by Wil Barrett
February 27, 2017
Exactly six years ago, Troy Lee Designs unveiled its new generation trail helmet called the A1. The US brand is well known for producing mountain biking helmets, but typically more of the downhill full-face style. It wasn’t the first trail helmet from the company, though, with the RC-3 TL coming out in 1991 (and ridden by the two Martins, Justin Loretz and Paul Smith, among others at the time) so it’s good to see that it’s been working to increase that frequency of innovation.
The new Troy Lee A2 that we have here is launched today and it promises some important upgrades over the original A1. The A1 remains in the range, with a price drop from £160 down to £110. The A2 will cost £140. The design improves upon the original A1 with better safety, fit and airflow.
“The all-new for 2017-A2 helmet redefines mountain bike safety, style, comfort and ventilation. The first helmet in its class to combine EPP (for slow speed impacts) and EPS (for high speed impacts) in one sleek package, that will set a new benchmark for mountain bike helmets.” – Troy Lee Designs.
Troy Lee Designs A2 Helmet Specifications
- Full coverage trail-style helmet
- Dual density impact liner with EPS and EPP foam
- 25% increase in vent size with 13 vents in total
- MIPS technology
- Annodized aluminum hardware
- Adjustable visor
- Hydrolytic foam
- X-Static anti-microbial padding
- Sizes: XS-S (54-57cm), M/L (57-60cm), XL/XXL (60-63cm)
- RRP: £140
To our eyes it looks a little more svelte than the A1 (we don’t have one handy for comparison) and certainly the fit feels snug without pinching. The helmet straps are fixed to the shell, to stop that ‘strap creep’ you can get when you’re taking helmets on and off. There’s a rear head-lock system that’s adjustable in three positions for fit and a dial to keep it snug on your head.
Inside there is a minimal amount of padding, with big channels to keep the air flowing. Even on Chipps’ bald head, it fits securely and comfortably. The MIPS liner moves freely to allow the helmet to rotate in a crash (rather than your brain doing the job) and a small but important feature is the addition of little (black, oblong) Velcro inserts where the MIPS connectors touch the liner. This stops those with longer hair getting it pinched and pulled. (Not a problem for our editor…). You’ll see through the rear vents above, a two coloured grey/black liner. This is made up of two layers of foam. There’s EPP (Expanded Poly Propylene) and EPS (Expanded Poly Styrene). EPS is used in all cycling helmets and offers good protection from hard hits, deforming permanently to absorb the force. EPP is softer and great for slower speed impacts. The A2 is the first helmet to have a dual-foam inmould of the materials.
Other touch-points of the helmet feel suitably luxurious – there’s anodised aluminium finger screws to adjust tension on the peak, which will adjust up to fit your goggles in if you like that sort of thing. In fact the helmet boasts ‘multiple eyewear docking points…’ Other points, like the buckle are nice and secure, with the chin strap being a loop, rather than two, flappy ends, which is satisfyingly neat.
There’s a full hardshell inmould that will protect the helmet from the knocks and scrapes of daily life so that you can avoid the usual polystyrene dings you can get on unprotected helmets just from trips in the car, or on the table at the cafe…
Overall, this is a great evolution of the Troy Lee A-series of helmets and we can see a lot of riders liking it. As always, it’ll be available in a large range of colours, three sizes and 13 colours and they’ll be in shops by late March. Troy Lee is distributed by Saddleback in the UK.