come to mind are 'luxurious' and 'dense' and yes I know that makes them sound warm, like something Canada Goose would produce. In reality, while not breezy compared to true summer-weight baggies, they only look like the definition of man-soup-moist. Still, when I refer to these as three-season-shorts, for most local riders, the season I'm leaving out is summer. Do you think massive amounts of ventilation when you hear the words "seamless, soft-touch 500D three-layer laminated seat?"

It would have been easy to write off the smooth moving Leatts as shuttle/park shorts. Indeed as a first impression, I may have wrongly done so if there was any of either going on. But, from the first moment I pulled them on I've loved how they move and hang. Pedaling in them is so tranquil they make my summer-weight shorts sound like rain pants. And you could say that pedaling up single-track on a hot day they are both damped and dampening. But, since I first pulled them on they've been my go-to for both trail riding and commuting even when it's fairly steamy.

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Leatt calls these "4-Way Stretch" but thanks to the pre-curved fit and 3-layer soft-touch seat movement is effectively unlimited.

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I've been wearing them every ride from sweaty sustained single track to commuting around town. The length works great with or without knee pads.

In this case, there is much more to my experience than these rather beefy baggies bringing to bear a comfortable saddle experience. The whole effort of almost-daily pedaling in the dense DBX shorts has been nostalgic. One of the first pieces of clothing advice* I took to heart when I started mountain bicycling, was to wear a tough pair of baggies. They would defend my innocence against aggressive advances by my rear tire, they wouldn't tear in crashes, they would be worth repairing, and they'd be more comfortable on wet and muddy rides.

*It came right after "No Cotton Shirts."

I used to ride everywhere in my beefy CoreRat shorts, both commuting to work on a long but hairy-legged road ride, and hitting long days of pedaling in the mountains. It wasn't until they finally died that I even considered lighter weight shorts and in the years between then and now I've been through pairs upon pairs of bottoms from the paper-thin to my much-loved mid-weight Swrve Knickers.

The short that's most spoken to me in that time is the Kitsbow Haskell which I also referred to as a "three-season" product. Where the Haskell is a much more styled out-and-about short, that I also think is great for mountain biking, the Leatt DBX 4.0 has an unapologetic performance mountain bike cut and fit. Where the Haskell looks right at home sitting and drinking a cortado in Birkenstocks without an MTB in sight, the DBX 4.0 only looks right surrounded by some cycling paraphernalia.

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The DBX 4.0 shorts are significantly heavier than the mid-weight Swrve knickers I used to always ride in (RIP) but between the venting and material they are similarly warm in usage. Photo: Kaz Yamamura

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The Kitsbow Haskell has enough material to defend against my rear tire and is breezier than the DBX 4.0 but they are notably more restrictive movement-wise. Photo: Deniz Merdano

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The DBX 4.0 are more bomber than any bottoms I've worn in years but they're so stretchy and sweetly pre-curved that they've been living at the top of my gear drawer.

It bears mentioning that while I used to regularly espouse the theory "once you go bibs, you never go back," I actually ditched diapers years ago now in favour of riding in Saxx boxer shorts. I say this because I don't think I could handle a layer of black lycra, never mind a chamois, under these multi-layered beauties.

Unlike rocking the Saxx against a saddle with just a millimeter of lightweight short material in between, the three-layer material used to make the seat of the Leatt shorts actually does add a degree of cushion. It's nothing like wearing a chamois but they may make a good transitional choice for the rider curious about a chamois-free existence.

I also can't overstate that another short with a similar amount of extra protection but lacking the perfect pre-curved fit and the unlimited stretchiness of the DBX 4.0 would be awful. I'm willing to trade a bit of extra heat for the added performance but I'm not marinating in my own juices without other kinds of comfort boost I'm getting.

Sometimes a piece of gear comes into my life and just becomes the all-consuming favourite. I've ridden in these Leatt shorts on some cooking and stagnant days on the road and some humid days on the trails and they just keep ending up at the top my gear drawer. I've washed them dozens of times already and they still feel and stretch like new with all the stitching perfectly intact and just a bit of fading on some of the material.

There will absolutely be some hot-hot-hot Shore XC days in July and in August where I'll reach for much lighter lower, and I have a couple of favourites in that category I'll be writing about as well. There will be days in the fall and winter where I will rather sport a pair of pants, but if I had to choose just one pair of shorts for cycling these would currently be them.

Whether you're thinking back fondly to dragging your heavy Roach shorts across your IRC Kujo, or that maybe the infinite, silent, restriction-free, movement is worth cooking up a little bit of you-stew, you can check out the Leatt DBX 4.0, in six sizes, across three colours, for 120 USD a pair.

