Long Term Review: The Full Coverage TLD A1 Helmet

TLD A1 Glamor Photos (3)

Troy Lee Designs has a reputation for having a fan base more rabid than Apple, so when they announced their first half shell bicycle helmet since a collaboration with Shoei in the early 90′s – it was met with great enthusiasm.

That excitement was due to the company’s reputation for developing products that save lives, are extremely comfortable, and ooze style. Of course, I’d only ever heard of the reputation from my gravity bros. Like that hot person in high school you wrote off as having nothing to offer but their looks, I was never sure if TLD  really offered anything special enough to merit the hefty cost.

So after spending a year riding in the A1, did it differentiate itself as the prom queen or the valedictorian of the Enduro helmet market?

TLD A1 Glamor Photos (1)

An adjustable visor is mounted using anodized aluminum hardware that is designed to be tightened by hand.

Starting with the tech – the A1  has 16 total vents. There are eight forward facing vents which draw air in, while the rearward vents act as exhaust ports.

A plush one piece anti-microbial liner also aids in moister wicking and can easily be removed for washing.

TLD A1 Glamor Photos (4)

Designed with the needs of aggressive riders in mind, the  helmet has healthy extended coverage towards the rear of the head, and has passed both the CPSC and CE EN safety certification test.

 

TLD A1 Glamor Photos (5)

A triple position adjustable retention system allows the helmet fore and aft to be customized to accommodate various head shapes and eyewear, while a simple ratcheting system holds everything in place.

TLD A1 Helmet

Just a few examples of the new color schemes. You can view the our coverage of the entire 2015 TLD line up here

The helmet is available in three different sizes (XS/SM, Med/LG, and XL/XXL) and numerous color schemes. Prices start at $139 for the Drone edition, which features a more muted color scheme than the one pictured, but TLD also offers several more detailed and bright color schemes for $165.

On the TrailTLD A1 Glamor Photos (2)

The helmet is also compatible with various aftermarket attachments e.g. My Nightrider mount

If you can get past the polarizing looks, the A1 helmet introduces a level of comfort unsurpassed by a five star hotel. The thick ultra soft anti microbial liner inside this helmet is the best in the industry, which helps make this the most comfortable helmet I’ve ever worn. Like good taste though, fit is always subjective, so your mileage may vary.

Stock the helmet does sit low on the brow, but adjusting the retention system pushed the helmet high enough to place nice with both goggles and bug eye sunglasses. The adjustable visor wasn’t quite long enough to keep the sun entirely out of my eyes during exposed climbs, but it could be tilted almost completely out of sight in the woods.

The one downside is that having despite having numerous vents, the helmet felt suffocatingly warm on hot days. Compared to other helmets which offer similar rearward coverage (like the Bell Super), I often found myself sweating more on the ups.

All those points taken into consideration, the groupies know what’s up. TLD’s A1 helmet serves up great coverage and feels better than slipping into a bed with fresh clean sheets. Those hailing from arid climates might find the helmet stifling under the sun, but the exceptional comfort, premium construction, and extended coverage, makes the A1 a compelling package well worthy of the price point.

Troy Lee Designs

 

Comments

Topmounter - 08/04/14 - 10:54am

“Polarizing looks”…?

It looks like a full-coverage mountain bike helmet, I don’t get what aspect of this helmet’s looks (compared to any other mountain bike helmet) would be considered polarizing.

satisFACTORYrider - 08/04/14 - 2:18pm

thnx for the heads up on the down side of ventilation with regard to heat build up. i have heard that from several riders.

vulgar bulgar - 08/04/14 - 2:20pm

Topmounter –

Not everyone likes TLD’s graphics style, I like my Bell’s plain monochrome look. This particular helmet is more subdued compared to TLD’s usual rainbow, but still kinda flashy.

Says me with my bright blue and pink bike.

Haywood - 08/04/14 - 3:07pm

The first time I saw someone press their helmet against their head and squeeze out sweat from that ultra plush troy lee A1 liner sold me on a competitor’s helmet.

Chader - 08/04/14 - 4:27pm

@ Haywood,
I have been able to “squeeze the juice” out of nearly any helmet I have owned.
Spesh Vice & Giro Xen for MTB, and even my Spesh Propero II for road on the slower climbs. Not to mention seeing it from my riding partners and their various lids.

I’m not saying the A1 isn’t hot (since I have no experience with it and it seems to be the general consensus), but that soaked experience is far from rare. Variables like the rider and conditions play into the final performance.

Hey there - 08/04/14 - 6:03pm

No one is talking about anything but this helmets looks. What added safety does it offer?

hey you - 08/04/14 - 7:16pm

@hey there, no is talking about anything but “Its the most comfortable helmet I have ever worn”.

Pieter - 08/05/14 - 9:23am

Comparing it to my Giro Xen and Bell Volt:
- yes it is hotter (not much of an issue in our Belgian climate)
- it deals with sweat much better then any other helmet I have owned (keeping it out of my eyes), this is the big plus for me.
- I have one in dayglo yellow, a bold but safe colour (both in traffic as in the mountains)
- it is really really comfortable
- the coverage also makes it feel safe
- one negative point is that it sits low enough to touch my sunglasses from time to time during a ride

Al Boneta - 08/05/14 - 2:51pm

I us this helmet in the Southren California heat and feel just as hot as any other helmet I own.

What Helmet - 08/20/14 - 6:19am

How can you reasonably call a helmet that doesn’t even cover 3/4 of the head a “full coverage” helmet? When is the bicycle industry going to wake up, and realize that ~65% of the time you wont be hitting the back of your head in a crash? Do you really flip around in a crash like a dropped cat aiming the back of your head to hit? Nope–you go face first. Maybe this helmet should be marketed as a “less coverage” since it covers less than half the percentage of where one is likely to contact the immovable object.

http://images.gizmag.com/inline/icon-airframe-statistic-helmet-0.jpg

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