At A Glance
Now for something completely different… Smith are known for their eyewear and their snowboard helmets, but they have just brought their A game to the mountain bike table with the Forefront. Firstly let’s get the obvious out of the way, the Forefront looks a little different. It’s not really styled like anything we have seen before, and it’s either love at first sight, or the opposite. When we first laid our eyes on it, it wasn’t the looks that intrigued us most, but what was going on under the bonnet.
Smith have partnered with Koroyd who have developed a totally new material consisting of co-polymer extruded tubes. This material can then be CNC shaped, cut, thermoformed or laminated. You can pretty much do whatever you want with it. Use it as the core of a snowboard or, as it has been designed for, as a new material in helmet manufacture.
Koroyd offers improved energy absorption, up to 30% more in fact, and as the material is quite literally full of holes, it offers unparalleled breathability. Upon impact the individual cores crush in a controlled manner, decelerating the impact like a crumple zone. The material also looks pretty funky!
Smith have integrated this material with EPS foam to create what they are calling Aerocore. What they have done is build a thin exoskeleton of EPS reinforced with carbon fibre, and laminated the Koroyd core to the inside of the helmet. This keeps it low-profile, light and also makes it very breathable. In addition to this they have added on adjustable visor, an integrated camera and light mount, and goggle saver. There are 21 vents in the helmet and the X-Static lining is moisture wicking and antibacterial.
On The Trail
The VaporFit adjustable fit system uses a wheel at the back of the lid, it is easy to reach and operate and you can get a really snug fit easily, even in gloves. The forefront is pretty comfortable, the minimal liner is more functional in terms of keeping things minimal to improve airflow. It is light on your head though for an endure style lid.
The most impressive thing is the airflow in the Forefront, it is like nothing else I have ever experienced. Having a shaved head means I often get sweat running down off my forehead and into my face. With the Forefront I didn’t have this issue and you can really feel the breeze all over your head as you ride. Even on the climbs the heat is taken out through the Koroyd structure perfectly.
We did notice one disadvantage though, if you get an itch you can’t stick a finger through a vent to scratch it, you have to move the helmet a bit on your head to get the same effect. On the flip side of the coin however, is that it does a great job keeping the bugs out! On our sunny ride yesterday evening the flying beasts were out in force and not one of them made it past the lid.
The Forefront is a great helmet for all-mountain riding, the ventilation is second to none, the fit is good and the comfort level is high. The added bonus of goggle retainers and camera and light fixings just add to its charms. If you dig the space age looks and can afford the high-end price point then go for it, you won’t be disappointed!