Troy Lee Designs Stage Full Face Helmet

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Vital Tests TLD's Ultra-Light DH Certified Full Face Helmet

690 grams for a fully certified full face helmet sounds almost too good to be true - so we put it to the test to find out what's what.

Rating: Vital Review
Vital Tests TLD's Ultra-Light DH Certified Full Face Helmet

If there is one thing Troy Lee Designs is known for above everything else, it’s helmets. From the original Daytona to the iconic D3, whether it’s midnight black or Crayola’s year-end party all gone wrong, TLD’s full face lids enjoy a huge market share and unwavering support from a loyal fan base around the world. Similarly, the A1 and A2 open face helmets have garnered much acclaim and become very popular in the extended coverage, half shell segment. Never ones to be rushed when it comes to helmets, TLD has been working away in the background to combine the best of two worlds, and they are now finally ready to unleash their latest creation into nature. Meet the Stage, one of the world’s lightest and most ventilated, fully DH-certified full face helmets.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • One of the

If there is one thing Troy Lee Designs is known for above everything else, it’s helmets. From the original Daytona to the iconic D3, whether it’s midnight black or Crayola’s year-end party all gone wrong, TLD’s full face lids enjoy a huge market share and unwavering support from a loyal fan base around the world. Similarly, the A1 and A2 open face helmets have garnered much acclaim and become very popular in the extended coverage, half shell segment. Never ones to be rushed when it comes to helmets, TLD has been working away in the background to combine the best of two worlds, and they are now finally ready to unleash their latest creation into nature. Meet the Stage, one of the world’s lightest and most ventilated, fully DH-certified full face helmets.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • One of the lightest in the category
  • Very well ventilated
  • Stability and comfort
  • Safety certification (DH level)
  • Looks
  • Expensive
  • Only three shell sizes (with different pads)

TLD Stage Highlights

  • Polylite shell construction with fiber reinforcement
  • Dual-density EPS co-molded with EPP combine to safely manage high and low-speed impact energy - patent pending
  • Polyacrylite injected chinbar with EXO-skeleton reinforcement
  • 25 vents in total
  • Fidlock magnetic buckle system
  • MIPS brain protection system reduces rotational forces to the brain in certain crash scenarios
  • X-static pure silver comfort liner delivers high performance odor protection and quick-dry moisture wicking (helmet includes 2 liners - 13/10mm and 2 neck rolls 25/15mm)
  • Low-profile cheekpads use Xstatic fabric and super soft interior surface for maximum comfort and breathability (helmet includes 3 sizes - 35/25/15mm)
  • Integrated anodized aluminum/plastic breakaway hardware (extra set included)
  • Wide range adjustable visor +- 40mm
  • EPP lined chinbar for multi impact performance
  • Anodized aluminum rivet washer
  • Drawstring bag with breathable mesh paneling
  • Exceeds the following certifiation: CPSC 1203, CE EN1078, ASTM F1952, ASTM F2032, and AS/NZS 2063-2008
  • Weight: 690 grams (pre-production sample, verified, size M/L)
  • 3 Year Limited Warranty
  • MSRP: $295 USD
  • Mid-August limited launch with full global availability by October 2018

Initial Impressions

Pulling the Stage from its box, it’s immediately obvious that you are looking at a TLD helmet. It borrows more than a few design cues from its big brother the D3, which we think is a good thing. Aggressive yet streamlined, it strikes a pose that makes you want to strap it on and go find some rowdy trails. It sports a non-removable chin bar, and it has come to play in the new lightweight, well-ventilated full face coverage helmet category.

