Review: Troy Lee Designs' New Flowline Helmet

Feb 3, 2023
by Mike Kazimer  
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Two new helmets have been added to Troy Lee Designs' catalog for 2023, the Flowline and the Flowline SE. They'll serve as the entry points to TLD's half shell helmet lineup, with the A3 remaining as the top tier option.

Both Flowline models use the same shell shape, and are equipped with a MIPS B32 liner to help reduce rotational impact forces. The SE version receives a few upgrades, including dual density foam, a Fidlock buckle, and an anti-microbial liner. Each version is available in three sizes (XS/S, M/L, XL/2XL), and in a whopping 11 different color options.
Flowline Details
• 14 vents
• MIPS B32 liner
• 3 position visor
• Fidlock magnetic buckle on SE version
• Weight: 362 grams (size M/L, actual)
• Five star Virginia Tech rating
• Colors: Lots of them.
• Flowline: $119 USD / Flowline SE: $159 USD
troyleedesigns.com

Both helmets received a five-star rating in Virginia Tech's testing, and are certified to the NTA 8776 e-bike standard, along with the usual CPSC and CE certifications.

The Flowline retails for $119 USD, and the Flowline SE is $159 USD.


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FIT AND ADJUSTMENTS

The fit of the Flowline reminds me a lot of the TLD A1, which I still consider one of the comfiest helmets I've ever worn. The Flowline has a similar feel, with deep coverage and a cushy liner that hugged my head medium sized, oval shaped head very well.

The retention dial is easy to use, although it's also easy to overtighen – there were a few times when I had to loosen it up mid-ride to alleviate a slight pain at the back of my head. Still, I'd rather be able to get a helmet too tight versus not tight enough. As it is, the Flowline never shifted out of place on rough trails, and there wasn't any distracting noise from the MIPS liner.

The sun barely rises above the horizon this time of year here in the Pacific Northwest, so the visor mainly served as a rain shield rather than something to keep the sun out of my eyes. I rode with it in the highest of the three positions, where it stayed securely in place and didn't impede my line of sight. If you're one of the four people still wearing goggles with a half shell there's not really enough room to store them under the visor, although that always seemed like a silly selling point to me.

As for glasses storage, it's possible to slide the arms of some sunglasses through the two outermost top vents. It's a secure perch, but they're not totally out of the way. I'll give TLD points for making it possible at all, but the Specialized Tactic and POC Tectal both do a better job in that regard.


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The helmet provides a good amount of coverage at the back of the head.
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The MIPS B32 liner is a bright yellow in the Flowline, and black in the Flowline SE, although the function is exactly the same.

VENTILATION

It's still the middle of winter, so I haven't been able to ride with the Flowline in scorching, or even semi-hot weather. I have been able to work up a sweat while wearing it, though, and I'd put it in the middle of the road as far as ventilation and sweat management goes. There's not the same level of airflow as you'll find with Fox's Speedframe helmet, or Giro's extra-airy Merit, but it hasn't felt overly stifling, at least in the more moderate temperatures I tested it in.

WEIGHT

The Flowline's 363-gram weight is competitive in this category. That's around 20 grams lighter than the Specialized Tactic, and 20 grams heavier than the Giro Source, two other options in a similar price bracket.


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The ratcheting dial is easy to operate with one hand, with a positive 'click' for each setting.


VIRGINIA TECH RANKINGS

As I mentioned, both helmets received a 5-star rating from Virginia Tech. You can read more about the methodology they use to test here. Interestingly, the $119 Flowline performed better than the $159 SE, receiving a score of 10.79 versus 12.42 (the lower the score the better). That's despite the fact that the Flowline uses only one density of foam, while the SE's dual density foam is intended to allow it to better handle low and high speed impacts.

At the moment, Specialized's Tactic 4 ($110) is sitting at the top of the rankings with a score of 8.55.


FLOWLINE VS FLOWLINE SE

The Flowline packs a lot in for $119, and realistically it'd be the one I'd go with over the more expensive SE version. I know lots of riders like Fidlock magnetic buckles, but I prefer the old-fashioned fastening method. Yes, the yellow MIPS liner does make the inside of the Flowline look a little cheap compared to the fancier version, but no one's going to see it when it's on your head, and it functions exactly the same.



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Pros

+ Very comfortable fit with extended rear coverage
+ Reasonable price and weight
+ Wide range of color options
Cons

- Middle-of-the-road ventilation
- Not the best sunglasses storage




Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe Flowline carries on the tradition of comfort that the A1 kicked off when it debuted a decade ago. The price and weight are all reasonable, and the wide variety of color options makes it easy to find the ideal match for a rider's tastes. Mike Kazimer







Author Info:
mikekazimer avatar

Member since Feb 1, 2009
1,741 articles

130 Comments
  • 231 13
 FUUUUUUGLY.
  • 165 24
 What about the helmet?
  • 216 7
 @JonnyTheWeasel, hey, be nice.
  • 9 0
 Agreed. Still rocking the og A1 and I am so surprised they changed the styling so much. Wait...are you talking about the model or the helmet?
  • 12 0
 @mikekazimer: his username checks out
  • 10 1
 @someguy101: Ditto. I've been buying A1's since they came out and see no need to switch.

But looks like TLD is simplifying and condensing their product offerings in half shells to be two distinct segments.
Sweaters & venters.

A1, A2 & A3 have very different price points and appeals but my guess is they got tired of phone calls and emails asking the difference between A1 & A2 and the same for the difference between A2 & A3.

Eliminate the A2. Bulk up the A1 & rebrand. Two very distinctly different helmets for the consume to pick from.

Me....I'm buying up some A1 inventory. Love the look, the feel and the venting.
  • 2 0
 Yahz! It’s like a camera is 10…then this is an insect with 20.
  • 9 1
 Not that my opinions matters, but the A1 was ugly, and this one is worse. Not sure why it was so popular.
  • 5 0
 @someguy101: The A1 is the Best fitting helmet I found so far and thanks to you I just looked up and straight bought 2 spare ones for 50 bucks each.
  • 3 0
 TLD market researcher.. "we've found that people prefer subtle, understated colors so this season we've dropped the gnarly, neon power ranger race graphics an artwork......."
General public.. "Ewwww"
Troy Lee " PUT IT BACK, PUT IT BACK NOW!"
  • 2 1
 EEWWW. That's a horrible looking helmet...
  • 2 0
 Nice to see them move away from the cringe moto vibes but the aesthetic of this thing is horrible. Protection looks lacking as well.
  • 2 0
 @NotNamed: yeah I picked up a new A1 MIPS myself.
  • 88 3
 There’s no way that’s a TLD helmet. All that real estate and no 90s moto designs?
  • 17 1
 Not to worry, friend-o. TLD offers a custom paint service so you can 90s these helmets right on up.
  • 7 9
 At the nearest Walmart near you
  • 9 2
 Since when do ebikes need a helmet standard. Wtf.
  • 5 31
flag carlwheezer69 (Feb 3, 2023 at 10:08) (Below Threshold)
 HAHAHAHAH IKR So cringe, I'm just dumbfpounded how it dopesn't incorporate those features! Also, I simply don't wear helmets, for if I were to wear a helmet, I simply would not stay nude. And thats the just how I do. I slick my hair back SO tight and back that I am so aero. The aero fro I call it. Nude and feree. Some scientists would not understand how aero I can be. Here is a link to prove my research. www.wikipedia.org

@100percent has backed me on this since the start. Thanks to them and my grandfather for always showing me that it is simply not rude to be nude. #staynudepb #staywokepal
  • 3 0
 You mean all that stuff that Fast House is trying to rip off since they exist???
  • 60 3
 Sunglasses storage are the bottle mounts of helmets.
  • 27 3
 Maybe, but out here where glasses fog up almost instantly on the climbs it's very nice to have a secure spot to stash them.
  • 41 0
 @mikekazimer: oh, I actually wasn't being sarcastic for once. It's like the key feature I look for on a helmet. Sunglasses storage and MIPS.
  • 3 0
 @mikekazimer: goggles with half shell as a fad is dumb, but in winter it keeps a large portion of your face warm on the way down...
  • 4 0
 @mikekazimer: And yet they're just as steamy on top of your head when we take them down to pedal.

Greatest design for bike lenses was the lens wipe on a leash in the back pocket of the old Ruckus and Sprint jerseys from TLD.

