iXS Trigger AM Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Refined, comfortable, durable
Cons: No rotational impact protection, fairly basic
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Our Analysis and Test Results
IXS has been making high-quality protective mountain bike equipment for decades, and their commitment to sponsoring high profile athletes and events has made them one of the most visible and popular brands in the industry. Consequently, the recently released Trigger AM generated a lot of buzz when it hit the market. We were excited to get our hands on it and see how it stacks up against the competition. We quickly found a lot to like, but we also have reservations about certain aspects.
The elephant in the room with the Trigger AM is that it doesn't feature any rotational impact protection system. These days, almost every major helmet manufacturer includes a system like MIPS, or a proprietary take on it, with their mid to high-end helmets. We were surprised to see that IXS included nothing of the sort. While the science on rotational systems like MIPS certainly isn't settled, it's generally accepted these days that they can help reduce g-forces on impact and help protect from concussions. We're not in a position to evaluate the effectiveness of these systems or whether or not they're necessary. We are, however, willing to accept any extra head protection we can get, and we think that the theory behind rotational impact protection passes the marketing gimmick smell test. We docked the Trigger AM's protection rating slightly for the omission, but we are still confident in the protection it provides.
Coverage-wise the Trigger comes in roughly average among helmets we tested. Like most modern trail and enduro helmets, it has a little bit of extra protection for the back of the head and the temples. The fit is relatively deep and confidence-inspiring, and the harness system provides a secure fit that keeps the shell in place.
The Trigger AM is a comfortable helmet that will help you conquer long rides without discomfort. IXS has clearly devoted time to refining the shape of their EPS shell, and everyone that tried this helmet on immediately liked the fit. The shell doesn't create any uncomfortable pressure points on the skull, and the interior of the helmet has minimal but sufficient padding to keep things nice and comfy. That said, they only offer two shell sizes, S/M and M/L, so some riders with outlier head sizes may not be able to find the perfect fit.
The harness system has a good amount of adjustability, and the gaps between indexed settings are small enough to dial in the fit accurately. The EPS shell also has an insert with three different height setting adjustments for the harness molded in. We initially had issues with the adjustment dial at the back of the head sitting uncomfortably on top of the bump at the back of the skull, but once we adjusted the harness' height we were pleased with the fit.
The helmet straps are quick and easy to adjust. Just a minute or two of fiddling the first time we put the helmet on had everything dialed in and comfortable. The chin strap also comes with a soft foam pad for a little bit of extra comfort if you need it.
With 19 well-sized and well-placed vents, the Trigger AM was one of the airiest models we tested. The large front-facing vents do a good job of channeling air into a series of shallow grooves on the interior of the EPS shell. The shallow channels don't seem to keep air moving as well as some of the top performers in this metric, but we had no complaints when wearing the Trigger AM, even on balmy days.
It seems that IXS chose to focus on executing the fundamentals with the Trigger AM. When compared to some of the more gadget-filled helmets in our test, this model comes across as fairly basic. We've already covered the three-position adjustable harness, indexed fit adjustment dial, and ventilation system, and beyond those, everything is fairly standard.
The visor is relatively short and doesn't offer much protection from sun or rain, but it is adjustable across three positions with the highest leaving room to stow goggles on the front of the helmet. The visor fasteners are metal and can be tensioned if the visor starts to loosen up over time.
The Trigger AM's final notable feature is the magnetic chin strap buckle. It took some getting used to, but eventually, we came around to it. By the end of testing, we preferred the magnetic attachment to the traditional plastic buckle.
At 407 grams, our M/L Trigger AM sits toward the high end of the weight spectrum. The lightest helmets in our test came in at well under 400 grams. Given the lack of features, we hoped that this model might be a little bit easier on the scale. That said, the quality of fit makes this helmet feel super light on your head, and it doesn't feel like a burden at all out on the trail.
We were very impressed with the Trigger's construction once we got our hands on it. IXS executed the basics extremely well, and we have no concerns about this helmet's longevity. It's clear that they sacrificed weight in favor of durability in a few areas to ensure that they provided a quality product. The polycarbonate shell covers the entire exterior of the helmet with no EPS foam exposed on the lower edge, the harness anchor points are well attached to the EPS inserts, and the low-friction magnetic buckle is rock solid.
Throughout our testing process, we weren't the most responsible helmet owners, but in the end, our Trigger AM still looks good as new. The outer shell held up well against scratching and scuffs, and the visor is flexible enough that it survived many questionable storage and transportation scenarios.
The Trigger AM isn't the cheapest model we tested, but it's not far off. While it doesn't offer the same number of features as many models we tested, IXS poured a lot into the helmet's construction and functionality. It's comfortable, airy, and durable, and we think it's a good value for the price. Traditionalists or rotational impact protection non-believers looking for a helmet that won't fall apart halfway through the season should give this model a look.
We love the attention that IXS paid to the Trigger AM's basic features. While it isn't a feature-packed super helmet like some of its competitors, it's well-thought-out and durably constructed. IXS is able to offer it at a price point that makes it a viable option, but if you're looking for one of the top helmets on the market, you might want to look at some of the other models in our review.
— Zach Wick