bigquotesMarmite is made from yeast extract, a by-product of beer brewing... The British version of the product is a sticky, dark brown food paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty. This distinctive taste is reflected in the British company's marketing slogan: "Love it or hate it." The product's name has entered British English as a metaphor for something that is an acquired taste or tends to polarise opinions. - Wikipedia



If ever there was a Marmite helmet, it would be made by Urge. Even from a distance you can spot an Urge helmet. In a world where most helmet makers use a common design language to sculpt their helmets, Urge apparently missed that meeting and struck out in their own, unique direction. This was no accident though, but a careful gamble by a small company who understood they could not compete with the major players on their terms. Even Urge admit that they will never produce helmets that everybody loves, but they are banking on enough people seeing the beauty in their designs and buying into their philosophy to carve themselves a niche. Eight years after the launch of their first helmet, the Endur-O-Matic, they have just revised their flagship models to offer their most complete range yet - it seems to be a gamble that is paying off for the small team behind the company.

It should be no surprise to anybody that such a unique company has equally strong characters behind the scenes:



Fred Glo

Anybody who follows the Enduro World Series closely might recognise Fred. Known within the sport as the Godfather of Enduro, he is the man behind mountain biking's first ever enduro race, the Tribe 10,000 in 2003. Beyond this, he is also a seasoned traveller both with the bicycle and the motorbike, as well as the owner of one of France's largest distributors, Tribe Sports Group. Turning 50 this year, he is showing little sign of slowing down, celebrating that milestone by taking part in the BC Bike Race.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.



Zoobab

Zoobab is the artist of the three, a quiet man who is less well-known than his partners in Urge and usually prefers to stay out of the spotlight. Having worked in design in the mountain bike industry since the heydays of Sunn in the early 1990s, he has more than twenty years of experience working in the sport. He planted the seeds for Urge back in 1993, providing Francois Gachet a homemade helmet that he wore to World Championship gold.
Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.



Fabien Barel

Fabien Barel needs little introduction. A three-time downhill world champion, who later switched to become one of the world's top enduro racers. With an engineering background, he has been known for years for his meticulous attention to detail and applies this approach to developing Urge's helmets. What is maybe less well-known about him is that away from the track he is an astute businessman and Urge is one of a number of companies he is involved in.
Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Without big marketing to back them up, there is a lot about Urge that many people do not know. From the fact that they are the about the only helmet company who specialise solely in mountain bike helmets, to the fact that their helmets are mostly made from recycled materials and they donate 1% of their turnover to non-profit organisations every year. We sat down with the three of them in their headquarters in Cogolin, France to find out a bit more about what makes Urge and their products so unique, why we won't see a carbon helmet from them any time soon and how they believe a trail helmet should differ from a downhill helmet.



Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.



Where was the beginning of Urge? What was the original idea?

Zoobab: I was working for Sunn before, since the beginning of Sunn doing the design of the graphics and advertising, all the things like that.

Fabien Barel: All my very first jerseys were designed by Zoobab. I know Zoobab from 1995.

Zoobab: That was 20 years ago, incredible. I've still got the jersey at home...

Fred Glo: I met Fabien in something like 2003. He came to us at the office. He was dealing with us, a partnership with 661 and he was curious to see these guys not far from his home.

Fabien Barel: Yup, that was the first time I had the partnership with 661. I started to be interested in what Fred was doing, and actually the deal with 661 happened through Tribe Sports Group. That's how I met the company first and I realized how they were working, the passion they had for the sport, the roots of the company they had with Tribe Sports Group. I knew Fred at that time, knew Zoobab from 1995 as I told you. We kind of all knew each other from our part in the industry, our situation in the industry.

Fred Glo: I met Zoobab later, in fact, something like 2006 at a trade show, maybe Eurobike, but I was already aware of his Urge snow helmet project as I like to ski. I met Zoobab, and he told me about his project to try something for the mountain bike market. From this point, we decided together around 2008 to launch Urge Bike Products and to start a new company: South Shore Bicycle.

Fabien Barel: Actually, Fred, Laurent and I started South Shore Bicycle earlier with Brake Authority, producing brake pads. The year after, we started Urge under the same company to try to start the project that we had with Zoobab and our new helmet, the Endur-O-Matic.

One question, guys: Which was the first trail helmet with additional coverage, did the Endur-O-Matic come first or the Giro Zen?

Zoobab: The Zen was first. I originally started Urge a long time ago with Francois Gachet, he won his world champions title wearing one of my helmets, but I stopped because it was for fun and I realised it was very dangerous, nothing was with certification at the time. I'm the sort of person who keeps things in mind though. When I stopped Sunn and I started with Commencal, I had the opportunity to start something with a friend of mine, Phil. We decided to do a snow helmet. I thought it would be good to do something a little bit different like this, but it is so complicated and the marketing in snowsports is so huge. At this moment, I tried to coming back to bicycles, because I know this world, I love this world. It was then that I met Fabien again, and Fred, and we decided to go in this direction. The Endur-O-Matic was born from a snow helmet we had, with more vents, etc and it was the beginning of our story - it was like a UFO in the middle of the other bicycle helmets because it was so different.

Fabien Barel: What's interesting is, for us, the first approach with Zoobab, the first thing we could see was, obviously, the appearance. It was radically different. Also, looking past the lines, look at the general volume of the helmet and its weight. If you take the Endur-O-Matic as it was back in the day, it was like a full in-mould technology above the shell. It was really narrow and a really close fit to the head. You could see from far that it was an Urge helmet coming, you could see that the technology was very basic but very close to what a mountain biker needs. That's what I think we got right straight-up from the beginning.