Next best is the lens wipe in the pocket of the Leatt 4.0 jacket. All these lens wipes sewn into the hem at the bottom of jerseys in the back are useless.
  • 6 2
 @mikekazimer: ive been living “out here” for 20 years and fog on the climbs never was an issue…You slid the glasses down your nose a few mm…and voila ! Just like that, problem solved…I did however have problems with fog once when I was using an Oakley helmet with my glasses on top! They would automatically fog up…and then ended up losing them.

So many better ways to keep your glasses safe and fog free.Id rather see them spend money on design (that thing is hideous) and safety rather than cheap selling features.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: try Adam’s Anti fog
I use it and it’s phenomenal! Literally zero foggy. They just don’t fog anymore
  • 1 0
 @HardtailHerold: just started riding with sunglasses but my helmet has no storage for them. Any recommendations?
  • 4 0
 @JamesKROZ: Our A3 Helmet has the most optic stowage of the 3 half shells in the collection. The visor extends up to even fit goggles.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: I actually find if I stick my glasses up on my helmet during climbs, they get fogged like crazy. Then once they are fogged it's a battle keeping them clear for any pause.
I have a very sweaty head.
  • 2 0
 @ShawMac: totally this - the top of my head is just as steamy as my face, so for 2/3 of the year, that's a bad option. Plus, chances are they'll fall off and you don't notice. I'm one of the 3 people who still wear a pack (back protector, first aid kit, etc) and one of the chest straps has a perfect size elastic hole for slotting glasses arms into.
And goggles wipes in shirts? Always just end up sweaty and making the problem worse in my experience
  • 2 0
 @mountainsofsussex: I also wear a backpack. Who's the third ? ʘ⁠‿⁠ʘ
  • 2 1
 @ShawMac, I usually try to stick them in the front or rear vents of a helmet - you’re right, the top is definitely a recipe for fogging.

m.pinkbike.com/photo/24135005
  • 29 3
 It's their Fisher Price line of helmets.
  • 18 1
 Look, I'm a visor, but I don't shade your face...
  • 18 0
 Everyone knows visors are just there to say “I don’t do road in this helmet”
  • 4 0
 The visor is just for looks, but this visor doesn't look great.
  • 3 0
 Visors are there to block your view of low hanging branches.
  • 11 0
 Thank you for specifically mentioning how the helmet compared with independent testing! The more transparency with helmet testing the better a customer will be able to buy the safest helmet for them.
  • 11 0
 The thumbnail on the homepage at first glance, I was convinced it was a picture of a dolphin
  • 1 0
 Glad to know I wasnt the only one that thought it was a dolphin from the thumbnail.
  • 5 0
 Troy LeeEeeEeeEeeEee
  • 11 1
 Does Kazimers head come with it?
  • 22 1
 That'll cost you extra.
  • 11 1
 @mikekazimer: Name the price.
  • 2 0
 lol
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: Mike - any other oval head fitting helmets standout? I tried on an A2 and it is very round, as well as Smith's collection I thought. Anything you recommend? I've heard Fox and Giro have some better oval fitting models.
  • 3 0
 @shredddr, the POC Tectal fits me well, as does the Giro Source.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer:

Pinched rear brake line oso. It was an issue in my local ibis dealer, they said no, we won’t sell it. Well I left that region but have to wonder and well, how did that work out? Thoughts?
  • 1 0
 @Tigergoosebumps, it hasn’t pinched on my test bike, and I confirmed by fully deflating the shock. There’s definitely not a ton of room for it to pass through under the shock link, though, and I wonder if it’s possibly frame size dependent?
  • 7 1
 Serious question, what makes some helmets so much money? They are single use items. the production methods and materials are reasonably inexpensive. A lot of helmets featuring Mips with 5 star safety ratings are like £50 but most with the same technology and safety are well over £100.

Is it just a case of the price is what people will pay or are there features which actually cost more to make in most helmets which are missing from the cheaper ones?
  • 9 1
 People just think a $200 half-shell helmet is safer than a $50 half-shell. People are dumb. People also go into a store and tell the staff "I'd like to buy a $600 set of ski boots" without spending any time investigating the difference between ski boots, and which will be best for them.
  • 6 0
 In the 90's when I worked w/Arai, liability insurance for the manufacturer was 50% of COGS. I doubt it has gotten any cheaper.
  • 3 5
 One brand conglomerate owns the rights to MIPS tech. They sell it per helmet to other helmet providers.

