Leatt Enduro 3.0 Helmet
The three-in-one helmet that does it all
Words by Justin Henehan, photos by Digby Shaw
The convertible full-face helmet is far from a new concept. It originally came about in the 1990s with the Troy Lee Designs Edge and the Giro Switchblade. In those days you could show up at a cross-country race in the morning and then line up for the DH race in the afternoon on the same bike.
Back then, it made a lot of sense to own one helmet that you could bolt a chin bar to, even if it didn’t offer that much extra protection. I owned the original Giro Switchblade and I have a Troy Lee Edge hanging in my shed. Both look like they’d be more likely to stab you in the face and steal your wallet than protect you from even minor damage.
The second age of the convertible full-face helmet dawned with the new-fangled enduro race format. Riders had little if any support during huge days that involved epic amounts of climbing. Back then, the rules stipulated that you had to wear a helmet on the climbs, but proper full-face helmets weren’t well ventilated. Riders jumped at the chance to detach and stow their helmet’s chin guard for the sweaty mouth breathing of the long liaison grovel. This period spawned some more solid convertible helmets, such as the Bell Super and the reimagined Giro Switchblade.
While this sort of helmet has generally fallen out of favour with racers, the advances in ventilation, safety and comfort have trickled down to benefit weekend warriors and eMTB enthusiasts. They’ve evolved into a perfect helmet for riders who ride a bit of everything but can’t justify owning three different lids … and don’t want to show up to work or a parent-teacher meeting with a face like a meat pack raffle. They’re also great to travel with because you can break them down to easily fit in aeroplane overhead compartments. And, when you arrive, you know you’ve got the right helmet for whatever your holiday throws at you.
The Leatt Enduro 3.0 comes in sizes small through to large and is available in four colours: white, pine, titanium and stealth.
The shell consists of a lightweight polymer shell with in-moulded impact foam, a strengthening “power bridge” and Leatt’s own 360 Turbine rotational impact system. Leatt says the system can reduce peak brain acceleration by up to 30 per cent and rotational acceleration by up to 40 per cent. I didn’t find out, but Leatt put it to test and has the acronyms to prove it: AS/NZS 2063:2008, EN1078, CPSC 1203 and ASTM F1952–10. The last is described as a downhill racing rating that doesn’t require a chin bar, but tests helmets with one if available.
Switching between modes is a matter of pushing a release button on either side of the helmet and hooking-in a small metal tab. It doesn’t look like the most robust system, but once installed, the chin bar feels solid. Switching modes is not a process you can do with the helmet on, but it’s also not a difficult job to do trail-side with the helmet off.
The Enduro 3.0 is cinched down using the now-ubiquitous dial system, which is found at the back of the helmet. The cinch system is vertically adjustable, which is a great fitment feature, but at its very highest point the shell gets in the way of the dial making it slightly more difficult to operate. At all other heights, it’s easy to use, even with gloves on.
The chinstrap strap is secured using a magnetic Fidlock buckle, which is great when you’re wearing gloves. I found out you can even close it one-handed while rolling, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
I bought a Bell Super about six years ago. It was awesome for a couple of trips to Whistler and a few to Wairoa Gorge, but I found the MIPS Spherical was pretty unstable without the chin bar attached.
In contrast, the Leatt Enduro 3.0 feels solid in half-shell mode. Where I had to cinch down the Bell to the point where my circulation was dangerously compromised, the Leatt needed only minimal pressure. I have a small head and I often sit between a medium and small in some helmets, but the medium Leatt sat well on my slightly oval skull.
Externally, the Leatt is on the larger size which is common of most convertible helmets because they need to be in proportion with the chin guard attached. This compromise also extends to the visor, which looks a bit large in half-shell mode.
The Enduro 3.0 in three-quarter shell mode is very reminiscent of trials motorcycle helmets and has a similar silhouette to the Giro Switchblade or Fox Dropframe.
While the half-shell mode feels solid enough, the cheek pads of three-quarter mode gave it even more stability. They also don’t add much warmth or muffle sounds. The visor looks more in proportion in this mode, too, plus you can get away with googles more easily than with the half-shell. I really liked the look and feel of the Enduro 3.0 in this mode. It looks great and felt a touch safer than the half-shell.
The only downside of this mode I found was the earpieces interfere with some earbuds. I love a podcast on a long climb, but I just couldn’t get the earpieces to fit over my Earshots without folding my ears in half. Lower profile earbuds might be a different story.
The Enduro 3.0 arrived just before a trip to Wairoa Gorge, so my first experience wearing it was on the huge descents of what I reckon is one of the best riding spots in the world.
Putting the Leatt Enduro 3.0 on, it’s immediately clear that it’s not a full-bore full-face. That’s fine though, it’s not meant to be; Leatt has some very good maximum protection full-face helmets for that. What it offers is a bit more protection than a half-shell but without the heat and weight. While it’s not as protective as a DH full-face around the jaw area, the Enduro 3.0 is packed with concussion mitigating features that you often only see in very high-end full-face helmets.
I’d normally run my trusty Troy Lee D3 Carbon full-face lid at the Gorge. I love how solid and safe that helmet feels but it’s hotter and more muffled than a High on Fire gig. In contrast, the Enduro 3.0 is much better ventilated, and you can hold a conversation while wearing it. It felt like a good option for the tech trails of Wairoa Gorge, where you’re working harder but generally going a bit slower than at the bike park. Being able to detach the chin bar also makes it a great option for big backcountry rides where a huge climb is followed by a huge descent.
Who is it for?
Leatt describes the Enduro 3.0 as its most versatile helmet and, with its three distinct configurations, it’s hard to argue.
However, like any convertible helmet the Leatt Enduro 3.0 has some compromises at both ends of its use spectrum, but I think Leatt has done a great job in minimising those compromises to deliver a helmet that performs well for each mode’s intended purposes. Overall, it’s a well thought out lid that’s comfortable, safe and well-ventilated.
The Enduro 3.0 would be a great helmet for the rider who dabbles in a bit of everything, who wants a bit of extra protection for back-country epics, who likes to travel to ride, and doesn’t want the expense or hassle of having multiple helmets.