Zoobab: Every time we design a product, every time we try to stick to our guidelines, we make the challenge for ourselves That's why we try, for our customer and people that like the brand, to makes something that is unique overall. Unique in philosophy, unique in terms of the quality of the product based on the price point we are aiming for. For us, I think, it would be very nice to have a five hundred Euro helmet, but it's not really useful because not many people can afford that. It's very important to have really good quality and really good designed helmet at the price that people can afford. Ok, not everybody can buy a three hundred Euro helmet, but it's more affordable than a 500 Euro helmet...



Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.



Fabien Barel: If you take today any of those big brands, without naming anyone, that has a very high cost, I'm 100% sure that our full face helmet, the Down-O-Matic, and now the RR is as protective in terms of security, it has all the technical capacities that the others have in terms of angles, in terms of general volume, in terms of fit, and in terms of shape of the head. It's got a design that you like, or you don't like. I'm 100% sure that the value for money is definitely at a higher level with what we have. The only difference is that we don't have a huge amount of marketing behind us that would allow us to buy the biggest athletes and the big campaigns, and all this. In the helmet business, the marketing is taking, today, a huge amount here to make a project to a certain cost and value.

Zoobab: When you buy, for example, Fox, it's not the bicycle riders that define the image, Fox is on supercross riders, it's huge for people. Even for downhill, they are more focused on supercross and motocross and we can't beat that. We are not Fox.

Fabien Barel: We don't have the history, we don't have the philosophy. It's such a different path. Ours is more difficult. It's harder because we're not as trendy as Troy Lee or Fox. The fact is we are doing the helmet that is reliable for people, that is affordable for people, that is geared toward taking care of the planet, taking care of the people that are doing it. Also, that is following our philosophy of sharing with others. That's why we do the charity events, that's why we do all that. For us, we all come from all-mountain riding and enduro. He has a BMX background, he has motocross and enduro moto background, and I have a downhill background. What we all realised is that what we love the most today, is taking our bike, going out on a Sunday riding with friends. That's what we want Urge to inspire people to do, sharing the moment and using a product that is creating a certain community. The Urge community is a huge community for us, these people are linked to those values. We don't want to be Fox, we don't want to be Troy Lee, and we will never be. What we want to have roots of what we are, share it with them and try to have a product that we would be happy to wear.

Fred Glo: It's really our baby. We cannot tell a story other than our story. I like the word, "continuation." We all come from different places, but at the end, we all find ourself into Urge because it's a different step of our life that brings us all together in that project. I think it makes it very exciting that we compliment each other. All three, we like to be unique to our way of life, how we manage our business and our brand. We don't want to copy anyone. We just want to be ourselves. Again, even if we have some background from downhill mountain bikes, motorbike for me, and Zoobab in surfing. He's a good surfer, and he has some knowledge and background in that. Our point of communion together was mountain biking. If you talk about enduro - it's just a name for racing based on what we practice every day. This us exactly where Urge is, in this style of mountain biking where we're all together. Hopefully, a lot of people will join us.

Looking at the new and the old Endur-O-Matic together, can you talk us through the evolution?

Fred Glo: We all knew the most important thing to improve were the vents. It was not a surprise for us when we heard from people saying, "Oh, you need more vents." We are based in the South of France, so we know what is needed... Honestly, I think there is too much focus from everybody, and sometimes journalists, on this. I'm very happy, even in the south of France, to use my Endur-O-Matic eight months a year. I never feel it's missing a vent. Okay, in July, August, it is missing some vents. When you wear a vest in winter when you are riding, put your vest on and ride, right? For me, it's the same. You cannot have everything, probably, in one helmet. I see many people wearing a beanie, or something like this, to keep their head warm in winter, do you need all those vents then?

Fabien Barel: I think generally there is too much focus about this. Even if we need to bring evolution and bring some new trend into the brand, I still believe that the product we brought at that time was ideal. It's what we needed for mountain biking. It was good protection. It looked small, like a bicycle helmet. In terms of general fit, it was basic but worked really well. Same thing with the Gangsta Pad. When we talk about it, that extra padding was actually just to get the sweat out of your eyes. That's very basic, but that's very practical. That's why, today, if we take from our first helmet to our last one ... We came up with our new Down-O-Matic RR and said, "Okay, what do we need to do? Where do we want to go?" On the commercial side, we decided that we want to reach a level of price point. We worked with our manufacturer, and we decide to test all the products on the market. I tested all the brands that we could buy, like Troy Lee, Fox, and Bell, and everyone around to fit them, understand what was good, what was bad about them. We measured all the angles, the volume and we ended up with this product. For me, I got plenty of little details that are not at high cost. You have the protection, the comfort, the fit, that you need for mountain biking. As we have the flexibility of being small and to be able to make decisions on our own makes it exciting.



Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.



Fred Glo: In a way, to be small is difficult, and in another way, it is very, very comfortable. There are too many people would say, "Oh, okay, I will do that..." We are three. We listen to the riders and things like this, but at the end, it's quite easy. We know what we need. It's more rider decisions than marketing decisions. Sometimes it's way better to be a small company.

The EPS liner is basically sixty-year-old technology now, like 1950's design. Is that something you see changing in the coming future because they've got this MIPS or the 6D helmets.

Fabien Barel: There are many new things like this. For us, we must go in that direction because the marketing by MIPS is so strong that all helmet companies need to go in this direction because of marketing. Not because it's useful, but because the marketing is so strong. Basically, the EPS is very, very good material. It's a foam without memory, so when you have an impact this foam is absorbing all the shock instead of your brain.

Zoobab: The main thing that makes a difference is that you cannot compare in-mould technology with outer shell technology. When you talk about outer shell, you have a lot of the impact that is going into the plastic shell and that goes into your brain. That's when, eventually, the technology like the MIPS can work.

Can you explain what in-mould actually is?

Fabien Barel: You have the EPS, and you just have a plastic in-mould technology over it. You don't have an outer shell. In-mould is the EPS directly covered by the plastic. In-moulding has a property of impact absorption that is really high, and really good compared to an outer shell when it takes an impact. With an outer shell, an impact goes into the plastic shell that spreads the force, but that brings it all to your neck and your brain. The in-mould will absorb the impact at one point. That makes a huge difference. Then, you have different outer shell technology that we use in our full-face helments]. Hopefully, it's clear that they do not use in-mould technology. But you have the possibility of flexibility of based on the different the fibres you use. It's not the same. It's all about the way you shape it, like the way you bring the layers together. You have a mold, then you take the plastic. It's a custom form. When you get into fiber, you can bring the materials a certain way, in a certain structure. You can play with the rigidity. If you want more rigidity here you can.

So in much the same way a frame will have a custom layup for particular qualities?

Fabien Barel: It's exactly the same way as with a frame. I don't think anyone... For example, this year we have the new ATSM standard, US regulations set, for the first time in mountain biking history, chin guard numbers that we need to reach for mountain bike protection. Until now, believe it or not, full face helmet certification was the same certification as an all-mountain helmet.

They've had the same testing process?

Fabien Barel: Exactly, nothing for the chin guard. Now we have numbers that really helps us to understand what we needed in terms of rigidity. People believe that to make a helmet, it needs to be rigid, but that's not true. More rigid the helmet is, the less force it absorbs in the impact, the more goes to your brain and your neck. You want to have the optimized deformation to actually absorb the impact. You want a helmet to break when you take an impact. This flex is something that you need so every time you have an impact you have deformation to reduce the force to your neck and your head. I don't think anyone that's been digging as much as we did in terms of the calculation you need to have in the outer shell of a full-face helmet today.



Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.



One question that's interested me for a while is, there was a big debate in moto about how hard a moto helmet should be a few years ago. With mountain biking, for instance, is your Down-O-Matic which is rated for downhill a thicker, harder shell than, say, the Endur-O-Matic? The general assumption would be the Endur-O-Matic will be designed for lower speed impacts than you would if you're racing world cup downhill?

Fabien Barel: I believe that the decisions we make in terms of absorption have to be different for downhill than you have for all-mountain. First of all, you don't have the same speed. The average speed is different and the type of impact that you have is different. That's why you need to actually take your own test, which is different than you have for certification. You need to base your rates in a different way, based on what you need. That's why internally, when you work with a good manufacturer, they make you pass your own test and your own standards. More than what you would actually do just to pass regulation. It's totally different, for sure.

Zoobab: For a downhill helmet, with the outer shell it's more for perforation. For the Endur-O-Matic, it is the in-mould, where you have less protection from perforation. For the speed that you use with this type of helmet, it's different. With a downhill or enduro competition helmet, you need to add perforation, too. It's very important to because at 70km/h the risk of perforation can be very high.

Fabien Barel: You have a very little chance at 30-40km/h that a rock will blow through the helmet, when at 80km/h you would. That's what makes the difference between, as you said, impact absorption and perforation.

Fred Glo: Like you can see on some of our earlier Down-O-Matic prototypes, these were our first prototypes with linen with 100% linen Fabien raced the Canberra Worlds in the all-linen helmet. Our new Down-O-Matic is 20% linen, which for us is the best compromise between these fibres.

Fabien Barel: The reason we don't use carbon is that when people produce it, you put into a mould and then you put the layers, then there is a lot of sanding. That sanding is making a lot of powder. Powered carbon, when people are manufacturing it is really bad for the health.

Fred Glo: This is very linked with what will happen with a frame, we all know carbon is high end. For people, when they look for a helmet, high end is carbon too. For us, it's completely stupid. It's about the capacity for absorption and the quality of the material. It's stupid to spend too much money on such an expensive helmet. We think our technology is a bit less expensive, just a bit, not so much, and better with linen fibre.

Zoobab: You have more absorption with linen fibre, because the fibre is more flexible. You know you don't use a lot of fiber, but it's visible - carbon fibre is beautiful. It's a lot of man hours giving it that finish. The price is not in the fibre, it's in that work. If we do a helmet like this with linen fiber, it would cost the same price as carbon if the lining was visible. It's not the price of the fiber, it's the man hours to make it beautiful. That's it.

Fabien Barel: Again, there is a lot of perception from consumers. Most of the helmets just put the carbon on the top to make it look carbon. Out of that, there is no technical reason or very specific reason to use carbon. It's just a matter of price point. Every time you make a technological decision for a product, for mountain biking, or for anything else, it has to have a reason. It's not only for marketing. We do not follow a trend just because it's a trend. For me today, if we put 20% of linen into those helmets, it's because there is a characteristic for absorption that we want to have. There is a use for it. I won't put linen just to say, "There is linen." I put linen because there is a reason for it. I don't think that carbon, in terms of property, is bringing either the flexibility or the extra security that you need. Even weight, they're not even lighter than carbon. Why would you choose carbon? Just to buy a more expensive helmet? I don't think we should do that.

