Back in 2013, Troy Lee Designs introduced their A1 helmet, which marked the company's return to making half shell bike helmets after a decade long hiatus. That helmet won over plenty of riders with its ultra-comfortable fit and extended coverage, but it was a little warmer than other helmets on the market.
That's where the brand new A2 comes in. Thanks to its wider vents and increased internal channeling, the A2 is claimed to offer 25% more air intake, which should come in handy on those hot summer days.
TLD A2 Helmet Details
• 13 vents, internal channeling
• MIPS equipped
• Dual density liner with co-molded EPS and EPP
• Exceeds CPSC 1203, CE EN 1078, AS NZ 2063:2008 standards
• Thirteen color options
• Weight: 370g (actual, size M)
• Price: $169 USD
• Contact: www.troyleedesigns.com
Troy Lee did more than just carve out the vents on an A1 and call it good – the A2 uses a mix of EPP (expanded polypropylene) and EPS (expanded polystyrene) foams in order to allow it to handle high and
low-speed impacts. Compared to the A1, the EPS at the front of the helmet is 16% thicker to provide even more protection to the frontal lobe area. In addition to the use of two foam densities, TLD also equip the A2 with a MIPS liner that's designed to help reduce the rotational forces that reach the brain. MIPS liners are now found on all of Troy Lee's half shell helmets, no matter if it's the A2 or the A1.
The A2 uses a polycarbonate shell over both EPP (grey) and EPS (black) foam.
The A2's shape makes it possible to easily store sunglasses when they're not in use, and there's also more room around the ears to prevent glasses' frames from touching the helmet's shell. The fit of the helmet is adjusted via a dial at the back of the helmet, and there are three different height settings for further fine tuning.
There aren't any gold sparkles this time around, but the A2 is available in thirteen different color combos, everything from the matte black Decoy version shown here, to a bright blue glossy fade. MSRP is $169, with a $6 upcharge if you choose the reflective white or the SRAM / TLD racing version.
For riders with a soft spot for the A1, don't worry, it's not going anywhere, and there are a whole host of fresh color options, along with a newly reduced price of $139 USD. Ride Impressions
I've been able to get in a handful of rides so far with the A2, and although the mercury has been reluctant to climb above 50°F / 10°C (after all, it's still February), the increased airflow with the A2 versus the A1 is noticeable, a feature that will undoubtedly be even more welcome when spring and summer arrive. The padding also seems to dry faster, another plus for those warm days.
As far as fit goes, the A2 has a tough row to hoe when it comes to knocking the A1 of its perch as the king of comfort. So far I'd say A1 keeps the crown, although the A2 isn't far off. My head shape is more oval than round, and the A2 seems to sit a little bit higher than the A1 does. It's very secure, and it never shifted out of place even on rough, bumpy trails, but it doesn't cradle my head quite as well as the A1. As with any helmet, it's always best to try before you buy – fit will vary from rider to rider. On a similar note, I also found that the front portion of the helmet's shell sticks out far enough that it slightly entered my field of vision, typically when climbing. Of course, this could also be related to my head shape, and might not be the case for all riders, but it's something I didn't experience with the A1.
Luckily, I haven't put the A2's impact absorption capabilities to the test yet (knock on wood), but it's good to see more companies incorporating features designed to deal with multiple impact speeds. I need some more time (and some warmer weather) to fully evaluate the A2, but by all appearances it upholds the blend of style and safety that Troy Lee Designs' helmets are known for.