Smith Forefront Helmet - Review

Feb 6, 2014 at 21:22
by Mike Kazimer  

Smith Forefront Helmet

When Smith's Forefront helmet was first announced, it wasn't the company's use of a new material for better impact protection, or the remarkably light claimed weight that lit up the comments section – it was how it looked. The design and overall shape of the helmet turned out to be incredibly polarizing, a love-it or hate-it style with no apparent middle ground. However, out in the real world the helmet doesn't look nearly as outlandish as the original press release images made it seem, and fits right in with the current crop of extended coverage helmets intended for all-mountain usage. Plus, there's a good chance that it comes in your favorite color, since there are 10 different options to choose from.

Details:

• Polycarbonate shell, EPS and Koroyd liner
• CPSC certified
• Weight: 332 grams (actual, M)
• Integrated camera / light mount area
Ten colors, sizes S, M, L
• Available March 2014
• MSRP: $220 USD

Construction and Features

The Forefront uses what Smith calls Aerocore construction to provide its impact protection. A plastic shell and inner
EPS layer forms the helmet's exoskeleton, and three sections of Koroyd (the bright green material in the photos) are situated underneath this shell, directly above the rider's head. Koroyd is made using thousands of co-polymer tubes that are thermally welded together, forming a honeycomb like structure claimed to offer up to 30% more impact absorption than EPS. The material's straw-like hollow tubes are also claimed to allow for much greater breathability than EPS or foam.

Smith Forefront review

Smith's Vaporfit retention system uses a ratcheting dial at the back of the helmet to adjust the helmet's fit around the head, and the positioning of the strap can be further customized by choosing from three different height options at the back of the helmet and four options on each side. A low profile, removable liner uses X-static fabric to help ward off bacteria and the general helmet-funk that can be caused by hours of sweat buildup. There are three positions for the Forefront's compact, removable visor, and it can be adjusted without fiddling around with tiny screws that inevitably get dropped onto the forest floor. Hidden under a plastic cap at the top of the helmet is a small threaded insert that can accept a helmet camera or a light mount, which Smith will be selling as an aftermarket accessory for $14.99.


Fit / On Trail Performance

The multiple adjustments on the Forefront make it easy to dial in the perfect fit after a few minutes of tinkering, and the rear retention strap dial has a nice solid, positive click at each position. Despite the minimal amount of padding, the Forefront was quite comfortable, and although it doesn't reach the pillow-like level of cushioning found in Troy Lee's A1 helmet, it faded into the background nicely, becoming barely noticeable over the course of a ride. As would be expected from a helmet made by a company that has the word 'Optics' in their name, the Forefront worked well with both sunglasses and goggles, providing enough room over the brow and around the ears to prevent any interference. Regarding ventilation, we never felt overheated on any of our rides, although the bulk of our testing did take place during the more mild fall and winter months. Still, we did take the helmet on numerous warm rides in the Arizona desert, and Forefront proved to be up to the task. The helmet doesn't feel quite as airy as the large external vents would suggest, since the inner Koroyd layer dissipates the wind a bit, but the ventilation and breathability are still excellent - the open structure of the Koroyd gives the heat rising from a rider's head plenty of channels for escape.

Jordan Carr testing the Morpheus Loki in Sedona AZ

Issues

One minor issue we ran into was related to the rear retention system. If the retention strap is set into the highest position, the dial becomes a little more challenging to use with one hand because the upper portion sits within a few millimeters of the helmet shell. This is only an issue in this one setting, and we'd imagine most riders will end up using the middle or lower strap position.


Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesSmith has made quite the entrance into the world of cycling helmets, taking a route that's a little riskier than just slapping a visor and coat of baby blue paint onto a traditional EPS helmet and calling it 'enduro-specific.' The unique styling and the use of Koroyd sets the Forefront apart from the competition, but the new technology comes at a price, and the $220 price tag makes this one of the more expensive half-shell mountain bike helmets around. At 332 grams the actual weight of our helmet wasn't as ultra-light as we'd expected either, making it a little harder to justify the cost. That being said, the Forefront does bring new technology and the full gamut of today's must-have features (extra coverage, goggle compatibility, a light and camera mount) to the table, which certainly makes it worth considering in you're in the market for a new lid. - Mike Kazimer


www.smithoptics.com


125 Comments

  • 145 1
 hopefully bees won't mistake it for their hive...
  • 40 3
 Probably the worst thing to wash after a muddy ride.
  • 192 5
 Yes, I really REALLY hate washing bees after a muddy ride.
  • 22 9
 This is probably easier to clean than the white saddle that came with my bike. Actually, fuck whoever decided to make it white!
  • 9 3
 Nicely done, bigtim.
  • 13 15
 IMO one of the easiest helmets to wash after muddy day. Simply remove padding and use pressure washer.
  • 11 2
 Definitely not one of the easiest since there are hundreds that require you to remove nothing.
  • 14 4
 Mud buildup was never an issue, even on extra wet winter rides. Think about your last muddy ride - unless you're sliding headfirst through puddles, how much mud actually makes its way to the very top of your head? And as Pavarotcsi said, if you're really concerned about keeping the helmet clean, pulling the padding out and washing it would take all of three minutes. And tjet, here's a shot of the other colors available: www.pinkbike.com/photo/10601188
  • 27 0
 There's a lot of buzz with this helmet
  • 8 7
 If the trail is wet enough to get that much mud on the top of your helmet, you should have stayed home and let the trails have a chance to dry out.
  • 15 2
 I'm from Colorado. What is this mud you speak of?
  • 2 1
 mikekazimer I was seriously concerned about this green tubing shown on every promo material. Luckily there are other colors available.
  • 9 0
 If you ride in the UK in the winter, the answer to this question is a LOT ha ha
  • 1 2
 LMAO I'm dying here Big Grin DD
  • 4 8
flag scottchris (Feb 12, 2014 at 17:47) (Below Threshold)
 Two words..."f*ck UGLY"
  • 2 1
 The Bee's knees!!
  • 2 0
 MY question is not whether it looks cool or not, but will it hold up? I have seen too much Smith equipment- Pivlocks, helmet dials, sunglass hinges, goggle lens tents- all not hold up. Make it last, and let us know if it does!
  • 6 0
 @ mikekazimer, am afraid linners2008, is absolutely right. i know Britain is a smaller market than america, but we have totally different requirements from biking products here. most companies from america seem to have no comprehension of what riding in winter is actually like in europe. all our natural trails are typically a few inches deep in mud at this time of year (this year especially). and i can assure you my POC helmet looks like it was dug up from a 1st world war trench. we get mud, we know mud, and we want products that deal with mud.
  • 5 0
 case in point, whilst at sea otter last year i got some magic wipe thing (for free) that the vendor was getting all hyped about, and trying to guarantee me that it would clean my whole bike and probably half of another bike., no water needed. I argued with him that i live in scotland and i'd be lucky if it just did my forks. well i finally decided to use the damn thing up and it failed to do much after the handle bars and toptube, and never in a million years was it going to get behind mud filled chain devices etc. its a different world out here in britain.....a dusty bike is NOT a dirty bike!!!!!
  • 1 3
 Sea what... Lol Don't those guys know otters live in rivers.. Nuff said
  • 46 7
 I don't know what's worse. How silly I'd look in that helmet or that fact I just paid $220 for it. Jokes on me!
Think I'll stick with my Bell Super.
  • 48 9
 Another painfully ugly lid on the market.
  • 5 2
 It looks like something from a video game.
  • 5 4
 Yes this looks like something off halo!!!! Fugley is the word!!
  • 2 3
 it looks like the evil scientist from The Nightmare Before Christmas
images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/Scientist-nightmare-before-christmas-226921_640_480.jpg
  • 3 3
 Different doesn't mean good looking
  • 9 4
 Wait till you guys see the helmet in person, you might just change your mind.
  • 2 1
 you talk about how painfully ugly it is, yet no mention of how painful it is on your wallet? amazing.
  • 36 2
 The issue being lost here is that Koroyd is claimed to offer up to 30% more impact absorption than EPS foam. If this helmet protects my brain better then Troy Lee's A1 helmet I'm going to get it. I have a buddy who still has concussion issues after a crash last August. He may be dealing with the headaches/memory loss for the rest of his life. Max protect the "brain" you only have one.
  • 15 3
 Good question about protection. Does it do the job? Looks like bulk packaging material reappropriated and honeycomb is vertically stiff. Maybe too stiff? I want to see their impact procedures and test numbers. 220 is steep for massproduced chinaware.
  • 7 0
