Review: Troy Lee Designs' D4 Carbon Helmet is a Worthy Successor

Aug 13, 2020
by Mike Kazimer  
Troy Lee Designs D4 review


Troy Lee Designs' D4 helmet has a pedigree that can be traced all the way back to 1996, when the original Daytona debuted. That was the era of Nico Vouilloz and Shaun Palmer, a time of rapid progression by mountain bike riders and manufacturers alike. In the years since, Troy Lee Designs' helmets have evolved – the D2 came next, followed by the D3, and then, you guessed it, the D4, which first started showing up in the fall of 2019.

The D4 builds on the foundation left by the three previous versions, and it's the lightest carbon-shelled DH race helmet that TLD has ever produced.
TLD D4 Carbon Details
• Weight: 971 grams (large)
• TeXtreme carbon shell
• MIPS C2 liner
• 24 vents
• 6 color options
• Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, 2X
• 3-year warranty
• CPSC 1203, CE EN1078, ASTM F1952-DH certified
• MSRP: $575 USD
www.troyleedesigns.com

Troy Lee Designs D4 review

FIT
I wear a size medium for Troy Lee's half shell helmets, but I'm a size large for the D4. As with any sort of apparel or protective gear, it's best to try before you buy. For me, the fit was spot on right out of the box – I have more of an oval-shaped head, and the fit was snug without being too tight, and free of any unwanted pressure points. Compared to a Bell Full-9, the D4's padding isn't quite as thick and plush, but it was still very comfortable even during big days of shuttling or lift-served laps. I used the D4 with several different brands of goggles and didn't run into any compatibility issues.

VENTILATION
The D4 has a total of 24 vents, which includes six positioned over the top of the head, and seven rear exhaust ports to give that hot air somewhere to escape.

Its ventilation system works well, and while it's not at the same level of the Troy Lee's extra-airy, enduro-oriented Stage helmet, there's plenty of airflow to keep it from becoming stifling on warm days. It's a little bit cooler than the Bell Full-9.

Troy Lee Designs D4 review
Troy Lee Designs D4 review
Vents at the front and top of the D4 help keep the air flowing.

WEIGHT
My size large test helmet weighed in at 971 grams, right in line with TLD's claimed weight of 1,000 grams, give or take a bit. For comparison, a Fox Rampage Pro Carbon weighs 1,230 grams, and a Bell Full 9 weighs 1,122 grams.

That light weight is made possible in part by the use of TexTreme Spread Tow, a very thin carbon tape that saves weight and bulk compared to conventional carbon fabrics. TeXtreme is used in the shell of the D4, where it covers the EPS foam that provides the bulk of the helmet's impact absorption. A MIPS liner is attached to that foam by elastomers, where it's designed to allow the helmet to move on a rider's head during an impact, potentially reducing the rotational forces that reach the brain.

The low weight is a benefit too, especially during long days in the bike park or shuttling. If you're still wearing a big, bulky DOT-certified bowling ball on your head, you should at least try on a D4 – that 971-gram weight is impressively low for how solid and secure the helmet feels.

Troy Lee Designs D4 review
That exposed portion of foam is intended to help reduce the force of any collarbone or shoulder vs. helmet impacts.
<Deleted photo>
Troy Lee Designs D4 review
A MIPS C2 liner is attached to the helmet's foam by elastomers.

SAFETY
As with most helmet reviews, I was lucky enough to not put the safety technology to the test during the review. That said, the D4 has modern safety features like a MIPS C2 liner and quick release cheek pads.

On the topic of reducing impact forces, TLD use expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam for the helmet's chin-bar and on the lower portion of the helmet that sits above a rider's collarbone. That foam is softer and more flexible than the EPS foam used around the skull; the idea is that this "suspension system" should reduce the impact forces that can occur between the helmet and a rider's shoulder or collarbone, potentially preventing further injury during a crash.

Despite its light weight, the helmet still feels quite robust, and it achieves the CPSC 1203, CE EN1078, ASTM F1952-DH, and ASTM 2032-BMX safety certifications.

PRICE
The D4 comes in at $575 for the carbon version and $399 for the composite variant that weighs 50g more. In comparison, a Fox Rampage Pro Carbon is $500, a POC Coron Air Carbon Spin is $450, a Bell Full-9 Carbon is $445, and a 100% Aircraft Carbon is $400. While the top-of-the-line carbon D4 is significantly more expensive than its competition, the cheaper composite version retains all of the features and comes in lighter than most of the competition's more expensive carbon versions.


