TLD A2 helmet -- safe, not just pretty- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    TLD A2 helmet -- safe, not just pretty

    For years, Troy Lee seemed to put all their energy into making their halfshell helmets stylish, bringing up the rear when it came to safety. The A1 was a cool-looking and comfy helmet (I owned one), but it lagged badly behind industry leaders like 6d, Leatt, and Kali when it came to reducing concussion risk. Troy Lee was designing helmets for 1996, not today.

    That's finally changed with the new A2. Yes, it still has TLD's usual bold colors and big logos, but it also takes safety seriously.

    Most importantly, it has dual density foam -- the usual harder foam to protect your skull from big impacts, but also softer foam to protect your brain from smaller impacts. (And a bit of extra foam in front, which seems like a smart idea.) Companies like Kali have been using dual-density foam for years, and I suspect its one of the most effective ways to reduce concussions available today.

    It also has breakaway screws on the visor. In a crash, anything firmly attached to your helmet can become a snag-point and a lever. Breakaway visors: boring but important.

    The strap buckles are fixed, which I suspect increases safety by reducing the number of idiots with floppy straps with the Y down under their jaw.

    Oh, and it has MIPS, too. Personally, I doubt MIPS has much real-world benefit, and I believe the industry is using it as a cynical marketing substitute for real concussion-reducing innovation. But I have no problem with including it as a part of a comprehensive safety package like TLD did here.

    TLD easily could have just slapped MIPS in the A2 and called it a day. The mountain bike media never would have called them on it, and most consumers have no clue.

    Bravo, Troy Lee. Because nothing's more stylish than preventing a concussion.

  2. #2
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    Looks promising, I'm all for advancements and I'd for sure check it out if I were looking for a new one. I don't know about the fixed straps though, I'd have to try it on and see but I like the fine tune-ability of adjustable ones.

    On a side note, why not drop your vendetta against MIPS? If you don't like it don't buy it.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    On a side note, why not drop your vendetta against MIPS? If you don't like it don't buy it.
    Funny! No vendetta. Folks should read up (here's a good start) and decide for themselves, there's no reliable testing to prove either way.

    (My vendetta's against e-bikes.)

  4. #4
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    I got to try on some TLD helmets last weekend in Sedona. Got to try both the A1 and A2. I like the fit of them. The A2 is especially breezy and comfortable, and I like that they've applied multiple technologies for improved crash safety.

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    And to think I was that close to my big chance to meet an mtbr rockstar. (Was in Sedona too.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldManBike View Post
    And to think I was that close to my big chance to meet an mtbr rockstar. (Was in Sedona too.)
    someone at the event recognized my bike from mtbr. he never said who he was, though.

  7. #7
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    It sounds great, but I hate a lot of graphics so that really narrows down my colour choice. I tried on an A1 and loved the fit but the lack of vents stopped that sale.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldManBike View Post
    Personally, I doubt MIPS has much real-world benefit, and I believe the industry is using it as a cynical marketing substitute for real concussion-reducing innovation.
    I totally agree with you. I've thought about the MIPS system and I reckon that in the real world it's worth very little, if anything. The problem I have is that there is no way to know for sure if any of the other claims manufacturers make about their helmet's safety are true either.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I totally agree with you. I've thought about the MIPS system and I reckon that in the real world it's worth very little, if anything. The problem I have is that there is no way to know for sure if any of the other claims manufacturers make about their helmet's safety are true either.
    What about the harness tension-er on the A2?. This is an important feature to me as I like to loosen the helmet when climbing and click down when descending. Sometimes placement too tight and difficult to get your fingers in there which makes it not easily adjusted.

    Once I had my hands on a MIPS I was thinking there HAS to be more to this! I think you would have the same effect just by wearing skull cap, it always makes your helmet slip around more it seems. Just going with my gut, I think 6D ODS design would benefit much more than the MIPS piece of plastic.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TraxFactory View Post
    What about the harness tension-er on the A2?.
    Sorry, I don't know what that is?

    Once I had my hands on a MIPS I was thinking there HAS to be more to this!
    Quite. The claim is that it allows the helmet to rotate on your head. So what? Any helmet will rotate on your head! At least until the outer structure of the helmet meets with your skull and it can't move any more but in that regard an MIPS helmet will be exactly the same.

    I recently bought a Smith Forefront helmet, which also makes bold claims about itself. The Smith is packed full of drinking straw bits which are claimed to reduce deceleration by lots of percents. Do they? I don't know. Who tested it? The people trying to sell it, that's who. And what was the benchmark? One of the best helmets on the market or a Walmart special?

    We have no way of knowing any of this. Manufacturers can boast of whatever they like and there is no interdependent testing to confirm or repudiate their claims. We spend more on what we hope are good helmets because we want better head protection. It's a travesty that our governments simply have not bothered developing helmet safety tests that are meaningful.

    Another word on the Smith Forefront. How the impact reduction is supposed to work is by the inclusion of a layer of short drinking-straws underneath the outer shell. These straws are more compressible than the shell and the two combine to give more gradual deceleration of the head.

    TLD A2 helmet -- safe, not just pretty-004-2-.jpg

    It makes sense to me, which is why I bought one. You can see the straws more clearly from the inside, but as soon as I got the helmet I noticed a design feature I was a little disconcerted by.

    As you can see, the forehead area of the helmet is completely covered in straws. With the pads removed you can see that on each side of the helmet there is a ridge of the harder outer shell foam running from top to bottom. That's not good.

    Say you fell off your bike sideways and smacked the side of your head on a rock. The straw areas either side of that ridge will compress more easily than the ridge so the impact will be concentrated at the ridge. That is exactly the opposite of what you want to happen and I can think of no other helmet I have seen that is designed this way. I think this maybe be worse than not having the straws there at all.

    Of course, I can't prove that would be the case, and I assume the manufacturer would deny it, but the point is that we do not know and cannot find out. It is not an unreasonable supposition though. That is exactly the sort of impact that put Michael Schumacher where he is today.

    TLD A2 helmet -- safe, not just pretty-002-2-.jpg

  11. #11
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    I have the 2015 TLD A1. Well constructed, fits comfortably, great coverage, light weight (I'm particular about color and I'm happy with camo )... it has served me well. I'm not ready to replace it but I do like the reviews for the A2

    My TLD D2 Served and protected me as well. If I need to get a dh helmet this year ... it will be another TLD
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldManBike View Post
    Funny! No vendetta.
    Close enough. You've posted similar comments to the one below in several different threads about helmets and now this one is turning into another anti-MIPS rant fest.

    Quote Originally Posted by OldManBike View Post
    Oh, and it has MIPS, too. Personally, I doubt MIPS has much real-world benefit, and I believe the industry is using it as a cynical marketing substitute for real concussion-reducing innovation.

    I can understand skepticism regarding the concept but I reject the conspiracy theories and armchair engineers who think it's a bunk concept based only on their gut feelings. Is MIPS better? I really don't know but I'll take the word of designers who have actually studied the matter over that of a keyboard warriors reckoning.
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  13. #13
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    I firmly beieve that mitigating the angular acceleration of the head during impacts is a good thing. I'm skeptical of how effective MIPs is at doing that. With respect to minimizing peak linear acceleration of the head during am impact, the best absorber is one that provides constant resistance and is just used up in the impact. In lesser impacts it will produce a higher acceleration than a less dense absorber would, and in harder impacts it will provide a higher peak acceleration than a denser absorber would when the head bottoms out. Dual density absorbers lessen the peak acceleration for softer hits at the expense of increasing it for harder hits over the performance of a single density absorber of equal thickness.

    No helmets are safe or unsafe, they provide varying degrees of impact mitigation with a very high degree of situational variability.
    Do the math.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I can understand skepticism regarding the concept but I reject the conspiracy theories and armchair engineers who think it's a bunk concept based only on their gut feelings. Is MIPS better? I really don't know but I'll take the word of designers who have actually studied the matter over that of a keyboard warriors reckoning.
    Perfectly reasonable conclusion.

    Me, I'm more persuaded by the skepticism of the independent experts at helmets.org than I am by companies trying to sell helmets.

    And MIPS/Giro/Bell have had years to release test data demonstrating that MIPS provides a meaningful benefit when the dummy has hair/sweat/imperfect fit. I don't believe there's any legal or competitive reason for them not to. So the fact that they haven't makes me suspect that kind of demonstrated real-world benefit doesn't exist.

    But, again, I think it's reasonable for you to decide MIPS works, and I think TLD including MIPS among a broader set of safety features in the A2 was sound.

  15. #15
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    Speaking of situational variability, the one variable that is constant is that bikers on average have a higher forward velocity than any other direction. As such one would think the majority first point of contact would be frontal area of the head - right?. And a square on hit to the front or top of back of the head really does not exist much in mtb biking. Therefor ANY sort of chin/forehead protection seems mandatory if one were to describe a mountain bike helmet and might I add road bike helmet. There is not much excuse not to wearing a full facey. Shame on me though because I too am guilty and only use my full facey half my rides. Casual observation says < 5% of riders in my area wear the real deal.

    Stepping back, the first helmets were the hair net style leather lead bands connected around the head....might help with abrasion but not for energy absorption or much else for that matter. We then finally started to evolve in the early 80's.

    We saw increasing foam thickness and some shells that were a nice try but mostly protected the top of the head.

    Along came something interesting called the Skid-Lid. It was claimed to work on the principle that most crashes have a glancing velocity and if low friction contact with helmet occurred, skidding and skipping was better than catching and snapping. The thing looked like a inverted flower with four leaves unconnected at the top of the head with just a little bit of foam like from a wetsuit added for good measure. The problem was that the leaves were pretty thin and rather than skid, the whole thing would catch and bend. The result was neck injuries due to the violent snap when the thing caught and slowed down and then released. Not much info on the web on these, but they were suddenly and quickly pulled off the market in the late 80's ish. Most of Tri folks wore these because they were light & breathed well.
    Along the same time Bell released their classic hard shell full hard foam insert helmet design taken from motorbikes. It was a damn good helmet, heavy, durable, but maybe too hard of a foam insert. They were bullet proof. I still have mine somewhere in the attic. However these were again more on top of the head so you had to crash just right for these to help in the real world.

    Oddly, to cater to the weight weenies, the outer foam only helmets came along with maybe a panty hose like covering for bling appeared. It probably was really good for falling over sideways when your cleats got stuck but seemed to miss the moving contact or skid theory.
    The newer helmets (with or without MIPS) have gone back to a slightly harder shell that is somewhere in-between soft foam and a full hard shell like the early Bell's. The Bell Super 2 shell is a good example, I's there are more.

    The problem now is that standardized testing drives designs to improve on the test, but may not improve on the real world results. I am sure MIPS design results in better data for the 'test'. But really, the helmets today are pretty good and cost a little more than a good tire so we should be cheering not hating or conspiracy theorying. The MIPS cost have come down and in some cases not even an option with no cost impact....it is not worse and we the riders win not loose here.

    The next innovation is some super light weight air bag pads or engineered non newtonian strain hardening materials for the liner, but I think incremental vs just a plain jane full facey available today. Ride on!

  16. #16
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    The stuff kali protectives is doing makes sense. The LDL (low density layer) works for all hits as well as rotation.
    Mips does nothing for sub-concussive impact.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Is MIPS better? I really don't know but I'll take the word of designers who have actually studied the matter over that of a keyboard warriors reckoning.
    Can't you look at the facts and come up with a conclusion yourself rather than trusting others?

    My helmets are not MIPS. Even when tight, I can hold the helmet and rotate it on my head a significant amount. In my opinion MIPS claims to let helmets do something that they already do anyway.

    So you trust the designers? OK, take the time to think it through. Some guy comes up with a theory to make helmets better, which is good. So he devotes time effort and money into developing it. Gets a few others on board. It probably takes years.

    Do you think that they are likely to be totally unbiased? With so much invested in it, I doubt it. I think they are likely to use testing methods that give happy results and show as big a difference as possible over standard helmets.

    As no one else had tested the product, they can go out and sell the concept without fear of contradiction. Then a few other helmet manufactures, who are always looking for an angle, happily jump on the wagon and start pushing it too. Everyone is making money.

    Or did you think their motives were purely altruistic? I might find that idea a little more compelling if the 'technology' was freely given to all manufacturers for incorporation in helmets at all price points. Or even made available cheaply, but it isn't. MIPS is only found on expensive helmets. Not only that but where helmets are available with and without, the MIPS ones cost significantly more than than the non-MIPS version. For what? An extra piece of thin plastic?