 It's apples and oranges, but maybe the MIPS system used by POC and Scott might be better protection from concussions than changing the material used to absorb the impact. Not sure if you could use both for an even higher level of protection. Concussions are no joke.
  • 3 0
 Sorry wakaba, that was supposed to be a pos prop... The cost is a bit of a joke.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, come on Pinkbike! We need a review of its impact absorption! Jk be safe
  • 3 1
 expensive °o°
  • 2 2
 Thats what I was wondering. Lab tests and real life are very very different applications. Ive felt one of these helmets in person and the honeycomb is ROCK HARD. I an only assume it would really really really hurt to crash in one. It might save your brain, but your skin might have a million holes in it. Might want to grow your hair out for this one....
  • 3 0
 ^^Have you felt ANY normal mountain bike helmet made of EPS in the last 20 years?? They are ALL rock hard!! So how does it matter how hard it is? That's why every helmet has some small amount of padding at least.
  • 2 0
 I hav had a concussion from September after colliding with a tree head on at speed. I was wearing a standard poc trabec at the time. My helmet survived and looked brand knew but I havent. Hard is not always good because I think crushing would be able to take out more energy. When I hit the tree around 15mph I hit a dead stop and probably went backwards a bit. Regarding the mips system: which is designed for oblique impacts- I hit the tree head on and thus would not have helped. Also most helmets slide anyways when you crash so I dont think there is too much benefit. I also heard that poc was going to launch a trabec with mips and koroyd though I dont know how far off that will be. Just my thoughts
  • 1 0
 Kali pritectives composite plus fusion is absolutely genius. A combination of firm and soft foam. The design has little pyramids in it which crush on impact and send the shock force laterally around your head. I've crashed into rock head on at close to 40mph. I had to pry the sunglasses out of my face, but no concussion.
  • 3 0
 Thanks to daisycutter for starting this discussion. Given the critical nature of the product, I do think we need more than claims about improved performance/impact absorption however, there needs to be genuine confirmation of these claims. In some countries in addition to having to meet certification standards helmets are also rated by a public agency. The important aspect of this is that we actually discover how the helmets really perform. Manufacturers can easily do the same thing by making the relevant performance data public. That is a reasonably expectation when suppliers of protective gear seek to justify your purchase by the level of safety provided by their product.
  • 27 1
 Still makes me think of Endor scenes from Return of the Jedi...
  • 4 1
 OMG yes! Totally reminded me of the rebel helmets!
  • 2 1
 I knew I had seen it before!
  • 7 1
 Holy shit, you just sold me on this helmet. I can look like Luke Skywalker on a speeder bike?!?!?! That's the look I've been trying to cultivate on my bike for YEARS!!!
  • 1 1
 Until you crash and the Ewoks start messing with it.... wasn't too funny for Leia. I am doubting the security of the strap design based on the speeder scene.
  • 1 0
 Wait.... thinking back I think she took it off after her fall. OK its all good. Get the camo one and put some moss in it! Remember to ride with your blaster on your hip!
  • 19 1
 If it is half as nice as my Smith ski helmet, it will be twice as good as any bike helmet I've owned
  • 5 3
 Long live the Vantage! Smile
  • 1 1
 I just saw a Finnish ski helmet impact test where the Vantage ended up being the least safe offer they tested. They had many helmets across the whole price range from cheapest supermarket helmets to the high end models.
  • 2 0
 I agree. I've owned a variety of Smith gear over the years and put them through the wringer (I'm a ski patroller) and I have total faith that this would be worth the $$.
  • 1 2
 That's the test I saw, but in Finnish. Anyway, interesting results indeed. They tested the safety by measuring g-forces of direct impacts and impacts at an angle. They also used higher speeds for the impacts that what is used in official tests, so it seems like a legit test.
  • 8 1
 Geat to see new tech coming to helmets.
More pics of lights mounted etc would be good.
Someone make a nice enduro helmet where you can add ear muffs please... not a snow helmet, a buff is ok, but gets a little warm, just want to keep my ears warm on winter rides Smile
  • 3 1
 i have been very excited about this helmet, and can't wait to actually get it in my hands to check it out... one question--how does it vent for riders with longer hair? i am wondering if the Koroyd just mats down your hair and doesn't allow as much heat to escape or air to flow?
