Editor’s Note: This review is part of the Mtbr All Mountain Helmet Shootout.
Smith introduced its first bike helmet this year with this Forefront All Mountain model. And instead of creating a ‘traditional’ helmet made of in-molded EPS foam with cool designs and colors, they sought out to improve the bike helmet with better materials and technology. Traditional bike helmets are made of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam that’s designed to be crushed on hard impact. The crushing or destruction of the helmet is what protects your head as it dissipates energy and slows the acceleration of your head into the ground.
The problem is most helmets are good at protecting the head during hard impacts but not so good at soft or medium impacts. There seems to be plenty of crashes where the helmet is undamaged but the rider suffers a concussion. Smith combined traditional EPS foam with their own construction, which they dubbed Aerocore, featuring Koroyd material. Smith claims that this design results in a 30% improvement to lowering the impact to your head.
Two advantages that you can tangibly see off the bat are that the Forefront is lighter and more ventilated than other Enduro-style helmets. Koroyd looks like hundreds of straws stacked together, so it seems like heat can radiate out easily from the head outward through the helmet. But how is airflow during a long, hot climb? Can air flow through the front and exit out the back? Read on and find out.
So here is the surprise reveal… This helmet doesn’t ventilate that well. With no airflow, it’s good as it lets heat radiate out of the hundred or so ‘straw’ holes. So when you’re stopped on the trail with your head steaming, this helmet will let the heat escape out. But where it really matters, descending at high speed or climbing at 5 mph, this helmet is below average in our crop of All Mountain helmets. This is kind of a surprise given that it seems to be well ventilated with all the holes. But a couple of issues affect the lack of airflow in the helmet. One, the straws really just allow movement of air in a very directional manner from the outside to the center of the head. Airflow at an angle is not really allowed by the Aerocore structure. The other issue is there’s no channels of air between the head and the helmet. Much of the Aerocore is in contact with the head so there’s not much room for moving air to flow through.
That being said, it’s not unbearably hot by any means. With early summer conditions in the Bay Area, CA it’s been hardly a bother. But we’re certain our friends in the desert heat or in the humid areas will notice.
The fit on this helmet is A+. Our oval-ish shaped head felt very comfortable on this lid. And it’s not accomplished with excess padding as there’s hardly any. The head is in contact with the Aerocore material so it seems like it’s going to be uncomfortable. But it’s really one of the more comfortable helmets in this group.