Leatt DBX 3 NSMB Andrew (4).JPG
REVIEW

Leatt DBX 3.0 Trail+ Full Face Helmet Revisited

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date Nov 9, 2020
Reading time

Buying A New Lid

How do you choose a new lid? It seems obvious that fit should be the prime factor at any price point but from there the conversation turns to prioritizing venting, materials, retention system, slip-plane protection, and so on down a checklist of features measured against price up to and including how it looks and what colours it comes in.

For the last couple of years, I've been wearing nothing but pad-fit helmets. That is to say, lids with no retention devices aside from the whole-head-hug of properly sized padding surrounding my noggin. There are a couple of reasons for this and they can be boiled down to cost and comfort. In the case of the Kali Viva and Giro Quarter MIPS the protection per dollar, with softer foam (at the cost of less venting) is a story that writes itself. With my own Kali Alpine full face and the 7iDP Project 23 I recently tested it comes down to comfort and fit in a hardshell helmet.

The comfort factor is straight forward. In most helmets with a retention system, I find myself getting headaches after an hour to ninety minutes. I previously attributed this to hydration, nutrition, and any number of factors but the only thing that solved it was a helmet that fit properly without the localized pressure of tightening a dial at the back of my head. I discovered this entirely by accident, wearing a helmet that quite obviously has a fit system, the Leatt DBX 3.0 (Ed note: for 2021, this helmet is known as the Leatt 3.0 Enduro V21).

Leatt DBX 3 NSMB Andrew (5).JPG

The DBX 3.0 looks great with the chin bar on or off and has plenty of venting, the 360° Turbines are designed to absorb rotational forces, and the lid follows Brad Waldron's view of using softer foam.

Leatt DBX 3 NSMB Andrew (2).JPG

On the flip side, this isn't a true full face in any sense. The helmet and chin bar are light weight and the removable chin bar clasps are designed for fast and easy operation over durability.

The DBX 3.0 is a premium trail helmet with a 250 USD price tag to match its features from fancy bits like the magnetic Fidlock clasp to premium details like the really nice helmet liner material. There's no min-maxing story here as it isn't a true 2-in-1 lid like a Bell Super DH and riders hitting the bike park or doing shuttle laps are still going to want to own a proper DH-rated full face helmet. Even at slow-slow Andrew speed on some of the nastier North Shore trails, especially at night, I'll reach for a fairly light DH-rated full face. Even when there are long climbs - I just remove the chin pads.

In this case, the chin bar is like a Maxxis EXO+ sidewall situation, and rather than an Enduro lid or for comparison's sake some Double Down rubber, I've started thinking of the DBX 3.0 as being for Trail+. It's still a well-vented trail lid, it just has a boost in protection for a minimal weight gain meant to amp up confidence and provide a little extra protection.

The Leatt isn't as perfect for me as a true pad-fit helmet, especially if I run it for a long time without the chin bar or have a light mounted on the top, but for folks who don't have the same comfort issues, if the shape fits you well this could easily be the most comfortable lid you've put on. It has a lot of head contact with the padding and the added support of the cheek pads when the chin bar is installed, and that means I can run the helmet retention system quite loose and still get a great fit. Not having helmet headaches is the best!

Leatt 360 Turbines

The 360° Turbines act to absorb rotational forces. For me, the big story here is how nice the helmet liner is to wear. It's really comfy. It was also no problem to purchase a replacement liner when my old one had simply been washed one too many times.

Shopping My Own Bike Gear

The DBX 3.0 had been hanging from my wall in my little shop for a couple of years. I wrote a review that was pushed live in January 2018 and I most recently put it on during Easter of that year. Out of sight, out of mind as I simply was not wearing helmets that were not pad-fit. All that changed a couple of weeks ago.

First I decided to retire my Giro Quarter MIPS. The helmet pads were totally toxic no matter what I did to wash them. The rivets for the rear strap mounting points, which sit right against said pads, had rusted out significantly. I could have purchased new pads but the corrosion would have never sat right in my mind. That just leaves my Viva for bucket duty but I do enough back-to-back rides that it needs a bit of drying time and honestly I'm due for a set of pads in that helmet as well.

Then, my daughter was suddenly bit with the mountain bike bug and in order to figure out pads she ended up with a friend's size small Bell Super 3R. Packing the chin bar up, installing it, removing it; through the whole process I've come around to the idea that a lightweight removable chin bar lid is really the perfect piece of kit for a rider exploring their boundaries on Shore-XC rides and even when the time comes, the lighter-black trails, like 7th Secret, where sometimes sh*t happens. The chin bars weigh next to nothing strapped to a backpack or hip pack so the only real cost to using them is the little bit of time for removal and installation.

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The Leatt DBX 3.0 chin bar is easily removed and installed without taking off my helmet but I do still need to strap it to my pack. Photo: Dave Smith

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No doubt that Leatt makes a great looking lid, in a pile of colours. I'm appreciating its potential much more now than in my initial review. Photo: Dave Smith

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It's still a lightweight piece that I wouldn't trust when the trail calls for a real DH lid. For many folks a Trail+ helmet is probably all they need. Photo: Dave Smith

As we've progressed to trails like Bobsled, Claire feels more confident with her chin bar on and also with me wearing one and that's cool. I pack them both and we have a quick break for gummy bears and installation before we drop in. The helmets are still breathable enough for some pedaling and we can talk to each other and in general the confidence boost for my mini-me is worth any small inconvenience.

When I first reviewed the DBX 3.0 I don't know that I really appreciated its potential. The fit was great and with the chin bar installed it was a revelation on night rides where the extra surface areas of the cheek pads mean a helmet-mounted light stays put better without having to cinch down the retention system an extra couple clicks. The issue was, and is, that for most rides I'll either wear a regular open lid or a full face. And that's especially true these days as I find it quite comfortable to climb in a true full face with my chin pads out. Any extra boost of confidence from the chin bar isn't really notable on the trail in terms of riding more features or higher speeds.

It comes down to the fact that I don't need a Trail+ lid. I'm good with my open bucket until I'm not and then I'm down for a full-on hardshell full face. But I've noticed more and more Bell Super 3Rs - and indeed a few Leatt DBX 3.0 full face helmets - out in the woods lately and I think that's very positive. With so many more people riding in the mountains these days, pushing their boundaries a bit and exploring new terrain as we enter the greasy season, a bit of extra protection, that's really, really convenient to pack around, is welcome.

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Comments

Timmigrant
+1 Andrew Major
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 8, 2020, 11:04 p.m.

I really like the convertible helmets for rides where I pedal up and might be pushing it on the way down. Bit of extra protection for the kisser on the way down.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 8, 2020, 11:16 p.m.

What chin bar removable lid do you normally use Tim? I've been wearing this DBX 3.0 a lot lately (riding with Claire and also for rides where I'd normally just use a regular lid but the chain bar seems like a smart addition in these times) but keep looking at lids like the Smith Mainline and Kali Invader and wondering if my chin-bar-all-the-time experience with the 7iDP DH lid would be even better with one of those helmets (with the chin bar on all the time but more vending; maybe removing the chin pads for long climbs).

Reply

DanL
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
DanL  - Nov. 9, 2020, 8:32 a.m.

I gotta say, removing the side cheek pads on my Giro Switchblade for air flow whilst the chinbar is off was a game changer for me. Thanks for that nugget!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 DanL kmag76
Andrew Major  - Nov. 9, 2020, 8:56 a.m.

Changing the world one cheek at a time! 

Hahahahahaha

Reply

IslandLife
+1 Andrew Major
IslandLife  - Nov. 9, 2020, 9:27 a.m.

Jumping in because you mentioned the Invader...