  • 2 0
 by the look of the tubes it looks like it will let heat escape vie the holes just not let air in too much
  • 2 0
 The job of a safety helmet is first to stop your skull being cracked like an eggshell or a foreign object penetrating your head. Second, it needs to decelerate all that precious brain matter gently without damaging the goods in the process. Does this helmet do those things better than other existing helmets? Well, the reviewer doesn't seem to know and therefore neither do we.
  • 2 0
 I thought these were unnattractive as well. I went into my bike shop to pick up a Giro helmet but after trying it on, they are loose on the sides of my head. (everyones head is shaped different and all helmets will feel different of course). I tried on a few different helmets from Giro, and Bell. Then i tried on this Smith helmet. It looked better while wearing it, and felt better than all the other helmets i tried on. But like i said, might be comfortable for me and not for the next guy. As for the price... I said to the guys at the shop, "of course the one that feels the best is the most expensive". it was listed for $220 CDN and they gave it to me for $180. Very happy with it..
  • 5 0
 Wasn't sure about it until I saw this white version. Looks decent.
  • 2 1
 Cyclists want everything. It has to be cheap, fit well, be lightweight, safe, and stylish. We're just a hard crowd to please, but I really do like seeing the safety innovations from the little guys. I have a feeling my next helmet purchase will be from Poc, Scott, Kali, or perhaps Smith! I wish PB showed a few more photos of the light/camera mount for those of us who night ride a lot.
  • 1 0
 This design is pretty interesting. The honeycomb design is very similar to the internals of some aircraft wings that ive worked on. It was very good at maintaining stiffness but still allowed necessary flexibility while being very good at distributing loads throughout.
  • 1 0
 After every ride I wash my helmet under the shower or tap and get rid of sweat etc. The worst thing about this helmet is it takes ages to dry out. All the honeycomb type straws fill with water, and even after leaving the helmet alone to dry for days, the water just sits inside. You've literally got to shake the hell out of it, or blow the water out. If you are riding in the rain the same thing happens and the helmet becomes noticeably heavy. Despite comfort and the promise of superior protection I would NOT have bought this helmet had I known about these water retention issues and the associated weight increase.
  • 9 6
 In the 'Issues' section you have missed a pretty big one. It looks hideous.
  • 4 0
 I kinda like it.....whens it being released for sale?
  • 4 0
 This will be perfect for riding my light-cycle on the grid.
  • 6 3
 Giro Feature helmet : lighter, better fit, goggle compatible annnnnnnnnd half the price... What about that?
  • 1 3
 Actual 1/3 the price, why do we such an expensive helmet?
  • 1 4
 I guess the SWAG factor is on for something...
  • 1 1
 yeah, i cant believe no one here is complaining about the price! 200+ for a regular helmet is REDONK
  • 1 2
 Yup...Giro for the win Smile
  • 2 1
 I bought a smith skateboard helmet back when i was 16, I have used it often and I still have it 14 years later. It dosen't look pretty but it still works after ll this time and abuse.
  • 1 0
 Was wondering about durability. Looks like you could damage the kyroyd just shoving it into your gear bag. Comments from the reviewers?
  • 2 0
 The Koroyd is well protected by the helmet's outer shell, and it's a fairly stout material - it would take a very solid blow to crush it or cause damage.
  • 3 1
 like it too, especially this color shown and the camo one, pricey though, can get a carbon full face for that.
  • 1 2
 Koroyd is made using thousands of co-polymer tubes that are thermally welded together, forming a honeycomb like structure, So rubber straws melted together... This has to be one of the worst looking lids I've seen for a while....
  • 1 2
 That helmet is crap! Those edges of the green holes appear to be against the scalp or at least nothing between you and them. Maybe not a problem for guys with hair, but I am bald and if I crashed and smashed my head into the ground those edges would cut into my scalp with all those G-forces. I would have that patern die-cut into my head. F-that! It's like those cat scratchers made of courogated cardboard with the side edge up. If I smashed your bald head with that as hard as I could, it would be the same effect. Youll have one hell of a cut pattern! No thank you! And $220!!! I could buy two A1s. Get both colors.
  • 2 0
 The foam looks similar to the OneIndustries protective foam on their pads
  • 4 2
 Looks a bit like an eyewear company trying to make a helmet .......
