What is it?
The A2 is the successor to the A1, Troy Lee Designs’ first trail helmet in over a decade. At first glance, the two models are nearly indistinguishable, but the new version differentiates itself via improved heat dissipation and advanced safety features.
- Advanced safety features
- Improved heat management
- Eye catching graphics
- Comfortable liner
- Highly adjustable retention system
- Large eye port w/ good eyewear compatibility
- Non-movable visor hangs in sight
The Troy Lee Designs A1 was one of the most comfortable helmets I’ve ever worn. The liner was arguably best in class, but like every great hero, the helmet had a tragic flaw. No matter how good the fit was (or how cool the graphics were), I couldn’t get past the lack of ventilation.
The new A2 rights that wrong. TLD claims they’ve increased the vent intake size by 25% and added deeper internal channeling. All I know is you can finally wear it without sweating bullets. It’s no XC helmet, but breathability is on par (if not better) than helmets such as the Bell Super. Better yet, the inner lining remains one of the most comfortable on the market. It does a remarkable job of keeping sweat out of your eyes and minimizes stink.
While making a helmet breath is wonderful, what really matters is safety. This is where the A2 really shines. Without going on too much of a tangent, our helmet standards in the United States were designed to prevent the skull from fracturing. They were established before modern science understood the dangers of concussions. In the intervening years, it has become apparent that even small hits can leave you with lasting damage.
To address both low and high speed impacts, Troy Lee co-molded two different types of foam. The material nearest to your head is EPP, which stands for expanded polypropylene. It’s softer and very durable. It’s often used in helmets rated for multi-impacts because it can bounce back to its original shape.
The downside is that EPP does not manage high speed impacts as well as traditional materials. For those catastrophic impacts, TLD turned to standard EPS foam. A layer of this material sits between the EPP and shell.
The final layer of security is MIPS. This technology is now relatively common on high end helmets. It’s essentially a slip plane. In a crash, it’s supposed to limit your brain from rotating inside your skull. There’s some debate about whether or not it works, but TLD believes so strongly in the technology, they no longer sell a trail helmet without it.
With the impressive improvements to safety and breathability, there’s a lot to love about the new A2. My only real complaint is the non-movable visor, which sits low enough to hang in sight. Also, while I dig the graphics, others might not. Luckily, TLD does offer more muted color schemes.
Bottom line, the A2 is a worthy successor to the A1 (which is still available for $139). It retains the premium construction, extended coverage, and exceptional comfort, while adding impressive new safety features and improved ventilation.
Rating: 4 out of 5
More Info: www.troyleedesigns.com