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REVIEW: Troy Lee Designs 7855 Armoured Shirt

TLD 7855 Front.jpg

Product name: Troy Lee Designs 7855 Armoured Shirt
Price paid: €150
Score (out of 10): 8

Review:

Amazingly the TLD7855 has been around now for 9 years !!

When I was looking for something to replace my Fox Titan which would be lighter, less restrictive, cooler and offered protection to a larger area of the upper body (I’d had a few off’s which had left me severely bruised everywhere which wasn’t armoured), it took me a while to convince myself to give this a go.

With all the newer reactive armours (viscoelastic) , lattice armours, honeycomb armours, memory foam armours – I imagined this would be dated, uncomfortable & ineffective.

Well, it’s not !

When the box arrived I was convinced they’d shipped an empty box, it’s that light.

I was then convinced they’d shipped me the children’s version (they do a childs version) – it just looks like it’s too small to fit on an adult body – or something vaguely resembling one anyway.

It fits on like a pullover/sweatshirt. Due to it’s stretchability and the number of semi rigid armour pads dotted all over, the first couple of times you put it on you feel a bit like Houdini challenged to escape into a tiny action man straight jacket. Once you’ve done it a few times it becomes second nature and is pretty easy to slide into and wiggle the body section down your torso. No Zip means there’s nothing to rub or catch and no Zip to break over time.

The elbow pads have an additional elasticated X brace which seems to do an excellent job of holding these in place and I’ve had no problems with them sliding out of the way despite numerous tests.

The armpits are cut out, so there’s good ventilation around that area. Personally, I wear it with a very light decathlon running top underneath. Whilst the fabric doesn’t feel like it should chafe, I find it does eventually cheese grater your nipples off – I think this is actually the holes in the armour rather than the fabric causing it. The other advantage to a very light base layer is that it makes it far easier to slip it off afterwards. I normally ride hard and get pretty sweaty whatever I’m wearing, if you wear it straight on your skin it requires a lot more contortion to remove it afterwards.

In terms of armour coverage, it’s amazing. I don’t think there’s anything else which offers the same proportion of coverage. This is the rear :

TLD 7855 Rear.jpg

On the front, all the panels you see are armoured, except the light grey areas which are open cell foam to let more air in. At the rear, the back sections, side and arm sections you can see are all armoured. So pretty much your whole upper body is protected.

For this product range of protection jacket/vest, there seem to be two types of armour used on different products.

Most (all I’ve seen) TLD 7855’s are labelled as 7855HW – the HW is for Hot weather. The 7855’s all seem to use the Shock Doctor twin density foam pads. These are a vented, tough but flexible foam, laminated with a smaller thinner much harder ventilated foam pad.

TLD 7855 vented foam.jpg

They’ve obviously put a lot of thought into it, as it’s considerably more effective than you would imagine.

It also breaths really well. If you’re out on a cold breezy day you can feel the cold whip though the vest.

You’d imagine those small holes wouldn’t move much air, but by using "Tornado Vortex air control technology, the heat difference between your body and the outside air creates hundreds of miniature fast moving air tornado’s sucking hundreds of cubic meters of cold air against your body every minute" – ok, I made that up, but it’s the kind of bullcr4p I’ve got used to reading on everyone’s made up armour descriptions. – In reality, it just seems to work.

Someone at TLD’s bullsh1t department couldn’t resist, as they did something similar for the other armour used on some of the vest versions (TLD 3900) of this product range (you can see it’s not vented with the holes and appears to be much thinner) :

7855 foam unvented 1.png

The pitch ….
Vent-trak moves air through flexible channels over skin surface to cool the athlete
Hex mesh disperses impact with a dimensional mesh construction that allows air to flow freely

I think my bullsh1t is better than their bullsh1t. :cool:

So back to the TLD7855.

I’ve been using this for about 9 months, it’s been through more crashes than your average rider would have in several lifetimes. Until my latest big off, I’ve been injury free !

The Positives :

Very lightweight.
Excellent Breath-ability.
Cool (keeping in mind you’re wearing a whole extra layer covered in foam).
None restrictive – you don’t know you have it on.
Can be worn without a shirt over the top, this is normally how I use it unless it’s cold – the elbows have a hard wear surface which has survived fine so far.
Most armour panels can be removed if you feel some are excessive to your needs. It also means you can change them or upgrade them with different types of armour if you wish to (another thread will be about this).
Selective panels can be removed if you use a neck brace.
Easy to wash. I normally throw it in on a cold wash with shoes and everything else and not had any problems. The shoulder panels sometimes pop out in the wash and need putting back in.

The Negatives :

Whilst it gives amazing all over body coverage. One short fall is the exclusion of removable armoured panels on the back three lower sections. As someone who fractured their pelvis last year in that area – I like armour there. A lot of people won’t, so it would have been nice to have it, but still have the option to remove it. As mentioned there will be another thread about modifying/upgrading the TLD7855.

Also, it does lack high level protection to the Chest/Spine/Shoulders. This is fine for most off’s, but my most recent one I crashed at speed chest first into a double tree stump, bounced and flipped into a tree and log pile, ricocheted off that and slid to a stop down trail and passed out from pain and unable to breath. The main injury from this was a couple of broken ribs from the tree stumps. In fairness to the 7855, if I’d not had it on I really wouldn’t even begin to think what my injury’s would have been. However, it does highlight the weakness of not having high level chest/shoulder/back armour for certain crashes.

In conclusion :

An amazing and comfortable protective shirt which gives effective protection to a huge amount of your upper body.

For anyone with concerns about hurting themselves in general offs I can’t recommend this enough.

For anyone who’s doing a lot of downhill, you probably want something with more effective solid armour chest/back/shoulder protection.

Size wise, it seems to fit true to size, BUT ! It is stretchy, so if you’re not sure/on the edge, you’ll probably get away with sizing down when it comes to stretching around shoulders/chest/upper arms.

Since my latest off I bought about a dozen different armour suits and vests as alternatives to replace/upgrade this. Incredibly, at the moment, I’m sticking with this as nothing else offers the same proportion of protection and nothing else is as cool, as comfortable or fits as well as the 7855.

I’ll be reviewing some of the alternatives, but most sadly aren’t even worth the time to write about them.

Other Products to consider in this style/range :

The TLD 3800 vest :

Similar system, but only protecting the upper part of the front of the torso and the upper sides/ribs. Seems to have no back armour or stomach armour.

TLD 3800 Vest.jpg

TLD 3800 Vest Rear.jpg

The TLD 3900 VEST – 100 higher than the 3800 !!

Pretty much as the 3800 but with SOME back armour and reduced side protection compared to the 7855 and 7850.

TLD 3900 Vest Front.jpg

TLD 3900 Vest Back.jpg

Confusingly, lots of places show the TLD 3900 looking like it has a different plasticised exterior and thicker armour. This isn’t what you get, this is some weird computer rendered image which exists purely to upset and confuse customers who buy it and think it’s a bullet proof vest or life jacket.

TLD 3900 Vest - Rendered.jpg

Finally, the TLD7850.

The same as the 7855, but without the elbows. Also called the 7855SS (Short Sleeved).

TLD7850.jpg

TLD 3900 Vest - Rendered.jpg

  1. Good review! There seems to be a UPL and UPS model which I think stands for long or short torso.

    I don’t crash so I don’t need armour. Except for last Friday when I did. Now I’m nursing sore ribs. My no need for armour view is under consideration 🤔

    Zimmer what sort of riding do you do to crash so much?

  2. blimey… ive been researching for over two weeks now , and just decided on this, and ordered one this morning. great to see a good review , hope I like it as much. Lots of people saying its fun to get off.
  3. Lots of people saying its fun to get off.

    If you have nothing underneath it can get sticky and be a bit of a wriggle to get off, I guess you could just pull it off inside out – haven’t tried that I’m a bit weird and always take things off the right way round… :cry:

    It’s also an absolute b4stard to put on over hard armoured vests as it snags on the sticky out bits. You just end up trapped and running around the house looking like the elephant man playing a tree in a pantomime whilst drunk.

    I’ve had it on and off for the last two weeks more times than I care to think about. With a torn rotator cuff and fractured ribs it’s been a tearful experience in the interest of armour experimentation – but it is possible – so if you can do it on your own when you can’t lift one arm up properly, it’s possible no matter what !

  4. Excellent overview ZF! Thanks for sharing your view and experience.

    Does it whisk hot air/moisture off your body effectively? What garment would you wear underneath?

    I am binary man, riding WOT (wide-open throttle) or coasting before I stop!
    I normally wear a cotton T-shirt to absorb buckets of sweat emitting from my body. On top of that I put one of those fancy modern breathable well fitted long-sleeve jobs with a zip and high neck. It breaths well, but my T is drenched underneath. On top I wear loosely fitted T-shirt, not to look like MAMIL (middle-aged man in Lycra [emoji38])

    These 3-layers keep me warm and comfortable but will be too much with this armour.

    I think I should experiment with the modern cotton/polyester fabrics that promise not to retain moisture, but rather whisk it away(?)

    Probably too much context… but I would appreciate your view, as I must get this armour and I would prefer to be dryer if possible.

  5. Excellent overview ZF! Thanks for sharing your view and experience.

    Does it whisk hot air/moisture off your body effectively? What garment would you wear underneath?

    I am binary man, riding WOT (wide-open throttle) or coasting before I stop!
    I normally wear a cotton T-shirt to absorb buckets of sweat emitting from my body. On top of that I put one of those fancy modern breathable well fitted long-sleeve jobs with a zip and high neck. It breaths well, but my T is drenched underneath. On top I wear loosely fitted T-shirt, not to look like MAMIL (middle-aged man in Lycra [emoji38])

    These 3-layers keep me warm and comfortable but will be too much with this armour.

    I think I should experiment with the modern cotton/polyester fabrics that promise not to retain moisture, but rather whisk it away(?)

    Probably too much context… but I would appreciate your view, as I must get this armour and I would prefer to be dryer if possible.

    It seems to wick moisture well, it’s damp after a ride, but it dries very quickly and as mentioned, when there’s a breeze or you pick up speed, you feel the air whipping through. Something like the titan has more open mesh, rather than protection areas, but the armour sections don’t really vent so you feel wayyyy hotter in that. The alpinestars bionic vest has hardly any air holes in the main foam liners, that feels like a personal sauna.

    I wore cotton tops with it at the start. Then switched to the cheapo decathlon running tops. I think they’re about €4 each – you can get t-shirt style ones and vest ones. I think they do similar for skiing and so on which might be more compression fit. Again, these are damp afterwards, but not sopping wet like a cotton top and you don’t feel cold in one when you take the 7855 off.

    If it’s cold I just wear a normal bike top over it which seem to reduce the air flow enough that you don’t feel cold from the air, but don’t feel overheated from too many layers.

    Unless it’s sub zero and rain/ice, then I wear a lightweight jacket over it – you can get a bit warm then once you’re on the move and need to unzip a bit to regulate the temperature.

  6. Well mine arrived on Thursday, I picked the box up ,( about 18 inches square) from the doorstep and thought it was an empty box.:)

    I ordered a large as im 41 inch chest , I could defiantly wear a medium, but decided to keep it as im assuming it will ventilate better, it feels comfortable and the forearms are quite tight.

    It feels great on, I haven’t used it yet, but at the moment no problems taking it off , it just come off like a sweatshirt and weighs no more maybe less.

    The protection is great but could be a little more around the back of the shoulder,
    zimmerframes other review , would take care of this though. Broken and dislocated shoulder makes me more aware of this area.

    As I said yet to try it out in anger, but it looks as though it will do the job.

    Thanks zimmerframe for the comprehensive review.

    Also on Friday my 7605 shorts arrived, they haven’t got the chamois insert, but also feel great on, with protection for hips and upper thigh, (Think gravel rash ).

    only problem …. this stuff is quite difficult to find at the moment with only small and larger kit in stock in most places.

  7. I crashed with the TLD vest version (with no back)…230 lbs…bruised/cracked ribs Memorial Day…still sore. Pads are insufficient protection.

    I also have a vest version with back pads…seems a tad thicker than the backless version.

    Got the short sleeve version to wear…seems the padding is a bit thicker than the other versions…have not crashed in it.

    Wearing this EVOShield Rib shirt underneath (also use under vest) since almost all my injuries have been to my ribs:

    https://www.amazon.com/EvoShield-Adult-Performance-Shirt-Charcoal/dp/B07J5T919Z/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=EVOShield+rib+shirt&qid=1598249033&sr=8-1

    This shirt has pads that mold hard to your body, no ventilation.

    I avoid riding at temps over 80 degrees, so I haven’t used it in the heat.

    Hope this will lessen the impacts.

  8. Update…..

    used the kit today at Sherwood pines , bloody hell I forgot my shorts , so just went out in the padded Lycra shorts (7605). Worked great and didn’t notice them.

    the TLD 7855 shirt.I put a thin cycling shirt on top , but it was too hot so rode half the circuit with just the 7855. Brilliant didn’t notice it at all, and you can feel the fresh air on your skin.

    very happy with the kit comfort wise, but haven’t crashed, Not sure what I looked like though….😂😂😂

  9. Ps , it came off fine , when I got back ,just like a sweat shirt really. For me this isn’t going to be an issue.
  10. Well….I well and truly crashed yesterday at cannock yesterday, the front wheel washed out on the loose marbles 3/4 the way down the last decent of the monkey, and I landed on a tree stump at full speed.

