Smith Optics Forefront All Mountain Bike Helmet
|Price:||$73.98 - $285.00|
- Shell Material: Aerocore technology featuring Koroyd
- Multiple Impact: no
- Ventilation: Aerocore
- Fit Adjustment: VaporFit
- Visor: yes
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The team at Smith, having spent decades reducing lens fogging, knows quite a bit about ventilation. One look at the Forefront Helmet, with its breathable Koroyd tube structure, shows how willing they are to depart from convention to create a product that's truly great. The Koroyd tubes are tiny, extruded, co-polymer tubes that absorb about 30% more impact than traditional EPS foam, and, due to their hollow nature, allow air to flow freely in a way that foam simply can't. On top of that, the microstructures allow for less material to be used in the construction of the helmet, which adds up to a highly-protective helmet that weighs in at just about 285grams. It's not just a cool-looking helmet that protects your head, though. The AirEvac system, borrowed from its snow helmets, moves hot air away from your glasses or goggles to keep them fog-free. The visor has two positions to keep the sun out of your eyes, and there's also a threaded brass insert on the top of the helmet designed to accept aftermarket mounting kits for GoPro cameras and Light and Motion lights. The helmet's fit is secured via Smith's VaporFit retention system, which anyone familiar with Smith's snow line will be familiar with.
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My first impression from this helmet is that a good amount of time was spent designing it, and not from just an aesthetic stance. It's much lighter than other helmets I've worn, and fits very well. The Vaporfit, as they call it, is such an improvement on adjustment mechanisms. It doesn't just tighten a ring around your head, it's like the entire helmet shrinks to fit you. The knob makes fine adjustments, so there are about 5 clicks of adjusting that actually fit me, from relaxed to tight. My head is about 59.5 cm (23.4 inches), and I was a bit worried it would be loose, but it isn't.
Other than how well it fit, the most noticeable thing about the helmet was the airflow. It could be that since I've never owned a very expensive helmet that I've not had excellent air flow, but since the helmet is essentially sitting on top of a honeycomb, air felt like it was passing over my entire head, like I wasn't even wearing a helmet. It allows air in so well that a ride on a cold day might require a beanie under it.
On to other parts of the helmet. The visor is adjustable, and works fine, I don't really ever use them, but it's not a very long visor. There are guides for goggle straps on the back, and a mount on the top for camera/light. Haven't been able to test those yet. Then the straps. It may be because I got a large size, but the straps around my ears don't sit very flush by my face and actually create a lot of noise from the wind. I thought it was the helmet itself until I move the straps to the side. I adjusted the ear parts a bit, and it improved, but it's still there. If they were moved a few cm forwards it would feel better, so it may be that I'm using a large, I don't know. Being able to hear is important if you're on a road, or on a trail and want to listen for anyone who may be coming the other way you can't see.
Overall, it's a very sturdy feeling helmet, which you can hardly tell you're wearing, apart from the wind on the chin strap by your ears. It feels like a lot of time went into this helmet, even though it's a bit on the expensive side, it competes with comparable helmets. I hope I don't have to actually use it to save my skull, but it feels more than capable of saving me. I'd bump only half a star off if I could for the noise thing, but I really do love this helmet so far, so it gets all 5.
+ I like the looks of it, and plenty of colors to choose from
+ So much air comes through
+ Fits better than most gloves
+ Accessories (visor, goggles guide, camera/light mount, some sunglasses can fit on back groove)
- Chin strap around ears generates fair amount of noise from wind
This helmet probably saved my life, or spared me from far greater injury to my head, my neck and perhaps my nose and teeth. The inside of this very special helmet is literally honeycombed with a contiguous network of six-sided tubes, each about 1" in length. The tubes provide both a pathway for air-flow, and more important, an ingenious impact-force absorption system.
With any impact injury, the first part of us that strikes an immovable object stops and everything that's not connected directly maintains velocity until it, too strikes an immovable object. That's usually your skull in the case of the brain.
My brain did travel forward and impact my skull, knocking me unconscious. But that honeycomb lining in my helmet did it's job. As I look inside it now, I note that the right and left rear quadrants of collapsible tubes haven't changed shapes very much. The greatest tube distortion is in the right-front quadrant, with slightly less distortion to the honeycombed tubes in the left front quadrant. The most obvious damage consists of dents from the temple area on the right side, backward past the ear, to right-rear side off the skull. Ironically, none of the plastic shell failed, apart from the rigid Styrofoam, which did crack inside the frame in the right-most section of the outer shell.
This helmet was designed for mountain biking but some of our roads are in such bad shape that I have a lot more confident wearing this helmet then I do with my road bike helmet. I don't race these days so I'm not worried about the aerodynamics of this particular model, but I can tell you that it's extremely light as well as well aerated and strong.
Helmets can't stop your brain from impacting the inside of your skull if you are riding at 16-18 mph on the flat and suddenly the bike
I have returned to show what the helmet looks like now. The photos show how the visor has changed color in a little less than 3 months of use. The company I purchased it from, Left Lane Sports, has said it is past their warranty time and has referred me to Smith. I will let you know how it goes