Fred Glo: Also carbon is petrochemical, so if we can use other materials, it is better.

Zoobab: We're working on the linen fibre more deeply now. The first results say the in impact tests it is better and a the end it should be lighter than carbon because you need less resin for the same strength because the fibre is not heavy. The perfect helmet would be rough with as little as possible resin. We could do something so light, but if you go with your helmet idea to the shop people are going to say, "Hey, it's not finished." The characteristics will be the same, even better, way lighter. I think people are not ready for that.



Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.



Can you talk more about your environmental policy and what that means in practice to you guys?

Fred Glo: I have run the company Tribe Sports Group for years. We are not in control 100% of the products we distribute. The idea with South Shore Bicycle and the project with Brake Authority and Urge is that we are in control 100% of what we are doing and what we can do. Our commitment was very clear from the beginning: To be as environmentally-friendly as possible. We don't want to compromise quality and safety, though.

Fabien Barel: We started some research with Zoobab into linen fibre. We did some testing, we found some good research, so we use it. On the other side, we did some research about recycle products. All our in-mould helmets, like the Endur-O-Matic II, are made from recycled EPS from the automotive industry. We are also using recycled PET plastic in our straps. In those things, we were the first ones and today we are still almost alone. I know there are some companies that do recycled helmets, but we were the first and even though we are only a drop of water in the ocean, it's what we want to do. Also, we have the company linked to 1% of the planet, where we give 1% of our turnover each year to non-profit organisations, which is not easy. It's all the general ethic and philosophy we have to minimise the environment impact that we have. The main thing for mountain biking is nature. If there is no nature, no one will ride. Protecting it is the base, it is the most sense that you can have. Even, as we've said, the South Shore Bicycle started with Brake Authority and we have been developing the very first brake technology without nickel. We don't drop any nickel into nature. That's something that South Shore Bicycle, Urge and Brake Authority stick to, because that's our playground.

Fred Glo: As a company, again, it's our life project and our baby. We have some big brother examples, like Patagonia. We have been learning a lot about them - it's a model company for us. We are a long way away from what they are able to do in many directions, but it's clearly the model company for us.

The next question would be about the Archi-Enduro. That was one of the first real Enduro race helmets - what do you mean when we talk about helmet designed for enduro?

Fabien Barel: Except Airoh that started to copy us, I think it is the only real full face enduro helmet on the market. If you look at Met, I don't think we can really call it a proper full-face. In between, you look at the Bell, you look at the new Giro, they are all helmets that have been modified from open-face to full-face. We are the only one modifying a full-face with the real protection of a full-face helmet. We had a lot of debate about enduro racing in the last three years. With the World Series coming in, about the speed, about the security, about the risks we were taking. Come on, even if the downhill riders don't want to say it, there is as much risk, if not more, in enduro than there is in downhill. You look at the speed we going at, how close we are to trees, how much we are committing on a trail that we don't know, there is really very high risk. For me, there is almost no reason to not have the same protection in enduro than there is in downhill. I am talking about racing here. Based on that, we said, "Okay, we know we need to start from a full-face. What do we need to do?" We need to have more clearance for the bag on the back. We need to have more clearance for air ventilation from the front. We still need to keep a chin guard to have good protection. We need to have a lot of ventilation around the ears to have more air flow and more. That's why we start all the time from our outer shell on the downhill helmet and try to just adapt it to what enduro needs. This philosophy around the Archi and the Archi RR now is to not compromise security by the fact that we optimise weight, ventilation, and comfort for you. When you're riding downhill, you try to concentrate, close your ears and close all your five senses to be focused on what you're doing, what know what you are doing, you know the track. You know exactly how it's coming, where it's going and you know what you want to do. In enduro, you will be anticipating. You need to be a lot more aware of things coming at you because it's anticipation riding. That's something I really tried to open it on the Archi to have more noise coming in to understand what's coming at you. That really opens your sense to what's going on in front of you. It's really something I've been working on. If you take a Bell or a new Giro, going on an everyday ride might be sufficient. It might be, it depends on how you ride it... I think we can be proud of what we are doing. It's been a lot of work and a lot of details. For example, you know we are talking about price. You know the system for the cheek pads that you have to pull your head out if you have an accident. This is adding to the customer cost at least forty Euros in the shop. We said, "Okay, what can we do to have a system that may not be as efficient, but that is still there at a low cost?" That's why we decided to have simple velcro, so if someone wants to take your head out the helmet, he just needs to bring his hand there and you just take them off. This is something that seems very basic, that is not as developed as the other system, but that gives you the possibility to have this that you expect from a cheek pad.

Zoobab: We could do it with a magnet, too. A magnet is so expensive, it will be twenty-five or thirty Euros. Yeah, as you said, it's very easy to make a five hundred Euro helmet. When you have no budget limitation, it's easy.

Fred Glo: If you just want to follow the norms in the regulation, it's not enough. Sometimes those holes, sixty ventilation ports, etc does not mean we pass the test just because you are exactly where it needs to be.

Fabien Barel: That's why regulation and the general industry and the marketing, all that is necessary to fit in the process. We need it, but then, we need to have a minimum of core philosophy into your project to make a product with the quality you expect and the standard you expect. That's one of the main differences we're trying to make with Urge today, is to try to do things because we believe they're good, not because marketing-wise is good to show. Maybe we will never be rich, but at least we are doing projects that we are happy to work on, and that we are happy to sell. That makes a huge difference.