I could be wrong, but I think Bell owns the tech and quite a while back TLD had to pay around $50 per helmet to license it.
  • 1 0
 @bishopsmike: yeah alots paying for the name. You can get a solid helmet with mips at costco
  • 1 2
 Down voted for me giving the actual pricing of MIPS ?
  • 2 0
 @blowmyfuse: pb is a strange place.
  • 1 4
 @bishopsmike: Safety has a lot to do with feeling of safety. Don t call other people dumb if they feel safer with TLD helmet than with some generic half-price helmet.
  • 4 0
 @blowmyfuse: That's simply not the case. It's worth stating that whilst MIPS deserve kudos for highlighting the issues of injuries caused by rotational forces - there are also many alternatives to MIPS that are in fact superior.
  • 1 0
 @onyxss: Sorry, I disagree that when whacking your head against a rock, your head's safety has a lot to do with your feeling of safety.
  • 1 2
 @7protection: did you even read my post? Or are you commenting on someone else and accidentally tagging me?

I stated who owns the rights to MIPS and how much they were selling it to other companies for.
  • 2 0
 @bishopsmike: I think it is actually the opposite of what is true. A greater feeling of safety without a proportional increase in actual safety would likely lead to more injuries as you might ride in a way which is more risky and therefore suffer more and worse crashes than if you felt less safe but were equally protected.
  • 2 0
 @blowmyfuse: There is fox, giant, laser and specialized helmets under $100 in this list, all with MIPS and 5 star ratings: helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicycle-helmet-ratings.html All of those companies are owned by different groups.
  • 1 2
 @Patrick9-32: I'm just answering the guy's question about the cost of MIPS and the disparity of pricing between the company and brands of that comapny selling MIPS helmets way cheaper than a brand like TLD b/c TLD has to BUY MIPS tech per helmet.

