Troy Lee Designs A1 MIPS Vertigo helmet review

Stylish, supremely comfortable MIPS trail lid

BikeRadar score3.5/5

If you pay attention to downhill or enduro racing, or even more so to motocross, then Troy Lee Designs is a name you're likely familiar with. If you just ride bikes and could care less about racing, Troy Lee Designs (often referred to as simply TLD) has collaborated with the biggest brands and outfitted the world's fastest racers on two wheels for over 30 years. 

The moto influence is easy to recognize
The moto influence is easy to recognize

Troy Lee Designs A1 MIPS Vertigo helmet specs

  • Reinforced polycarbonate shell in-molded with the EPS liner extends down the sides and back of the head for maximum protection and durability
  • MIPS brain protection system, reduces rotational forces to the brain
  • 8 intake passages draw in cool air for ventilation
  • 8 rear outlets help exhaust and draw heat from head
  • Triple position adjustable retention system allows customized fit for various eyewear, head shape and riding styles
  • Single piece, ultra plush, removable and washable comfort liner made of anti-microbial moisture wicking material for a dry, comfortable feel
  • Full spectrum adjustable moto inspired visor with anodized aluminum hardware
  • Race-inspired styling

TLD's more wild designs can be a love it or leave it affair
TLD's more wild designs can be a love it or leave it affair

Protection and style meet

TLD is renowned for its risk-taking style, some riders love the flash, some think it's hokey. Luckily most TLD gear is offered in low-key colors up to heart murmur-inducing bright. Definite moto-influence can be seen throughout, especially in the visor with its alloy hardware for adjustment. Beyond the looks though TLD helmets have protection at the top of the list. The A1 is a deep helmet and features a bit more protection around the sides and back of the head than a standard road or XC lid. And like most high-end helmets, it also utilizes MIPS.

On the trail

A few of my friends have the TLD A1 helmet, and they all rave about how comfortable it is. "Best helmet ever, dude!" was pretty much the refrain. When I put the A1 on, it was instantly clear what they were so stoked about. The fit is excellent: zero hot spots, consistent padding and compression, and an easy, one-handed adjustment that stayed put. All very, very good things.

Eight vents are out back but interestingly no goggle strap is present
Eight vents are out back but interestingly no goggle strap is present

Ripping down the trail, the A1's impeccable fit really shines. It pulled the impressive feat of not bouncing or jiggling around, yet not squeezing my head like a overly tight headband. The deep fit deserves some thanks, but TLD's shaping, padding and retention system deserves more. The three height levels for the retention system lets the A1 snug down above, below, and right with the big knot on the back of my head. Most riders should be able to find the sweet spot. 

I even put this helmet to test with a medium speed crash. While the brunt of the impact was on my shoulder and arm, I did tap my head into the ground and am happy to report the A1 stayed put, no twisting, no shifting. It didn't feel like it was about to be ripped off my head like other helmets have in the past. Well done, TLD, thanks!

The big visor takes styling cues from the full-face and moto helmet world. It can adjusted by three little alloy hand screws. Once tightened, I didn't experience any visor movement, and the anodized aluminum screws are certainly welcome over any plastic counterparts which can be about as trustworthy as an AA meeting sponsored by Jack Daniels. 

Three small anodized alloy screws allow visor movement
Three small anodized alloy screws allow visor movement

With a helmet sporting this much thought in the design, fitting and finish, the straps are a surprising let down. They're somewhat hard to adjust and the front strap (in front of my ears) always felt like it was twisted, even when it wasn't. I'd much rather see something like Specialized's (oddly named) Tri-Fit, Bontrager's LockDown dividers, or Giant's Element Strap System. What I'm trying to say is there are much better strap systems out there and the A1, with its class-leading fit, is more than deserving of one.

The straps are not up to the fit and finish of the rest of the helmet
The straps are not up to the fit and finish of the rest of the helmet

Ventilation also leaves a bit to be desired. There are eight vents in the front as well as the rear, but the breeze sure didn't squeeze its way in. While roughly on par with POC's Trabec in my opinion, it's nowhere as airy as Giant's Rail helmet or any other less trail-focused lids. 

Sunglasses can be wedged into the vents, and stay put pretty well, but the A1 doesn't excel in this to be honest. And I was a bit surprised to not see a goggle strap retention or recess in the back given the A1's all-mountain/enduro styling and concentration.

Eight vents are out back but interestingly no goggle strap is present
Eight vents are out back but interestingly no goggle strap is present

Troy Lee Designs A1 MIPS Vertigo helmet pricing

$215, UK and Australian pricing unavailable
Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

Related Articles

Back to top