Troy Lee’s helmets have been the choice of nearly every top downhill pro over the last twenty years. TLD has taken what they learned with the Edge, D2, and D3 helmets to produce the A1. With extended coverage in the rear and goggle compatibility, the TLD A1 is enduro race ready. However, it is also intended for trail riders who like to push their limits and look good doing it. Most of the time I fall into that later category.
When I first put the A1 on my head I immediately noticed that it was unlike any half-shell helmet I had ever worn before. The fit is akin to a full-face helmet minus the cheek pads. With extensive padding throughout the helmet, the weight is evenly distributed across the head. Out on the trail, this same padding makes the A1 incredibly stable, even in the roughest rock gardens. Troy Lee’s refined and robust helmet retention system is comfortable as well and adds to the security without any hot spots or pressure points to speak of.
Of course no helmet is worthy of the Troy Lee name without a great looking adjustable visor. Not only does the A1 visor look great, it is very stable and easy to adjust without tools. The anodized machined aluminum hardware also works as good as it looks and could be dialed in without tools when the need arose. Although it’s a small thing that most helmet makers fail to address, I appreciated the large cutouts in the visor that allowed air to pass through without distractingly pulling my head back at high speeds.
Internal channels linked to external vents do a good job of forcing air through the sides and top of the helmet and out to the rear to keep my head cool. The one spot that could use a bit more ventilation is the forehead area, where the A1 was noticeably warmer than other helmets I’ve used in the past. With that said, I took comfort in the thought that what the A1 lacked in ventilation, it likely made up for in protection. In spite of the perceived need for extended rear coverage that seems to be the defining characteristic of nearly all enduro helmets, the reality is that your forehead and the top of the helmet are the most likely places to see an impact, no matter what style of riding you are doing. The extra foam at the front of the A1 offers a bit more peace of mind for riders that recognize this danger.
No review of the A1 would be complete without some comment on the graphics and color. The aggressive silver metal flake/glitter/bass boat/bowling ball option I chose is without a doubt, a love it or hate it look. Of course I love it. I get a kick out of imagining David Bowie showing up to the trailhead in the full Ziggy Stardust costume rocking a metal flake A1 with colored zinc oxide on his face instead of the stage makeup. Not that I would ever want to be David Bowie, but I digress. For folks that are a bit more conservative, there are a few flat color/graphic options that are also $20 cheaper MSRP.
Bottom line, the A1 is the most stylish and best fitting enduro lid out there and I’m stoked every time I put it on. That feeling is priceless.