“It’s the closest you can get to not wearing gloves” is about two uses from official cliché status, but it applies here. The Leatt DBX 2.0 X-Flow gloves are the thinnest, most minimalistic mitts I’ve ever put on, and a couple design elements make them unlike any other mountain bike glove we’ve tried.
The magic is mostly in the palm. Leatt says the synthetic NanoGrip material is made up of fibers that are 7,500 times thinner than a human hair. I can’t imagine what that looks like any more than I could have imagined what it’d feel like between my hand and a grip–it’s nothing like Clarino or the various other materials on contemporary gloves.
NanoGrip feels thinner and softer, allowing for much more bar feel. In some cases the palms might actually be too thin–both myself and gear editor Ryan Palmer wore the X-Flows on a recent day ride on California’s San Juan trail, and we felt like our hands were beat up afterwards.
The extra feedback provides a heightened sense of how your front wheel is tracking, and the DBX 2.0s don’t bunch the way most gloves do, likely thanks to both the thin palm and the cuff, which extends about a half-inch farther down the wrist than is typical. The fingers are touch-screen compatible and work very well.
A four-way stretch mesh keeps the backhand just as feathery and pliant as the palm, offering plenty of ventilation. It doesn’t offer much in the way of protection or durability, though. Sharp sticks that miss the thin brush guard reinforcement film painted across the knuckles can easily poke through the gloves, in my case tearing the fabric and cutting my hands on multiple occasions. The gloves are still holding together after a few months of riding, though, having survived The Bible of Bike Tests and numerous wash cycles. Perhaps most impressively, the palms have remained supple after those dryer sessions, long past the point when a Clarino palm would have stiffened up.
Let’s review: the Leatt DBX 2.0 X-Flow gloves are not the most durable, or the best for long rides. But they are the way to go if you’re after a minimalist glove that you won’t have to futz with while you’re riding. Leatt also makes a 3.0 version, which gains Armourgel pads on the knuckles–right where sticks have defeated my 2.0s–as well as some light padding on the palm that might just be what my hands were missing the other day on San Juan.