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Comments

kekoa
+3 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman Angu58
kekoa  - June 1, 2020, 12:04 a.m.

Genuinely curious how you ride without chamois. Everything is just toughened up?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+5 Vik Banerjee Pete Roggeman mike Cr4w Angu58
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 12:26 a.m.

First & foremost, I go with a saddle that fits me really well. I use a WTB Koda, WTB Deva, or SQLab 611 Active depending on the bike. The more upright position (like my cargo bike) suits the 611 really well, I use the Koda on any test bike that comes with a crappy seat, and I like the Deva with a more forward position.

Second, I think I have a dialed saddle positioning setup. My method generally results in a higher saddle nose than most bikes I see on the trails but I think it really balances how much weight is actually on my sit bones.

Third, I think a huge aspect of lycra-under-baggies for most dudes is support for the undercarriage as opposed to the pad. I am in no way sponsored, supported, compensated, etc by Saxx but I probably should be because I highly recommend buying a pair (or a similar product from any number of brands) to everyone who'll listen. I like their 'sports' boxers - I like the Kinetic personally. Even if they don't have you tossing out your chamois they're great for hiking and running as well.

I started off doing shorter rides and still using my chamois for big efforts and commuting. Then one day I forget my bibs at home in North Van and did a massive Galbraith lap in my Saxx. I've never looked back.

Fourth, I'm sure hours in the saddle has something to do with it.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - June 1, 2020, 6:53 a.m.

For any ride under 2 hours, I'm usually chamois-free as well. I have been forced into longer rides without one due to various circumstances, and it's never worked out badly. MTB is unique in that we spend a lot of time out of the saddle. If you're sitting and spinning for longer periods (road, gravel, and *gasp* e-mtb) the ratio of time in saddle to total time riding closes in, which could change things a bit, but I've also done long road rides without a chamois and - as long as you wear good underwear as Andrew described - it works out well.

Reply

velocipedestrian
+2 Andrew Major danimaniac
Velocipedestrian  - June 1, 2020, 8:12 p.m.

Perhaps not sponsored, but certainly supported by Saxx.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 8:13 p.m.

Hahahahahaha! SO NEEDED THAT. Thank you.

Reply

Vikb
+3 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Cr4w
Vik Banerjee  - June 1, 2020, 6:43 a.m.

My first 20 years of riding featured a lot of saddle related pain. I tried a bunch of saddles [randomly] and a variety of padded bike shorts with no real change to my issues. It was bad enough that on a week long road trip I'd only ride say 4 days needing to take days off for my undercarriage to heal.

Then I found the first saddle that fit me well. Ditched the padded bike shorts and haven't looked back for over 10 years. I've got 3 saddle choices that offer from all day trail riding comfort [standing a fair bit] to all day gravel grinding comfort [mostly sitting] day after day for as long as I choose to ride. 

My butt is no tougher than it was the first 20 years I just have saddles that fit my body well now. I've been injured and off the bike for 6 months with no difference in saddle comfort when I started riding again.

I don't use anything special for underwear. Although obviously you don't want anything with thick seams in the saddle zone.

My GF who is a new cyclist [well new when she met me a bit over 10 years ago] rides without a padded bike short and she is not one to suffer in silence.

Reply

sanesh-iyer
+1 Skooks
Sanesh Iyer  - June 1, 2020, 5:49 p.m.

Costco underwear + Cycling Baggies + Good Saddles. WTB Silverado right now, but I've had a few unpadded carbon ass-hatchets over the years which although (legitimately) comfortable, detonate when the hit dirt. 

I have two chamois that have been in my life a combined 15 years and I've probably only worn them on 20 rides (>80km on road bike). After some time off the bike I notice I get a little sore on the sit-bones, but never chaffing or pain.

Saxx and MyPackage were very dissapointing to me. After a few dozen uses they started to ride up my legs and bunch up in my crotch causing chafing. I upgraded to Icebreaker boxers about.... 1000km ago? That seems to be the best balance of breathability, durability, packaging...

Good saddle fit and setup. (I think Andrew is on point, a little more nose-up). 
Regular (daily?) skin moisturizing.
Ride more!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 7:02 p.m.

I’m an IceBreaker fanboy. I’ve been wearing their merino-wood fibre T’s for about 5-years as my primary cycling jerseys, only button up shirt I own and etc.

The boxers are great for everyday life but my experience on the bike was a polar opposite durability wise. I couldn’t have afforded to wear underwear if I was replacing them as fast as they wore out. Tried a couple pairs and gave up. 

I’ve had some pairs of Saxx pill over time but none of them have gone holey on me. The Kinetic model holds up really well to repeat riding and washing. 

Yeah, I don’t talk about bringing up the nose much because people think I’m crazy, but I know quite a few guys who’ve got there on their own.

Reply

sanesh-iyer
+1 Andrew Major
Sanesh Iyer  - June 1, 2020, 7:07 p.m.

One more go. I'll try the kinetic.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 7:31 p.m.

Maybe TMI but I prefer the regular length but also own a pair of the long version which is great for DH pants or XC baggies with inner leg perforations that go through to skin. The XC baggies I presume they assume will go over Lycra and maybe the DH pants over armour?

Anyways, certainly applications where the long makes sense.

DemonMike
+1 Andrew Major
mike  - June 1, 2020, 8:31 a.m.

Have not used one since the mid 90,s. The saddle is a huge difference. SQLabs for me as well. Seam

position of the clothes make a difference as well.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 mike
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 8:33 a.m.

Yep, full circle to this review; the DBX 4.0’s massively stretchy 3 layer seat is amazing in this regard and there’s no seams at contact points.

Reply

cooperquinn
+4 Cr4w Andrew Major mike Pete Roggeman
Cooper Quinn  - June 1, 2020, 8:54 a.m.

Some people can apparently ride a lot w/o a chamois. 

I am not one of these people. Tom is. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAlLV-vHzQA/

Reply

Brocklanders
0
yahs  - June 1, 2020, 9:37 p.m.

Ride without a chamois? That's sorcery...

Reply

craw
+3 Andrew Major mike Pete Roggeman
Cr4w  - June 1, 2020, 9:08 a.m.

I went the Saxx Kinetic route and pretty much never use chamois now. A few years I suspected something was up with my saddle fit so I used the sitbone measuring tool they have at Obsession lo and behold 160mm sit bones. A solid 2cm wider than every saddle I had owned up to that point. 90% of the saddles out there are around 135-142mm wide; if the width isn't specified it's almost certainly in this range. Picked up a 160mm SQLab 611 and a proper steep seat angle and now everything is great.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 9:56 a.m.

This can also be done at home with good results using corrugated cardboard.

While allowing for a lot of leeway for personal preference, I do know a number of men and women who were on saddles too wide or two narrow who have never looked back after limiting saddle purchase options based on sit bone width.

Reply

JVP
+3 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman mike
JVP  - June 1, 2020, 12:50 p.m.

Chamois Pads make numb junk worse, and negate the benefits of a great saddle like SW Labs. Saxx are great, but on really long rides or riding 5x per week the seams cause saddle sores. 

I go both ways depending on the circumstances. Switching back and forth seems to give me the most comfort. 

I fight numbness and saddle sores, no problems with sit bones, so obviously YMMV.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 12:53 p.m.

What other brands of junk supporting undies do you recommend?

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Andrew Major
Pete Roggeman  - June 1, 2020, 1:39 p.m.

One vote here for BN3TH

Reply

kekoa
+1 Andrew Major
kekoa  - June 1, 2020, 4:33 p.m.

I’ve got a horrible TLD collab pair that I’ll try tomorrow on the road ride!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 7:33 p.m.

TLD Underpants?!

kekoa
0
kekoa  - June 2, 2020, 11:15 a.m.

Yes. Found them at the TLD store in whistler two trips ago and they were hideous so of course I had to get them. There’s some still available on the bn3th website. I was disappointed it didn’t have their flaming eyeball though.

JVP
+1 Andrew Major
JVP  - June 1, 2020, 5:56 p.m.

So far Saxx are the best non padded undies. I swap between them and various chamois. Even with chamois I like switching between a few different Versions. 

For that matter I switch the SQ Labs and WTB Devo between bikes. Me bum likes variety to avoid issues.

Reply

danimaniac
0
danimaniac  - June 2, 2020, 9:42 p.m.

I went no chamois after discovering the long cut, junk supporting, made with bamboo Jinshi underwear.

not smelly, better microclimate down there than cotton and no rubing or crinkles whatssoever.

Reply

danimaniac
+1 Andrew Major
danimaniac  - June 1, 2020, 4:46 a.m.

Are these true to size or a bit bigger to fit crash pants or similar?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 danimaniac
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 8:06 a.m.

Fit, even within brands, can be so all over the place which is why usually I don’t mention it.

I wear a medium in most shorts and a large in some (medium, large, of XL jersey) and in that sense I’m wearing a medium Leatt short and would call them true to size. 

Unfortunately, I imagine they’ll be a hard item to try on in a shop that isn’t near a bike park (given they are a Gravity short) but for an online order I’d trust the sizing chart.

Hope that’s helpful!

Reply

GladePlayboy
+2 Zoë Verbauwhede Andrew Major
Rob Gretchen  - June 1, 2020, 6:05 a.m.

Genuinely impressed with everything Leatt makes... they are a staple for gear in my kit closet....

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 8:15 a.m.

I have much the same experience. I like their lids, which are designed by Brad and use the softer-foam-philosophy, and I’d love to try the new DBX 1.0 Urban lid - great looking bucket.

I’m also currently testing the Air Flex Pro knees in that lovely Fern & Bridge Brewing Bourbon Blood Orange colourway. I generally dislike riding in knee pads (just wear hardshells for park/shuttles) but genuinely impressed with them after quite a few 2+ hr rides. I mean, warmer and sweatier than nothing.

What else do you recommend from the line? Have you tried either the flat or clip-in shoes?

Reply

GladePlayboy
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Rob Gretchen  - June 1, 2020, 9:05 a.m.

I have the DBX 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 gloves in various colourways.. I think 7 pairs in all. Yes, I have a glove problem. The only gloves I wear these days. I also have the DBX 3.0 All-Mountain and the DB 4.0 Full face helmets which I love...And the 3DF 5.0 knee guards.   Also rocking some DBX 4.0 pants and the DBX 4.0 jacket for cooler wetter rides. Probably something else which I am missing but you get the point. Its a blessing and a curse that NRG is a stones throw from my house and bike shop!! Ha ha...

P.S.   I have not tried the shoes... I have held them in my hand and they look good... however, it will be a cold day in hell when my FiveTen shoes are pried off my feet..   regardless of anyone's complaints about durability they are still the best IMO...

Reply

andyf
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
andyf  - June 1, 2020, 8:25 a.m.

Have you had a chance to compare with the DBX 3.0 short? Supposedly same cut with a lighter material. 

I've been using the Fox Flexair as my warm weather short. Fit and comfort are good but the sound of that fabric rubbing against my kneepads with every pedal stroke...

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 andyf
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 8:37 a.m.

Have not; this is my first experience with Leatt lowers. They are 4-way stretch but from photos it looks like more standard materials & especially construction.

Without trying them I’d make an educated guess that they perform more similarly to other lightweight 4-way stretch shorts.

I’ve never ridden shorts as quiet as the DBX 4.0. It’s not something I’ve ever been inspired to comment on in a review before.

Reply

andyf
+1 Andrew Major
andyf  - June 1, 2020, 7:08 p.m.

I’ve never ridden in shorts as loud as the Fox Flexair. No need for a bell with these things rubbing against my knee pads.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 7:26 p.m.

Ugh. Loud shorts.

Did a Fromme ride a couple years back when EVERY weather report was wrong and as soon as I arrived at the trail head the taps shut off and the sun came out in force.

It was like all the animals had read the same weather report and stayed sheltered, there was no breeze, there were zero other riders.

Just me and an hour+ climb listening to my weatherproof shorts in otherwise monastery-silence. It was so bad that I was considering taking them off and just riding up in my underpants.

Loud shorts are real. But I never felt my lightweight stretchy baggies were that loud previously.

Reply

hbelly13
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Raymond Epstein  - June 1, 2020, 9:22 a.m.

Never heard of Saxx, but decided to snag a pair that are on sale. I will try these before ordering some new bibs as I had a pair literally fall apart last week. I've been a bib guy forever and still make old-timey wrestler cracks if someone sees me in them sans over shorts, jersey. I still think the right saddle is key and I've great luck with Chromags (Lynx/Trailmaster) for the last half dozen years. Lastly, I wore my CoreRat battle shorts (a couple of pairs) through hell and back eventually trying to tailor them for a better. I finally gave up and donated them to a thrift store and I sure somewhere there someone sweating their ass off in them.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 1, 2020, 10:01 a.m.

My CoreRats where like silk by the time they wore out. The cut (thanks to the crotch system) of these Leatt’s is next level but materials have come a long way in 20-years. 

Hope the Saxx work for you!

Reply

disqus_hbf4dqgs7y
0
disqus_Hbf4dqGs7y  - June 3, 2020, 11:20 a.m.

Great read.  So where can we buy these in BC?!?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 3, 2020, 11:29 a.m.

Thank you. 

I don’t know what BC shops are stockists, other than Cycology in Castlegnar as Rob the owner is a huge fan.

Any shop you prefer dealing with can bring them in through their Canadian Distributor, NRG. You could also contact NRG for a recommended stockist in your area.

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