MXA has hundreds of crashed and used orange helmets lining the walls, rafters and shelves of Jody’s barn.

Dear MXA,

The only professional motocross racer I ever remember wearing a solid orange helmet was three-time 250 Champion Tony DiStefano. I know that Jody and Tony were and are still best friends. Did Tony D have anything to do with MXA switching to orange helmets? When did MXA switch? Whose idea was it? Can I get one?

The concept of wearing orange helmets developed organically starting back in 1994 (Tony D’s orange helmets from the 1970s had nothing to do with the decision). Prior to the advent of the era of orange MXA helmets, Troy Lee painted custom helmets for every MXA bike test. They were amazing works of art, but in June of 1994, MXA editor Jody Weisel asked Troy to paint two helmets that, while still custom designs, would be painted over an orange base. Jody had decided that instead of a unique and different paint job on every MXA helmet, he wanted a single-branded MXA paint scheme for every bike test. This would streamline the helmet painting process, because instead of painting 20 time-consuming custom helmets every year, Troy could set up a production line especially for the MXA helmets.

Troy drew up some simple designs, and Jody and Troy selected the paint scheme that is still in use today; however, when Jody told Troy that from that moment forward every MXA helmet would be predominantly orange, Troy balked. Troy was an artist, and while he wasn’t opposed to painting multiples of his MXA design, he wanted the freedom to paint them in every color. To prove his point to Jody, Troy painted a blue, a red, a green, a chrome and an orange helmet (all with the chosen MXA design on them). Once all the different color helmets were used in bike test photo shoots, Jody showed Troy the color photos, and both of them agreed that orange was the boldest and most visible color.

It should be noted that orange was not a popular motocross color back in 1994 (even KTMs were white back then). MXA was looking for a way to brand every MXA bike test so that it would never be confused with any other magazine—and orange was the best choice. Troy Lee painted over 300 orange MXA helmets over the years. Then, the helmet manufacturers stepped in to have MXA’s helmets painted at their factories.

MXA retires its old, crashed or faded orange helmets and stores them in the rafters of Jody’s barn. MXA does not sell its orange helmets or authorize the painting of replicas, but we do give long-time MXA test riders one orange helmet to keep as a memento of their time at MXA. Additionally, MXA has given orange helmets, autographed by the test riders, to charity auctions.

Every now and then, we allow helmet painters to get creative with the orange design, thinking that maybe we will change our look. But, after three decades in orange, we are still happy with the original design that Troy Lee and Jody approved back in 1994.



You must be logged in to post a comment Login