- Well made and stylish looks
- Plenty of ventilation and superb, adjustable fit
- Easy to use closure makes entry easy
- It's very expensive
- You'll still need an open lid
Troy Lee Design's Stage helmet is a breezy full face lid that offers excellent protection and comfort while also looking pretty sharp. It's still not as cool to be in as an open lid on a hot day, but for racing or riding that requires more protection, it's the next best thing, assuming your pockets are deep enough.
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The Stage is one of the latest generation of full-face lids that are designed to be pedalled in, rather than being cut out for full-on gravity madness. That means it's peppered with a lot more ventilation - 25 vents in all - with the non-removable chin guard being especially minimalist and a wide face opening to direct air when you're giving it your all on an enduro race stage or descending in the Alps.
That said, it doesn't scrimp on safety, being certified to full downhill full-face helmet standards. Much the like Troy Lee Designs A2 MIPS open face helmet I've tested previously, the Stage uses a proprietary mixture of two different density expanded foams layered up together, which is said to better be able to deal with both high and low-speed impacts. The Stage also gets the MIPS liner, which claims to reduce the likelihood of brain injury from rotational forces in a crash.
Looks wise, I reckon it's probably one of the sleekest and best-proportioned full-facers out there and the usual TLD touches of aluminium hardware for the visor are all present and correct. The magnetic Fidlock buckle closure is fast, simple and secure to use and makes whipping it off much easier than the double-D style closures seen on many full-face lids, which can make them extra claustrophobic if you want them off in a hurry.
The Stage is available in a five different colour schemes, from this subtle matte black to much gaudier designs. It comes in three different sizes, with a small/medium, medium/large and large/extra large on offer. If that's not enough, the helmet comes with different thickness liners for cheek, neck and crown, so it's possible to mix and match them to get the fit as close to perfect as possible.
At 704g for this medium/large, it's a smidge heavier than stated but also splits the difference between open and downhill lids and it's also one of the lightest in its category. It's also a fair bit lighter than most convertible lids, the benefits of which I'm not sold on, unless you really must have both styles but lack the budget for a halfway decent one of each. That said, the price tag of a Stage would definitely get two decent lids.
With a bit of fiddling, I found that it was easy to get it sitting just so; not loose enough that it bounced around in the rough, but not to tight that my face was getting squeezed out the front like toothpaste either. On colder days, I didn't really notice much difference between wearing the Stage and an open lid, save for warmer ears and a less grubby face post ride.
In fact, it's only really noticeable that you're wearing it on slow climbs on warm days, when ambient air flow is restricted and the temperature begins to rise along with sweat. Get a bit of speed up and all is well - I've not found it to restrict my breathing even when I was right on the rivet and desperately searching for other orifices than my mouth to get air from. It also syncs nicely with goggles, though to a lesser degree with glasses, where it very much depends on the design.
All in all, it's a very well-made helmet that promises a lot of protection, delivers excellent comfort and about as much ventilation as you could hope for from a full-face lid. If you race enduros or visit big mountains - or are just a bit cautious about smashing your face in general - then it's a hefty investment, but one you'll likely be very pleased with.