When Smith set out to build its first mountain bike helmet, it set its sights very high. The goal was an enduro-style lid for aggressive riders in a package that weighed the same as a minimalist road racer lid. This required some serious R&D, but Smith eventually came up with the Forefront helmet.
Tech Features: To achieve its lofty goals, Smith departed from the typical EPS foam construction for the Forefront. Instead, they developed a product they dub the Aerocore, which is made from a new material called Koroyd. This material looks much like a honeycomb built from melted-together drinking straws. Its rigid structure is filled mostly with open air, which not only provides a perfect “crumple” zone in the event of an impact, but also allows air to flow freely through it. Smith claims this new technology offers more impact absorption than a typical EPS foam helmet. Smith uses this Koroyd material throughout most of the helmet, but the pockets where the Koroyd material wont fit are filled with standard EPS foam. The helmet features Smith’s new VaporFit adjustable fit system, an integrated camera and light mounting area, and an additional helmet goggle retention strap. The Forefront is available in 3 sizes and 10 different color schemes. The Forefront lid sells for $220 and tipped our scales at just under 12 ounces.
Field Test Results: Strap the Forefront on and you’ll know it’s a serious lid. The extra coverage toward the back of the helmet screams Enduro styling. Enduro coverage typically means a compromise in ventilation, however, the Koroyd material delivers exactly what it advertises. The long, narrow vent in the front of the helmet scoops air in and over the top of the rider’s head to keep the rider cool and comfortable. We’ve tested numerous “enduro” and “all-mountain” style lids and have typically been disappointed with the ventilation, but the Smith Forefront raises the bar. The Koroyd material seems to be a solution to the most uncomfortable issue with extra-coverage helmets.
Moreover, this helmet mated well with nearly every piece of eyewear we could throw at it, be it a pair of sunglasses or a goggle. Whereas other helmets interfere with sunglasses, the Forefront can accommodate any style of optics. We should expect no less from a helmet designed by an optics company, but nevertheless, we were impressed.
The addition of an integrated camera or light mount will also be a welcome feature for many riders. The GoPro style mount is sleek and easy to use and positioned perfectly in the middle of the helmet shell so as not to cause issues with movement from the extra weight. The snap-in attachments are also easily removable for the rider who wants to go without electronics.
Our only gripe was that a few riders couldn’t get past the aesthetics. While this helmet will certainly draw attention on the trail, the unconventional appearance isn’t for everyone.
The Forefront is sure to meet the needs of riders and enduro racers alike, albeit with love-it-or-hate-it styling. As far as “enduro” helmets are concerned, the Forefront proved to be the easiest so far to integrate with a number of goggle and sunglass models, something that few of its peers can claim.