By Dave Iltis –
Why get a mountain bike specific helmet? Well, you are mountain biking, right? Mountain bike helmets are full-coverage – they wrap around the back of one’s head to a greater degree than a road specific helmet.
The Smith Optics Forefront Helmet is solid choice for the mountain biker who wants safety, style, function, and ventilation.
The main feature that sets the Forefront apart from other helmets is the Aerocore construction. In addition to the standard microshell and foam construction that most helmets have, the Forefront has an additional layer of shock absorbing Koroyd. Koroyd is a matrix of extruded co-polymer tubes each about ½ inch in length formed in a honeycomb-like structure. The idea is that the matrix compresses in a predictable fashion on impact to provide greater energy absorption and protection from trauma. The tubes provide superior ventilation – they act to allow hot air to escape upward, but still allow cool air to flow around the rider’s head.
The helmet fit my head perfectly – no side to side play or front to back. I fit well into about 2/3 of the helmets out there (the remaining 1/3 tend to be too round in shape and have lots of side to side play), so I’m guessing that this helmet will fit most people pretty well. Helmet fit is like shoe fit – some brands work and some don’t. Try several on to get the best fit before you buy at your local bike shop (yes, please do support your local shop).
The Forefront has a very nice ‘VaporFit’ retention system to provide a secure fit around the back of the head and below the helmet shell. The dial is easy to turn and provides on the fly adjustment simply by turning the dial back and forth. There are multiple positions to fine tune the placement of the retention system. The VaporFit did have one small issue in that the rear portion of the harness has small triangle edge that occasionally poked into the back of my head. Most of the time, this is not an issue and only happens when I tilt my head back farther.
The chinstrap system works well. The straps are soft to the skin and easy to adjust so that one can get the perfect fit. The chinstrap system did have a small issue for me in that the forward attachment point could have been about 1/2” farther forward to get a better fit. This was a minor issue, and of course will vary for each person – try on the helmet first.
I used the helmet through a temperature range of 55 to 90, and the helmet was comfortable throughout. The ventilation system worked as advertised.
The helmet has a snappy two-position, removable sun visor, a camera and light mount on top, and a goggle strap if needed. The helmet comes in 10 different color combinations so that you can match it with whatever you wear. Three size options are available: S, M, L.
All in all, the Smith Optics Forefront is great choice for a mountain bike helmet. Rating: 4 stars.