I've been using the Kali Invader since June of this year. Best helmet I've owned so far. I came from using a Bell Super 3R. During my time with the Bell, I realized that after I put the chinbar on, after the first climb... I'd usually just forget it was on there and end up leaving it on for subsequent climbs... and it didn't seem to bother me. One of my riding buddies uses a 3R and doesn't bother removing the chin bar. My kids use the 3R and don't bother removing the chin bar on all but the warmest of days. The realization that a full face could be so well vented that you could climb comfortably with a chin bar on... and the fact that I wanted to move to a totally pack-less set-up this year got me looking at the Invader. And, it has been everything I hoped it would be... a very, very well vented, strong one-piece design with a chinbar that passes the motorcycle chinbar test.

I used it on every single ride this year... there were only two rides during that crazy hot spell we had at the end of July that I removed the cheek pads for (they pop in and out easily), and it was something like 36 and 34 those days. When you remove the cheek pads, the venting is so good it basically feels the same as a half shell if not better than some notably the Giro Switchblade. With the cheek pads in, it's exceptionally well vented but... there is no getting around that it is warmer than most half shells... during rest stops during climbing I'll pull it right off sometimes... but also because it's difficult to drink from a bottle when you have a chin bar in the way. Other than that, I really like this helmet and would buy another one immediately if this one broke.

On that note, Kali provides a lifetime crash replacements! (The first is free!! then 25% off on subsequent replacements).

It also has a fidlock buckle.

Sizing adjustment seems sub-par at first because it only sells in two sizes (XS-M and L-XL) and doesn't have a ratcheting dial adjustment feature. But each comes with three different sizes of back-of-head/neck, head and cheek pads, which makes it quite customizable depending on the shape of your head/face. I've ridden some 5 hour rides with it and never felt hot spots or uncomfortable.

It was also meant to be my enduro racing helmet this year, but racing never happened so we'll see how it performs next year... hopefully.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Nov. 9, 2020, 9:08 p.m.

I'm really interested in the Invader but to be honest have been put off by the two sizes model. Especially when they actually make more sizes that most with lids like the Alpine. I do need to look into it though as it's an intriguing piece.

Today I did a decent amount of climbing with the 7iDP lid on (with the cheek pads in for a more than 1/2 of it) and then did a night ride with my wee one wearing the DBX 3.0 with the chin bar on the whole time. Not even the consideration of an issue once it gets cool!

Reply

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - Nov. 10, 2020, 10:08 a.m.

Ya, size was a concern of mine as well... but I guess it depends on the size of your head and if what they offer works or not.  For me, the larger size with medium padding fits really well.

And ya, ha, was going to say.. in the cool weather, the full face is a welcome addition!  Those Sunday morning dawn patrols are getting pretty nipply!

Reply

bruce-mackay
+2 danimaniac Andrew Major OldManBike IslandLife
Bruce Mackay  - Nov. 9, 2020, 8:56 p.m.

ER / ICU Nurse with more years in than most of your followers have B-days.  One word: MOUTHGUARD.   For neuro-protection and maxillo / facial injury prevention, there is a reason EVERY contact sport in the world requires one.  Info I've seen indicates probly more value than "shear layer" protection (your scalp has more give than most of them).  Big plus : a lot of them offer healthy dental coverage if injured while wearing one (dentistry is NOT covered here in Canuckistan).

Reply

bruce-mackay
+1 Andrew Major
Bruce Mackay  - Nov. 9, 2020, 8:58 p.m.

PS  own this helmet.  For how I ride  GOAT.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 IslandLife OldManBike
Andrew Major  - Nov. 9, 2020, 9:11 p.m.

It's funny, I used to ride with a mouth guard all the time some ~15 years ago (instead of a full face). In addition to having a hard time breathing, I found managing it to be a PIA. Ended up ditching it under the thinking re. contact sports that most sports that require them (boxing, hockey) have regular repeated shots to the head whereas mountain biking I have only written off a few lids over many years - but I'm willing to entertain that that's wrong-headed.

Reply

GladePlayboy
+1 Andrew Major
Rob Gretchen  - Nov. 9, 2020, 6:08 a.m.

DBX 4.0 convertible is on its way for MY2021.... excited about that one.    I like the DBX 3.0 but only as a half-shell.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Rob Gretchen
Andrew Major  - Nov. 9, 2020, 6:56 a.m.