ADDITIONAL FEATURES
Other nice touches include titanium D-ring fasteners and an adjustable, replaceable visor. The D4 comes with its own carrying bag that's a step above the basic cloth sacks that accompany many full-face helmets – the bag has a separate zippered pocket for goggles and gloves, and there's enough room to toss in a few extra accessories as well.

ISSUES
The only real gripe that I have has to do with the noise that the MIPS liner makes. It's not particularly noticeable if you're bombing down a wide-open track, but at slower speeds on quieter sections of trail it makes a sort of creaking noise when it rubs against the foam on the inside of the helmet. That's obviously not a massive issue, but still, given the D4's price, I'd like it to be completely silent when it's sitting on my head.

I did have a strange incident where a big ol' fly flew into one of the larger vents above my forehead and got trapped inside. The noise was downright frightening, and I had to stop and immediately pull off my helmet since I was sure a swarm of bees was trying to get me. That only happened once, so I'm going to chalk that up as a random event, but a little piece of mesh over the biggest vents might not be a bad idea.


Pros

+ Light & well ventilated
+ Very comfortable fit

Cons

- MIPS liner can be noisy
- One of the more expensive options in this category



Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe D4 upholds the high level of quality that Troy Lee's D-series helmets are known for. The looks, fit, and function (other than that squeaky MIPS liner) are all top-notch, and the new D4 is an excellent contender for riders looking for light and comfortable DH-worthy full-face helmet. Mike Kazimer








97 Comments

  • 77 3
 This could be an unpopular opinion, but I prefer the D3
  • 9 5
 Bought a D4 dude. Sent it back immediatley. I much prefer my D3. It does'nt look right. I even think my stage helmet looked nicer.
  • 21 22
 If we are talking looks, then I think the D2 is still the best.
  • 63 1
 @cru-jones: You're all wrong. The best helmet ever is the roadie style one from the 80's that looks like a bunch of bananas taped on to your bonce.
  • 6 0
 Yep me too. Something about the lines that dont look quite as sleek as the D3. Hopefully the D3 wont go away soon, much as the D2 is still alive!
  • 4 1
 There is something off on the d4
  • 2 0
 @bigtim: Flash back to American Flyers!
  • 4 0
 I think the same..The new d4 looks good but looks like a motocross helmet
  • 1 0
 Same here
  • 1 0
 @carlitouk: dam cutters.
  • 1 0
 @bigtim: chichonera
  • 5 2
 Absolutely. Might have to buy up a couple of D3s before they run out to keep in the cupboard because unless they change the looks, I'm never going to own a D4, it's somehow utterly hideous.
  • 3 0
 @cru-jones: spot on, they need to remake the D2!
  • 1 0
 With you on that mate, as soon as they announce the D4 release i snapped up another D3 to keep for when my current one goes or I drill my head into the floor. Got it at a bargain price too
  • 1 0
 @Noeserd: i think it's the extra height from the added air vents.
  • 2 0
 @johan90: The top lines are crap compared to the D3. Forgive my crappy PS skills, but it would look so much better as a continuous line.

a href="https://ep1.pinkbike.org/p5pb19210128/p5pb19210128.jpg" target="_blank">Crappy PS job/a>
  • 3 1
 Troy Lee's SE4 Polyacrylite Helmet comes with MIPS, incorporating brain rotational protection.

MIPS brain protection system, reduces rotational forces to the brain.
EPP (Expanded PolyPropylene) chin bar for lightweight, durable protection.
16 intake ports and 12 exhaust vents keep airflow moving throughout the helmet.
Three shell sizes to more accurately fit a variety of head sizes and rider ages.
Anatomical 3D contoured cheek pads with emergency release system for EMS responders.
Plastic visor screws and brass inserts for easy impact break-away.
Stainless steel D-rings are both light and strong.
Comes with TLD helmet drawstring sock.
Weight (approximate): 1500 grams.
DOT certified.
$260
  • 1 1
 100% Wink Wink
  • 7 1
 @jorgeposada: DOT certified isnt necessarily a good thing. because they're harder, they dont absorb smaller impacts that could cause a concussion. DOT designed helmets are designed to keep your head intact in the event of an accident. So in the event of a lower speed crash, a DOT helmet could protect you less than a helmet like this.
  • 26 0
 Flashback to 2010 pink bike when we launched the D3, the comments were mostly "I prefer the D2"...and the D3 went on to outsell the D2 by a wide margin and become the best selling helmet franchise in the industry. But safety always rules over anything, and thousands of testimonials did that message well.
  • 2 0
 @troyleedesigns: I hope you dont think im slating the D4. Its just not for me. The D4 carbon Freedom colour scheme is the nicest I have ever seen. Im a massive Troy Lee fan. Always have been. The stage helmet in my opinion is the nicest helmet out. And it fits on my enormous loaf perfectly. As does my 2 D3's, 2 D2's and my trusty A2
  • 1 0
 Have you used both? How can you say that about a helmet if you haven't used it?
  • 2 0
 @ThunderChunk: well for starters it didnt fit and I used the retailers size guide as the new D4 has MIPS. It didnt fit at all. I have a massive head and I dont really know if id want an even bigger helmet, XXL instead of the already big XL. I put the D4 beside my faithful D3, and for me, my opinion of course, the D3 is much nicer. So I decided to buy another D3. And now I am happy. But in saying all this, I still look at pictures of the new D4 and love it. I cant win, lol
  • 1 1
 @jorgeposada:$260 is quite expensive for a boat anchor.
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: Thank you for this helmet, it is by far the lightest and most comfortable helmet I have ever owned. I think it looks great.
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns:

