MBA WRECKING CREW FAVORITE: TROY LEE DESIGNS A3 HELMET
TLD’s helmet evolution continues
TROY LEE DESIGNS A3
When Troy Lee Designs launched the A1 helmet back in early 2013, it was one of the first with a 3/4 shell that put protection above ventilation or weight. The A1 extended protection, especially at the back and sides, as well as being one of the first to introduce the idea of lower-density foam to address low-velocity impacts. And, it did so with TLD’s signature style that the wrecking crew loved. As groundbreaking as the A1 was at the time, TLD actually started the extended coverage helmet movement way before that with the Edge back in the ’90s, and Shoei made the RC3 TL Comp before that.
With the added MIPS safety technology, the updated A1 is still a great helmet, but it suffers from a lack of airflow on hot days, and it does not play nice with all glasses. The A2 improved on airflow while offering a dual-density foam, but its fit and stability were more polarizing among the wrecking crew than the A1. Fast-forward to today and Troy Lee Designs is on to the latest version of its continued helmet evolution, the A3.
The A3 has some features in common with its predecessors, like its MIPS safety technology that’s designed to reduce rotational forces with a low-friction layer. It also addresses both low- and high-velocity impacts with a co-molded dual-density foam construction just like the A2. Low-density EPP (expanded polypropylene) absorbs low-velocity impacts, while EPS (expanded polystyrene) is designed to better handle higher-velocity hits. There are 16 vents (three more than the A2) in the three-piece outer shell that TLD says is optimally tuned with the channeling of the helmet. The visor has three positions of adjustment and is fastened to the shell with composite smart shear screws that are designed to break away on impact to further reduce rotational forces.
A 3D Fidlock magnetic buckle is designed for easy pinch-free closure and fast release, while a three-position height-adjustable retention system fine-tunes the fit with a dial ratchet. A two-piece anti-microbial and sweat-wicking liner is designed to stay fresh, wick moisture and dry quickly. At the top of the liner in the front of the helmet is a new TLD Sweat Glide system that’s intended to channel sweat away from the eyes. The A3 meets CPSC 1203, CE EN 1078 and AS NZ 2063 standards.
Field test results:
It was love at first ride with the A3 for many of the wrecking crew members. The affair continued long after the honeymoon, too. It is as if Troy Lee Designs’ engineers took the best qualities of the A1 and A2 and combined them in the A3. The fit is almost as plush and cradling as the A1 but with the airflow of the A2. Even on the hottest days, our heads felt adequate ventilation and cooling. The A3 has more room around the ears and its retention system. This allows for even more glasses to fit well than the A2. Helmet stability is superb without having to crank down the dial adjuster on the retention system, too. The visor is easily adjustable with one hand while riding, and it’s long enough to provide functional sun and rain protection with that signature TLD style that put their visors on the map decades ago. The Fidlock closure is generally preferred over standard locking buckles, too.
Although the Sweat Glide system worked for most riders, some didn’t discover the same benefit. The Sweat Glide sits directly on the forehead and acts a lot like a Halo or Sweat Gutr headband by channeling the sweat off to the sides. Although it attaches to the retention system and should in theory provide full contact, some riders still had sweat sneak past. It either worked well or seemingly did little. Since it’s removable, there is no downside to the system, even if it doesn’t work for you. At 394 grams for the size medium/large, the A3 is not the lightest in class, but the only time we noticed the weight was when handling it. On the bike, the helmet goes unnoticed unless you pay particular attention to its excellent fit, awesome stability and generous ventilation.
• Excellent fit, stability and comfort
• TLD style
• Accommodates most glasses and goggles
• The Sweat Glide system does not work for all forehead shapes
• Expensive, but how much is your head worth?
• On the heavy side