Long Term Review: The Full Coverage TLD A1 Helmet
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.