Branching out into the bike helmet category, the Forefront serves as Smith’s first step forward—and what a big step that its.
The Pros: Next-generation protection in a light, comfortable package.
The Cons: Polarizing design for some.
The Verdict: Smith has set the bar high for themselves—and the rest of the competition—with their first bike offering.
While Smith may be new to bike helmets, they’ve been producing top-notch ski and snowboard helmets for years, and it clearly shows in how polished the Forefront is for an inaugural product offering.
Built around a next-generation protective material called Koroyd, the Forefront is comprised of co-polymer extruded tubes that are thermally welded into a sheet form. Representing a completely different method of helmet construction, the combination of Koroyd’s precise extrusion and unique thermal welding process leads to a structure with both extremely efficient and consistent energy absorption properties.
Upon impact, the cores crush in a controlled manner (adopting an accordion-like form), decelerating the energy from the impact and reducing the final trauma levels. Used in ski helmets for several seasons by helmet manufacturers, Smith and POC, among others, Smith’s Forefront mountain bike helmet is the first helmet to use the material in a cycling application.
Outfitted with a very minimal liner (not to be confused with uncomfortable), the Forefront’s Koroyd construction is extremely conducive to ventilation by the simple nature of its open-ended structure. Add in a low-area outer structure with plenty of vents and you have the makings for a veritable wind tunnel. Ventilation was never an issue with the forefront, even on steep climbs when forward momentum was at a minimum.
For Smith’s first bike offering, it’s truly impressive that the Forefront enters the market on the top of the heap in terms of winning the lightweight title. With our test helmet tipping the scales at 328 grams, it slots in just ahead of the 335-gram POC Trabec and comfortably in front of the 376-gram Troy Lee A1 and 400-gram Bell Super.
When the Smith first showed up at the office, it quickly got passed around from head to head, with mostly favorable fit impressions. Several with noted fit issues in many helmets were pleased with the Smith’s wide-range of adjustability and accommodating head shape. Personally, I felt the top of the helmet was a touch flat, leading to the helmet sitting a touch higher than desired. However, this was simply a minor quibble, and far from a major fit issue. Overall, with three sizes offered, the Forefront should be well equipped to fit most prospective buyers.
Bringing to the table an XC-worthy weight, all-mountain protection and stellar ventilation, the Smith Forefront is simply one of the most versatile mountain helmets on the market. While fit shouldn’t be an issue for most, color is most certainly a non-issue, with the Forefront available in a more-than-generous 9 colorways.
Overall Score: 9.4
For more information on the Smith Forefront, click here.