Troy Lee Designs A2 Helmet - Review

Jun 23, 2017 at 0:28
by Richard Cunningham  
Troy Lee Designs A2 helmet 2017


Troy Lee Designs owns the full-face gravity scene, but its hold on the half-shell market was tenuous at best until the TLD team produced the A1. The A1 had great looks, extended coverage, and it came with dazzling graphics that captured the imaginations of the sport's burgeoning crop of all-mountain riders. While the A1 was an instant hit for TLD, it was, um, not the ultimate helmet in the technical sense. It ventilated poorly, channeled sweat onto the rider's eyewear and its EPS shell was on the concrete side of the cushion index. The new A2 should be great news for A1 fans, because it addresses all of the shortcomings of its predecessor, without eroding its iconic profile. In fact, it looks better.


Details:

• Use: all-mountain, enduro
• Ventilation: 25-percent deeper internal channels, larger exhaust ports.
• X-static washable anti-odor padded liner.
• MIPS anti-rotational protection liner.
• Filament-reinforced polycarbonate shell.
• Breakaway visor screws.
• Three-way adjustable headband.
• Expanded field of vision over A1
• 3-year warranty
• Weight: 350 grams (claimed, M/L size)
• Sizes: XS, SM/Med, Med/LG, XL/2X
• Certified: CPSC 1203, CE EN 1078, AS NZ 2063:2008
• MSRP: $169 to $175 USD
• Contact: Troy Lee Designs


Construction Features

To begin with, the A2 has an in-molded liner with a dual-density layering system. The outer rigid EPS foam protects against high-speed impacts, while an under-layer of more compliant EPP foam is molded in place to protect against slow-speed impacts. Finally, to protect against rotational impacts, the A2 features a MIPS skull cap between the helmet's washable padding and the molded impact shell.
Troy Lee Designs A2 helmet 2017

The A2's rugged polycarbonate outer shell is divided in half, with the upper rendered in a matte surface and the lower in a high-gloss surface that curves around the edge of the shell for a well-finished appearance. The resulting contrast looks great in the two-tone colorways that adorn most of the helmet's graphic options. There are 13 large vents in the shell, and the exhaust vents have been super-sized to encourage ventilation. Inside, the vent channels have also been enlarged, reportedly, by 25 percent, and split padding, with air channels in the brow area should reduce the old A1's bothersome sweat issues.

Troy Lee Designs A2 helmet 2017
Troy Lee Designs A2 helmet 2017

Troy Lee Designs A2 helmet 2017
(Clockwise) The A2's feature story is its yellow MIPS protection liner. Anodized aluminum visor screws break free upon impact. Frontal vents keep the brow area drier than the original A1.

The A2's headband can be adjusted fore or aft at the temples, or up or down at the rear to ensure a snug fit as well as an optimum angle. The band retains the A1's ratchet dial, which is a plus for me because it functions well with gloved hands. The junction where the chin straps meet below the ears is now preset (except for Australia and New Zealand) which eliminates the chunky adjusters there and the webbing at the adjustable buckle is looped, which cleans up its appearance.

Troy Lee Designs A2 helmet 2017
Large exhaust vents and a goggle-strap-friendly ridge dominate the rear of the A2.

Like the A1, the rear of the A2 is profiled to retain a goggle strap, but the visor has not yet been designed to slide high enough to stash your goggles underneath in the now-popular fashion. According to the TLD information, the visor's aluminum retainer screws are designed to break away in the event of a crash to further minimize the energy of an angular impact, in conjunction with its MIPS liner.

Troy Lee Designs A2 helmet 2017
Chrome plated ratchet dial is easy to access and adjust with gloved hands.
Troy Lee Designs A2 helmet 2017
The rear of the headband indexes into a series of holes for angular adjustments.

A2 customers should be able to find one color combination from the five options available—and some will rejoice learning that it is available in three shell sizes that offer fits from extra small through double extra-large. For comparison, my head fits Bell, Giro, POC, and Kali medium lids, and the medium/large size I tested felt very similar.


