Two years ago, Smith debuted the Forefront and Overtake helmets. While they put them into the helmet space, and did so with panache; the helmets were striking, using a new safety material called Koroyd. The colored, cellular material made for big ports with colorful designs while telling a new safety story; the cellular design serving to port air, at the same time with a superior crush capability that studies have shown to have survivability superior to that of EPS foam. But pair the two up, and you have a damn safe helmet. Add MIPS shear impact technology, and Smith’s helmets are among the safest in the world.
At PressCamp Park City, Smith was present to debut a new helmet, one that takes the Koroyd story to the masses. Enter the new Route road helmet, and Rover MTB helmet. The helmets are effectively the same, save for the Rover mountain bike helmet having a bit more aft protection, and a visor. And at a fraction the price of their predecessors, it gets top-shelf technology in the hands of more people.
(Oh, and that tri helmet we’ve seen the likes of Bella Luxford, Callum Millward and Jodie Swallow wearing at races this year? Patience, grasshopper. It may or may not be ready for prime time. Think Kona. Maybe. I dunno.)
Back to the Route and Rover: a clever video shown to the media identified the core consumer. It’s not targeted at the triathlete, the roadie, the racer, the age grouper. Rather it’s the former pro skier. An accountant. A barkeep. An art director. A commercial finance director. Just, people. Every day people. You may rock the Forefront. But shouldn’t your spouse, your kids have supreme protection as well?
Additionally, when we’re not racing, we’re getting coffee. