A (relatively) budget offering from Troy Lee Designs, in a huge range of colours with added MIPS protection
For an entry level helmet, the new Flowline MIPS from Troy Lee Designs is pretty darned pricey. Compare it to the all open face that preceded it though, the £220 A3, and you can see the Flowline really is something of a bargain… at least when you compare it to TLD’s other helmets.
I’m going to describe the new Troy Lee Designs Flowline MIPS helmet by listing the features it doesn’t have then, starting with the magnetic Fidlock buckle. Instead you get the ubiquitous pinch buckle that served us just fine for three decades. It doesn’t get the dual density foam blend of EPS and EPP that the A3 sports either, swapping it for basic EPS doing the impact protection. This makes it noticeably lighter in the hand, although it’s hard to feel that when riding. There’s no antimicrobial liner either, so you’ll need to wash the foam band if you don’t want to end up smelling.
All of the above can be had however, if you want to step it up to the other entry-level helmet from TLD, the Flowline SE. Launched alongside this, it has the same shape and look but carries more features and costs £40 more money.
What the Flowline does have though, is a five-star rating in Virginia Tech rating, and a NTA 8776 e-bike standard pass, which basically means it’s required to pass higher impact protection speeds, and cover a larger part of your head. Most of our favourite helmets would pass this new standard by the way, but I’m listing it here because it’s a nod to say your noggin is in good hands. And to draw attention to the fact that there is now an e-bike standard, something that’s sure to light up the internet.
One of the best compliments I can give the Flowline is to say it’s completely forgettable when on. Even without the premium padding of the A3 it’s instantly one of the comfiest helmets out there. The 360 degree retention band is good, although it doesn’t come down as low on your head as the A3’s and as such it feels a bit perched. Nothing to write home about, but it doesn’t feel quite as secure. I also found I had to back it off a few twists to get my head in and out each time.
The simple buckle and nylon chin straps do a good job, there’s no conflict with your ears because those straps are spread nicely, and besides, do you really need a magnetic buckle? Want?… maybe. The other key feature of note is the multi position visor, it’s not held in place with little magnets like the A3 gets but it’s stable.
With weather ranging from chilly to bogging, I’ve not had much chance to bake my head in scorching temperatures wearing the Flowline yet. However, it’s noticeable less breezy inside than the A3 or indeed helmets like the truly budget Specialized Camber, and in part that’s down to the lack of venting. The Flowline is mostly domed, with vents at the front and exhaust ports at the rear but not much on the sides. Why didn’t TLD build in more space for airflow then? My guess is that the basic yellow MIPS liner inside prohibits that function, it would get in the way and block the airflow anyway.
We’ve come this far without talking about the aesthetics of the Flowline, which are divisive. Unusual for a Troy Lee Design. The paintwork is much more muted than we’ve come to expect, although the metallic copper colour here is exquisite in person.
- Best full face and convertible mountain bike helmets
- Gee Atherton: “I raced Hardline with a broken femur… and I loved it!
- Best down-country mountain bike: short travel shredders
The Flowline is very comfortable then, safe as houses, about 60g lighter than the A3, and looks good (if you like that sort of thing), with a range of colours. It’s easy to get a good fit too thanks to three sizes. What it’s not though, is good value - you can get the Specialized Camber for £70 and it’s just as comfy.