Urge HQ visit. Cogolin France. Photo by Matt Wragg.



Fred Glo: Sometimes we follow the trend... Maybe we should not say this, but... We put a MIPS liner in our new Endur-O-Matic II because, you understand, there is huge marketing behind it. I don't think all of us three believe in the system.

Zoobab: MIPS are great, they are a great marketing company at the high-end.

Fabien Barel: You add forty Euros, it's 25% of the cost of the helmet.

Fred Glo: We are not 100% convinced, not even 50% convinced. But, their marketing is so strong now, that you must go in that direction. It caused a big debate because of our philosophy, to go in a direction we don't believe in. Maybe the first time we have done this, we said, "Okay, if people want it."

Fabien Barel: If it was just me, it probably wouldn't be there. Without giving a name, one of the biggest selling full-face helmets that I tested, there is no way I would ride with it. For the protection, for vision angle, for the position of the chin guard, et cetera. People are all buying this helmet because they look great. There are plenty of big people with it, but it's a shit helmet...

Fred Glo: Everybody has a different head shape, and some people are okay for Giro, some people are okay for Bell. Sometimes you can have the best helmet and it does not fit because your head is more square, or more complicated.

Fabien Barel: Everybody should try a helmet before they buy.

Fred Glo: Yeah. Don't buy a helmet from the internet.


MENTIONS: @urgebikeproducts / @mattwragg




101 Comments

  • + 55
 With all due respect to Fabien Barel and his comments towards TLD, and Fabien is someone we athletically admire and we have also worked with him painting his helmets in the past...his comments about our brand need some rebuttal. The question was answered with some possible sourness towards what we do and more importantly WHY we do it. It also seemed to discredit our founder (Troy) and why he does what he does. Troy makes helmets to keep people safe, safety is his priority. We too don't have a 'huge marketing budget' I'd bet Urge spends more on advertising, and we are lucky enough to have athletes that choose TLD helmets for the safety more than the paycheck often times. Troy Lee and everyone at this company has deep roots in BMX, MTB, Motocross, Auto Racing-anything racing, racing is life and making products for safety, style and value is our mission. On top of all that is what Troy and the TLD brand does for trail building, charity fund raising, and the steps we have taken to reduce waste in packaging, shipping, etc...Troy Lee Designs is Troy Lee and the team, not an investment group, not a conglomerate, not a public company and not a crowd funded brand (not that any of those are bad things) more said to portray that he does this for the life of enjoying the outdoors and people, despite stressing every day about keeping the business he started alive and healthy while delivering a great value to the consumer...every ounce of profit Troy may make, goes back into development-not ferrari's and mansions (hey, nothing wrong with that either haha). Regardless, we are loving these series of brand interviews, it reminds us what a passionate community this industry is-exciting and healthy.
  • + 14
 Excellent tone on the response... Props.
  • + 9
 Props for the professionalism, I'd like to think that it simply got lost in translation.
I wound't want to see friction between the cool guys.

Either way, the A1 rocks!
Best half-shell I ever had, so comfortable and it matches the graphics of my bike!
Did I mention that I got it on sale? Razz
  • + 14
 I really didn't take anything he said as a knock against Troy Lee Designs or Fox or any other company. If anything, he says Urge just really isn't where the bigger companies are, and never will be It was more about them being satisfied with who they are and their place in the world. That's what I took away from it.
  • + 10
 @TheR: we are often viewed as 'the bigger' company, which has it's ups and downs hahaha. All good, as we said, urge is cool brand doing things their own way, which we can respect.
  • + 5
 @troyleedesigns: I understand where you're coming from. I wasn't trying to defend Urge as much as reassure you guys that your reputation didn't take a hit from anything Fabien said. At least not from my perspective.
  • + 3
 @TheR: i think there was a little dig at the use of carbon by some brands, and how urge believe that carbon is not a suitable material to use in a helmet...
  • + 3
 TLD stuff is legit. Period. I've personally taken hard, face first slams at the Northstar bike park in my D3. I've got home for dinner with my wife and daughter on all occasions. Thank you TLD. No disrespect at all towards Urge, just saying, the commitment to safety runs deep in our community.
  • + 1
 As a consumer , It´s really good to read an article where professional riders and bussiness developers talk in a clear and respectful way about products and brands (with names, models, numbers etc, not that bullshit of "the F... brand") . All the brands mentioned are excellent products and I think there´s no sourness in saying that urge will not be Fox or TLD. With all respect, personally I think TLD products are flashy and expensive and I appreciate other brands are doing things differently and that their managers have the balls to say it politely.
  • + 1
 I also have to say, great response. I love your products and trust in them, so I am totally fine with your prices Smile
keep up the good work TLD !
  • + 24
 Impressive to see a brand take such a strong stance against the marketing machine that is MIPS, but would have liked to see them talk about alternative technologies for the reduction of rotational injuries.
  • + 18
 and then sell a helmet with mips anyway...
  • + 8
 Im interested to try one out and like you mentioned, Im very curious about rotation injuries as Im quite tall. P.S. So much alcohol in the photos, no wonder they decided to get into the helmet business.
  • + 2
 Idk but doesn't the skin around your head allow to helmet to move a bit in order to reduce rotational injuries? I don't get why you should buy MIPS
  • + 1
 worth mentioning too that when they add mips into a helmet, they don't take the space taken up by mips into account with the sizing (i.e. they don't make a new mould for the mips lid), its just added in so a mips lid next to the non mips lid will be a bit smaller,
  • + 22
 The problem with MIPS is the marketing machine in the first place, I got sceptical about after they started to throw it on everyone. What boosts my scpeticism is that I live in the culture (Sweden) that came up with that system, a culture where state dictates you to be safe. My kids are not allowed to use helmets without green chin lock on kindergarden yard, due to risk of hanging and smarter teachers hate that because how the Fk are they to tell a kid not to ride a 3-wheeler. So it ends up with kids riding without helmets. It sounds irrelevant but that is the underlying ideology, where new-safe toys are not tested, the only thing that matters is that someone gives you something that adds safety. I haven't seen any peer review studies of MIPS. No peer reviews, no science, period. There is some idiot neurosurgeon in UK saying helmets are useless, scientist - should I trust him? Fk him sorry. Probably his way to get a grant. MIPS was invented for POC which markets itself as high tech safety company with innovative thinking. Who the fk doesn't do it?! Take a short look at Dainese which has waaaay more experience in protection department, take theirs and POC stuff and you see there is nothing POC does differently or better. Their rep told me backpack plate is not really that good for spine protection as proper protectir and some companies play with people's safety - guess how many spine-protection labeled packs they have. The funny thing is that Swedish company made this airbag collar which seems a way better idea than MIPS for commuters, but they don't punch through. Mips mips mips uber alles and no single counter voice yelled yet. Another case of added value.