Riding Impressions

For me, the new A2 has a better fit than its predecessor. The A1 felt bulky and gave me the sense that it was suspended on my head primarily by the plastic band, while the A2 feels like it encircles my skull with a series of soft contact points. In the mirror, the A2 has the same volume as the A1, which means that it's going to make your head look larger than some of the more slender lids, like the Kali Maya. I found the A2's fixed chin strap webbing to be easier to fit, which probably could be achieved otherwise, but never by me. I hate maximum coverage half-shells that hit the back of my neck when I am looking upwards. The A1 did this, but the adjustment range afforded by the A2's headband eliminated that issue. Altogether, the adjustment features of the A2 are an improvement.

TLD A2 helmet
Set low, the A2's minimalist visor is just right for blocking out late afternoon sun. – Tracy Hopper photo
Ventilation is improved as well, but not to the point where I would call the A1 a summer helmet. It's closer fitting padding and MIPS liner seemed to offset some of the effects of the enlarged vents and inner passages. I'd rate the A2's ventilation as a 20-percent improvement - welcome indeed, but I'm not tempted to reach for it on a 98-degree (37 Celsius) day. Sweat control has also improved considerably over the A1. Like many riders, I wear corrective lenses, and the last thing I want is a small thunderstorm to break out under my visor the moment I hit the first rock garden of a descent. The A2 drips occasionally, which is not optimum, but it is a major step up from the A1.

Visibility is said to have been improved, but I didn't experience that, except for the fact that the headband allowed me to achieve a slightly higher
angle on my head. Like the A1, the A2 sits low on the brow, where it can offer better impact protection at the expense of a reduced field of vision. The brow is always visible, which adds an extra horizon that should not be an issue for full-face or goggle wearers, but it may take a little getting used to for those who have enjoyed unencumbered visibility. On the positive side, the visor is well positioned and has just the right amount of adjustment to block the sun when it is beaming into your face at low angles.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesTroy Lee Design A1 fans will embrace the new A2 helmet's look and most of all, its performance improvements. The dual-density protective liner alone is a major plus, and their choice to include MIPS rotational protection underscores a new level of commitment to safety at TLD. The styling begs me to pull the A2 off the shelf each time I head out for a ride, but if it was a blazing hot day, I'd probably choose a cooler lid. For riders who live in milder climates, the A2's performance features are reason enough to make the purchase. And, looking sharp? Well, that's what Troy Lee does best.RC





78 Comments

  • + 66
 Is it 29er specific? Otherwise, I am not interested.
  • + 35
 Forget mandating wheel sizes. ALL bicycle and bicycle related manufacturers should be required by the UN to make one version of everything they make in only black. Flat black,gloss black,satin black....go ahead and go crazy and mix'm up on one product,I dont care! But, Im pretty sure my optic nerve has received permanent damage,just from todays new releases.
  • + 4
 integrated boost.....
  • + 2
 And still no under visor goggle storage.
  • + 2
 so no metric size this year ?
  • + 1
 @scary1: mine's Black!!??
  • + 61
 In Canada, this helmet will be called the "Eh2"
  • + 1
 I see what you did there.
  • + 4
 you clever bastard...
  • + 1
 Take it for a rip eh2
  • + 30
 Official mountain bike helmet of the 1986 Denver Broncos.
  • + 26
 Did it really come with graphics that "captured the imaginations of the sport's burgeoning crop of all-mountain riders"?... much like a 2$ laser pointer captures the imagination of a cat?...
  • + 12
 I swear by my A1, its the only helmet i've tried on that feels like its snug on my head. I know it gets a bit sweaty but i thought that was just part of the norm of exercise. I've always said that if i had to buy another helmet it would just be another A1 in a different colour (i have one of the earlier Flouro yellow ones and its a bit too 'out there'). Hopefully the A2 doesn't change its fitment or i won't be interested!
  • + 1
 I too found the A1 a perfect fit and after a crash bought another A1. This spring I tried the Giro Montaro and found that it had just as good fit and allows for sun glasses and goggles to fit better.
  • + 3
 I love the fit of both the A1's I've had. Unfortunately the fit of the A2 is different enough that I won't be buying one. Wobbly and no where near as secure on my head.
  • + 11
 Tribal tattoos included?!
  • + 5
 Yea RC: underscores the commitment to new level of safety by using MIPS. Yhm right. It underscores their commitment to stay in the market, where almost everyone is using an unproven system that sounds flashy for a user that has no time to process the information. You either use it or you get left behind. New Emperors clothes is my favorite story when it comes to trends.
  • + 2
 You don't buy the line that MIPS helps decrease cranial impact in the case of an oblique impact?
  • + 7
 Agreed, I am not a big fan of MIPS as it solves a problem that only exists (if at all) in such a small number of crash scenarios. However, I do applaud TLD for adding dual density EPS as that does make a big difference.
  • + 10
 @StackingItSince1991: mips may be effective for bald men, people with hair is in effect mips ?
  • + 4
 @StackingItSince1991:

To me it's more like... why not. You're spending all that dough anyways. Why not have additional safety systems in place. Not every manufacturer is willing to develop their own or can. MIPS is widely excepted and for a few extra bucks... why not.

As for small number of impacts. You're way off base. Rotational impact injuries are incredibly common.

Might as well not wear a helmet. I mean.. you only use it in a really small number of crash scenarios.
  • + 0
 @enduroFactory: Not just hair as your scalp moves as well, and most people don't have helmets that firm there is absolutely no rotational movement on the helmet. It also depends what you are hitting with your head. If you are on the road and hit the tarmac then there is reasonable likelihood of rotational force, but if you land on dirt the chances of this is a lot less.
  • + 2
 @onemanarmy: "Rotational impact injuries are incredibly common" do you have any statistics to back that up?

Also, if you want to cover all of the safety options then yes go for MIPS, but a more important consideration is the dual EPS.
  • + 3
 @StackingItSince1991:

There's plenty of information on rotational injuries. It's a relatively new topic but more and more information is coming in all the time.

As for your comment on concrete vs dirt... etc. Not the point. Rotational injuries aren't necessarily related to a direct impact. That's what the shell and foam layers are for.

My last concussion was a rotational one and it was in the snow. My head barely even made contact with the snow. The injury was due to the angle and rate of me stopping.

But I agree... dual density foams are a huge improvement that's happening right now in head safety.
  • + 3
 I'm not a believer in the MIPS tech either. On top of that, it makes a helmet hotter than it should be by putting a clammy perforated sheet of plastic against your scalp.
  • + 3
 I do believe that rotational forces are often involved in crashes on bikes, but MIPS doesn't speak to me as a solution. Put on a Mips and then non mips helmet press hard with your head against the floor and you will see that difference is minimal.
  • + 2
 Actually there is some test data about the effectivity of MIPS. The study was done by Swedish insurance company Folksam. The selection of helmets is a bit strange (all-mountain helmets, city helmets etc. ) and not very complete, but the data clearly shows there is some truth on MIPS' claims. www.folksam.fi/sites/default/files/media/Dokumentit/Testitulokset/folksam_helmet_test_report_adult_2017.pdf
  • + 3
 @verskis: MIPS surely helps. Kali seems to have come a bit further on that front. So I want more systems to compare with. If MIPS comes out best? Well I will be glad to be wrong. What I think is best with MIPS is that it triggered the interest in the subject, so I will always give it to them. However from all the helmets I have tried MIPS comes at a evident discomfort and over the years I learned that whatever safety equipment I put on, if it ain't feeling like a part of my skin, I just won't wear it. Some people wear huge body armor or uncomfortable shin or elbow pads, they find mental comfort in doing it. I don't. So I don't judge people wearing all of it, we're all different. If I'm comfortable, don't even feel like I have protective equipment on me, I don't crash as often, and that's a fact for my case, I took all the worst diggers in bike park, when riding in body armor. I remember wearing a borrowed MX helmet in a day in the bikepark, it was terrible, I was thinking about it on my head every time before dropping off. I don't want MIPS pulling on my hair while I ride, I have enough important sht to focus on. I just think you can't ignore all the mental aspects of wearing a particular type of protection.
  • + 1
 @StackingItSince1991: Helmet (particularly visor) will dig in to trail surface and promote twisting of head/neck. The smooth shell of most helmets tends to slide along paved surfaces. Rotational forces seem to be worse for trail crashes, for me. TLD could be improved by breakaway visor (already standard in moto). No statistics, just my experience.
  • + 1
 @Lastmissouriexit: On that note they could probably do away with that fin on the back of their helmets, that thing can't possibly be reducing rotational forces in a crash. More like a spike that will just dig into the dirt.
  • + 2
 @kjjohnson: the moment you land on this part of your head at speed you are already fkd for real sick.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns:

I'm stoked to see companies like 6D, Kali and Bell pushing different ideas beyond MIPS. For bell see Flex tech for Moto. But MIPS is a good option for other companies and it's getting more and more affordable. So we you're seeing more of now is lower/mid range helmets getting MIPS and higher end helmets getting other tech... or things like the Bell Zephyr with integrated MIPS.