Interesting. Saw photos but didn’t realize the chin bar was detachable. Have you seen how the system works? Must be significantly more robust than DBX 3.0.

Reply

GladePlayboy
+1 Andrew Major
Rob Gretchen  - Nov. 9, 2020, 7:02 a.m.

I am struggling to recall if our rep had it with him prior to booking?   I thought we got a quick overview on it but my early onset Alzheimer's is playing tricks on me!!  ;-)   I have definitely seen it  in the catalogue ... it is fully ASTM DH certified as I understand it.    I have the current DBX 4.0 helmet and its my favourite full face by far of the many I own or have owned.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Rob Gretchen
Andrew Major  - Nov. 9, 2020, 8:56 a.m.

Sounds awesome!

Reply

Kenny
+1 Andrew Major
Kenny  - Nov. 9, 2020, 9:34 p.m.

The version of the dbx 4.0 on the leatt website as of now doesn't have a removable chin bar, so that's interesting.

I had a 3.0 when they first came out and liked it. What I don't like is how incredibly thin the attachment points for the suspension are where they attach to the shell. It took a pretty small bump and broke that piece. Maybe it's by design but it's much thinner than on any of my other helmets. Nonetheless it was a crash so I didn't expect a freebie or anything but when I sent a pic to leatt  I got no feedback whatsoever, no response. Like at all. So no more leatt for me.

Reply

Bad-Sean
+1 Andrew Major
Sean Chee  - Nov. 9, 2020, 7:04 a.m.

Like so many lids, I wish they came in my size. 65cm is a bridge too far for lightweight full face protection, removable or not. 

It gets so hot here in summer that a proper full face is out of the question unless I'm shuttling, which I almost never am.

Reply

bruce-mackay
+1 Andrew Major
Bruce Mackay  - Nov. 9, 2020, 8:38 p.m.

I have a pretty big noggin', and bought the X-large.  Actually installed two of the thicker pads and had to bring in the retention system.  MUCH roomier than the fox airframe intants HA in tying it on, thought I lost an ear removing it), and more room than the Bell Super.  Try on the open face versio for fit.  Also ride Trail + / Light enduro here in the Okanogan (HOT summers).  Loved it in Moab in 2019.

Reply

Brocklanders
0
yahs  - Nov. 11, 2020, 8:58 a.m.

The new bell super air R large will probably fit u. I have a big head and went with the medium. Remember you can adjust the size inside the helmet.

Like this leatt just didn't fit me properly.

Reply

andy-eunson
+1 Andrew Major
Andy Eunson  - Nov. 9, 2020, 8:50 a.m.

I’ll probably look into getting this helmet next spring. Late summer 2019 I had scuffed my Leatt 3.0 and went looking for a replacement. I tried on nearly every brand of helmet available here in town. The Leatt though is the only helmet that really fits my skull.

Reply

Saidrick
+1 Andrew Major
Saidrick  - Nov. 9, 2020, 10:27 a.m.

I have been pretty happy with this helmet. I would agree  with the author that the full face is more of a trail+, think of trails with optional line choices, type of thing. I have a DH full face for the ski resorts and bike parks. 

For me, the research and testing that Leatt does is what sold me on their helmet.  Wouldn’t hesitate to purchase another.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 9, 2020, 9:13 p.m.

In general, Leatt makes awesome products. Currently testing some DBX 4.0 pants and they are beyond comfortable and my helmet experience has been great. The attention to detail (like the padding) is excellent. 

I am very intrigued to see how the removable chin bar setup on their DBX 4.0 lid works as I do find I've been wearing a DH lid more and more.

Reply

gibspaulding
+1 Andrew Major
gibspaulding  - Nov. 9, 2020, 12:20 p.m.