It may improve safety, it makes sense just give me a peer reviewed research to cover for that much hype, and I'm on it.
  • + 11
 @WAKIdesigns: talk less ride more ;-)
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: If I was to buy a helmet (FF) right now, and my primary concern was safety (as it should be when it comes to protective gear) I'd probably get a Leatt DBX 5.0.
...that said I really like the design of the Aircraft.

I own an 80 euro Bluegrass, not saying it's bad, but it is affordable.
  • + 2
 It's interesting that most companies aren't using MIPS in their high end downhill helmets, where you would think the impacts and rational injuries would be the worst.
  • + 1
 @bbachmei: (probably wrong on this?) But I think it might be because there isnt as much rotation for the head in a fullface helmet? Compared to a half face.
  • + 0
 @bbachmei: The top 3 brands in the premium full face market, all have MIPS or will have MIPS.
  • + 12
 @troyleedesigns: Does it mean that MIPS is better, or does it mean that MIPS sells helmets better?
  • + 1
 I am putting my money on "sells better, we can't afford to stay behind". Next is 360 cameras like in Bell Super 2R. Nobody really needs it... Yet...
  • + 2
 @troyleedesigns: great job taking advantage of the market oppurtunity!
  • - 1
 @cwoodside4: I hope thats sarcasm because they dont use Mips Im pretty sure
  • + 3
 @shr3d: My take on MIPS is even with your helmet strap as tight as it will go on a helmet that fits properly your helmet moves around on your head more than the MIPS system allows the shell to..
  • + 2
 @chillrider199: yet..... to quote TLD further up this thread "The top 3 brands in the premium full face market, all have MIPS or will have MIPS."

I'd like to think that troy lee consider themselves to be in the top 3...
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: I think the neurosurgeon was saying road bicycle helmets were useless if you get hit by a car,stating if you rode down the road at 30mph with all the gear on,drivers will think your professional cyclist and take chances with you.on the other hand if you rode down the same road with no helmet cut off jeans and flip flops,they'll think retard and give you a wide berth thus reducing your chances of getting hit in the first place and rendering a helmet pointless.
  • + 2
 @Earthmotherfu: perhaps I haven't experienced drivers as such a big threat, in fact I live in the city where traffic is taken hostage by cyclists since they have ideological supremacy here. Things I see cyclists are doing here sometimes are calling for Gods thunder. They better ride in helmets because some of them have no fricking clue what they are doing. MAMILs on carbon commuters are racing fixies, between girls on city bikes talking on the phone. All that with electric bikes around ridden by people who can't really manage the speed. Drivers of lorries and taxis may be dangeorous a-holes but Cyclists are simply stupid. Affer I saw a girl riding into a stroller, I have no mercy. Wear a helmet, install brakes, lights and reflexive stuff, or you should not be entitled any social healthcare in case of a crash. People should take responsibility for their stupidity
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: around the rolling countryside near me often sees club racers out and about practicing the 'peloton 3-5 abreast on B roads.i don't have a problem with it personally,I've learned to be patient as I've got older.i can see how they get clipped/knocked off what ever you want to call it by anybody saying'why the feck don't they just move over abit and I won't be hanging off their tails for the next mile'.what I'm trying to say is bicycle helmets offer very little protection in this scenario as they haven't got the protection of a moto GP lid.
On the subject of trail helmets,I once said to my lads many moons ago to pop on your lids if going out on your bmx's.they replied,"why?i told them about falling off and banging your head,their reply was"don't wear a helmet for tree climbing....I left it like that.
  • + 1
 @chillrider199: and right on queue TLD launches a MIPS helmet...
  • + 10
 If you take today any of those big brands, without naming anyone, that has a very high cost... we are 100% sure
that was smooth guys
  • + 7
 I've had the endur-o-matic and have crashed hard on rocks. You could see the foam compressing from the impact where the rock had hit, but I didn't even feel it, I only noticed since the plastic was cracked and there was a dent in the foam. Super hot in the summer, but perfect for rest of the year in Denmark. Now I use the supatrail, and its the best helmet I ever had. It fits so well and is perfectly ventilated. Really comfortable and I do like the design.
  • + 8
 Love Urge, have had two Endo-matics and one without question saved my life (though I broke my back and shoulder!!) I contacted urge to say thanks and they offered to replace my helmet for free.
  • + 2
 On my second Enduromatic in 7 years, absolutely love them, even on hot summer day rides. Broken 2 bones in that period and never suffered a concussion, only bought the 2nd Urge because of a flat spot to the temple caused by one of the bails that snapped my wrist. Going to be getting myself the new Archienduro RR
  • + 2
 Am I reading this correctly that they don't have a real in-house engineer? Or testing.

