Troy Lee Designs recently showed off its 2018 motocross line, including some gear that will be available this month, and some that is just two months away. They also showed off a new version of their SE4 helmet, which is made using a plastic (Polyacrylate) shell. It drops one vent from each side of the chin bar, and retails for $250 – a nice drop from their $450 Composite and $650 Carbon lines. This helmet hadn’t officially been released at the time of the announcement, yet Troy Lee himself told of spotting several riders at Pala already doing laps in the new lids. We pulled Aaron Torres, who is the Lead for Helmets and Protection at Troy Lee Designs, aside to get more details on the new SE4 Polyacrylate version that puts the helmet within the budget of a lot more riders.
There are different views on how much or little flex a helmet shell could give. Regarding the design philosophy of the new Polyacrylate helmet, Aaron told us, “We found for motocross it’s better to be a little bit softer, because it’s not like a street helmet where you have the potential of hitting at high speeds; and in some cases the ground is a little forgiving, given that its dirt. So our general philosophy is that a little bit softer works a little bit better. And plastic, or polycarbonates or ABS, they tend to flex a little more than composites, so it’s a little more forgiving, and also allows us to use a little bit softer, or less dense, EPS. So just kind of generally softer overall, which manage energy, especially those low impacts, but still gets us well under the standards for DOT and ECE.
We asked Aaron if the TLD designers were worried the low cost helmet might hurt the brand identity at all. “The image on the brand is very important because traditionally Troy has been a premium brand and he wanted to get into this zone, but he wanted to do it right. There’s two ways to approach a helmet at this level. A lot of brands kind of work from the bottom up, and figure out how to have a helmet that looks like their high end helmet, but de-tune it, de-spec it, just make it so it only looks that way. This helmet, it is our high end helmet, but it has a Polyacrylate shell on it. So we chose to come from the top down, and just maintain the insides and just wrap it in a Polyacrylate shell.”
So we asked if they would be putting the team racers in the new helmet at the Nationals this summer. “We would, but the demands of professional racing require that they have a helmet that’s as light as possible. That’s why we have a tiered approach, where we consider this light, out composite helmet is lighter, and our carbon is lightest. The racers, to race at the highest level, need to have maximum performance, ‘maximum performance’ equates to weight, so that’s why we put them in the carbon helmet versus the Polyacrylate.”
The new, lower cost helmet is already available at some retailers, much of the new riding gear is available this month, some in July, and the big news for kids (and their parents) is that there is a youth Polyacrylate helmet coming out mid-summer; cost on that is expected to be $225 retail.