I do actually remember the backlash except I defintely preferred the D3 over the D2 immediately, just had to wait a couple of years until I wrecked my D2 to justify the expense.

The difference in looks between the D2 to D3 was night and day, unfortunately the D3 to D4 seems like a retrograde step, but then how can you improve on something that just looks awesome already? The D4 is reminiscent of another brand's helmet, I can't remember which though because I've wrecked too many D2 and D3s...
  • 1 1
 @demoflight: Negative, but your free to buy whatever helmet you feel will protect your brain at any speed. I don't go slow soo no idea what those crashes are like or how that is more traumatic than a high speed mash up.
  • 1 0
 @CarbonShmarbon: Well weak neck people might not be able to handle the extra 600 grams so you can buy the one crash wonder.
  • 20 0
 Been riding one for a few weeks now, BMX track, 4-5 sessions a week. Had D3 for years prior. D4 is day and night. Rounded snug vs cheeks snug like the D3. Weight drop feels significant. Worth every penny.
  • 25 4
 I went to school with a girl named Penny. She had quite the set of norgs! Impressed all the lads for sure.
  • 3 1
 @Waldon83: I learn something norg every day.
  • 4 1
 Did she have snug cheeks though?@Waldon83:
  • 2 1
 Is a full DH helmet best for a dirt BMX track? I've always wondered why not to use something a bit lighter like the Stage for something with so little gravity. Or is it just the big boosts and crashes that demand the full DH
  • 2 0
 @Svinyard: a lot of riders at my local track are running full DOT moto helmets. I’ll agree that it’s kinda crazy
  • 2 0
 Thanks Hugo
  • 5 1
 @Svinyard: Our Elite BMX racers prefer D4 (and D3 before that), they don't want a Stage for BMX super cross. Stage is meant for full time full face riding, trail riding....ventilation is not a demand from our BMX program.
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: head impacts on a bmx track, specially at top speed through a rhythm section is usually without any warning. Tracks are usually hard pack like concrete with 20" wheels - no suspension, you can be head first on the ground before you know it. All the pros always wear the highest head protection available, even when doing solo sprints on the street. MIPS is a game changer. The fit of my D4 is much better than my D3 but obviously every head is different.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PWeatTuUHA
  • 1 0
 @Waldon83: surely that should be norks? Otherwise I have been saying it wrong my whole life.
  • 2 0
 @hugodonais: That makes sense. However I dont see how that would be more dangerous than trail riding squamish, Bellingham, Moab, etc on a skinny little trail pointed downhill at high speeds tho. Maybe we should all take a page out of BMX and go for the D4?
  • 7 0
 Why is the XXL now only up to 63 when D3 XXL was up to 65... are peoples heads shrinking?
I need as big as i can get for my melon head so D4 is immediately out cause XXL it is not. (Source: troyleedesigns.com/pages/fit-guide)
Fox Carbon Rampage is getting a little knocked about and gives me headaches if worn for more than 10mins. Looks like i will have to put up with it longer...
  • 3 0
 Big-headed brother! I guess I'll also stick with the D3, currently the only helmet that fits. Couldn't even fit my head in a XXL Fox Rampage without bending it. Also, had to remove the "3D" cheek pads on my current D3, as they were twice as thick as the old ones and I just couldn't fit with those.

If we run out of D3s, I guess I'll have to get a MX helmet Frown
  • 1 0
 Was the old one without MIPS? MIPS costs some space inside the helmet.
  • 1 0
 I commented above and also forgot to mention that key point. It did not fit either and i checked the size guide before buying. I run an XL D3, stage and A2. Could'nt get the D4 near my ears even. I just dont know. It didnt look like a Troy Lee lid to me.
  • 2 0
 I feel your pain, the XXL D3 is the ONLY full face helmet that fits my head (feels like I've tried absolutely everything else and nothing fit). I guess I'd best not crash with my D3 now!
  • 3 0
 Overwhelming feedback from all those years of D3, was that it was 'too big'. A real minor adjustment to that was made, some of our XXL riders we tested could still wear the D4 comfortably.
  • 1 0
 I guess I’m not buying one then with my huge melon head
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: implying that some of the other XXL riders couldn't wear it anymore? I've not tried the D4 yet, since my D3 still does the job well, but here's hoping that the D4 fits me when I'm due a replacement, otherwise MX helmets will genuinely be my only option...
  • 5 0
 @troyleedesigns: Simple solution is to provide a size 63-65 for us larger headed folk (call it 1000 xl if you have to ha ha), or is there too small a market there to make it worth while?
  • 5 2
 Is it me or is a review on helmets pointless without actual testing? Would love to see this and the enduro version be lab tested to see how different in strength they are and also how much force would be transmitted to the head. Pointless saying light if its not as safe as the D3 or there enduro version.
  • 5 0
 I'm sure it's safer than their Enduro version (stage). Wouldn't be much sense having it if it wasn't.
  • 3 0
 @hmstuna: Thats kind of my point. No-one knows till testing is done. How much stronger? Worth having less ventilation or not? These are the types of things that mean people can make an informed decision.
  • 3 0
 I've been loving my d4 so far in every aspect except the visor. All the bolts for the visor have been absolutely awful. They come loose constantly and rattle and its loud and annoying. Basically you'll thread them in and just when they're about to get snug they will loosen right off. Also had to use all the extra washers for the middle screw just to make the visor stay upright. Otherwise it just slides down mid ride. Anyone else having this issue?
  • 2 0
 Yep, same issue here, the visor bolts are garbage. Never had this issue with any TLD helmet before.
  • 3 0
 friend of mine had this on his, and it drove him crazy. He tried some blue thread locker, and it worked perfectly.
  • 7 0
 Contact us, or your local dealer, there was a small batch of not optimal screws, we will send you a replacement pack at no charge. Sorry for the trouble.
  • 6 0
 @Austin-s check your DM's and like I said, anyone with a visor screw issue, contact your dealer who should have replacement stock or TLD directly.
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: is something different with the lower back of the helmet. I noticed it pushes into my head or scoops in further than my D3. Either that or it sits up higher in the back?
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: SWEET. Will give you guys a call.
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: Thanks so much will do!
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: One set of screws heading my way at no cost. Thanks a ton!

D4 has been awesome otherwise. Best version of the D-series yet.
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: New bolts arrived and are way improved. No issues now at all. Thanks again!
  • 2 0
 Kazimer, sounds like sizing is spot-on... technically you'd be wearing M/L with a trail helmet. So large D4 makes sense.
The trail helmets have adjustable stabilizer so they are considered split-sizing, and Stage comes with multiple pads instead to dial in the fit.
  • 6 1
 Looks like a $20 Bali knock off...
  • 1 0
 Hilarious
  • 2 0
 I've been shopping for a full face helmet. Bought the fox RPC and it has 2 undesirable pressure points so most likely I'll be sending it back. I will try this one but that issue with the mips might be a no go for me.
  • 1 0
 That mentioned creaking noise would be a deal breaker to me. Having your head wrapped on a noisy helmet is annoying as hell.
Couldn't be happier with my new no mips D3 fiberlite for £130, only feature worthy in the D4 is the soft collar bone area IMO
  • 1 0
 I was hoping there would be some significant price drops on the D3 when the D4 came out. Judging by the comments suggesting high demand for the D3, the price might actually go up!

I could do with replacing my full-face helmet. Cheaped out on my first full-face (Bell, so i assume good quality from a safety perspective, but it was the cheapest one they offer) and wish i'd spent a bit more now. If not for a bit of increased comfort, then certainly for a removable liner.

Hard to justify big money on a full-face lid as i only use it a handful of times a year at the bike park. I like the look of the Oneal Blade lids, which seem fairly priced. Anybody got any feedback on them?
  • 2 1
 If you dont have $$$ to burn, do yourself a favor and buy something from one of the major companies on sale $100-150 and replace it when you take one to the noggin that you think would probably have killed you if you had gone bare headed. Buy a bike park pass or something significant for your bike instead.
  • 2 0
 Got the carbon black D4, looks better than this one, loving it. Very comfortable. Front looks quite Moto-Style. Didn’t find the lines to be wrong. Bees being trapped not an issue so far.
  • 1 0
 I recently replaced a D3 carbon with a D4 carbon so can speak a little to the pros/cons of each.

First off, I'd agree that the D3 is a better looking helmet, if only because it's a little more svelte. The D4 is bigger and as a result it unquestionably makes for more of a 'bobble head' look. The D4 is also ridiculously expensive. I get the china tariffs etc, but helmets are still a consumable item - any significant crash and you need a new one. There's a 50 gram difference between the carbon and the composite, so needless to say I think the carbon is a waste of cash. Only reason I went carbon is that I found one with a 30% discount on CRC.

With that said, I am enjoying the D4. I ride in the PNW and wear the D4 for nearly all my rides. The added ventilation is very noticeable, as is the drop in weight. The padding inside the helmet is more akin to a trail bike helmet than the D3's - which has a single piece liner. Again that helps with the ventilation/air flow. I also like that the D4 feels sturdy and my perception is that it offers added protection for a negligible weight penalty. I have cracked the chin bar on two Fox Proframes and I just don't think the latest crop of enduro full faces quite meet the mark just yet. That's of course my opinion, but it's at least based off personal experience.
  • 1 0
 Too bad brands don’t give you the choice anymore, if you want your helmet with or without that MIPS nonsense, I liked it when with some helmets you could still choose.

Not many helmets left without MIPS, maybe I’ll go with a Leatt. Their system seems even more useless, but at least it doesn’t move or creak.
  • 1 0
 Have the DBX 4.0 v20.1 and have been using it since January. I thankfully have not crash tested it, but it is comfortable for my head and certainly does not creak.
  • 1 0
 @estayton: That‘s good to hear, I currently have a Bell with MIPS which is creaking, too.
  • 1 0
 Is anyone concerned with the fact that this helmet doesn't have "Dual-density EPS and EPP foam offers protection against high and low-speed impacts" like what the stage and other brads full face helmets have? Surprising that they don't put it in their top of the line new helmet...
  • 1 0
 Just bought one. From a rampage carbon to a d4 composite. Far lighter and more comfortable. Looks the business as well! Didn't want to outlay big cash on a carbon again after writing my last one off. Only disappointment is the composite doesn't come with a bag only the drawstring one which would of been nice spending £400! Sadly going to have to cart it round in my fox one instead!
  • 3 0
 I’m still serious... if TLD changes their XXL I’m going to stab someone.
  • 7 0
 @mtbikemccoy Try one on and let us know, but lets do it virtually haha.
  • 1 0
 Really love my new D4. Super comfortable. The only problem is my Oakey Airbrake goggles no longer fit. They get pushed up on the side away from my face (size L D4). Now shopping for new goggles...
  • 2 0
 Great helmet in most aspects but the noisy MIPS is bullshit for a $600 helmet.
  • 1 0
 I’ve got a Troy Lee A1 MIPS and the creaking drives me crazy. I spend ages making my bike all quiet and now my helmet creaks. What’s that about?
  • 1 0
 Try a little olive oil.
  • 1 0
 I have the A2 and can't say i've noticed it.

Don't know whether it would be a design issue or quality control (not put together properly) issue.
  • 2 0
 TLD Helmets don't fit my head at all. I wish they did because I like the looks.
  • 3 0
 Try D4 on, very subtle head form changes from the D3, which were made from years of common feedback in certain areas.
  • 1 0
 The D4 upholds the high level and MIPS can be noisy foes not stick together;

TLD helmets too small for my head, any from trail to dh series;
  • 1 2
 I have never written off a helmet through crashing in 10+ years of mtb and I'd still be quite reluctant to spend more than 100 or 120ish on a helmet that I would have to throw out if fell and bumped my head once. Looks nice though!
  • 1 1
 The D4 i had was soooo noisy inside that i send it back! i had permanent creeking with the Helmet! Bad TLD Produkt for much Money!
  • 1 0
 Does anybody know if the liner is removable for washing? As it doesn’t appear so
  • 3 0
 Yes, it is. It's attached with plastic snaps at the front and back, and velcro where it contacts the MIPS liner, so it can be completely removed when it gets funky.
  • 3 0
 No 26" option?!
  • 2 1
 Get the 7IDP Project 23C for half the price.
  • 1 0
 Like to see a photo of the helmet bag.
  • 1 0
 CHHHHEEWWWWW
  • 3 3
 More fluro colours please
  • 2 0
 We did 2 "eyeball" graphics from the Born from paint series, and we just dropped a Flo Yellow Purple D4
www.troyleedesigns.com
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns:
Really love my new D4. Super comfortable. The only problem is my Oakey Airbrake goggles no longer fit. They get pushed up on the side away from my face (size L D4). Now shopping for new goggles...

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