That also goes to the earlier comment about being hot. I have the ZEPHYR. It's not hot. The main problem is that most companies aren't spending any time designing WITH the MIPS system. They just slam it into their helmet. Some companies are designing around MIPS and it's creating more comfortable and cooler helmets. IT's pretty easy to tell who's doing which... just look at how much of the vent is covered by the MIPS system.

I'm a fan of all of these. Won't ever say MIPS is the end all be all though. I'm a huge fan of it in snow applications. I'd like to see more companies trying more things. I don't think Kali has quite got it yet either. But those guys are pushing safety hard. I'm a big fan of the owner of that company. He'll sit down and talk head safety tech with anyone. Dudes crazy smart.
  • + 4
 Have they improved the liner? I bought a couple and they all came apart after a couple of trips through the washing machine (they were inside a garment bag when washed). That was the death kneel for me and switched to Smith, in which i've had no issues with the liners.
  • + 2
 "Ventilation is improved as well, but not to the point where I would call the A1 (A2?!?) a summer helmet. I'd rate the A2's ventilation as a 20-percent improvement - welcome indeed, but I'm not tempted to reach for it on a 98-degree (37 Celsius) day."

Okay, so what's the best helmet if you ride if you ride in a schvitz like the deep south?
  • + 2
 Specialized Ambush. I have two A1s and thinking about this one next. I love the fit of the A1, but its a bit warm. Im in So Cal. Spesh has lots of vents including 2 in the forehead. Super light too. definitely gonna try both soon.
  • + 1
 @FaastEddie: I LOVE my ambush helmet
  • + 1
 @sixstringsteve: Do you find the helmet routing sweat to the back? How do those forehead vents work?

I just go my new oakleys evzero range, since they ride high in the brow for visual clearance, they are close to the helmet brow. Yesterday my A1 kept pissing all over my glasses the whole ride.
  • + 2
 @FaastEddie: Not entirely. I still have sweat on the brow on the super hot days, but the airflow is great. It breathes better than any other helmet I've owned (granted I don't replace my helmet every 6 months to keep up with the latest fashion). I've never had a helmet that diverted sweat out the rear. That'd be an afwful lot of airflow/wicking to move it from my forehead to the rear.
  • + 2
 It's fun to see all the negatives of a product only when its replacement is showing up.... I thought the A1 was the most comfortable helmet ever made! Actually no they sucked but we couldn't say it cause TLD keeps offering some kits! A bit the same as for Avid's pre-Guide brakes. They were so shity they don't even use the brand Avid anymore! I'll wait for the A25. Hopefully they will have fixed everything and the industry will stop sucking TLD's dick.
  • + 7
 wait - Avid Guide brakes are same junk as the older crap...
  • + 1
 Out of twenty reviews how many are negative?
  • + 1
 @kyytaM: they are better but when it gets warm, the lever sticks.
  • + 4
 @EnduroManiac, we laid out the pros and cons pretty clearly when we reviewed the A1 back in 2013: www.pinkbike.com/news/Troy-Lee-Designs-A1-Helmet-Tested-2013.html
  • + 1
 Really enjoyed my a1 except I did find it a bit hot. the new A2 is killer and ventilation is waaay better.
  • - 1
 @rickyd298: of course on a brand new 10 000$ test rig they work well for 1 week but I can guarantee that Guide R will fail within a month of winter riding or hot dusty riding
  • + 2
 oh snap @mikekazimer with the source!
  • - 1
 @mikekazimer: I read the review again. "Troy Lee Designs' entry into the all-mountain market is a solid one, offering the excellent fit and construction that the company is known for, although the lack of ventilation prevents it from being a home run"
In short, only the ventilation issue is highlighted in both articles. RC goes deeper into the negatives. Too late.
  • + 1
 @kyytaM: I agree, but it's still not what we read. Kind of the benchmark! Although I read they showed their limitations in two reviews about the Rallon 5. Does this mean SRAM is about to debute new brakes??
  • + 2
 Got a nice 2017s A1 on the way. Thanks A2 for making the A1 so much cheaper!
  • + 2
 yeah, the helmet looks sick, but it is not for the large circumference individuals like my self. I measure in at 7 5/8 for a hat size. I was torn between the A2 and a specialized Ambush. The A2 just sat way too big above my head. a combination of the space in between the liner and the outer shell, and the mushroom type shape of the outer shell. I wanted it to work badly, but I looked like more of a goon than I already do. The ambush? a touch more coverage on the back side of your dome, and the profile is a lot tighter, therefore less goon looking. no mushroom effect, its much more flattering profile. do looks matter for a helmet? of course they do when both helmets close in on or clear $250 USD and they are both just as equal as preventing skull fracture (yeah side note, concussions are a completely different discussion for me.

