Harking back to the history of Troy Lee Designs in its 40th year
01 December 2021
By Nicki Giles
As TLD’s 40th year winds down, we examine how far Troy Lee has come and introduce a new One-and-Done line, featuring the brand’s most iconic art, remastered.
Troy Lee is the Louis Vuitton of the motocross and mountain biking arena, putting his artistic flair to work to make the fastest athletes in the world look bolder, radder and more mesmerising than ever. But the king of MTB cool hasn’t always been so respected and revered – especially by his family! Take a look at this hilarious video, in which the man himself describes the perils of crafting his first batch of custom visors in his mother’s oven (plus an unfortunate incident involving a helmet, a spray gun and his dad’s beloved green Cadillac)!
TLD becomes a household mountain biking name
41 years on from this fiasco in 1979 – two years before he founded Troy Lee Designs – it’s safe to say that Troy Lee has exceeded his stepfather’s expectations regarding the feasibility of making a living custom painting helmets. In fairness, though, few wannabe kit designers have the unique blend of authenticity and talent that Troy Lee brings to his work as an ex-sign painter and ex-pro motocross racer, who grew up in a house full of motorcycling fanatics.
Having made a name for himself in motocross kit by first styling his own, then customising helmets for his pro-racing friends – after which word of mouth spread – it was only a matter of time before the emerging BMX and MTB scene of the late 80s and early 90s, struggling to differentiate itself from the traditional image of road cycling through bright and attention-grabbing fashion choices, piqued his interest.
The attraction was reciprocated after Troy Lee customised a number of striking helmets for heroes of the day, then designed the Daytona Helmet in 1995 to keep pro riders Mike King, Nico Vouilloz and Dave Cullinan safe as BMX riding became ever faster and more daring. A year later this landmark full-face helmet went into mass production and a cycling legend was born.
Troy Lee Designs – an MTB brand to aspire to
The fact that Troy Lee Designs is now one of the best, most coveted MTB apparel brands in the world is evidenced by the fact that this year’s Red Bull Rampage winner, defending champion Brandon Semenuk – now the first ever four-time winner – was decked out in TLD clothing and a TLD custom painted helmet.
Not only that, but an incredible six out of the fifteen competitors present were TLD athletes! This speaks to the high level of performance, as well as the reputation, of the brand’s kit.
A new age celebration of Troy Lee’s classic art
It’s not just the pros who can get their hands on highly sought-after Troy Lee Designs kit, though. The brand has released a brand new One-and-Done 40th Holiday capsule collection, capturing the essence of everything that has made Troy Lee Designs unique over the year.
One design fans of the brand are sure to recognise is the pink and blue aero logo, based on the Indian feather design that originated around the time the TL Comp MTB Helmet came out. There’s also a Unicyle design, with an old photo superimposed on it of Troy Lee balancing precariously on one of those inherently unstable bikes in his paint mask, and the No Artificial Colours design, recalling messy freehand paint jobs (and the over-shoot of guns that Troy Lee’s dad fell foul of).
The Go Faster logo harks back to the old race heritage badges and celebrates the brand’s own Supermoto race team and love of speed, and last but definitely not least, the History logo marks “40 Years of Creative Horsepower”. It’s a glorious, colourful mish-mash of Troy Lee’s most famous, larger-than-life past designs, alongside the instantly recognisable TLD signature and vector logos.
Grab a piece of MTB history
The collection includes long and short sleeve tees, a long sleeve raglan tee, pullover hoodies, caps, beanies, windbreakers, women’s crop tops, tanks and short sleeve tees, and a youth segment, so it really is possible for every ardent mountain biking fan to pledge allegiance to the brand on its anniversary.
This special 40th Holiday capsule won’t be around forever, so act now if you’re keen to get your hands on these pieces with their wild, distinctive designs. Remember, mountain bikers around the world recognise their peers the second they spot a Troy Lee Designs logo, and since so few people will be wearing this collection, you’ll be followed by a lot of covetous eyes at the bike park or when you pull up to the trails.