Troy Lee Design's A2 is the follow up to their first trail helmet and it manages to hit the mark with increased ventilation and improved safety features while keeping the same comfort and stylish looks.
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While looks are very much in the eye of the beholder, I reckon the A2 is one of the best looking lids on the market. It's nicely proportioned, not too loud and, as ever, there are a huge array of colour patterns and external finishes on offer.
However, the real story is in what Troy Lee Designs has done to improve safety. The in-moulded shell covers a mixture of two different types of foam protection, with a very dense expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam sandwiched under regular expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. It's a mixture that they claim offers improved protection as the EPP takes care of low-speed impacts while the EPS deals better with high-speed impacts.
All the helmets in the A2 range also use a MIPS liner. This sits inside the helmet, right next to your head, being attached to the outer shell by small rubber pieces. When you crash, the liner allows a degree of slip between your head and the helmet, meaning rotational forces aren't transmitted as readily to your brain, something which is said to reduce the likelihood of brain damage significantly. It's certainly reassuring to have and goes some way to justifying the £140 asking price of the standard lid.
In terms of comfort, the A2 is right up there with the best. Of course, helmet fit is a very personal thing, but I've yet to meet someone that doesn't get on with the basic shape of the A2. The retention cradle attaches near the front of the helmet and there's a broad ratchet strap at the rear, allowing you to cinch down the lid without any weird pressure points developing. The cradle is height adjustable at the rear, with three pop-stud settings.
The chin strap is just a basic item that's not adjustable around the ears, but I kind of prefer that as it's in the right place to begin with and frees you from the hassle of trying to even them out endlessly. A simple but secure clip holds both sides together. It's unfussy and effective.
At first, the upper helmet felt like it was sliding about on the liner much more than I've experienced with any other MIPS equipped lid, but I really didn't notice it when I started riding. The helmet has decent enough airflow - much better than the A2, but certainly not class leading - and it's a very pleasant place to be. I've used the lid on everything from gravel bike epics to enduro races and it's done the job superbly, for the most part making itself invisible thanks to very comfortable padding.
It's not perfect, however. I found that when you're in a hard-charging, head down position, the front brim of the helmet comes into the top of your sight line slightly where it's thicker in the centre. If you're going for the full-enduro look of goggles and an open lid, then there's no place to stick your goggles when wearing them. Some designs, such as the Specialized Ambush, allow you to seat them in place underneath the peak, but the A2's doesn't fold up enough to allow that. In fairness, if you're just sticking with glasses then the A2 works well with all the models I've tried and the short peak doesn't flap about, thanks to quality alloy fixing bolts. It's also not the lightest at around 342g, but it's not so heavy as to have your head bobbing down after every drop either.
All in all, the A2 is one of the best trail lids I've used. It offers masses of safety features and any small issues I have with it are more than offset by the fact it's so bloody comfortable. If you can justify spending this sort of money on a helmet then I doubt you'll be disappointed.