TROY LEE DESIGNS STAGE MIPS HELMET REVIEW
Review by Jason Ekman
At last, enduro race season is upon us! After 2020 basically having no races, let us just say the stoke is high. In preparation for the season, I realized my full face is going on three years old and yes, I am one who believes that you should replace your helmet every few years. Think about what it’s protecting. Normally I go for convertible helmets for enduro, but rampant shortages forced me to open my options, options like the Troy Lee Designs Stage.
After much searching I ended up settling on the Troy Lee Designs Stage helmet. I have always been a fan of the company and Troy’s art as far back as my early years as a throttle twister. The TLD Stage ticks nearly all the boxes for me: Lightweight, good venting, DH rated, MIPS equipped and stylish. My only complaint right off the bat is a general complaint to the bike industry. Enough with the matte or flat paint jobs! They are boring and harder to clean…matte helmets, bike frames and fork legs just need to go! Give me shiny, glossy colors that mud does not stick to! Alright sorry rant over, back to the review.
Construction: TLD’s Stage helmet weighs in at 690 grams (1.5 lbs.), really light for a DH-rated helmet! The core of the helmet is constructed of Dual Density EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) for high-speed impacts and EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) for low-speed impacts. The use of both types of protection means the helmet is not only good for that one major high-speed slam, instead the more frequent tip-overs or bumps against trees will be equally handled.
The main outer shell uses Polylite, a highly durable and heat resistant form of plastic with fiber reinforcement mixed in. The chin bar section consists of Polyacrilite, which appears to be a Troy Lee Designs exclusive material. The final layer of protection comes in the form of the MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection) system. MIPS is a slip-plane technology designed to help reduce trauma by slowing rotational force inside the helmet, and your skull and we’re stoked to see it in the Stage.
Padding inside the helmet is comfortable thanks to the X-Static liner that wicks moisture and keeps odors at bay. A single point chin strap with a Fidlock buckle keeps the helmet in place, while 11 intake ports channel air to 14 exhaust ports. Atop the helmet you will find an adjustable visor with three mounting points with plastic screws and alloy washers.
I have had the Troy Lee Designs Stage for a couple of months now and have done plenty of 10- to 14-mile rides and a couple of 20- to 30-mile days. To show my commitment to bringing you guys the most comprehensive reviews, I decided (ok, gravity/fate decided for me) to take a full-on lawn dart-style digger. I am pretty sure I used my nice new Troy Lee Stage to break my fall, rendering the helmet questionable, but most likely ruined. The good news is I walked away without a concussion and was able to finish the rest of the ride.
The Fit: With the Stage, fitment is a bit different. The outer shell comes in XS/SM Med/L and L/XL. The fine tuning is done with the included pads of varying thicknesses that are easy to swap out. Lacking a ratchet fit system, I highly recommend you try before you buy, as a friend of mine was unable to get his to fit properly. While I was able to get mine pretty close, I found the Troy Lee Stage helmet is not the most comfortable I’ve owned.
While we are on the topic of the pads, my crash this weekend brought an issue to light. The brow pads do not extend very far toward the bottom edge of the helmet. My crash was pretty much straight to the visor area on the front of my helmet. I was left with a pretty good red mark from hitting the edge of the helmet itself, below the padding as it slammed into my forehead. Another part I was a little surprised about was the chin strap. I was overjoyed to see a Fidlock buckle, but the strap itself is rather simple looking with a single point of attachment. It did the job and once in place was comfortable enough, but it just seemed, I don’t know, primitive for such an advanced looking helmet.
One of my favorite things about the Troy Lee Stage is the low weight. It is very light for a DH-rated helmet. Those who put in long days or have neck issues will greatly appreciate the low weight.
Cooling: Despite the TLD Stage having 11 intake vents, air flow seems minimal. I think it is the lack of brow level intake ports as the ports up front are a bit higher on the helmet itself. It is not that the helmet is overly hot, like the Giro Switchblade, but it falls behind others like the Bell Super DH in terms of moving hot air onto the head during slower climbs.
Visor: The flexible visor is long enough to provide shading for the eyes but not so long as to obstruct my vision. The three points of contact mean it stays put and the center slot gives the visor a large amount of adjustability for goggle storage. The visor is also plenty durable. My crash was pretty much straight on the visor area itself, and only the center mounting slot was damaged. After cutting away a portion of the twisted center mounting slot, the visor popped back into shape and is still functional.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Troy Lee Designs’ Stage helmet is a lightweight, DH-rated helmet that looks good and can still be pedaled in. I can attest that it does what it is supposed to do, save your noggin in a crash. I have total faith in the Stage helmet’s safety and protective nature, however there are a few areas I took minor issue with. This is just the second production year for this helmet, and I feel it could use just a few refinements to make it a truly amazing helmet for V3! Fit can be an issue as it does rely solely upon padding, and if your head shape just does not work, you may have a difficult time. I would also like to see the chin strap and ventilation improve a bit. If you spend more time shuttling with short transition pedals, primarily ride an eMTB where speeds are higher, or do not climb in super warm climates, the Troy Lee Designs Stage is one of the lightest full faces out there, looks bad ass and will save your skull when it comes time to test your limits. Overall this is a solid option and one we’d recommend trying on.
Weight: 690 grams
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.