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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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: