You can buy (fake) Troy Lee Shorts in Asia for £20 … but are they any good?

WO’s man in Hong Kong, Jon Rollason, just got offered a heap of fake Troy Lee kit for peanuts. How does it compare to legit kit … and is it an issue?

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Here are my new shorts. They are Troy Lee Motos in fluro yellow. They cost me 240 Hong Kong Dollars brand new. That’s 20 quid. And they weren’t made by Troy Lee.

A friend of a friend, we’ll call him Terry, added me to a WhatsApp group called “TLD jersey China made”. After some emoticons, the pitch came: “For those who want original and have a lot of money to spend this is not for you. These products are made from China helping a friend. OK”. Then came a catalogue of pictures showing what looked like much of TLD’s MTB clothing range. Shorts for £20, jerseys for £18 and gloves for £15.

For journalism and cheap shorts, I picked the Motos and messaged Terry. A month later I caught up with him to swap dollars for my new shorts.

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The attention to detail from the knock-off market is incredible.

It’s said that almost 2% of World Trade is in counterfeit goods and that the vast majority of it originates in China. Reportedly $25billion (£17billion-ish) worth of counterfeit goods make their way into the US and EU every year. When you think that the UK cycle trade is said to be worth £1.3billion a year, that’s massive.

“£17billion worth of counterfeit goods make their way into the US and EU every year”

So, how are they? Pretty good. The heavy fabric and the elasticated panels feel right. The fastenings are the same as TLD’s own and the label details and badges are identical. They are comfortable, a good fit and basically convincing.

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… But its the quality that lets it down.

Look a bit closer though. The cutting has gone wrong on the front, they aren’t symmetrical. TLD would have rejected the stitching, which is purposeful rather than neat. Someone has made a hash of copying the tag and the features of the shorts are mislabeled. The least convincing bit is the hip pads: roughly-cut bits of insulating foam dangling on a velcro tab. TLD’s Motos don’t even have this feature.

“Someone has made a hash of copying the tag and the features of the shorts are mislabeled.”

So not a perfect copy and strong evidence that these are a rip-off job rather than an extra batch from TLD’s supplier being sold out of the back door.

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Chain Reaction want £59.99 for a genuine pair without VAT. Local shop Bull Bikes has them for £68. A quick browse of massive Chinese online marketplaces TaoBao.com and AliExpress.com shows immediately that fake TLD is big business. Thousands of knock-offs, trading around the same price level. There are shorts, jerseys, gloves. A huge wave of fake products sweeping out of China.

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Check out ‘2’ and ‘2’. Look legit? Nope!

Is this a problem? It cuts TLD’s profitability – some wearers of fake TLD shorts would otherwise buy new ones. If cheap fakes are available, selling full-price in many markets will be impossible. Dubious quality damages reputations. Ultimately, it hurts the bottom line, threatens someone’s job or makes someone sad. So yes, it’s a problem. But TLD’s gear is made in Chinese factories. It’s a bargain with the devil: cheap manufacturing, but many in China reckon intellectual property is a con, and enforcing yours through the Chinese legal system is borderline futile. Safety is obviously the biggest concern. Would you trust your brain in a counterfeit “Troy Lee” that hadn’t been through the strict tests that a legit D3 had?

For me, there are two sad things here: First, buying fakes of a brand spoils that brand a bit. If you want TLD, buy TLD. Second, there are some talented short-makers in China wasting their talents making knock-offs. If they put in the effort that TLD do designing great shorts, they’d sell plenty. But probably not at 20 quid. Designers aren’t free.

Would you buy fake it if was available? Have you ever bought fake in the past?

Tell us in the comments!

Here's Peaty running his (legit!) Troy Lee Designs D3 at the British Downhill Series
Here’s Peaty running his (legit!) Troy Lee Designs D3 at the British Downhill Series

  1. Yes bought a pair once and they were rubbish quality. Now own a bike shop and are a TLD stockist, the detail difference is massive.

  2. I have two pairs of the shorts in different colours they cost me next to nothing and they are amazing quality, can’t fault them

  3. Has bought fake and no the quality isn’t there but it proves the ‘labels’ greed. as with most things these days they are all produced in China with low costs so how can they justify the £60+ price tag.

  4. @phoenixstu TLD charge £60 because they designed the shorts and operate a legitimate business in the USA. R+D takes time and money and it takes a fraction of the time to take a product apart and rip it off. I’m not saying that TLD’s stuff is good value, because it is priced towards the top end of the market, but then who pays RRP these days anyway?

    These counterfeit goods only become a problem if they end up being sold to customers in the west as the genuine article. Travelling to Hong Kong or China and buying fakes isn’t the cheapest way to save £40 on a pair of shorts. Hell, you even buy a fake Range Rover Evoque in China. I don’t think TLD should worry too much. There’s nothing they can do about it anyway, and they will always be one step ahead of the counterfeiters with their designs.

  5. iv bought a few pairs of fakes an a pair of real. Maybe the quality isn’t as good but you can buy 4 pair of copies for the price of 1 pair of troy lee shorts. If you ask me if big brands like tld an fox (especially fox) lowered there profit margins people wouldn’t buy as many copied kit, then they’d sell more of there genuine stuff. Thus making up for there lower profit margins. ( and yes I used thus)

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