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who likes riding in a skate style helmet.  I've been riding both MTB and BMX in a TSG Dawn Flex for a couple of years now and really need to replace it, but am struggling to figure out what with.  Modern mountain bike helmets have all sorts of new tech that should make them safer, but even more aggressive ones sit so high that I don't feel safe in them and the retention drives me crazy.  I suspect that I will settle on either a light weight full face or a Fox Dropframe eventually, but I struggle to wrap my mind around the price, especially when there's so little independent testing to verify what is actually safer.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 11, 2020, 4:56 p.m.

Love my pad fit buckets. And at my climbing speed active venting is over-rated anyways. I just wish companies would put $10 more thought into the quality of the padding as I go through it WAY faster than with quality non-pad fit lids.

Reply

Pnwpedal
+1 Andrew Major
Pnwpedal  - Nov. 9, 2020, 2:45 p.m.

With the amount of venting on newer full face helmets, I'm fine without a removable chinbar on all but the hottest days. My biggest gripe is the lack of availability for Leatt helmets, especially for trying them on. I have a larger oval shaped head and many helmets don't fit me well (especially Bell) so I absolutely need to test fit helmets before making a decision. I really wanted to try on their new DBX 3.0 and 4.0 helmets but I couldn't find anyone who stocked them in my area. I ended up with a nice TLD Stage instead. Oh darn...

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Pnwpedal
Andrew Major  - Nov. 9, 2020, 9:15 p.m.

I really don't understand why more dealers don't stock their product in Canada. NRG are nice people to work with distribution wise and Leatt has a number of great lids in their program.

Reply

Pnwpedal
+1 Andrew Major
Pnwpedal  - Nov. 10, 2020, 11:28 a.m.

I love what Leatt does, I have chatted with their employees a few times and they are one of the more progressive protection companies in the game. I would consider rocking Leatt gear head to toe if I could try it on first (this applies to their shoes as well!).

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 11, 2020, 4:53 p.m.

I'm currently testing a pair of DBX 2.0 shoes. All I can say at the moment is the quality looks really good. They are supposed to be notably less stiff that than the higher end DBX 3.0 shoes but if that's the case they might be the winner of the two options (fewer features aside) because they seem plenty stiff for single-speed riding on my Wah Wah 2 pedals.

Grip is good, but I always have to note that I'm not a Five Ten guy. Shimano's GR7 being my all-time favourite flat pedal shoe.

And yes on the head-to-toe Leatt stuff. Even products I haven't genuinely loved from them have been obviously great quality and I can't think of anything Leatt I've tried that was actually sh*t.

Reply

Brocklanders
0
yahs  - Nov. 15, 2020, 8:36 a.m.

It's hard to get any of their stuff here. I do know the new rep in Vancouver is going to change that.

Reply

3pac6pac
+1 Andrew Major
PJ McConkey  - Nov. 9, 2020, 6:51 p.m.

I had one until it did a great job protecting my head in an endo to rock crash.  No concussion or injury, just a cracked helmet.  Loved how light it was and fit my fat head well.  

Need to keep an eye on the screws that hold the chin bar latches on.  I lost both, but was easy to fix with a cotter pin.

Reply

kavurider
+1 Andrew Major
KavuRider  - Nov. 10, 2020, 4:55 a.m.

This helmet looks interesting to me.  I like Leatt products, so I will have to check it out.  I'm currently running a Fox Proframe, but I am not a fan.  Doesn't fit right and an hour into a ride I start to develop weird pressure points.  The brow pad disintegrated pretty quickly (replaced it with a Sweat Buster, which works so much better).  

The trail+ idea I like, seeing as how I knocked out some teeth earlier this year in crash.  I don't need a full on DH helmet for most of the trails I ride, just a little extra insurance.  

BTW Andrew, I love the sticker on the back of your helmet!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 11, 2020, 4:45 p.m.

Credit for the sticker concept goes to Tyler Maine (previously known as Pinkbike-Tyler). I saw it on the back of his lid years ago riding up to The Den for an FVMBA Fun-duro race and was still laughing the next morning. I don't know why it's so damn funny (as generally I get along with everyone I meet who rides a mountain bike!) but it gets me every time. Glad you appreciate it! 

It was made by the same friend who delivered my first 'Drew-Bob' sticker to me randomly at the night shift I used to work (Text at like midnight: "Come out to the parking lot!") when my wee one started calling me that. Actually, the stickers she has made that are on my bikes have more value to me than a lot of the high-end parts I ride.

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oldmanbike
0
OldManBike  - Nov. 11, 2020, 9:56 a.m.

It's important to be clear-eyed about what a full-face adds, and doesn't add, in terms of rider safety. It surely increases facial protection. But when it comes to concussion and brain trauma, I'm not aware of any evidence that fullfaces are better than halfshells. And they may be worse. More mass and a longer lever arm could increase direct and rotational forces on the brain vs. the same crash in a halfshell. And I wonder if hotter helmets lead to increased fatigue and more crashes. Nothing I'm saying here proves that fullfaces result in more concussions (and, to be clear, I'm neither an insider nor an expert, just a rider who had a bad concussion recovery and has paid attention to this ever since). But if you're buying a fullface thinking that it's the safer choice across the board, you could be making a mistake. I'm a lot more worried about my brain than my teeth, and my best guess from the crappy info available is that the safest option for trail riding is a modern halfshell from a company with a strong track record of concussion-safety innovation with multiple concussion-risk-reducing design features, not a fullface.

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AndrewMajor
+1 OldManBike
Andrew Major  - Nov. 11, 2020, 4:39 p.m.

I certainly am not qualified to state what helmet features are better (or not better) for avoiding concussions - I'll leave that to the helmet brands. Leatt prescribes to Kali's softer-foam-philosophy and I think that makes a lot of sense - even to this layman - since passing CPSC standards are really about helmet durability in a crash v. impact absorption. But I can't back that up with mathing or sciencing. 

In terms of the chin bar, I'll go on record as thinking they're always a net help over hindrance. I've met a few people who had brutal concussion after smoking their jaws (helmets totally fine) never mind broken jaws, broken teeth, etc and I've never seen anything that would have me believe that wearing an open lid is a safer option (though certainly more comfortable in many situations).

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oldmanbike
+1 Andrew Major
OldManBike  - Nov. 11, 2020, 4:58 p.m.

You may be right, of course. Maddening that, several years into increased concussion awareness we're all still stuck fumbling in the dark on all these empirically answerable questions.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Andy Eunson
Andrew Major  - Nov. 11, 2020, 5:04 p.m.

I don't think those answers will come first from cycling. With the multi-billion dollar questions hovering over football (from the NFL to college, to high school) I look to research being done now for that sport to permeate many other activities from mountain biking, to hockey, to equestrians, white water kayaking - basically, any sport where helmets are universally needed/expected. 

Cycling has some venting needs that may be unique to those other sports but I'm not sure. I'm a sweaty dude and run fairly hot and have done a lot of long, warm days in a pad fit lid (which in my mind is a natural slip-plane in a crash) and I think sweat management is significantly more important than straight-up cooling - especially active cooling which is basically useless at our climbing speeds. 

Anyways, regardless of what I think it will be interesting to see where helmets are 10-years from now.

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oldmanbike
0
OldManBike  - Nov. 11, 2020, 5:39 p.m.

I guess you're right, but I think bike helmet makers have a responsibility to their customers that they've failed utterly to meet. It was, what, 3 years ago now maybe, that we first were told that the industry was working on an updated certification standard to test for preventing brain injury not just skull fractures. Still nothing.

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Nov. 11, 2020, 5:52 p.m.

Sweat management is key. I sweat huge. Hunter Thompson huge. Back in the 80’s we wore head bands. Big ass Lillian Vander Zalm head bands. And I sweated all over my eyeshades, into my eyes, all over the bike. With no helmet. Helmets don’t make me sweat, going hard does that. Helmets channel the sweat. Take it from a guy whose forehead goes to the back of his skull and can feel that cold wind on cold days with no helmet liner even with an aero road helmet with hardly any vents, all helmets have sufficient vents.

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