Troy Lee Designs A1 Helmet - Review

Sep 9, 2013 at 13:46
by Mike Kazimer  
Troy Lee Designs A1 helmet

Troy Lee Designs A1 Helmet

The concept of a half-shell helmet with extended coverage at the back of the head isn't a new one, dating back at least ten years, but as riders continue to push the limits of their all-mountain rigs, the demand for helmets with this extra protection has increased. To meet this demand, Troy Lee introduced their A1 helmet earlier this season, the company's first non-full face helmet in a number of years.


Details
• Polycarbonate shell, EPS liner
• CPSC, CE, AS/NZS certified
• Weight: 344 grams (M/L)
• Colors: Battleship grey, matte black, satin blue, gloss yellow
• MSRP: Depends on color, from $139 - $165 USD.
Construction
The A1 uses a polycarbonate shell in-molded to an EPS liner, with an adjustable visor affixed to it with three aluminum bolts. The bolt heads are shaped so that no tools are needed to tighten or loosen the visor mounting hardware, simplifying in-the-field adjustments. The one-piece inner liner is made with an anti-microbial material, and can easily be removed for washing. An adjustable retention system cradles the back of the head, with three different height settings and a ratcheting dial to fine tune the fit. Ventilation is handled by sixteen vents positioned along the top and at the back of the helmet. The A1 is available in three sizes, XS/S, MD/LG, and XL/XXL. Our size M/L helmet weighed in at at 344 grams, and as would be expected, the A1 meets CPSC, CE, and AS/NZS safety standards.

Troy Lee Designs A1 Helmet

The red dial on back of the A1 adjusts the helmet's fit around the head. The removable visor is adjustable by loosening three aluminum bolts.


Fit / On Trail Performance
Put the A1 on and its depth is immediately apparent – the helmet sits lower on the forehead and extends further down the back of the head than a typical XC lid would. Adjusting the fit around the head is as simple as turning the dial at the rear of the helmet, a one handed affair, with positive detents at each position. The retention system can also be set at one of three different heights so that it sits higher or lower on the back of the head. For us, the upper position proved to be the most comfortable, but this will obviously be an adjustment that's dictated by head shape and size. The inner liner was very comfortable, with enough padding so that we never felt the EPS foam underneath.

On the trail, the A1's excellent fit kept it in place even in the most jarring terrain, never slipping forward or sliding backwards. The extra weight of the A1 when compared to more XC style lids is noticeable, but we never felt burdened by the weight, and those additional grams are an expected result of the increased coverage the helmet provides. Luckily, we didn't crash test the A1, but the shell did shrug off a number of encounters with low hanging branches, emerging unscathed, and has survived the last few months of riding with only a few small scuff marks on the outer shell. The A1 does work with goggles, but the helmet's low position on the forehead can make for a snug fit, particularly with larger framed goggles. The same goes for sunglasses - we didn't have any trouble, but we have heard reports of certain sunglass styles not playing well with the A1 due to the extra side coverage.

Troy Lee Designs A1 helmet

An anti-microbial liner helps prevent things from getting funky, and can be easily removed for washing.


Issues
One small issue we ran into was with the A1's visor position – we couldn't get it quite a high as we would have liked. It was close, within a couple of degrees of our ideal position, but it still entered our field of vision on steep climbs. A slightly wider range of motion, or at least the ability to raise it up further would fix this.

The biggest gripe we have with the A1 is regarding its ventilation, or lack of it. There's no getting around it – this is one hot helmet, and we found ourselves sweating more than we're used to, even in relatively mild temperatures. The culprit seems to be the lack of a central vent and the thicker padding found at the front of the helmet; there's simply not enough airflow in this region to help speed up the evaporation process. The ventilation at the side of the helmet is fine, but even at higher speeds the air around the central forehead portion remained still and stifling.


Pinkbike's take:
bigquotes Helmet designers are faced with a difficult task these days, trying to find that perfect balance between fit, function, and fashion. It used to be that slapping a visor onto a road bike helmet was enough, but that's no longer the case, with mountain bikers looking for helmets specifically tailored for their riding style. 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. It's close, but we'd love to see the air flow improved, a change that would make us much more likely to grab this helmet during those hot summer days. The A1's performance was satisfactory, but it didn't turn out to be as groundbreaking as we had hoped, leaving us to continue our quest for that holy grail of helmets - one that's well ventilated, light weight, and offers extra protection. Does this elusive helmet exist? The search continues. - Mike Kazimer


www.troyleedesigns.com


95 Comments

  • 25 8
 Yeah, but for whatever reason. if you wear one of these you look like a total bell-end.
  • 2 1
 Factory only riders...
  • 9 4
 You mean any AM lid or just the TLD? Cos it looks pretty similar to other AM lids and IMO they look fine. Much better than cracking your brains out the back of your head anyway.

Amazingly TLD seem to have come in at a reasonable price too, never thought I'd see that!
  • 4 2
 i like the colour scheme, it's the one of the most 'cool' looking AM helmets I've seen
  • 9 1
 @psyickphuck Sorry, but $165 USD is not reasonable, especially for something that is primarily made of foam...
  • 4 1
 The is reasonable price.compared to the poc equivalent!
  • 1 0
 @vroom oh sure, it's a rip off in that context... I think I'm becoming too conditioned to the mtb industry's pricing!
  • 17 3
 Great review, on the spot.
I own one for a few weeks now, and it is a very hot helmet.
BUT the amount of coverage and its comfortability tops it.
That's the helmet for me, even with the skull frying problem, and it can get very hot in here (up to 35c).
I'd recommend it to anyone who'd like to keep his head in tact.
  • 13 10
 You should of bought the Bell Super. It is well ventilated and has a cleaner more DH look while still giving light, all-mountain performance.
  • 6 0
 How was it in a real crash test? Any volunteers?
  • 9 15
flag kingpin2607 (Sep 11, 2013 at 8:24) (Below Threshold)
 661 Recon .... The End
  • 2 1
 @t-turi-mullet the Bell was my second option, but I like TLD stuff very much and they have proven their reliabilty and performance for me, so I decided to go on the safe side.
My biggest problem is that the market here in Israel is very dull, and neither Bell nor TLD is imported, so its all done remotely, either you did the right choice or you need to sell it second-hand and loose money...
  • 1 0
 I have the same problem with my new Giro Feature helmet - great fit, great coverage but just too hot for warmer weather riding - ventilation is simply not good enough for performance riding in warmer temps.

thankfully, still have a Giro Xen which is the go-to for warmer temps, will keep the Feature for Autumn / Winter cooler temps, should be ideal for snow riding
  • 3 2
 Its a nice looking helmet but for I'm still super attached to my Urge helmet and I would definitely buy another one of those before a TLD helmet.
  • 4 0
 I have been wearing an a-1 all summer and loving it. this summer has been fairly hot and the helmet has never seemed to be over the top hot. I also hate to admit it but I have crashed in the a-1 and smacked the back of my head real hard and the helmet did a great job of protecting my noggin. It fits my head so well that if I crank down on the knob in the back the helmet is hard to pull off without even attaching the chin strap.
  • 10 0
 "Give this to your favourite Bike professional and have an A1 Day" Every time i read such reviews and when i see the pricing i think "mmh okay it will cost at least the same or more in Euro over here..."
  • 15 3
 What looks worse, sunglasses with a full face helmet or goggles with a half shell?
  • 24 0
 Gouged eyes look the worst!, you don't put on sunglasses or goggles for fashion.(although some do!)
  • 8 0
 The TLD A1 is by far the best fitting helmet I've ever used for trail riding. I've had one all summer and I don't find it to be any warmer than the 661 recon or the Fox Flux/Striker helmets I had before.

If you dont like the color check out the new Battleship grey version. Nice and boring!
  • 2 0
 I've had mine for months now too, and it is so comfortable that I forget it's on, when I take it off though, that's when I realize how hot my head is.........it is a hot helmet. But it hasn't bothered me, even in 98F weather temps.
  • 6 1
 • TLD product designer for Bike, Jeremy Kneisly had a horrific mechanical while riding the enduro track in Colorado, rear wheel locked up and threw him into a pile of rocks in a high speed, head first into those rocks. The impact caused a compression fracture in his T7/T8 that required surgery and the placement of screws and rods. He was wearing an A1 helmet, the pic is below, he suffered no head trauma and the helmet was in tact. instagram.com/p/cU3mw4MhL8

• MTB Photographer Sven Martin was on a shoot in New Zealand, he had trekked out by bike for the shoot, he had a tremendous crash and landed on his head, cracked the helmet and did not get knocked out and stated "Stik, that helmet saved my life, worst crash ive had to my head".
  • 6 1
 I just did a 20 mile Cat1/Pro XC race in 85 degrees wearing my A1. I can honestly say that my head wasn't hot, maybe you guys just have sweaty scalps.
  • 4 0
 I own this helmet. Been riding on the shore all spring/summer. I find the helmet comfortable and held up great when I've taken a few crashes. I don't feel it's overly hot either. Best AM helmet I've owned.
  • 3 0
 I tried one of these on at the shop, the fit is real nice agreed. The price tag is a bit much and the the design/graphics..well those need some work. It's the the equivalent of upper arm tribal tattoos on your head. Keep it clean and simple Troy Lee...
  • 3 0
 Have you seen the Drone? $139 and matte grey, available next month.
  • 3 0
 I lost confidence on XC / Trail helmets tipping off in high speed crashes, kept trying different brands...
First Crash with the A1, I was protected and the lid stayed in place. The A1 is comfortable and very adjustable to accommodate any size head, We all go down, it's just a matter of time, the A1 give me a peace of mind.
  • 2 0
 I tried one of these and it fitted perfectly. I thought it was expensive and found a similar made by Fox with cheaper price tag. Now I wish I'd bought Troys offering cause I can't get the Fox units fit right. On rough terrain the helmet is wiggling all over the place. But there is nothing a duct tape won't fix!
  • 2 0
 Your going to duct tape it to your head? or did I misread that?
  • 3 0
 I'm thinking about it. It really is all over the place. Or I might just get a different helmet.
  • 2 0
 I've been combing and combing the net for more reviews on this helmet. Yesterday I said 'F it'...and ordered one. I guess I'm in for some HOT days. When trying my TLD full face on the LBS warned me, 'don't put this on unless you have the money for it now'. Sure enough, the fit was leagues ahead. I had the same scenario with the A1.
  • 2 0
 I was sort of in the market for a new xc lid, didn't hate my bell, but it felt a little light in the loafers on a recent crash...I live pretty far from a shop and wanted to try one of these, I finally did in whistler at summit, truly the coziest helmet i've ever put on my head, it was like a nice toque or beanie as you yanks call it...so damn comfortable. I don't really care about anything else in a helmet other than comfort, its going to be on your skull for hours at a time, it had better be fit. I love this helmet, didn't love the price at first, but I have zero regrets, best lid i've owned, thanks TLD for doing this.
  • 2 0
 I love my A1! It's comfy, doesn't direct sweat into my eyes, and it feels like landing in a bag of marshmallows when the back of your head whacks the concrete-like southern California summertime trails. I cannot say that I have worn every helmet out there, but this one sure does fit my head really well, works like a charm and doesn't look too bad. I would certainly recommend it!
  • 2 0
 The TLD A1 helmet is one of the best fitting trail helmets I have ever put on my head. The helmet doesn't just sit on your head, it feels like your head is inside of the helmet, I feel as if I could ride without the strap buckled. I feel extremely safe in this helmet because of the fact that it has a lower back of the head protection, and wraps around your whole head. I highly recommend it.
  • 6 1
 doesn't fit Asian heads well enough.
  • 1 0
 Probably would look way too big and bulky too, considering what kind of head was used as a model for it.
  • 1 0
 yes. Felt a little pinchy around temple area.
  • 3 0
 confused... complaining about venting issues and riding goggles???
  • 3 0
 I picked this helmet up a couple months back and I have to say I love it. Fits much better than my POC and Giro helmets. I'm glad I spent the cash!
  • 1 0
 The perfect helmet is one that you never have to think about from the start to finish of your ride. While this helmet has the best fit and finish of anything out there, the heat/sweat issue causes a constant discomfort and distraction, making it not worth the $165 price tag. I love TLD products, but this helmet is too suffocating.
  • 1 0
 I am sold. This should be my first real non skate or full face helmet. I was the joker with the cheap protec that in videos could not be tested on testing machines. Are we all being a bit picky when it comes to newer helmets. When compared to all others in the enduro catagory they will all protec just fine
  • 1 0
 I am sold. This should be my first real non skate or full face helmet. I was the joker with the cheap protec that in videos could not be tested on testing machines. Are we all being a bit picky when it comes to newer helmets. When compared to all others in the enduro catagory they will all protec just fine
  • 2 0
 Tryed a A1 on, felt very comfortable from the moment it touched my head! now im just hoping/waiting for them to release a more dj style bucket helmet...
  • 4 0
 There we go no more gold sparkles.
  • 1 0
 No M/L or XL/XXL left, only XS/S in Gold.
  • 4 0
 Sooner or later the ETTO is gonna be back in style.
  • 5 1
 POC is the way to go guys
  • 3 0
 I have both the A1 and the Poc. The A1 fits and feels better.
  • 3 0
 I wanted to get a poc, liked the looks, but i just could not adjust it to fit my head. The a1 has such great adjustment that i could make two sizes fit my head well. I ended up going with the smaller shell but could have gone large.
  • 5 2
 I like the design, its better than the gold one..
  • 2 0
 Not bad, still doesn't like it as much as my Giro Xar. Fits the bill just as well.
  • 3 0
 Needz moar lightning boltz.
  • 1 3
 "... leaving us to continue our quest for that holy grail of helmets - one that's well ventilated, light weight, and offers extra protection. Does this elusive helmet exist? "

What about the Urge All-M ? Given the pb review, it seems to meet the requirements to be the saint helmet.
www.pinkbike.com/news/Tested-Urge-All-M-helmet-2013.html
  • 2 0
 Not CSPC approved, so not for US market.
  • 3 2
 and it looks worse than the A1
  • 3 0
 Ventilation looks terrible.
  • 6 3
 Bell Super. Nuff said.
  • 3 5
 Ive had 2 people I got onto this Helmet for fit, they wanted a Bell Super but felt the fit in the LBS was not so good, told them that goes away once riding which it does, it vents great and no google issues, the 2 people I got onto this Helmet both have google issues and they are small framed googles, Giro and Spy Targa3s about as small a frames as you can get, Bell nails it, I did want one of these TLDs A1 in gold flake just for the colour but now no googles no go, I ride in googles all the time its a biggie for me so is heat even in winter. Bell Super I would like a better retention with smaller indent adjustments otherwise perfect!
  • 6 2
 Your post makes no sense, at all. You're a Kiwi, you speak English dude?
  • 2 1
 Huh?
  • 3 0
 I WISH I could read sentences that long.
  • 4 0
 The A1 works perfectly with goggles. If your having trouble, try adjusting the retention placement. These different setting changes the height on riders forehead, allowing adjustable fit for different head shapes as well as eyewear sizes. As with any helmet, it's important to take the time to dial it in.
  • 2 2
 @MLevy, test the Bell Super! There's your holy grail that you seek! I love mine. Goggle compatible, flip up visor, quick detach gopro mount. WINNER!
  • 1 1
 With lots of new helmets offering increased coverage for the back of the head, how many people are actually smashing the back of the head?
  • 5 0
 I have a 661 Recon and did a 5' log drop onto a fast steep transition into a sharp turn and washed out. I rolled over onto my back in the crash but i just got up and got back to riding. At the end of my ride, I checked my helmet and saw an inch wide dent that was about 7mm deep on the lower back side. If I had been wearing an XC helmet, I would have had a concussion or a punctured noggin! This doesn't happen often but when it does, you'll be happy you had the extra protection.
  • 3 0
 In a lot of cases a large blow to the base of the skull means your dead.
  • 8 0
 The base of your skull is where your brain stem is located. The brain stem controls consciousness, motor and sensory systems, cardiac and respiratory functions, and few other nice-to-haves. Some of you may even value those functions while off the bike, but I don't want to assume too much.
  • 1 0
 Use pisspots myself, £20 a pop can't complain other than it being a bit hot but does the job.
  • 1 2
 Would consider it as my next helmet if it had an integrated mount for a camera/lights, my top choices for now are:
1.Bell super.
2.Uvex quatro/pro.
  • 1 1
 BELL SUPER all day! well priced even for a budget minded rider who wants a high end helmet, fits like a glove, great features & colors don't dictate price.
  • 3 2
 What about Richie shleys ixs helmet, that looks promising
  • 1 0
 This can't vent worse than my enduromatic.
  • 1 0
 when CRC are flogging them for 70 notes, it's got to be worth a try.
  • 7 7
 Paint scheme is bad as fuck.
  • 6 1
 It's better than it was...
  • 1 1
 Don't like the colur as well...thanks for the link sadevil. Much nicer colour.
  • 4 5
 another way that troy lee relies on its name to sell product...ok stuff, cool name and retarded colors.
  • 1 3
 He's name wouldn't become cool if he wouldn't make those colors look so "retarded", isn't it?
  • 1 1
 Only a helmet for that price? I will stay with my giro faction
  • 4 0
 mesh bag and sticker pack too. Smile
  • 1 2
 maybe bell super is the perfect one
  • 1 3
 Since the birth of the 661 recon we await something original .....
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