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A Legend Reborn | Troy Lee Designs D4 First Look 22

Lighter and more ventilated, the D4 is here to carry TLD's legendary Daytona line of helmets into 2020 and beyond.

A Legend Reborn | Troy Lee Designs D4 First Look

Troy Lee Designs introduced the D3 in 2009, more than 10 years ago now, and the fact that it is still one of the bestselling full-face helmets in the world is testament to just how advanced it was at the time. There have been several facelifts since then of course, introducing various tweaks or additions like MIPS, but 10 years is a long time no matter how you look at it and it was high time for a major redesign. Scroll down to meet the all-new TLD D4 and to read about our first impressions of it out on the trail.


Troy Lee Designs D4 Carbon Highlights

  • TeXtreme® Spread Tow carbon fiber shell
  • MIPS Brain Protection System - a helmet integrated, low friction layer designed to reduce rotational motion transferred to the brain from angled impacts to the head
  • Ventilation channels work in unison with the headliner to promote airflow through the helmet
  • Collarbone suspension system
  • Break-away visor screws
  • In-mold PC around vent openings and exposed EPS increases strength and durability
  • Quick Release XT2 3D cheek pads and X-Static/ XT2 washable liner create an optimized fit
  • Lightweight titanium D-rings and hardware
  • Safety certification: CPSC 1203, EN1078, ASTM F1952 – DH, ASTM 2032 – BMX
  • Weight: 955 grams (size L, verified) / 1026 grams (size M, verified)
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • In the box: helmet, helmet bag
  • MSRP: $575 ($399 for the composite version)

How do you improve on something like the D3? You keep what’s good about it, and change everything else. Starting off with the overall look, the heritage is obvious when you compare the new D4 to the D3. In fact, you’ll probably have a hard time picking out the differences in the lift line, at least at first glance. The overall profile and shape is close, but the similarities end there. The D4 is much more deliberate in its design language, every angle more pronounced, every surface more heavily shaped.


Improving the ventilation was a major design goal, and there are a number of new external ports as a result. The XT2/X-Static comfort liner is also completely different, it features a lot more ridges and channels to help promote better internal airflow as well.


Many of the external ports have done away with the traditional steel mesh cover, in favor of an open design that relies on shape and direction to keep objects out rather than a mesh grill. The exposed EPS liner in the ports has been partially covered with in-mold polycarbonate to increase the strength in these critical areas.


The new helmet features MIPS of course, but also a new outer shell material called “TeXtreme” which is said to be both lighter and stronger than traditional carbon thanks to principles like “spread tow” and “thin ply”. Rather than complete our post-doctorate studies trying to understand all that stuff in detail, we threw our size L D4 sample on the scales and noted that at 955 grams it’s about 160 grams lighter than our size L D3 (a size M actually weighs 1026 grams, because it uses the same shell but thicker cheekpads and liner). Other new or improved safety features include pull-tab cheekpads, and a “collarbone suspension system” – basically a cut-away in the hard outer shell right in the middle of the bottom part of the helmet, meant to provide a certain amount of flex to take up impact energy rather than direct it into the collarbone.


In the absence of any formal evidence as to its effectiveness, we’ll take it at face value and state that it looks like the idea has some merit. If you crash on your head at an angle, your helmet can indeed hit the collarbone with a lot of force, and as we always say when it comes to safety, we’d rather have something and not need it than the opposite. In terms of standards, the D4 meets the regular cycling standards as well as the more stringent, DH-specific standards (CPSC 1203, EN1078, ASTM F1952 – DH, ASTM 2032 – BMX).


Rounding off the features overview, we find a traditional D-ring chinstrap with comfortable padding, breakaway bolts for the visor, and a rather elaborate helmet carrying bag in the box. You don’t get any extra pads or liners, but they are of course available for purchase separately. There are three shell sizes and liners of various thickness are then used to create each specific size.


On The Trail

Through a rather amusing set of circumstances, we ended up being sent a test sample with a colorway that will actually only be unveiled this coming fall, which means that you won’t be seeing any shots of us actually wearing the D4 in this part of the review. TLD kindly sent over a few snaps to illustrate this article, however the observations and opinions that follow are strictly our own and based on riding with the “top secret” sample.


Picking up the D4 for the first time, it feels light. 160 grams is not all that much in and of itself, but it makes a quite notable difference in a helmet. In terms of fit and comfort, the D4 is similar to the D3 with a more “airy” feel to it. The lighter weight is a contributing factor here, as is the heavily sculpted comfort liner. Some of the new ports also open all the way in through the liner, which certainly improves the airflow but also allows you to hear a little bit more of what goes on outside the helmet. In hotter weather, there is a discernible difference in ventilation, and the end result is a helmet that feels very light on the head, and breathes better than a D3.


The goggle port is large, and will accommodate your goggle of choice (we’ve it tested with a batch of goggles including Oakley’s Airbrake and 100%’s new Armega). The visor is adjustable, and will not interfere with your vision. The chinbar sits in a similar spot to the D3, and it features slightly bigger vents which offer a marginal improvement in the management of your hot breath.


So how does the new D4 stack up in today’s market? There are a few competitors hovering around similar weight numbers, some of which also offer more or less similar safety features. In terms of pricing, most high-end carbon helmets tend to land close to similar numbers as well, which means that riders have more choice than ever when it comes to choosing how to protect their heads (we’re currently working on a major comparative review of many of the current crop of full face helmets, so stay tuned for that to drop). The new D4 manages to pack an impressive amount of features and safety technology into a lightweight and very well ventilated package, which should definitely put it firmly on your shortlist if you are shopping for this type of lid. If you happen to be fans of TLD’s styling as well, that probably just became a VERY short list. (Note that there is a composite version of the new D4 available as well, which adds a few grams and knocks a bit off the price tag).

For more information, head on over to

View key specs, compare products, and rate the D4 Carbon helmet in the Vital MTB Product Guide.

About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 46 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos courtesy of Troy Lee Designs

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