MXA TEAM TESTED: TROY LEE DESIGNS SE3 HELMET

March 31, 2011
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WHAT IS IT? The Speed Equipment (SE) name is Troy Lee Designs’ designation for their premium helmet line. The SE3 is TLD’s third (after the Air and SE2) and latest version of the popular helmet range.

WHAT’S IT COST? Prices range from $440 to $525.

CONTACT? www.troyleedesigns.com or (951) 371-5219.

WHAT STANDS OUT?
Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Troy Lee Designs SE3 helmet.

(1) Shell. As with all premium motocross helmets, the TLD SE3 shell is composed of several different materials. It is primarily made from fiberglass mixed with carbon fiber and reinforced with Kevlar. These materials provide a structure strong enough to absorb and dissipate energy from an impact, without shattering like glass in a tornado. The shell has mostly rounded corners to prevent the helmet from snagging on the ground and twisting in the event of a crash. We consider this a very good design. The shell shape of the SE3 is not altogether different from the SE2, but differences can be seen in the rubber eye port, top air scoop and mouthpiece. On the MXA scale, the SE3 weighed in at 3-1/2 pounds (size medium), which is on the heavy side.

Steve McQueen model SE3.

(2) Liner. We were pleased to discover that Troy Lee Designs has bumped up the safety quotient of the helmet by adding quick-release cheek pads. In an emergency, simply pulling down on the red tabs will allow the pads to be quickly removed (even with the helmet on). The helmet liner is also removable and washable. The helmet liner is a composite of five different foam densities, with denser foam around the crown and temple areas. Three different foams were used in the cheek pads.

(3) Safety. The SE3 is TLD’s first helmet to utilize a dual-density EPS foam inner shell. This technology allows the helmet designer to use a denser foam in high-impact areas and a softer foam in low-impact areas. MXA is of the opinion that dual-density EPS foam inner shells are superior to single EPHA foam shells?that is, if the varying density foams are placed in the proper areas. TLD also inserted red foam shock pads around the crown area, between the helmet liner and the EPS foam, to help absorb energy resulting from low-impact crashes. The SE3 passes the most stringent of standards, including Snell M2010, M2005, US DOT, AU and ECE.

Speedwing model SE3.

(4) Fit. The SE3 fits almost exactly like the SE2. This is not always a good thing. For most MXA test riders, the SE3 wasn’t as comfortable as possible because it sat too high on the head and created pressure points around the temples. We found a solution for this, by swapping out the removable fit pads from medium to large (the large pads are thinner). Additionally, we had a 3mm forehead pad placed in the front of the helmet to push the helmet farther forward (or our heads farther back). The end result was a vastly improved fit in about ten minutes. Troy Lee Designs sells a custom fit kit for increased comfort in any problem areas. The custom fit kit can even reduce the size of the helmet by a half size. The SE3 is available in sizes extra-small through extra-extra-large.

(5) Finish. It only makes sense that Troy Lee Designs would have some of the best helmet graphics, since owner Troy Lee started out as a custom helmet painter. We absolutely love every SE3 graphic style, including the Victory graphic (shown). Attention was also paid to the cool titanium visor screws and removable mouthpiece (TLD sells a plethora of different colored mouthpieces for a custom look). Not only that, every SE3 helmet comes with a helmet bag, spare Vortex visor, and a foam air filter/diffuser kit to be used in cold or dusty conditions.

(6) Place of manufacture. The Troy Lee Designs SE3 helmet is made in Xiamen, China.

Pistonbone model SE3.

WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We have a few complaints, but we addressed our own complaints with the fit kit. If you had an SE2, you will like the fit of the Troy Lee Designs SE3.


We tip our caps to TLD for improving its safety standards. The SE3 is a five-star product in terms of finish, a four star helmet for overall design and three stars for comfort (before we made mods).


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