Smith Forefront 2 Helmet Review

Smith Forefront 2 Helmet Review

Our detailed Smith Forefront 2 Helmet Review highlights a fully featured all mountain mountain biking helmet featuring Koroyd and MIPS. I’ve been testing it in all seasons for the best part of a year and know all it’s characteristics well. I hope you find my review useful.

Features

Smith describe the Forefront II as a ‘full coverage helmet designed for all mountain riders who demand superior protection, ventilation and eyewear integration’.  Let’s look at the incorporated features for each of these aspects in turn.  

MIPS Protection

In terms of protection, Smith have sought to offer the maximum benefits available.  The Aerocore shell is modelled to fit low over the back and sides of the head.  There is the widely respected MIPS (Multiple Impact Protection System) system available in all colours. A non MIPS version is also available.  The cradle design utilises Smith’s VaporFit adjustment system.  The other big part of the protection system is the use of Smith’s Koroyd impact absorption material. Smith have wrapped this all around the shell for full coverage.

Ventilation

Smith have utilised 20 vents to maximise air flow. The Forefront also incorporates their AirEvac system. This is designed to force air through which helps to keep eyewear from fogging.  The honeycomb structure of the Koroyd material is also designed to aid air flow. 

Eyewear Integration

Smith began life as an eyewear manufacturer and so it is little surprise that eyewear integration is a big consideration.  For mountain bikers the use of both (or either) goggles or sunglasses may be the order of the day. Both are considered.  The front visor can be flipped well out of the way via 3 position adjustment to allow goggles to sit comfortably when not in use. Side channels allow glasses to be stored securely.  

Go Pro Attachment

So, what else needs a mention in my Smith Forefront 2 helmet review?  Smith have incorporated an attachment point into the top of the helmet for securing lights or GoPros (a separate attachment accessory will be needed). They have also used their lightweight single layer webbing for the chin strap.  The lining is made from their XT2 anti bacterial material. 

The helmet is available in a selection of colours and sizes. It weighs 380 grams for a MIPS size medium and 36O grams for a non MIPS medium.  Price is £180 for MIPS and £160 for non MIPS.  

In Use

The Forefront is very much designed as an all mountain mountain biking helmet. It will therefore suit a broad range of users and situations.  It will work just as well for trail centre riding, enduro and general cross country use.  There are helmets focussed on specific disciplines and you may want to specialise, but for a one lid fits most situations type helmet, you’d be hard pushed to find a more accommodating multi discipline option.  

Weight

If weight is a serious factor you may also want to choose something lighter, but I think 380 grams is actually a very reasonable weight considering the features and level of protection offered.  You may actually choose to lighten the load (and pay about £20 less) by choosing the non MIPS version (I’ll discuss in more detail what MIPS is below), but I think this is well worth the slight extra cost and small 20 gram weight penalty.  

Comfort Features

As with all helmets, it is best to try before buying. Every head is slightly different and you may/not find the fit to suit you.  Having said that, I have found the fit to be perfect for me.  It stays put, is well padded and, despite the full coverage design, feels light on the head.  This is helped by Smith’s excellent XT2 lining material which I find to be both very comfortable. It also wicks superbly.  

The VaporFit cradle also works a treat.  Some helmets bob about on the head (particularly on rough ground). With the Forefront II, on my head at least, there is none of that.  The VaporFit system is very quick and simple to adjust (even with gloves on).  Finally, but importantly, unlike some adjustment systems this system stays adjusted where you want it – set it and it won’t creep undone.  

Multi Impact Protection System (MIPS)

In some impacts a helmet striking the ground will create a rotational motion which may transfer force to the brain.  The Multi Impact Protection System (MIPS) is designed to help mitigate these rotational forces. The company describe it as a Brain Protection System (BPS). It works by having a cradle inside the helmet that can twist independently of the shell to offer 10-15mm of rotational compensation in all directions.  It has been subjected to over 20,000 test cycles and is the choice of many respected helmet manufacturers. 

I would always advise people to purchase helmets with this system if they can. Why not give yourself that added safety benefit? The Forefront II is available both in a MIPS and none MIPS version. The difference with MIPS added is £20 and 20gms, but that investment might make a big difference in an impact. You can find out more about MIPS on their website here.

Koroyd Protection

The Forefront II also benefits from Koroyd. This is clever. To look at, Koroyd looks like a green honeycomb sheet sitting between the helmet liner and the open structure of the shell. It is constructed from thousands of co-polymer extruded and thermally welded tubes which are designed to crush uniformly on impact.  Koroyd, says Smith, converts and absorbs more kinetic energy than traditional protection materials.  I haven’t tested that claim with my own helmet, but there’s plenty of test data to back up the claim. You can find out more about Koroyd on their website here.

Having the honeycomb structure also allows good venting performance – the hollow tubes will allow the passage of air.  I will say that there are some limitations to that.  For the tube orientated to the wind there is an excellent flow of air, but less so on other parts of the helmet.  I will happily put up with this to enjoy the impact protection benefits Koroyd offers, but it is worth mentioning. It is actually a really clever innovation.

Eyewear Integration

Beyond all that,  there are plenty of other clever additions to the Forefront II.  The front visor pivots to three positions allowing it to either be quickly adjusted as you ride or to allow space for goggles or sunglasses to be stored.  For sunglasses,  Smith have incorporated channels along each side so glasses can be easily pushed in.  This works especially well with Smith glasses but actually works well with various other brands too. It is a really good facility especially when riding in those variable sunny then quickly becoming more cloudy conditions we get a lot of in the U.K.  

Go Pro Attachment

On top of the Forefront II there is an attachment point that can be used for action cameras or lights.  I have only just ordered the attachment for this (available only as an optional extra costing about £12) but I love having the facility to fasten items like this securely.  I have read some comments on various sites about how these work and it seems the feeling is that they hold things securely and are simple to attach.  That’s good enough for me!

So, after all that, just a couple of other things to mention to complete my Smith Forefront 2 helmet review. The Forefront II is available in various colours.  I received one in black with the Koroyd in green.  I really like the look of this helmet.  It is beefy and offers full coverage, but still manages to look really aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t feel at all cumbersome on the head.  I also really like the striking contrast between the black and green Koroyd colour ways.  Lastly, the Forefront II comes with a neat storage bag.  

Summary 

It looks great, fits well (but check this for your own head, has intelligent features to make your rides  more efficient and the Forefront II has efficient ventilation designed in.  It also has several elements which add up to a superb level of protection.  This is a really great helmet with every single feature you could wish for. 

It is at the pricier end of the market for an all mountain lid,  but given the features and quality construction I actually think it is very good value.  As my Smith Forefront 2 Helmet Review highlights, this is a sure fire winner for Smith and I’ve loved testing it.

Full details can be found on the Smith Optics website here and the video below gives a great visual run through of the many features. Of course, if you want to learn the skills for mountain biking then join us on one of our superb Peak Mountaineering Mountain Biking courses.