July 21, 2022
In 2019, iXS launched its Trigger AM helmet—a mid-level helmet aimed at trail riders. After a crash at Testival in Brixen, Italy, Gerald found himself in need of a new helmet and landed on the Trigger AM. He has been wearing the Trigger for the past year while gravel grinding and hitting his local mtb trails.
Founded by Mountain Bike Magazine in 2013, Testival has become something of a fixed point in the European mountain biking schedule. If you haven't heard of it, Testival is a festival in Brixen, South Tyrol, where people can test (get it...Testival?!) the latest bikes and accessories like helmets, gloves and everything else. For a few days every autumn, the center of Brixen transforms into a huge exhibition with the obvious big players like Giant, Rocky Mountain, Scott and Santa Cruz offering their newest models for free test rides. However, there are also smaller and local brands that show off their latest stuff. This is what excites me.
Brixen is a mountain bikers paradise known for its mild and sunny autumns with the Dolomites around the corner. During Testival, one can borrow a bike for a few hours (an adequate time for a test ride) and be on the trails within a few minutes. The atmosphere, the trails, the mountains, the sunshine, the bikes, the entire experience gets me too excited—and that's how I wiped out. I was too busy being thrilled that I lost control and bam… my head was ringing. The helmet I was wearing at the time was finished and got its rightful place on my wall! I couldn't imagine what a crash like that would have been without a helmet.
Even when a helmet does not show any obvious signs of damage it may have micro fractures in its inner structure that weaken overall integrity of the helmet. Thus, I found myself needing a new helmet. At the time, many of my friends were wearing the iXS Trail RS and recommended that I join the club. At Testival, I went searching for the iXS booth. The brand rep suggested I try a newer model—the award-winning Trigger AM. I was immediately impressed with the Trigger, the fresh new colors were pleasing and the magnetic buckle made me smile. I tried a few other helmets from other brands, but in the end the Trigger had me intrigued.
The Trigger AM has that form follows function and classic yet modern design that might be subjective, even polarizing for some riders. Kind of like buying new sunglasses, something that looks great on your buddy may not look so hot on you. However, the helmet doesn't look outdated nor too futuristic. As Goldilocks would say, just right. Oh, and it also won a prestigious design and innovation award after its release in 2019. So ya, there's that.
Overall, the Trigger AM feels great. The straps and harness system are comfortable and easy to adjust. The magnetic Fidlock buckle, my favorite feature, is a breeze to use even while flying down a mountain with gloves on. The helmet comes with the iXS ErgoFit Ultra system, which helps riders easily adjust fit vertically and horizontally. Simple clips on the inside of the helmet help adjust vertically, which becomes the baseline adjustment and can also be fine tuned with an indexed ratchet wheel on the back once wearing the helmet.
The Trigger sports a lower back side to offer more protection. However, it does seem like the backing could be even lower for additional protection when shredding down gnarlier trails. But, I find myself riding those hardcore lines less and less nowadays, so this is not a deal breaker for me. I have to admit that sometimes the slightly lowered front does feel uncomfortable. If you are into full-on enduro style riding, the Giro Tyrant or the Fox Dropframe might be better options but both of these come at the price of reduced ventilation and increased weight.
Even the best technology has limits. It's best to take your time and choose a model that fits your head properly. Especially, since the Trigger only comes in two sizes. My head measures 57cm and the size SM (54 -58cm) fits me perfectly.
I spend about 60% of my cycling time on a gravel bike and about 40% on my mountain bike, which means I tend to prefer lighter road-style helmets. Technically, the Trigger is significantly heavier (size SM w/o MIPS: 360g) than a “roadie” helmet, but once you put it on that weight difference almost disappears. And to be fair, for a trail helmet its weight is reasonable.
With 19 ventilation channels it offers rather good airflow which makes it comfortable even while climbing on hot days. With an additional merino hat, it could also make an excellent choice for colder days.
Visors on mountain bike helmets are intended to provide protection for your eyes and face from the sunlight, rain and branches. They have become a design feature that helps distinguish the roadies from the trail shredders. The Trigger's visor is well integrated into the overall design and not awkwardly huge like on some other helmets.
The visor is one of the more visible features of the Trigger. Three adjustable levels allow riders to adjust for different lighting conditions and to make room for goggles. These levels seem reasonable to me and iXS offers replacement lids for a few bucks in the event of breakage. Like with all helmets, it would be a good idea to wear your favorite goggles and/or glasses when trying the fit since they could interfere with the helmet.
At its introduction in 2019, the Trigger AM, like its sibling the TrailRS, came without MIPS. In the unlikely case you have never heard of MIPS, it stands for multi-directional impact protection system. In a crash, MIPS allows the head to move relative to the helmet to reduce rotational impact. This is a total game changer in helmet safety and an absolute must for anyone buying a helmet nowadays. The newest iteration of the Trigger is available with and without MIPS.
My crash at Testival still lives in my head and has made me more thoughtful about what makes a good helmet and what doesn't. A helmet is more than a vital piece of kit, it's a literal life-saver and after a year of usage, I have come to trust the Trigger AM...dramatic voice...with my life.
The production quality of the Trigger is excellent. If you dig that stylish but classic look and good ventilation in a comfortable package, you can't go wrong with the Trigger AM. Unfortunately, the first generation that I purchased did not come with MIPS. It will soon be replaced by a MIPS-helmet, and a newer MIPS Trigger is high on the list.
The latest model sells for $199 USD / $250 CAD / €189 with MIPS and $159 / $200 CAD / €139 without MIPS. Get it here.
|✓ Pros||✕ Cons|
|Looks great-classic look and great colors||Only available in 2 sizes|
|19 ventilation channels||First generation comes without MIPS|
|Magnetic Fidlock buckle is a snap to use|
Gerald is a mechanical engineer, cyclist and photographer from Austria. As a core team member, Gerald focuses on mountain, gravel and bikepacking gear reviews.