Troy Lee Designs 2023 helmet overview: which helmet is right for me?
03 FEBRUARY 2023
By George Wise
There aren’t many MTB brands as iconic or rich in racing history as Troy Lee Designs. TLD helmets have been worn by some of the greatest riders, such as Sam Hill, Steve Peat and Shaun Palmer, and have been part of many seismic moments in the sport, setting the standard for performance and looks along the way.
If you’re interested in getting a TLD helmet, but are not quite sure which one to go for, the below guide should make your decision that bit easier.
Flowline and Flowline SE helmets
Discipline – trail and enduro
New for 2023, the Flowline and Flowline SE helmets replace the classic duo of the A1 and A2 within the Troy Lee Designs range.
The Flowline helmet combines favoured aspects of the A1, such as added coverage and fit, with those of the A2, including improved protection and venting, to create a ultra-modern trail and enduro helmet.
So, what are the differences between the Flowline and Flowline SE helmets? Aesthetically, they’re very similar, as they share the same outer shell with 14 high flow ventilation ports and a distinctive TLD ‘fin’ silhouette. The Flowline is packed full of safety features, such as MIPS and EPS foam.
The Flowline SE has many features in common with the Flowline, but is upgraded with dual density EPS foam, to better combat low and high speed crashes, along with a magnetic Fidlock strap to make taking it off and on easier, while an antibacterial comfort liner promotes freshness. Last but not least, the Flowline SE comes in a two-tone paint scheme, for added TLD style.
Discipline – trail and enduro
The A3 is TLD’s premium half shell helmet and the choice of the brand’s pro athletes. Featuring industry leading technology, developed and tested over many years in the Daytona series, it is TLD’s most comfortable and safest half shell helmet.
With 16 vents for increased air flow and a ‘sweatglide’ at the brow, it’s designed with comfort in mind, even in the hottest of temperatures. Safety is also prioritised, with an EPS and EPP system offering maximum high and low speed impact protection, while MIPS combats rotational forces.
It is further elevated by a magnetic visor, a V2 Fidlock closure system and aluminium visor bolts that make it look and feel like the premium helmet that it is.
When it comes to colours, the A3 steps up its image with more intricate paint designs from the famous ‘Paint Shop’, making these helmets instantly recognisable as TLD.
Discipline – enduro
Released in 2019, the Stage is a full face helmet that offers all the protection of a downhill helmet, but with a level of ventilation that allows you to wear it long periods of time in comfort, even when riding uphill. It is tailormade to cope with the ever-increasing demands and speeds of Enduro World Series (EWS) racers.
It is DH certified, confirming that it offers the highest MTB protection, thanks to the inclusion of clever technology such as EPS and EPS foams for high and low speed impacts, MIPS and a novel Polyacrylite injected chin bar, making this one of the safest helmets on the trail.
The Stage has furthermore become a very popular E-MTB helmet, due to the increased protection that it offers over a half shell, like the A3, while delivering better ventilation compared with either the D3 or D4.
Discipline – downhill
The D3 was first launched in 2010 and has been used by some of cycling’s greatest riders. It was such a revolutionary helmet, in both design and safety, that 13 years on it is still in the Troy Lee Designs range and revered by many.
Now offered only in a fibreglass construction, the D3 has 20 vents and six exhaust ports to ensure your comfort on any descent.
Discipline – downhill
This is, quite simply, the pinnacle of full-face helmets in style, comfort and safety.
The D4 was launched in 2019 but was planned for release years earlier. Why the delay? Troy Lee wasn’t happy with the lack of improvement in safety it offered over the incredible D3, so asked the team to re-design the helmet to exceed expectations on that score.
The result is a helmet with many clever technical features, including a polycarbonate frame, along with MIPS and EPP/EPS foam construction to create the most protective energy system of any TLD helmet. On top of that, a collarbone suspension system helps to minimise the risk breaking your collarbone due to impact.
Available in either a carbon or composite variant, the D4 meets different price points to suit your budget. The carbon version is lighter, yet slightly more rigid, than the composite version, which means it is stronger and offers improved impact protection.
The D4s come with TLD ‘Paint Shop’ designed paint jobs, which give an incredible finish and are instantly recognisable.
The D4 was designed predominantly for downhill racing, but due to its low weight and incredible breathability, it is used by many EWS racers on rougher stages. It can also be seen at some of the world’s craziest freeride events, such as Red Bull Rampage.
When choosing a Troy Lee Designs helmet, you will be getting a market leading helmet regardless of which model you go for. Choosing the helmet which will best meet your riding needs is key, so the discipline you favour and the way you ride will dictate the helmet you should go for.
Full face helmets always offer more protection, but are warmer and heavier, so not as good to wear for long periods. Meanwhile, half shells are much lighter and better ventilated, but don’t offer the same level of protection.