I'd be curious about the testing that they did that makes them 100% sure that their helmet is safer than everyone else's.

Also... they talk about not making a product for price point or just to fit a trend. Then they talk about how they have to make a MIPS style helmet because of marketing?
  • + 2
 zoobab.com says hello.

I still have the Sunn catalog from 1995 somewhere, with the superb drawings and logos made by he real zoobab.

Now I stole his nickname since I had to pick one for IRC chatting.

I do have the first Enduro helmet (brown color, not fullface), it is true that it is really hot in the summer, so I keep it for winter and other periods of the year.

I hope I will have the opportunity to meet the real zoobab once, I think he is showing up at Eurobike most of the years.
  • + 1
 The claim that EPS is a "very, very good material" is pathetic. It has a single stiffness regardless of how hard you hit it and nearly every helmet manufacturer is using it in a very unsophisticated way. 30+mm of foam still lets through 200+g on a modest test impact of 12mph or so. That's pathetic in an age of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques. There are plenty of generic EPS helmets out there competing on nothing more than style, we need to support companies that are pushing the technological development and are prepared to give actual test results we can compare.
Sure MIPS may be overly expensive but it is better than saying "yeah the old stuff is fine we're happy as we are"..
  • + 1
 I have Endur-o-matic for a year now, use it all four seasons, very satisfied with the helmet. In the winter I put under helmet cap to keep me warm. I like the hole in the visor, I use it to carry the helmet around with my index finger, or to hang it on a coat stand.
  • + 1
 I have coveted an Urge Realjet since they came out (one day I'll own one!) - but until now have never really considered their other helmets. After reading this and taking a look at their site, I have changed my mind - that Archi-Enduro RR in matte black with the yellow writing... Yes please!
  • + 1
 I got my first Urge lid this year, after years and years of trying to find a helmet for my large cranium. Outside of the limited adjustability of the visor, my Supatrail is a great lid! I'm impressed with the venting, fit, and after my ride, while drinking a beer I forget it's even on my head. Good job Urge!
  • + 1
 Did anyone checked the crash replacement warranty in the U.S.A.? Don't bother there's none ha ha ha. They just updated their crash warranty for the U.S.A. market. Urge website says

"The Urge Crash Replacement Policy allows an Urge helmet owner to get a discount on a new helmet in case of an accident.
A helmet up to 3 years old can be replaced at 50% off the recommended retail price. If the helmet model is no longer available, it will be replaced by the closest model in the current range.
The customer needs to get in contact with the Urge distributor in the country where the helmet was bought.
He would have to provide to the distributor:
- Pictures of the crashed helmet
- Information about the accident
- Proof of purchase of the crashed helmet
Then, in agreement with the distributor, he will return the helmet to the distributor along with the payment (cheque or else depending on the distributor requirements).
The new helmet will then be shipped directly by the distributor.
Our crash replacement policy is temporarily not available in the United States
Sorry for the inconvenience"

Breaks my heart but that OK. I'll replace it with TLD.
  • + 1
 One thing for sure, everytime I'm coming back to France I see more and more Urge helmets amongst my riding buddies. Okay Urge helmets do look different, but so do my Airoh. I'm not interested in their linen fibers, I'd like to buy a french made helmet better, that would be different.
  • + 1
 2 Enduro-Matics and one All-M. I am bald and the Enduro-M is never too hot, in fact I feel the air flow is superior to most other helmets. Nobody has anything like the Gangster pad, it works, period. The weight is another overlooked benefit. When I bought my first E-M I wasn't prepared for all the inquiries from other riders. I am very happy with Urge.
  • + 1
 Have a Urge All-M, great, unexpected helmet ! Bought it on sales to start doing enduro stuff and event the sling cross at the back does its job so well, yet such a simple design. Also had the first gen of Down-o-matic and it was super comfy and looked nice in it's simple black version. One day I'll maybe replace my Rampage Carbon with the new down-o-matic ...
  • + 1
 Was looking at URGE when shopping for my first helmet. The rubber surrounding the round holes in the visor and chin guard were falling out. The visor one actually was missing in the store so I decided against purchase. Quality seemed to be an issue.
  • + 1
 I have an old Archi Enduro and Bell 2R. And you know what ? Archi fits much better (not because mu head does not fit into Bell, it does), feels much better and I can drink from a bottle without some stupid movements. However, Bell wins because it has much more ventilation and you do not have to carry 2 helmets for races. But maybe I will rethink it once again, because Bell feels like a plastic piece of s**t, and with MIPS it squeaks ...
  • + 1
 I loved my Super2R until I rode a few times with chin piece on. Doesn't fit my face and squeezes my cheeks like hell. I have no concerns about safety of it for relaxed riding with friends, but I'd never race real Enduro in it and never ride in the park in it. Urge Archi RR though... unless it's freaking hot I'd give it a go. It's hard for me to motivate to not compete in proper FF and wear lightest possible roadie helmet for liasons.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns:

