Troy Lee Designs have created a fair amount of popular and brilliantly designed products over the years. Their designs have been worn proudly by the best of the best throughout all manner of extreme sports. The TLD Air gloves are one of several pairs of gloves that the company has developed. A very lightweight and breathable glove that’s great for warmer climates and riding disciplines that require less weight. BMX racing and road cycling are perfect sports for these gloves.
Review of: Troy Lee Designs Air Gloves
Uses: BMX Racing, Downhill, Road Cycling, MTB
Lightweight Material & Design
Suitable for Warm Climates
We Don't Like
Finger Stitching Comes Loose
Small Grips can Fall Off
Not Great for Cold Climates
Troy Lee Designs History
Troy Lee Designs is a super interesting company, growing to a substantially large size while being in a fairly small market. As the name suggests, Troy Lee Designs focuses on the graphic and clothing design used by cyclists, snow athletes and motocross riders.
It was way back in 1981 when Troy Lee Designs was born. Troy, a sign painter by trade, started applying his art to virtually anything unorthodox he could find. This started on aeroplanes, mailboxes and helmets. It doesn’t take long for Troy to become very skilled at helmet painting and design. He soon started dedicating a lot of his time to this skill.
After a lot of hard work, Troy took his designs to the leading helmet and protective gear manufacturers of the day. As well as the intricate helmet paint jobs, he also helped improve helmet airflow characteristics in visor design.
As BMX biking, mountain biking and motocross became more and more popular, the ’90s turned out to be a very defining year for helmet design. Jeremy McGrath and the iconic Shaun Palmer were among the first professional extreme sports athletes to ride with extravagant clothing and helmet designs, commonly painted by Troy Lee himself. It was during the 1990s that Troy developed the industry-defining helmet design called the ‘Daytona’. As well as having amazing graphics, this helmet offered much better protection to riders pushing the limits of bike riding.
The early 2000s were another great decade for the company. Instead of creating designs for other companies, they finally took it all in house and oversaw the development of their helmets, at the same time using the awesome designs to set themselves apart. The SE helmet was the first designed and built by the company. It had all the comfort and style Troy felt was missing from the motocross market.
Since then they’ve made great strides in helmet design, now the main helmet manufacturers for the likes of Red Bull and Monster, two of the biggest sponsors in the world of cycling. The D3 is one of the more recent designs that took the mountain biking world by storm. Hot on the heels of the original Daytona and D2 helmets, this one had a lot to prove. It didn’t disappoint as it’s now used by some of the best and fastest extreme sports athletes throughout the world.
About the Air Gloves
Troy Lee Designs offer a total of 5 different cycling gloves. All their glove styles are really nice and would fit perfectly into this list. The Air gloves boast a super lightweight design, great for more than just heavy-duty downhill biking.
This glove is a result of years of rider complaints all being fixed at the same time. TLD has a great number of riders in all disciplines working with them. Each one of them will have different preferences about their main bike or motorbike contact point.
All of these riders will regularly report their opinions and complaints to Troy Lee Designs. The production of these motorbike gloves proves they listen. Just two years after the original release, the majority of dirt bike riders on the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM team ride with these Air gloves.
As with most of their products, the Air gloves are meticulously manufactured in 13 different colors. Each one is made from 45% Synthetic Leather, 38% Polyester, 9% Polyamide, 5% PVC and 3% Elastane. All of these materials blend to make a super comfortable glove with all the features originally reserved for heavy, ugly bike gloves. The glove design is a sonic-welded TPR graphic.
As well as the simple, clever star grip pattern on the palm, Troy Lee Designs has also made the synthetic leather palm perforated for better breathability. The star prints I just mentioned are also screen printed onto the two predominant braking fingers.
Silicone screen printing the pattern in this way results in an accurate print that can be replicated thousands of times without losing a significant amount of the original accuracy.
The final feature I’d like to point out is the velcro wrist strap. These gloves are certainly going to be heavily used in mud and water. The high quality, virtually quiet velcro TLD have developed and used is much higher quality than regular velcro. You’ve got to use it/see someone use it to understand my excitement.
In the spirit of being a fun, exciting company they’ve also added a typical TLD phrase to the wrist strap. You’ll have to take a look at the pictures to find out what it is.
Advantages of these BMX/MTB Gloves
It’s important to buy gloves that match your home climate. These gloves will keep you comfortable in nearly any climate. The breathability of the Polyester makes this glove great for warmer climates. You may need something different for winter and snowy climates as the breathability isn't so great but if you’re somewhere temperate or warm these will be perfect. Sweat that would normally be detrimental to your grip will be easily soaked up.
The perfect pair of cycling gloves will make you feel like you aren’t even wearing them. It’s never going to be perfect but Troy Lee Designs are getting close. The two-way stretch fabric means the gloves can be smaller, stretching to the size of your hand. This will be much more comfortable, almost forgetting you’re wearing a glove.
Many different riders are fond of the velcro wrist strap. Where regular velcro can easily get dirty and lose its grip, the velcro of the Air gloves stays strong after months of riding. You’ve probably seen this type of velcro on some bike gloves and high-quality raincoats. The fabric isn’t the same as regular velcro, the female side has much shorter, harder plastic, making it feel much different when used.
You can see by looking at the photos that these gloves have some great ventilation. The small, subtle air holes are dotted all over the gloves to allow a nice amount of air to flow over the hands while riding. If you’re riding downhill or BMX then you’re likely going to go for a fair amount of time without being able to lift their hands off the bars. This, along with the bumpiness of a jump track or enduro course will cause lots of sweat. The last thing you need is the sweat heating your hands and soaking into your gloves. The extra smartly placed ventilation will help with that.
Things to Improve
The first and probably most common complaint is the silicone grips falling off the palm. This year's gloves have a relatively small pattern that looks great but after the friction of a session in a BMX park, it’s no surprise they sometimes fall off.
Another issue of these TLD gloves is the seams around the fingers. One of the main aims here has obviously been to create a super lightweight, comfortable glove that’s super unobtrusive when riding. When designing with a strong aim you’re inevitably going to lose out on other things, it seems the issue with the finger seams on these gloves has lost out.
When riding downhill or enduro you’re likely going to get a little wet and muddy. You need your gloves to be as waterproof as possible. Granted, you can’t have perfectly waterproof cycling gloves while also keeping comfort and sensitivity but some users aren’t happy with the reaction these gloves have to water. The gloves may feel slightly weird for a few rides after getting them wet.
These gloves are lightweight, feel great and are suitable for many different types of riding. It’s a difficult feat to impress the riders of two biking disciplines so diverse as mountain biking and BMX racing.
In this case, I think Troy Lee Designs have managed it. BMX racers love the lightweight design with enough comfort to forget they’re riding with gloves. Mountain bikers enjoy the material, comfort and grip.
Obviously, there are downsides though. The seams on the finger end sometimes come loose and fray, the grips sometimes fall off the palms and several people have claimed the feeling of the grips gets much worse after being wet.
The lightweight, breathable materials are great for the warmer climates. It’s often hard to find riding gear for those warmer months but these gloves are perfect. You won’t lose your riding ability from crazy amounts of sweat.
I don’t know if I’d say these are the best gloves for BMX and MTB on the market but they’re surely playing with the top players.
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