BIG HEADS BEWARE!!!
  • + 1
 “The junction where the chin straps meet below the ears is now preset (except for Australia and New Zealand) which eliminates the chunky adjusters there and the webbing at the adjustable buckle is looped, which cleans up its appearance.”

I was so stoked for this helmet to come out. Went and tried it and the fact that you can’t slide the clasp forward means it’s now uncomfortably right up against my neck. I get that they want to make it more minimalist - Specialized did the same thing with their Ambush - but it means I can’t buy the upgrade.

Bummed.
  • + 1
 @troyleedesigns - this is probably the best fitting half-shell on the market, but I wish you put a micro-adjust on the back. This oversized dial is akin to the entry-level products of your competitors and feels bulky on the back of the head/neck. It's a small update, but please, please do so. Thank you.
  • + 1
 So, which lids that offer decent coverage, comfort and MIPS/similar actually DO have decent ventilation? Yet to find something that offers everything and reaching for my XC/road lid for a trail ride when its even vaguely warm it going to end in tears one day!
  • + 1
 it is indeed a lot less sweaty and retains the sweat that it does collect ,thus not dumping it in your eyes at the most inopportune moment ,bloody annoying and spoiled what was a great helmet ,the a2 is a vast improvement .
  • + 2
 Is it just me or is anyone else sick of the regurgitated bad 90's graphics that TLD continues to stuff down our throats?
And go..
  • + 1
 buy it, it's the last one!!!
  • + 1
 @tiagomano: Already got one...to replace my 4 year old identical lid when it's time.
  • + 1
 waiting patiently for the A1's to price to hit bottom.
  • + 1
 Looks awesome! I love my A1 and D3 but after 3+ years with them and a couple of bonks, I should be looking to replace them now that MIPS is offered. TLD's are super comfy and I'm a fan for life! tup
  • + 3
 Damn, they were so close to matchich the eye-searing intense, this is just going to clash. What a disaster
  • + 1
 Matching*
  • + 1
 I have this same exact helmet and I sweat like no other. I've had zero problems with ventilation with this helmet. Great product, fit and comfort.
  • + 2
 Definitely share the same colour samples as Intense's design team.
  • + 1
 I have the A1 in silver metallic. Fits great, and everyone has a comment about the finish. Fun lid.
  • + 1
 Had the A1. Too hot and came down over my eyes to much on rough dh. Got the POC Tectal and am 100% happy.
  • + 2
 If an helmet is going down over your eyes, just put the fit-system one (or two) position higher.
ep1.pinkbike.org/p5pb9128227/p5pb9128227.jpg
(upper right picture)
  • + 1
 With the pinestripe design you have to ride low as hell!
  • + 1
 I wonder why pinkbike users are so gay.
  • - 1
 The A1 is an overpriced piece of garbage. This looks like only a marginally better design, and I think it might actually be a shade uglier. Pass.
  • + 0
 can we talk about the price and the WORSE straps than the a1?!
  • + 2
 I have both, the A2 straps are way better design than the A1
  • + 1
 BUT IT HAS BETTER VENTS!!!!
  • + 0
 Still ugly, looks like a duckbill!
  • - 3
 Reasons I will NEVER buy TLD

1) The obnoxious adolescent unicorn vomit color schemes
2) I don't ride moto, don't give two f*cks about it
3) They sponsor an eBike race.
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