Smith Rover Cycling Helmet Review

7th Feb 2019

Smith Rover Helmet-2

Smith have a long history of creating top quality eyewear for skiers, snowboarders, cyclists and mountain bikers and I have enjoyed testing a selection of their products over recent years.  They also make snowsports and cycling helmets and I recently reviewed one of their ski lids (you can read that review here). I was really impressed with the helmet fit and styling and asked them if they’d send over a bike helmet to try one of their cycling helmets - in due course one of their Rover lids landed at Peak Mountaineering HQ and I got busy.  What a great excuse to hit the local trails!

Features

What does anyone look for in a bike helmet?  It needs to be comfortable, well ventilated, have the features needed to make life easy, look good and, oh yes, protect your head.  Here is how the Rover stacks up:

Fit, comfort and adjustability - The Rover has a padding insert featuring Smith’s XT2 anti-bacterial lining with ‘reactive cooling performance lining’.  Adjustment is made with their Vapor Fit adjustment system which allows the cradle headband to be tightened with a simple turn of the rear adjuster wheel. The chin strap operates with a standard quick release buckle system.

Ventilation - The Rover is what I would describe as medium coverage.  It obviously covers the top and sides of the head as any helmet would, but then it isn’t as deep in coverage as some in terms of how low it sits.  This makes it a great choice for warm weather riding or high output cross country riding where protection has to be balanced against ventilation.  Ventilation is managed by Smith's Air Evac system which features 20 vents - this has the largest vents at the front to allow front to rear airflow and these are supplemented by side and top vents.  It certainly has plenty of ventilation!

Features - There isn’t too much to say regarding extra features as the Rover has what you need without going overboard. There is a tilting visor and that’s about it.  What else do you need? One thing that I find really useful on other helmets that isn’t included is a light/Go Pro action cam mounting point, but you can get around this.

Styling - The Rover is a great looking helmet.  I chose to test it in the dark grey colour (although it is available in various colours) and the subtle colour and Smith name on the side combine perfectly with deep vents and the contoured but streamline shape.  I will discuss this material in more later, but all that subtlety then contrasts with the bright green blocks of Koroyd material which line a section on either side.  It looks great.  

Protection - The Helmet is made from a lightweight Aerocore In-Mold construction which obviously meets relevant protection standards, but Smith also have an ace up their sleeve.  They have developed a material called Koroyd which is the bright green material that lines the helmet sides.  It looks like a honeycomb (the hollow core construction aids ventilation) but the magic of Koroyd is that it deforms on impact and, in that deformation, it helps to absorb shock.  This, as well as offering great protection, also allows Smith to make the helmet thinner at the sides.  Koroyd is a great addition.

Smith offer the Rover as a MIPS and non MIPS option.  The helmet I tested was without MIPS but I thought it worth mentioning the potential benefits that MIPS offers.  MIPS stands for Multi Directional Impact Protection System and is a technology often described as “slip-plane” technology.   When bike accidents happen two main types of force (linear and rotational) occur and most head impacts cause a combination of both.  MIPS helps combat the rotational impact by having a liner within the helmet that allows the head to twist and. in doing so, reduces that force.     

The Test

I received the helmet near the start of winter and so the opportunity to fully assess the ventilation capability of the Rover has inevitably been a little compromised, but I’ve felt the wind across my head on enough wintery rides to be able to judge this aspect.  Other than that, the Rover has been my constant companion on many day and night time rides over the last few months.  I know it well!

In Use

Firstly, although I have already put some cards on the table, how about the appearance?  Well, I love the look of this lid.  Of course everyone has their own views on the styling of a helmet, but for my money Smith have nailed it with the Rover.  It is subtle and yet has attitude at the same time (if that makes sense?).  The combination of the dark grey with the bright green Koroyd material is a great combo (it is convenient that the green goes well with my bike colour, but it would look good on any head).

The Rover is clearly made with excellent attention to detail and it’s the kind of quality product you’d expect from Smith.  There is a higher priced model in the range (the Forefront 2) that has some additional features and full Koroyd side protection, but the Rover strikes a great balance between cost and features/protection.  The MIPS option costs more or you can go for the cheaper non MIPS version.  I really like that Smith offer so many options.   

Usually, when you try a helmet on, you know pretty much straight away whether the fit will work for you.  I can’t comment on how you will find it, but the Rover fits me like a glove.  It it incredibly comfortable.  The shape and fit system makes it feel light on the head and indeed, at 340 grams for a non MIPS size medium, it is a good weight for a bike helmet.  

Adjustment via the Vapor Fit system is a breeze and there is enough padding to allow a snug and yet comfortable fit.  There is sufficient coverage to make you feel protected and yet the Rover also stops high enough at the sides to offer unrestricted hearing and the sense that it is low profile.  There is also no up/down movement which is certainly a problem I’ve experienced with some other makes and models.  It all just works and the range and ease of adjustment is very impressive.    

Once on the move I have found the large and well positioned vents to be very effective.  The large front vents push air through to the rear easily and, although my testing so far has been in rather cold weather, I very much look forward to testing this ventilation system when the mercury rises - I am very confident it will perform well.  The honeycomb structure of the Koroyd side panels should also allow good ventilation although again I might need warmer temps for a full assessment of that.  It is a very clever system. 

The other features of the helmet are all well thought out and simple by design.  The visor is at a good general angle and has enough adjustment for general use and the chin strap is….a chin strap!  That’s it really - there aren’t any other features to consider.  The only thing I would have liked, as mentioned above, would have been a Go Pro/light attachment point but, given the price point,  it isn’t surprising this isn’t included.

Summary

I liked the look of the Rover before trying it and liked the feel of it even more once I’d tried it.  This is a really great general purpose lid that will serve you well for a range of biking adventures.  The Rover offers excellent build quality and superb attention to detail and, as you can find them online for around £80,  it also offers great value for money.

Posted by Paul