The Legend Himself, Troy Lee, On MTB Safety Breakthrough
“During the early 90s, when I started thinking about mountain bike helmets, I was still racing motorcycles on and off and running to the track and painting the helmets of all the up-and-coming motocross guys,” Troy Lee looks back on how it all started. “At that same time, mountain bike racing started going to this new level of professional downhill racing, and riders and companies were developing forks and shocks and looking into all of this new technology. But everyone was still wearing these little beanie helmets and nobody was making any full-face helmets.”
It all started with the Shoei TL Comp 1 helmet that TLD did back in the early 1990s. “Initially, the Shoei TL Comp was supposed to be a jetski helmet, but then I added a visor and put graphics on it. A year later, we built a mouth guard into it and started sponsoring Greg Herbold. Greg wearing the helmet and winning the downhill mountain bike World Championship kind of put me on the map in the bicycle industry,” Troy continues.
“Even way back then, safety was my priority because these riders were all my friends and family.” Around 1995 TLD took the TL Comp helmet and turned it into the Troy Lee Designs Daytona. It was TLD’s first full-face helmet and it was all carbon. The mountain bike helmets kept right on evolving. It went from the Daytona to the D2 to the D3 over the years.
“The D-series of TLD helmets are iconic – there is a heritage there – so we have to keep on outdoing ourselves,” says Troy, “As a matter of fact, we now have a new helmet on the drawing board, which will, once again, be, state-of-the-art.”
Both mountain biking and motocross are sports that Troy Lee “started out on the ground floor in.”. His passion is what drives innovation. “Mountain bikers and motocrossers are really fun to work with. They all have that go-for-broke, ‘I’m here to win and live every day like there is no tomorrow’ attitude. It’s an attitude I love. Man, that’s what we’re all about. We have to make sure we’re having fun every single day, so go play hard. Work hard and play hard, you know?”
Troy Lee emphasizes safety as TLD’s main focus pointing out that helmets need to keep up with the ever-evolving racing industry.
“Safety remains my priority, because most of the athletes that we work with remain close friends of mine. Nothing is getting slower in our world – everything is getting faster – so these guys need more protection and comfort all the way around their bodies.”
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“Man, Where Do I Start?” Incycle, Issue 24, June, 2017
Incycle, Issue 24, June, 2017