Beyond the looks, the first aspect to make an impression was the weight – the distinct lack of it, that is. 690 grams is light, very light. For reference, most regular full face helmets weigh in around the 1100-1400 gram mark, while other lightweight options currently on the market land at around 830 grams in comparable sizes. Does that mean that TLD has skimped on protection? Absolutely not, says the company, and they have the certification to back it up. ASTM F1952 (DH), AS/NZS 2063-2008, CE EN1078, it’s all there. Looking beyond the certification, it becomes clear that the company did not cut any corners with the Stage. It features a patent-pending, dual-density EPS/EPP liner, which was designed to help absorb impact energy both in low- and high-speed crashes, and a MIPS slip-plane layer which helps avoid transmitting rotational forces to the brain in case of off-axis impacts. As evidenced by the ASTM F1952 certification, the chinbar passes the relevant impact testing too, despite its thin and streamlined appearance.

The interior construction and fit of the Stage are based on traditional full face helmet design, unlike some other lightweight or hybrid/convertible helmets which make use of an adjustable internal harness (similar to those found on most half shell helmets today). Adjusting the fit of the Stage is done by swapping out the internal soft padding – you get three sets of pads of different thickness and two liners included in the box. The main soft liner looks like what you find in the A1 or A2 half shells, with a bit more coverage here. To ensure adequate ventilation when pedaling up to shred your favorite EWS tracks, the Stage features an impressive number of large vents and channels, as well as a very open chin bar.

The chin strap features the handy “FidLock” closure, a convenient magnetic buckle that snaps shut and slides open and is very easy to operate with just one hand. While it feels a bit sketchy at first, we have plenty of experience with it in real life and we have never see it come undone when it wasn‘t supposed to. As for the visor, it has a very wide range of motion and can be pushed up far enough to accommodate your goggles, if that’s how you like to run them for the climbs.

On The Trail

The fit of the Stage is on the snug side. The overall profile is notably slimmer than that of FOX’s ProFrame for example, and the helmet also feels less roomy. Part of that is down to sizing, FOX makes 4 shell sizes while TLD only makes three, so the sizing bands overlap in different spots for different brands.TLD told us that the normalized head shape used when designing the Stage falls somewhere between the D3 and the A2. This tester is on the upper limit of the M/L size from TLD, which left the fit of the Stage somewhat tight but not claustrophobic or uncomfortable. For reference, the same tester runs a size M/L D3 which also fits snugly but feels ever so slightly bigger – perhaps simply because the padding is generally thicker/plushier on the D3. There are different pads to play with to adjust the fit of the Stage, but it pays to try the helmet on before you buy if you are in between sizes.

The interior of the Stage is much less padded than a D3, for obvious reasons. The general feeling of the helmet on the head is therefore closer to a half shell, with the added protection of a chin bar of course. All the extra ventilation not only helps to keep the temperature down, with a vent placed above the ear it also means you’ll hear a lot of more what goes on outside with the Stage. Your chatty riding buddy now comes through loud and clear again.

We’ve made a point of keeping the Stage on for some long, grueling liaisons (enduro speak for good old climbing), and we’ve been impressed by its performance and by how comfortable it is.

In action, the Stage breathes incredibly well. As soon as you start moving, you can feel the airflow through the vents all around your head. The chin bar is thin and open, and it sits far enough away from your mouth to not be a factor when it comes to breathing. We’ve been using the Stage for about three months now, and that includes riding in some of the hottest, most humid conditions you can image. We’ve made a point of keeping the Stage on for some long, grueling liaisons (enduro speak for good old climbing), and we’ve been impressed by its performance and by how comfortable it is. Specifically, riding the same trails in the same conditions with just a half shell didn’t really feel any less hot.

Heading back down the hill, we were equally impressed by how stable the Stage is when things get rowdy. We’ve tested a good few competitors to the Stage already, and we’ve noticed that most of them tend to move around a little bit more than a regular full face helmet would in similar circumstances. Not so the Stage. This is partly down to the snug fit, but also the light weight and good front-to-rear balance of the Stage. We’ve even tested it without the rear neck roll padding, and it still stays put.

The front opening of the Stage is large, and will accommodate any google. Depending on your head shape, you may find that a taller goggle pushes up towards the front of the helmet, in which case you need to shift it around a bit to make room. Once again, something to try before you buy if you can.

So what about protection? As we alluded to during the introduction, the Stage is fully certified for DH use. That means the EPS/EPP liner passes the required impact and energy absorption tests, and that the chin bar is strong enough to deflect the force stipulated by the standard. Looking beyond the standard, the large number of open vents and the open chin bar design translate to more possibilities for sharp objects to get past your outer defenses. After that, there is something very reassuring about a regular full face helmet, all that extra weight and padding somehow makes you feel more protected. This is the obvious trade-off with these new types of helmets, as you can’t add that much ventilation without giving up some sense of security in return. Thankfully, we’ve managed to avoid taking any major diggers with the Stage so far, so we can’t offer any real life observations on what it’s like to crash in it, but the certification tells us that we needn’t be too worried about it when the day comes.

Things That Could Be Improved

The fit of a helmet will always be a personal thing, nevertheless we think TLD makes some of the best fitting helmets around. We would like to see them go to four shell sizes at some point, which would make getting the fit just right an even more precise exercise for those in between sizes, but we're really just nitpicking now.

At $295, it is among the most expensive helmets in the category, where most competitors come in at around the $250 mark (including the convertibles which you could argue are more complex to manufacture, although it should be noted that not all the convertibles achieve the same levels of certification and certainly not the same low weight). The Stage does include three different sets of pads and two liners as well as some spare parts and a helmet carrying bag, and the performance of the helmet does warrant a premium, so it's not outrageous by any means.

Long Term Durability

We’ve had the Stage out on the trails for three months now, and it has held up very well so far. There are a few small scratches or other blemishes, the result of a couple of minor tumbles as well as some rough rides in the gear bag, but both the finish and the quality of the workmanship seem to be in it for the long run. We’ve not taken any big crashes with the Stage, so we can’t tell you what happens when you do, but as with all EPS-equipped lids you should discard yours if you take a big hit to the head – par for the course in helmet world.

What’s The Bottom Line?

TLD has taken their time coming to market with a lightweight, breathable full face helmet option, but it has been well worth the wait. The Stage is among the lightest and most ventilated helmets we have tested in this category, yet it achieves full DH levels of certification. Add in the aggressive design language inspired by the legendary D3, and you’re looking at a serious contender – at $295 USD it certainly is not cheap, but we feel there is enough value here to justify paying a premium. Your biggest problem now may be getting your hands on one, as global availability is set to be quite limited at first.

More information at: www.troyleedesigns.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 45 // Years Riding MTB: 13 // 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 Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Troy Lee Designs Stage Full Face Helmet
Riding Type Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Rider Unisex
Number of Vents 25 - 11 high flow air intakes and 14 open core exhaust ports with deep max air flow internal channeling
Construction Polylite shell construction with fiber reinforcement
Dual-density EPS co-molded with EPP
Polyacrylite injected chinbar with exoskeleton reinforcement
EPP lined chinbar for multi impact performance
Integrated anodized aluminum/plastic breakaway hardware (extra set included)
Wide-range/adjustable visor (+/- 40mm)
Fidlock magnetic buckle system
MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System)
Adjustable Padding Yes - includes 2 liners (13/10mm), 2 neck rolls (25/15mm), and 3 jaw/cheekpads (35/25/15mm)
Certification CPSC 1203, CE EN1078, ASTM F1952, ASTM F2032, and AS/NZS 2063-2008
Bag Yes - drawstring bag with breathable mesh paneling
Size XS/S, M/L, XL/XXL
Colors Race Black/Red, Race Silver/Navy, Stealth Black, Stealth Black/Pink, Stealth Gray
Weight 1 lb 8.7 oz (700 g)
Miscellaneous 2018 model year
MIPS brain protection system reduces rotational forces to the brain in certain crash scenarios.
X-Static pure silver liner delivers high performance odor protection and quick-dry moisture wicking.
Jawpad / lo-profile cheekpads use X-Static fabric and soft interior surface.
3-year limited warranty
Price $295
More Info

​www.troyleedesigns.com

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