    Couldn’t move my right forearm or flex my fingers, today my ribs are really bad. Am I glad I had my 7855 on, I’m sure I could have broken something without it. My hips felt fine, it was only when I went to bed that I noticed , its all red and bruised. So the 7605’s worked a treat.

    Its payed for itself already, I can really recommend this kit now.

    It was bloody hot yesterday as well, whilst hotter than a shirt , its still manageable. ooowcchh !!

  11. I road this at bike park for a couple seasons but I dont recommend it. I wore under jersey and its hot. Plus you gotta clean every 2 days since you are sweating directly into it. Lastly, the elbow protection is good but chest, back and shoulder is just not good at all.

    Switched to a Leatt 4.5 Pro over the jersey and with separate elbow pads under jersey. I am much cooler and better protected at the same time. Plus dont have to deal with cleaning the TLD shirt every couple days.

  12. I road this at bike park for a couple seasons but I dont recommend it. I wore under jersey and its hot. Plus you gotta clean every 2 days since you are sweating directly into it. Lastly, the elbow protection is good but chest, back and shoulder is just not good at all.

    If it’s warm, you’re best just wearing the 7855 as is. One of it’s best features is the excellent ventilation. If you wear a jersey over the top, you’re stopping all the air movement and turning it into insulation. Wear it on a cold day with no jersey and the cold air painfully whips through it.

    The Leatt 4.5 Pro does offer much higher protection for chest/shoulders/back. But less overall protection than the 7855. The 7855 gives good protection everywhere but excellent protection nowhere (well, maybe the elbows). A hard shell like the 4.5 gives excellent protection in some places, but doesn’t give good protection everywhere. It’s a balance we have have to choose between depending where and how we’re riding (and expecting to fall).

    I found both the 4.5 and the 5.5 unbearably hot to ride in when it was warm (32c-36c on armour heat test days) so they only lasted one ride before they were given away.

  13. Sadly …. I’ve tried one of those….

    The back protector is better than the back protection of the TLD7855 in terms of the protection it feels it will give. The adjustable height kidney belt is nicely thought out, though doesn’t really do anything – you can just remove it as all it seems to do is trap more heat in round the sides without actually offering anything. The first thing that really lets it down is the chest protector, they claim it’s CE1 and there’s no way it is. This would be fine if you weren’t expecting much from a chest protector, but if you are, you’ll be disappointed. The 7855 chest is considerably better than the paragon chest. They’ve also done something weird with their stitch choice as the stitching is really irritating against the skin ! The little side armour pads are just squidgy foam rather than eva foam, so they don’t do anything other than act as insulation. The two pads are held in place with a weird rectangular offcut stitched over the two and just looks and feels (double thickness material where there shouldn’t be) like an after thought.

    If you want "more" localised protection, like back and shoulders, than the TLD7855 offers, my present goto is the Racer Motion 2 Top. It’s light, the coolest top I’ve tried, fits really nicely and the back and shoulders are excellent, though for me the elbows are a bit lacking compared to the 7855. D3O armor pops in and out with ease for washing – it’s just comfortable.

    I have just ordered a forcefield pro shirt xv2 to try out. The Forcefield armour always rates higher than everyone elses. They also do an "air" version, which I should try really. This is a mesh material, so should be cooler in theory though I’ve read some good reports on the normal one being cool to wear even in really hot climates. I put a link to the version with no elbows in the body armour thread this morning as they had some on offer for £39 instead of £180 …..

    Well I’ll be interested in your thoughts on that Forcefield pro xv2 – looks pretty good

  14. Great review ZF, a lot of good info. I recently got bucked off the horse and wish I had been wearing any one of these at the time. Our injuries sound pretty similar, especially @jbodnar . Oh the ribs,shoulder…pride. Take care.
  15. Geesh, that looks like something one would wear in a futuristic sci fi movie .
    I’m probably one of the oldest "Mt bikers "in these threads . i was riding my bike in the mountains waay before there was such a thing as " mountain biking " and in those days, on our steel frame schwinns , we wore t shirts , shorts and converse high tops .
    Brakes were a luxury . 😂
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