    What I find sad is that manufacturers are feeding of the desires of bikers to use safer equipment. If they really cared about safety, why don't the helmet manufacturers lobby the government over independent testing? Get the standard tests improved so that all bike helmets get better. Or at least make it possible for buyers to make genuinely informed decisions rather than just having to take the word of the people trying to sell their own products. I'm not holding my breath.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Can't you look at the facts and come up with a conclusion yourself rather than trusting others?
    And what "facts" do you have that proves MIPS doesn't help? Wiggling your helmet around on your head?

    Speculating and pontificating is the specialty of mtbr armchair warriors.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    And what "facts" do you have that proves MIPS doesn't help? Wiggling your helmet around on your head?
    You can trust who you want, it has zero impact on my life.

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    Bicycle Helmets: Heads Up | The Truth About Safety, Testing & Technology | Consumers Digest

    Anyway. Have an A1. Like it a lot. No issues with venting. Was disappointed the A2 wasn't a removable chinbar helmet.

  21. #21
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    Yup. Exactly.

  22. #22
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    Oldmanbiker, thanks for posting this, but to expand on your "dual density" foam, we went a bit further. We have used dual density foam in our D3 full face for years, which is 2 different levels of EPS to manage energy upon impact. On the A2, we experimented for a while with EPP and EPS, putting the softer EPP in key crash zones. We tested different thicknesses and came up with the final verdict and that is the first helmet with EPP and EPS co-molded together...this manages energy incredibly well, we were blown away with it in lab testing, and further blew our minds when we tested against the competition...for Highspeed and Lowspeed impacts.


    Quote Originally Posted by OldManBike View Post
    For years, Troy Lee seemed to put all their energy into making their halfshell helmets stylish, bringing up the rear when it came to safety. The A1 was a cool-looking and comfy helmet (I owned one), but it lagged badly behind industry leaders like 6d, Leatt, and Kali when it came to reducing concussion risk. Troy Lee was designing helmets for 1996, not today.

    That's finally changed with the new A2. Yes, it still has TLD's usual bold colors and big logos, but it also takes safety seriously.

    Most importantly, it has dual density foam -- the usual harder foam to protect your skull from big impacts, but also softer foam to protect your brain from smaller impacts. (And a bit of extra foam in front, which seems like a smart idea.) Companies like Kali have been using dual-density foam for years, and I suspect its one of the most effective ways to reduce concussions available today.

    It also has breakaway screws on the visor. In a crash, anything firmly attached to your helmet can become a snag-point and a lever. Breakaway visors: boring but important.

    The strap buckles are fixed, which I suspect increases safety by reducing the number of idiots with floppy straps with the Y down under their jaw.

    Oh, and it has MIPS, too. Personally, I doubt MIPS has much real-world benefit, and I believe the industry is using it as a cynical marketing substitute for real concussion-reducing innovation. But I have no problem with including it as a part of a comprehensive safety package like TLD did here.

    TLD easily could have just slapped MIPS in the A2 and called it a day. The mountain bike media never would have called them on it, and most consumers have no clue.

    Bravo, Troy Lee. Because nothing's more stylish than preventing a concussion.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Sorry, I don't know what that is?

    Its just the dial in the back of the helmet that loosens or tightens the harness. I like a full knob on the back instead of the thumb roller.

    TLD A2 helmet -- safe, not just pretty-tld-a2-950-3.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by stiksandstones View Post
    the first helmet with EPP and EPS co-molded together...this manages energy incredibly well, we were blown away with it in lab testing, and further blew our minds when we tested against the competition...for Highspeed and Lowspeed impacts.
    Thanks. Are you able to elaborate on what "co-molded together" means, and how it's different from something like Kali's Contego-branded dual-density foam?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by TraxFactory View Post
    Its just the dial in the back of the helmet that loosens or tightens the harness.
    Thank you, with you.

  26. #26
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    It is nice to see TLD moving this forward, but I will stick with Kali and their in mold fusion which decreases helmet size and in turn rotational energy, or Leatt who licenses the technology from Kali and puts their helmet tests results on their website.


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