  • 8 2
 This eyewear company has been making some of the best ski helmets for many years now.
  • 1 4
 i hate smith's ski helmets, i broke three before stopping using their domewear for anything but goggles/glasses. They intentionally build their ski helmets to destruct on impact to encourage you to purchase a new helmet after an impact. Having had multiple concussions, I agree that new helmets every season are a necessity, but I can't afford to do that with $220, single-use helmets. Would much rather have a heavy helmet that lasts a season than one that reminds me to replace it by using low-quality shell materials. Bikers use their dome-piece much more than a few times before replacement, just a fact of life.
  • 1 0
 having been a concussion haver as well shredmdp, I understand having good helmets. But, helmets are designed to break on impact to absorb more energy. Unless your falling in the lift line your smith helmets are doing their job to keep you safe. I have a poc trabec and received a concussion. My helmet had no evidence of the hit but i certainly did for months. Be glad you survived and not your helmet.
  • 2 0
 All helmets nowadays are designed for single impact use. The materials inside are designed to distribute the load from impact throughout the helmet to reduce pressure. Once this happens, the integrity of the helmet is greatly reduced. Just because some bikers continue to use impacted helmets doesn't make it smart.
  • 1 0
 Helmets SHOULD break on impact so you don't go on using a failed helmet after an impact. They absorb energy by permanently deforming the material... they won't continue to do their job after big impacts.
  • 2 0
 I wish there were better pictures of it on the rider's head
  • 4 1
 Im glad i have a TLD A1
  • 3 0
 Me too!
  • 2 0
 not bad but I can justify spending 200 on a helmet.
  • 3 5
 I believe this helmet will scalp you upon impact. The honey-comb pattern is hard and upon impact it might protect your brain but you will lose skin, hair, and look like something from a horror movie, but you will be alive! No thanks. I will wear something that upon impact doesn't cause other problems. P.S. I discussed this with someone in the helmet industry to come to this conclusion.
  • 2 0
 I would like to have it but not for $220
  • 2 0
 Take the critism and love it, helps to make a better product!
  • 1 1
 Green accented Smith helmets and a new DVO jade fork in a week? Y'all know St. Patrick's Day isn't until next month right? Wink
  • 2 1
 you will see, when bees find out! Smile
  • 2 1
 Smiffy's opening up a right hornets nest with this helmet !
  • 1 1
 It's certainly not going to win any beauty awards. How the hell would you clean in that honeycomb?
  • 3 0
 running water
  • 1 0
 Nice beard Kazimer, looks like you put on some weight too!
  • 2 0
 Kaz was eating too many cookies while we were in Sedona.
  • 1 0
 M'mm. Cookies...
  • 2 1
 looks like a stormtrooper helmet
  • 1 0
 If I am gonna drop 220.00 on a helmet I want the MIPS system in it.
  • 1 1
 There's Coke, then there's Pepsi, then something else, then Shasta soda. This is like the Shasta soda of helmets! HAHAHAHA
  • 1 0
 A good looking pouch for holding all of your buddies brain matter.
  • 1 1
 No idea why they have put a Mint Aero in someone's lid?
  • 2 1
 drones helmet
  • 1 1
 I'll stick to their lenses.
  • 1 0
 storm trooper
  • 1 2
 Might as well wear nothing cause there's no protection, but a ventilation on the impact zones!
  • 1 1
 that picture looks familiar...
  • 3 3
 $220 for a brain bucket!! No way.
  • 2 1
 cheaper than an insurance deductable from hospital bills and a possible airlift. . .
  • 2 0
 i understand you dont cheap out on a helmet.. but 220 is far too much for this. i paid 100 bones for my brand new 661 carbon full face. and 40 bones for a protec regular lid.
  • 2 1
 I think a $60 dollar skid lid will offer the same protection as this.
  • 2 0
 I'm just say this because it has happened to me, minus the airlift. Plus the months of suffering and lifelong effects The value of your head/ brain is priceless.
  • 1 2
 omg there's that uglyass bike again - that's the only thing i noticed in the last photo.
  • 1 0
 Starwars stuff...
  • 1 0
 Progress?
  • 3 4
 "Fullface is enduro... this is not enduro!"
  • 2 3
 I thought the Pocs were ugly, this is a new level
  • 2 1
 yup, this is the ugliest helmet I have ever seen, It should come in full face cause people are going to want to beat you if you wear it..
  • 2 5
 Looks like some one molded a shot load of straws together and called it "a helmet". Damn ugly
  • 1 3
 It is way to exspensive. and I looks.... Ugh yuk
  • 1 4
 Probably fit like their ski helmet : shit
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