One Ride Review: Smith Optics Forefront “Straw” Helmet

smith forefront helmet091613_1078Smith 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.

*Updated*

smith forefront helmet091613_1081The 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.

smith forefront helmet091613_1080From 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.

smith forefront helmet091613_1079Rearward 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. Smith Optics Forefront Helmet Adjustability

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.

Smith Optics Forefront GoPro Mount ClipThe 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.

Smith Optics Light and Motion Helmet MountThe 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.Smith Optics Eyeglasses Integration

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.Smith Optics Forefront Helmet InteriorAt 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.

Smith Optics Forefront Helmet Cutaway 2The helmet cutaways shows the unique mixture of Koroyd and traditional EPS foam used by Smith to achieve a claimed 30% improvement in the reduction of energy transmission from impacts.

IMG_3680The 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.

 

 

Comments

Zap? - 09/23/13 - 8:45am

Yo dawg, I heard you liked vents, so we put a vent in your vent… but seriously. This is fascinating technology.

I think my current helmet is well past its prime in terms of being dented and dinged up, so maybe I’ve found its potential replacement. Well done Smith!

off-roadie - 09/23/13 - 8:54am

“a claimed 30% improvement in the reduction of energy transmission from impacts.”

I’m glad someone could bring “laterally stiff, vertically compliant” to helmets.

nsp234 - 09/23/13 - 8:55am

I’ve been hoping for more ride impressions and less technical details, but maybe this will be coming in a later (real) review.

Jeff - 09/23/13 - 9:10am

The perfect helmet, if you are riding on Endor with the Ewoks.

Ryan - 09/23/13 - 9:13am

Not a word on the beautiful lady? I was only reading the article to learn a snippet about her!

Ben - 09/23/13 - 9:20am

How awesome is a helmet review that mentions “excruciating heat” but makes no mention of how well ( or poorly) the ventilation worked. At least I found out it comes in 10 colors!

Ck - 09/23/13 - 9:23am

I’m not sold on the looks of the helmet, but the technology and cooling ability has me interested. Riding here in the south pretty much demands a helmet be developed with built-in air conditioning.

duder - 09/23/13 - 9:30am

I’m glad helmet companies are finally coming out with safer xc lids. For a long time safety seemed to take second place to weight and vents. Now, lets get a safer road helmet too (maybe an aero one). Flying down a paved hill at 50mph next to texting suv drivers is much more dangerous than mtb, and the helmets should reflect that imo.

Jeff - 09/23/13 - 9:45am

@duder – precisely why I have taken to the woods and now only ride the mountain bike.
I trained and raced on the road from ’95 – ’06 and things are way worse now with distracted drivers.
If I am going to injure myself, it will be due to my own negligence, skill level or choice of risk/reward, NOT the carelessness of a teenager in a Jeep Cherokee.
Not sure what type of helmet works in that scenario…

carl - 09/23/13 - 9:54am

Did I miss the weight?

Androo - 09/23/13 - 10:03am

How much does it cost?

MB - 09/23/13 - 10:20am

@Carl – “extremely light” obviously. Haha

Wonder if it whistles as you ride…

James - 09/23/13 - 10:20am

Claimed weight is 285g and Cost is $220. Worst 1 ride review ever, no mention of ventilation and left out crucial facts like weight and cost. I think this helmet is ugly as sin and would buy the POC if I only cared about looks. But 30% less impact transmitted to my skull is worth the cost as far as money and appearance are concerned. It is a helmet after all.

James - 09/23/13 - 10:22am

285g and $220

Richard Fitzwell - 09/23/13 - 10:33am

“I see your Schwartz is bigger than mine”.

Stormtrooper-esque?

Rob - 09/23/13 - 10:35am

gimme the camo one with a fluo orange visor!

blake - 09/23/13 - 10:55am

Boba Fett, where!?!

Nate - 09/23/13 - 11:08am

I rode one of these out at dirt demo as well. I can tell you that ventilation in this helmet is amazing! I rode about 8 miles with it on and honestly forgot it was even there. Much more comfortable and cooler than the Kali and Giro offerings I currently have. It is easily the most comfortable and breathable helmet I have ever worn.

Jones - 09/23/13 - 11:32am

$220 for an MTB helmet. ROFL.

kurti_sc - 09/23/13 - 11:35am

hey Nate. well dang. that’s good useful info. almost better then the review.
Thanks!

vhom - 09/23/13 - 12:31pm

If RoboCop was to wear a helmet, this would be it.

Editz - 09/23/13 - 1:16pm

I wonder how well that stuff would do in a football helmet?

wobbem - 09/23/13 - 1:30pm

The most important question is…….. is it cooler? does your sweat still drip down your face. And the Divas worry about weight ffs.

Saris - 09/23/13 - 1:55pm

@All,

I’m sorry so many of you feel that I short changed the review portion of this article. If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you would know I take pride in serving up real facts about products.

The truth is, by the time I got to the top of the mountain with the Forefront, the wind picked up. It was still hot as hell but the fierce gusts of wind made it impossible to determine how well the ventilation system works. I’ve added this info as well pricing and weight to the post.

If you have any other questions about the helmet, please leave them in the comments, and I’ll make sure to address them in a later review.

- Sincerely,
Saris

AlanM - 09/23/13 - 2:53pm

@ LilJoe and Ryan, people wonder why more women don’t get into cycling, and specifically mountain biking. I think the two of you are clear reasons.

LilJoe - 09/23/13 - 2:57pm

@the big whiner above me.^^^^^^^^^^^ He called her beautiful?? I can see why women run from that. Now me on the other hand, I can’t mess with someone I know??

Quickie - 09/23/13 - 3:23pm

As a man, I wish hordes of women made complimentary sexual references every time I posted a picture online. Last time I put a picture up Chris Hansen showed up at my door and questioned me to the nth degree.

satisFACTORYrider - 09/23/13 - 4:21pm

i like where this is going. i’m gonna need more beer..

Naton - 09/23/13 - 5:29pm

@AlanM Thanks for calling it out.

progress happens - 09/23/13 - 8:23pm

@Naton & @ AlanM: agreed. Slowly but surely we can help people grow up.

mudrock - 09/23/13 - 8:55pm

Saris, thanks for the update. The only way to deal with trolls is honestly and without defensiveness.

Joey B - 09/23/13 - 9:39pm

The light mount will also work with the new Gloworm Light helmet mount. I handled the helmet at demo day and it was very light considering the amount of coverage it provides. Great first effort by Smith!

funnytanlines - 09/24/13 - 12:20am

my thought about this helmet is that it can’t be easy cleaning mud and dirt out of the ‘straws’ after a ride

Tom - 09/24/13 - 10:46am

Let’s see, there are about 5 million things to evaluate at I-Bike, this was a prototype helmet, it was clearly labelled a “one ride review”.

I thought it was good. Looking forward to a future extended review. REALLY interesting tech, and the built in glasses holder is a small thing, but might prove to be the decider.

T-Bone - 09/24/13 - 6:12pm

I am SO glad I decided to scroll down to the comments on this one. I am going to buy one just to respect the comedy.

kreative - 10/03/13 - 12:53am

Can’t wait to pick one up at Sierra Trading Post.

Toma - 02/01/14 - 3:56pm

Any idea when the forefront will be available. Especially as west coast we are still riding!

Thorsten - 04/22/14 - 12:14pm

The Helm is absolut great. I want it!!

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