Anyone who knows me knows that I am completely incapable of objectivity when it comes to brands like TLD, Shimano, and Maxxis. They are the greatest ever, there is no other helmet or tire or set of brakes I would want to run, and all mistakes or sins are ignored, forgotten, or rationalized.
Of course, I ride for these companies, so you could point out that I am not objective by nature of my sponsorship. But that’s putting the cart before the horse. It’s true that I get support from these companies, no denying that, but long before I got #freeshitbro, I paid full retail to ride these companies parts, tires, and gear by choice.
No, objectivity went out the window a long time ago, probably 10 years ago now. As soon as I started following downhill, I concluded that Sam Hill, Jared Graves, and Nathan Rennie were complete badass riders, and they all rode TLD. Thus I rode TLD. Today, even as I was typing this out, I found out that Sam Hill might be on Royal next year, and I needed to be alone to grieve for awhile. I still don’t know what to do with that fact:
Sam Hill rode TLD, so I rode TLD. I got my first D2 in 2007, and I raced in that thing for 3 years. It was so much better fitting and better looking than the Giro Radmax I had before it, that there really was no comparison. That original D2 saw Fontana (twice, for some reason), Snowmass, Deer Valley, Angelfire, the birth of Port Angeles into the racing hub it is now, and Skibowl and Willamette Pass about a million times. A lot of good memories in that helmet. Sure, it probably wasn’t safe by year 3 (or year two for that matter), but what was I going to do, buy another Giro? Come on.
2007-2009: Gold D2 Composite. Amazing. Hooked for life.
2009: Year 2 on the Glory. By race #3 at PA (pictured), the bike was, how you say, “le clapped.”
2010-2011: America edition D2 composite. Originally a Steve Peat paintjob, local paint wizard Danny Swan (splat-designs.com) made my dream helmet, complete with my name in gold leaf, a golden, glorious eagle, and “freedom isn’t free.”
2010: rode for Evil, and for the first time I actually rode like I knew what I was doing. The beginning of good things. A really fun year.
2011, rode for Transition, drove across the country with Lars Sternberg, failed to qualify at a World Cup race for the first time, and won a NW Cup. Party on.
2012: I rode a Kali helmet. Bummer.
2013: D3 Carbon, Team Red. AKA the Luke Strobel helmet, AKA I am Pro Ho #1.
Like a teenage girl waiting for the Beatles at Yankee Stadium or Justin Bieber at your local NBA arena or pick your age-appropriate cultural reference, every year I wait with baited breath for the new TLD stuff to drop.
And every year when I finally see the new line, every year this is the question: What’s the best looking stuff that I *don’t think* everyone else is going to buy?
Because there’s stuff that everyone else is going to buy. That’s a fact. Like rabid pack animals, people instantly pick the slowest gazelle, or the lowest hanging fruit if you will, and buy that. There’s some stuff that just looks good from any angle, online or in the store, and that’s what everyone else is going to buy. If you bought any one of those kits or helmets, you found out very quickly that:
A) you look awesome, and
B) everyone else bought the same shit as you
If you bought any of these fine products, you were borderline bummed when you found out everyone and their brother bought them, too:
No, buying TLD gear is an art. You don’t want to pick the obvious stuff, but you also don’t want to pick the weird stuff either. And yes, there’s weird stuff. Every year there’s one helmet that’s just covered in snakes or lightning bolts or it’s all bright neon fluorescent green with eyeballs all over it, and you don’t want to be that guy. Someone’s going to be “that guy,” and it’s not going to be you. No, there’s a sweet spot between too obvious and too out there, and picking that sweet spot, threading that needle, it takes work.
Well, with that said, the new 2014 helmets are out. Let the games begin:
Moto gear’s up on the TLD site, too. Bike gear drops soon: