With a long track record of producing quality gear behind them, we’re always excited to discover what the good people at Troy Lee Designs have cooked up for us as we ready ourselves for another season of shredding. We’re in May, the trails are drying out and the bike parks are getting ready to open their gates – it’s the perfect time for us to check out some of the 2023 highlights to give you an idea of what’s new and what’s cool.
TLD 2023 Range Highlights (as tested)
- Men’s Skyline Air Short Sleeve Jersey - $69.99 USD
- Men’s Skyline Short Sleeve Jersey - $69.99 USD
- Men’s Skyline Long Sleeve Jersey - $79.99 USD
- Men’s Skyline Short - $109.99 USD w/o liner, $139.99 w/ liner
- Men’s Skyline Pant - $139.99 USD
- Men’s Sprint Jersey - $59.99 USD
- Men’s Sprint Pant - $139.99 USD
Aside from the race-oriented Sprint Ultra range, most of TLD’s line seems to have taken a step back from some of the wilder designs the brand was known for in years past. Earthy tones and simpler designs dominate for 2023, and our selection of kit is a good representation of the look of the catalog as a whole. We stuck with the classics that we know and love, in order to be able to give you a good understanding of what’s new.
Skyline is TLD’s do-it-all kit range. The jersey exists in two versions, Air or regular, both of which have long or short sleeve variants as well. If you know the Skyline jerseys from the past couple of years, you know the 2023 version as well – not much has changed except for the look (there’s a “slight V” neckline now, but it’s not a major departure from the previous version). The regular Skyline is built using a lightweight polyester blend that is soft to the touch and easy to clean and dry, and gets a goggle/glasses wipe sewn into the rear hem. The Skyline Air jersey features an even lighter, meshed version of the same polyester fabric for even better ventilation.
The Skyline short is one of our long-standing favorite TLD items. It offers a great mix of versatility and ruggedness that makes it perfect for just about any kind of riding. For 2023, TLD made quite a few changes without departing from the general look and feel of the previous versions. There’s a new “Aero Tech” mesh used in panels out back and on the inside of the leg for extra flexibility and ventilation. The two pockets have hidden zippers, the waistband construction has been improved to prevent slippage and rolling in this area, and the Velcro tabs have been improved upon as well. The main fabric itself is also a bit stiffer than the previous version, without gaining any weight it seems.
Moving on to the Skyline pant, we find many of the same changes as on the short. A slightly stiffer fabric, “Aero Tech” mesh in the yoke at the back of the waist, a more elegant finish of the pockets, and the same improved waistband construction. The extra-resistant patch on the inside of the right-hand leg by the lower hem remains, to protect against damage from the chainring and/or chain (a feature that originated in BMX, apparently).
Moving up the gravity food chain, we arrive at the Spring kit. Built with heavier fabrics, both the Sprint jersey and the pant were made to take a lot of abuse. The jersey is noticeably heavier than Skyline for example, although strategically placed mesh panels and laser-cut ventilation holes should help with breathability. There are no pockets nor a goggle wipe on the jersey.
The Sprint pant features a more elaborate construction than the Skyline pant. It’s built around heavier duty fabrics, with abrasion-resistant patches placed in strategic areas. TLD has used mesh panels and laser-cut holes to improve breathability where possible, but the overall build remains resolutely on the burly side.
On The Trail
Starting out with the trail-oriented kit, Skyline is extremely comfortable and very breathable. Both the regular and the Air versions of the jersey are super soft to the touch, and sit well on the body. Both fabrics deal well with moisture, avoiding that super-clingy feeling of some polyester fabrics when they get soaked. The sizing runs true, and there is enough room in the jerseys to accommodate a base layer or body armor, should that be your thing.
The Skyline short and pant are both among our absolute favorites, and that remains so with these new versions. The cut is very close to the previous year’s models, bucking the trend towards tighter and tighter fits that seems to be sweeping the MTB apparel industry at the moment. There is enough room for kneepads of any kind, and enough waist adjustability to accommodate your post-ride extravagances at the burger joint. The cuts of both the short and pant are spot-on for pedaling, and it's easy to spend the whole day in these garments if need be. We like the move to the ever so slightly “stiffer” fabric, as it will probably translate to slightly improved resistance to wear and tear (not that there was a particular issue in this area with the previous versions, but still…). The pocket placement is perfect in our opinion, and there is enough room to hold a fair amount of stuff if that is how you roll.
The Sprint kit is built for gravity fiends. The heavy-duty fabrics feel a lot sturdier to the touch, but that is not to say that they are uncomfortable – on the contrary. The kit will of course run a lot hotter than Skyline for example, but that is to be expected and a fair trade-off for the extra durability and protection provided here.
The cut of the Sprint pant is more pronounced than on the Skyline pant, with priority given to the downhill riding position. The waist is angled towards the front, and the legs are more heavily pre-formed – logical design choices given the intended use of this kit. The pockets are a bit smaller than on the Skyline pant, and they are placed more towards the side and back of the thigh. This placement is less comfortable in our opinion, and does also place your belongings in harm’s way should you crash on your side, making it a slightly curious choice. At least there are two pockets, both zippered, so you should be able to carry what you need for a day in the park.
What’s The Bottom Line?
We’ve been fans of TLD gear for years, and the 2023 range has not disappointed us. Evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the designers have brought about a number of subtle changes that have made great kit even better. As for the colors and graphics, they are always a matter of personal preference and taste of course, but we’d say there’s something for every rider in this year’s catalog. We’re definitely stoked on our selection so far!
More information at www.troyleedesigns.com.
View key specs, compare products, and review Troy Lee Designs in the Product Guide.
About The Reviewer
Johan Hjord - Age: 50 // Years Riding MTB: 18 // 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 by Johan Hjord and Tal Rozow
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