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Review: Smith Forefront Trail Helmet 2014

Smith Forefront review helmet test

The helmet market is a battlefield. With many established brands already in the segment, big bicycle manufacturers have now entered the market with their own models offering customers a bewildering line up. Since last year many trail-specific helmets have been launched and exponentially become popular, most with similar designs and features. But there was one helmet that caught our attention: The all-new Smith Forefront helmet.

With its compact and unique design the Forefront looks totally different to conventional helmets. Some find it super cool, others tell you you look like an alien. But let’s put looks aside, let’s dig deeper than just superficial babbling.

What’s really new about the Forefront is its totally different Aerocore™ construction, showing an approach to helmet design that has never been seen before in the bicycle industry.

The patented tubular core structure of the Koroyd® material in combination with EPS creates a system of materials which Smith calls Aerocore™. This is supposed to have a 30% improvement over standard EPS impact absorbing properties. Another benefit of this construction is a dramatically better airflow according to Smith. Weighing in at 337 grams in size Medium the helmet doesn’t beat all records, but is competitive with the current range of dedicated trail helmets. The Smith Forefront is available in three adult helmet sizes and in 10 color options offering a wide range of style choices. The price will be approx. $220 / 230€.

The Forefront shows a first-class finish. The EPS elements with carbon look are very well processed and the tubular structure seems to be very accurate aligned!

The Forefront shows a first-class finish. The EPS elements with carbon look are very well processed and the tubular structure seems to be very accurate aligned!

Let's hit the trail - how will the theory perform in reality?

Let’s hit the trail – how will the theory perform in reality? This photo was taken during the FOX RAD suspension testing session in Heidelberg, Germany.

Once put on your head you'll forget that you are actually wearing a helmet. The Forefront offers a very compact and comfortable feel - thanks to its reduced volume.

Once put on your head you’ll forget that you are actually wearing a helmet. The Forefront offers a very compact and comfortable feel – thanks to its reduced volume.

The VaporFit™ is Smith's new adjustable fit system that is easy to reach and OK to adjust with gloves put on.

The VaporFit™ is Smith’s new adjustable fit system that is easy to reach and OK to adjust with gloves put on. Very aggressive trail riders might wish for a little bigger contact surface, especially on the back of the head.

Light, lighter ... the helmet straps are super light but effective. It was easy to adjust the straps for a comfortable fit.

Light, lighter … the helmet straps are super light but effective. It was easy to adjust the straps for a comfortable fit.

Superb ventilation. You literally forget that you are actually wearing a helmet. That made me stop some times on the trail tapping my head to reassure myself that I hadn't left it in the restaurant on the top of the mountain.

Superb ventilation. You literally forget that you are actually wearing a helmet. That made me stop some times on the trail tapping my head to reassure myself that I hadn’t left it in the restaurant on the top of the mountain.

The very minimalistic padding does a great job. Even after some hours of riding we never had any pressure marks left on our forehead.

The very minimalistic padding does a great job. Even after hours of riding we never had any pressure marks left on our forehead.

Despite its minimalistic design the Forefront has some very cool features like the integrated camera and light mounting area on the front part of the helmet and ...

Despite its minimalistic design the Forefront has some very cool features like the integrated camera and light mounting area on the front part of the helmet and …

... an additional helmet goggle retention strap.

… an additional helmet goggle retention strap.

In conclusion the Smith Forefront shows a new, innovative approach towards helmet design and with its futuristic but minimalistic design reduces everything to a minimum while performing at a high level. Bringing new ideas into the equipment segment where it matters most – our safety – and keeping it competitive is very important. Smith made a huge step with its new Forefront helmet. The superb ventilation and clever features like the integrated camera and light mount make it a perfect option for normal trail riders who are looking for maximum performance and comfort.

Words: Robin Schmitt Photos: Robin Schmitt / Chris Trojer (Fox Rad Suspension Testing Session)

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