Stop tagging me for crying out loud people.
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: nobody said that
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse:
MIPS maintains a higher level of manufacturing for helmet makers using their technology mipscorp.com/sustainability/our-supply-chain
  • 1 2
 @cobo: seriously...stop tagging me. Actually...tag me in every single comment. I need a reason to never post on this tiny brained forum where you can't turn off notifications by never clicking the comments again. Tag me in a million things all over this stupid site.
  • 11 1
 Did they find this in a storage unit from the 90s?
  • 10 1
 No thanks
  • 2 0
 Unrelated to the review, but clicking through to that VAtech helmet review site and hitting the filter button for "mountain bike" helmets, I see one single full face (And it's a Lazer? How popular is Lazer? I see a fair number of POC, IXS, TLD, Fox helmets out on the trail, but don't recall ever having seen a Lazer.) amongst dozens of half shells.
With so many people wearing full-face these days, why aren't they testing more full-face helmets?
  • 3 0
 This new trend of visors way higher on the helmet isn’t a good look. This and the new Spesh helmet, along with some others seem to be going that way.
  • 1 0
 Actually doesn't sit too high in person. @mikekazimer said in the review he ran it in the middle position so it looks a bit higher in these photos. I only noticed because Enduro Mag also did a review and it looks like a different helmet
  • 1 0
 Edit*** @mikekazimer rode with the visor in the highest of 3 positions. Now it makes sense!
  • 1 0
 To me this is an improvement. Mtb helmets have always been a joke in terms of protection because falling was so rare. Now that disciplines are more downhill oriented helmets should be real. A DJ helmet offers 5 times more protection than a mtb helmet with a low weight and ventilation penalty. Also traditional vent design creates loads of rotational forces when crashing non flat surfaces. I love when companies realise trail helmets should resemble dj helmets more.next step would be thicker shells that could take more than 1 impact but that will never happen
  • 1 0
 I can’t rate the A3 highly enough. The fit is amazing and so comfy and having had a good crash where it needed replacing I can definitely vouch for the impact rating as a cheaper option would have left my in hospital badly. You can store sunglasses in the back air vents with easy which I usually do on longer climbs.
  • 2 0
 Nearly as bad as the "updated" Specialized Ambush. WTF designs these things? Looks like a new costume for a Space Balls redux!
  • 1 0
 The fact that the yellow MIPS liner supposedly makes the inside of the Flowline look a little cheap just shows how far helmet safety has come over the last few years. Good to see
  • 3 1
 If the colors on this thing were brown or red, your head with this helmet on would actually look like a mushroom! LOL
  • 4 1
 Looks like a Chinese AI came up with that design
  • 2 0
 Looks kinda retro like a 1990s Trek Micro Lite (aka bird's nest) if one is into that sort of thing
  • 3 0
 Is there a position where the visor doesn’t look like an afterthought?
  • 1 0
 why do all of the troy lee helmets look like the visor was forgotten during the design and they just slapped it on at the end? seriously, all of them.
  • 1 0
 does anyone know when the flowline and new other helmets colors will be available in europe?
  • 2 0
 Will Levy's foil hat fit under it without getting smashed?
  • 4 2
 Price is right but you'll look like a dink.
  • 3 1
 Is there an E-Bike version?
  • 1 0
 How’s the osso? How’s the rear brake line routing? I heard it was getting pinched in the rear end.
  • 1 1
 My A2 was comfortable, but knowing I looked like a mushroom was not confidence inspiring. The ridiculously short visor was the icing on the creamed corn cake.
  • 3 0
 Fuuuuuuuugly as fvck !
  • 1 0
 Just a note, the Specialized Tactic is no longer at the top of the VT rating, the spot is now taken by the Giro Aries
  • 2 1
 That's not a MTB helmet. You can search by use case, which in this case is important as MTB have more back of head coverage.
  • 2 0
 @pbandjam: MTB and road helmets are tested to exactly the same standards, so one is not safer than the other by default. Also, the area of extra coverage on MTB helmets is never impact tested
  • 2 0
 @Arierep: yeah but most people on this site would choose the extra coverage given the activity. So PB is giving audience appropriate info for the category.
  • 3 0
 fugly at best.
  • 2 0
 the mallard duck hat returns
  • 2 0
 No crazy paint? You sure it’s a TLD?
  • 5 3
 Have you seen the florescent yellow and bright orange ones? Fun fact, all the colors on the Flowline and Flowline SE Helmets are custom colors that were created in our paint department.
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: the colors do not look too crazy, I like the cinnamon color.
  • 1 0
 Who actually buys tld stuff now days virtually there full line up is wank. Lost there way imo.
  • 2 0
 I'm getting Super Mario Bros vibes
  • 2 0
 Is that how it's supposed to fit? It looks far too small.
  • 2 0
 Inspired by the 1986 movie Flight of the Navigator.
  • 2 0
 A face only a momma could love.
  • 1 0
 makes sense now why the A1 has been at 50% off for the past month
  • 5 5
 No Thanks, Last TL lid . . 2 of the pads inside split apart in 1 month. No help at the Sea Otter booth. No email reply.
  • 10 0
 Say what!? Check your private messages. I just sent you a note.
  • 1 0
 PB says 109, but the TLD site in USA anyway says $119.
  • 1 0
 Sorry, that was a mistake. $119 is correct price for the Flowline Helmet and $159 if correct for the Flowline SE
  • 2 1
 But, how is their support?
  • 2 1
 probably nice but ugly as hell
  • 1 0
 OMG, the designer of Specialized ambush strike again..noway
  • 2 1
 I didn't realize kaz was such a man of the people!
  • 2 0
 Looks cheap
  • 2 0
 Spaceballs remake soon
  • 1 0
 Looks like a Manifest (albeit with a creased visor).
  • 1 0
 Bring back chrome visors and tail fins
  • 1 0
 Bruh you telling me there are ebike specific helmets now?
  • 1 0
 Flowline sounds like it would have more ventilation.
  • 2 2
 Departure from their norm.. Can't wait for your Ibis Oso review Kaz.
  • 2 2
 Hopefully they fired whoever designed this.
  • 1 1
 I bet you $10 if Christina wore it you'd like it!
  • 2 2
 Review.... It's not pretty. Fire the designer.
  • 1 0
 Some hot head action!
  • 1 0
 what? why
  • 1 2
 Will they make a primitive line helmet?
  • 1 2
 Another helmet standard / category nobody asked for
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