Modern Icons: Troy Lee Designs, Daytona – D2 – D3 helmet.
There are certain brands in our beloved sport which we hold in high regard, be it because of their style, their function, their sponsored riders or because they are just damn cool. We covert and purchase their gear and wear them with pride. Without doubt, Troy Lee Designs is one of those brands, maybe even the one that all others try to emulate and compete with.
TLD were championed by the riders and racers who redefined mountain biking in the early days by bringing motocross style to a previously Lycra clad market. Prior to this, anyone requiring a full face helmet was faced with a dubious choice of a BMX helmet, motorbike helmet or even helmet from a completely different sport! Top tier racing required a high octane helmet to go with its emerging higher octane image, enter the TLD Daytona full face helmet. Bursting onto the DH World Cup scene in 1995 and worn by Nico, Cullinan and King, and then later by the irrepressible Shaun Palmer, the Daytona full face helmet was the start of this Modern Icon.
The first Daytona helmets were hand made out of the then space-age material of carbon fibre, by 1996 the helmet was a production helmet made in poly carb composite or carbon fibre. From then the Daytona and its successors have dominated the pointy end of the downhill race, and later freeride scene. In its first incarnation the Daytona ran a XC style short peak, remember back in the mid 90’s most XC helmets didn’t run a peak at all which made the Daytona even more unique. When images of Palmer sporting a MX peak on his started to appear in the magazines, the Daytona really established itself as the grandfather of the helmets used today.
From its first appearance the Daytona was instantly recognisable, it bought with it a MX style while still adopting features required for push bikes.
TLD addressed the ventilation issue with a front facing vent in the chin guard which forces air into the helmet, the faster you go, the more air flow through, very handy when racing downhill. Another instantly recognisable feature of the Daytona, which still holds true, is the rear fin with the incorporated vents, which suck the warm air out of the helmet as you travel. The seamless feature adds a sense of speed and style to the profile of the lid, while adding a vent system which doesn’t detract aesthetically or compromise strength.
Of course, the Daytona added what Troy Lee himself is essentially famous for, stylish and suitable graphics with, naturally some signature pin striping. Managing to encompass a sense of speed in every graphic, the Daytona soon became the go to helmet for any serious racer or weekend warrior with the funds to spare. With the growing wave of sponsored riders TLD managed to cover the heads of the top racers even if they had other clothing sponsors. Our beloved Peaty got on the TLD payroll in 1997 and still rocks one today despite having Fox and Royal tie ins.
The Daytona stayed on until it was superseded in 2000 by the D2, which continued on from the successes of the original but addressed some of the fitment issues which had become apparent. With the addition of more vents and improved, removable and washable padding for the inside, the D2 projects the image of speed with an elongated and streamlined shell and an improved and enlarged eye port to accommodate goggles. The D2 was available in either nude or painted carbon fibre or composite shell with larger vents and options for titanium fittings for the peak and chinstraps. Adding a buckle that could be adjusted with gloved hands while still remaining secure when in use further improved the functionality of the D2.
The D2 soon took over as a helmet not just for the pro’s, just as the Daytona had done previously. Rock up at a club round on any given Sunday and the line of D2’s just kept getting bigger, with a huge range of colour and graphic schemes, from black with subtle features right through to signature series lids. As many readers will be able to tell you, for anyone who has been around the block a few times, our sheds and garages all hold a couple of older D2’s, sitting proudly on the shelf, just waiting to be glanced at and receiving an appreciative nod from the noggin that it no doubt saved on many occasions.
In 2009 the D2 evolved into the D3. TLD introduced the D3 as the top shelf item to their range and continue to produce the D2 although now available in composite only and without the titanium fitting options. The D3 has 20 vents, is available in either technologically advanced aerospace carbon or composite shell construction which exceeds all the major global standards. The D3 design and construction is the current pinnacle of helmet production through the use of state of the art technology, rider knowledge and field testing. The lineage of the Daytona has stood as being the definitive helmet of the serious rider, while still meeting our brief of being a modern icon and being available to the masses.