Trying to choose what helmet to wear/protect your cranium is never easy. You can just buck up and buy one of the big dogs, or play the field with dozens and dozens to pick from. Troy Lee Designs has a piece of the pie in the lid market, and this year it released the SE3 with all sorts of newfangled stuff.Design and style have always been the mantra for TLD, yet safety also plays an equal role. I like to see a lid with the newer Snell 2010 rating, which is said to absorb a wider range of impacts for a wider range of head sizes. On top of having one of the best-looking helmets in the market, TLD includes stuff you can’t see including carbon/composite shell, dual-density EPS liner and dual-density Shock Pad System. The newer liner has been designed to improve impact absorption, while the Shock Pad System is designed to offer greater low-speed impact protection as well as a greater feel. The SE3 also comes with quick-release cheek pads, just in case.
I have a fairly proportionate medium-sized head, and the TLD lid sizing was pretty much on the money with regard to medium. Cheek pads were sized properly for me, yet in the past I have had to order different size pads to custom fit a TLD helmet to my chipmunks. Putting the helmet on the first time didn’t offer up that new car “ahh haa” feeling at first, and it took a bit of maneuvering to get my ears and everything in the right place. I often rate a helmet fit in the first few seconds, but in this case I reserved judgment and started riding. In no time, things heated up, and fit and feel greatly improved and the SE3 became very comfy. Even after four months riding with the helmet, it still takes a quick second to get the helmet on just right and a lap to get the juices/sweat flowing before the SE3 gives me that comfy Cadillac feel.I do dig the look (very important), it offers ample airflow, comes with a helmet bag and an extra visor in case you take a small digger. I know flat black doesn’t photograph well, but I like the hot rod look and the dull finish has held up very well with no shiny spots. The eye pocket is big enough that all of the major brand goggles I tried fit easily and sealed around my ocular area.Yes, the SE3 does garner a retail cost starting at $495, which can cause a little sting, yet it is in line with other high-end helmets. I did ride with the helmet but I can’t say at this time that I fully tested it because it never hit the dirt with my head still attached, which for me is a good thing. I saw Lewis take a digger, enough to break a visor (and he was wearing the McQueen colorway), and he seems fine. The medium SE3 I tested/wore weighed in at 3 pounds 8 ounces, which is about average. Sizing ranges from XS all the way up to Shrek-sized melons at XXL. I have worn every generation TLD helmet, and they have improved each model over the years, and knowing safety is a part of their design, I find them more inviting.