Mine fits perfectly and I rarely ride it without the chinbar. LOL!
  • + 1
 This quote: " People are all buying this helmet because they look great. There are plenty of big people with it, but it's a shit helmet... "

I wonder if he is talking about the 100% Aircraft? I hope not......
  • + 1
 who cares
  • + 1
 @endlessblockades: its better not to name the helmet that way they can send more of their vibe of "dont buy big name/ expensive helmets, support us little guys".
  • + 1
 "Don't buy a helmet from the internet"
Haha! I had no choice to get my first gen enduromatic. Back then, the local bike shop laughed at me just asking for it... Since then, I have 3 Urge helmets all ordered over internet Big Grin
  • + 2
 and they sell off their own website too...
  • + 1
 I just got the Down-O-Matic and the Endur-O-Matic this spring and so far I'm really liking them. They fit comfortable, not big and bulky, and think they actually look pretty sharp.
  • + 0
 Seems like a great bunch of guys with a well thought out product BUT I wouldn't want to be seen dead with any of these parrot helmets. Other than that I'm very happy with my Rampage Carbon's ventilation when climbing and I simply refuse buying a second fullface helmet specifically for enduro riding.
  • + 1
 @urgebikeproducts I actualy think my Endur-o-matic helmet saved my life big time!
www.pinkbike.com/u/amstaffslo/album/Urge-saves-my-life
  • + 1
 Love my Urge helmets , can,t wait for the new designs to arrive , been told end of the month and we should see stuff in the shops , or MEC out here .
  • + 2
 I like their stance and I like their philosophy but I really don't like their designs. Would not buy Frown
  • + 1
 most comfortable helmet's i have ever owned ,love them have an Enduromatic & a All-M for warmer weather . cool products ! guys.
  • + 1
 Looks may not be your cup of tea, but the quality of the lids are solid. I will struggle to not replace my current down-o-magic with another urge when the time comes.
  • + 4
 Loving the Marmite.
  • + 4
 Vegemite is the real mans version!
  • + 1
 Love it. Everyone else is just wrong.
  • + 1
 I've got an All-M that is very well vented has kept my noggin' safe on a number of occasions! Also, funny for a lid company to be HQ'd in such a jet setting place.
  • + 1
 I like those guys, always liked Barel watched his "how to... "videos on YT . they are not anonymous any-more. You are my next helmet.
  • + 1
 I have the 2014 Urge Down- O - Maric helmet, used ever since on the dh tracks and fall so many times, still a great helmet that protected my head.
  • + 2
 Shots fired at TLD... saying that I wouldn't change my TLDs for nothing else
  • + 1
 Urge: Fugly & Functional.
They might fit & protect well, but I'm not putting one on my dome.

Likewise I have not tried Marmite only Vegemite.
  • + 2
 I have 3 Enduro Matics and an All Mountain. Only lids I wear. Most comfortable helmet I've ever owned.
  • + 1
 Love these helmets and also they seem to be the only ones that fit my head properly. Guess I must have a marmite head then....as well as a marmite face
  • + 1
 in my opinion they have always looked a little bit odd, but anything is better than a THE helmet
  • + 1
 Does urge still sell in the USA? All the online shops only seem to have old stock on closeout.
  • + 1
 Yes they do. No crash replacement warranty in the U.S.A.
  • + 1
 have the urge down-o-matic veggie and the matching open enduromatic. both have protected my nut on plenty of occasions.
  • + 2
 I want to see a linen fibre frame now Wink
  • + 1
 If they don't like mips for any other reason than merketing then they should have some balls no?
  • + 2
 Function over fashion, but DAMN they're hard on the eyes
  • + 2
 This was great and Barel is great. No bs, just telling it like it is.
  • - 2
 Title: "have carved their own niche helmets" - yeah, niche for hairless people. No offense, just look at first photos and, seriously, if you dare to buy one you will find how dreadfully hot it can be. Any 20$ helmet has better ventilation, not speaking of a proper nicely design helmet.
  • + 4
 Please don't minus me too much; people who have hairs and did not use to live at the hot south of France have a right to know that they can get a heatstroke in one of those on a warm summer day
  • + 3
 These guys make it cool~
  • + 1
 Urge am, on my second one & by far the best helmet I've owned too date.

Thanks fellas ????
  • + 2
 urge helmets dont look amazing but these guys are awesome
  • + 1
 Count me in the "love it" crowd. I like these and the Smiths helmets because they look different.
  • + 1
 Hmmmm... I loved this, I love that company. I have to get visor for my old Enduro-matic...
  • + 1
 I have 1 spare that I dont need any more, since I busted my helmet.
www.pinkbike.com/u/amstaffslo/album/Urge-saves-my-life
  • + 1
 Urge the only helmet that I know where the head does not look like a barnSmile
  • + 1
 Also the endur-o-matic looks like magnetos helmet from x men so that's always a winner...
  • + 1
 I actually like the look of those full face helmets. Its something different and interesting.
  • + 1
 Had 2 and really enjoyed them as they fit very well, I'd have another
  • + 1
 Me endur-o-matic had saved me life once, for me they are good enough :-)
  • + 1
 Zoobaba My man . Miss you buddy
  • + 1
 All this tech talk about hard helmets is making my head hurt...
  • + 1
 Great photos as usual @mattwragg
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