One Ride Review: Smith Optics Forefront “Straw” Helmet
Smith Optics needs a new name. While the company may have started producing ski goggles in the sixties, they’re now making big waves in the helmet world with an innovative new approach to impact protection. Using the patented Koroyd material, which roughly resembles a patchwork of cryptonite green straws, the new Smith Forefront is claimed to offer better protection at a lighter weight than anything else on the market.
We borrowed one of these fancy new ultra light helmets at Outdoor Demo in the excruciating heat to see how it fared. Skid past the break to learn more.
The new helmet has vents on vents on vents. Each is carefully chamfered to direct air flow around your head.
The front visor also flips up without blocking any vents, but it would be nice to have a little longer visor. Especially for the blistering triple digit heat found in the Nevada desert.
From the side, the helmet may resemble a stylized hatching egg from the film Aliens, but all those green straws suck down a lot of air. Unfortunately, by the time I started riding on Tuesday in Bootleg Canyon, the wind had picked up. The large gusts would eventually blow several exhibitors tents over and made it really hard to determine how well the unique ventilation system worked compared to the Bell Super I had worn the day prior.
Rearward protection is also great, although it doesn’t extend quite as far back or around the ears in the stock retention system setting as some of the more enduro specific helmets recently launched by Bell and TLD.
Luckily, the Forefront has a highly adjustable retention system. Three point of adjustments at the front and rear points of attachment for the retention strap allow to you to adjust the helmets fore and aft position. These points of adjustments help go a long way to dialing in individual fit.
The one thing Smiths wonder pipe doesn’t allow is traditional routing for helmet attachments, so they company worked with Go Pro to develop a mount. Just unclip a protective plastic clip on the top of the lid to access the mounting port.
The company has also partnered with Light & Motion to develop a mount. Both the GoPro and light mounts will be available aftermarket and Smith is currently working with other partners to develop additional fixtures.
The more you look at the Forefront, the more impressive Smiths Optics first attempt at a mountain bike helmet is. The company has paid a surprising amount of attention to all the little details. For example, what looks like just an ordinary vent it actually subtly sculpted to hold your sunglasses in place.At the Outdoor Demo, Smith only had medium size helmets available for demo. With the dial completely in, the helmet fit me well enough to take for a spin but my noggin would be happier in size small. We’ll have to wait for our demo unit to arrive before we can tell you how well the retention system works.
The Forefront takes a minimalist approach to padding but is surprisingly comfortable. The extremely light weight (claimed 285 grams) goes a long way to making this helmet disappear on your head.
The Smith Optics Forefront will be available next year in three different sizes and ten different colors. Retail will be $220 MSRP.
Interested? We are. The Smith Optics Forefront helmet brings a fresh perspective and unique technology to MTB from one of the premiere manufacturers of snow helmets on the market. If this early sample is any indication, Smith Optics has an eye opening (ba dum tss) success on their hands.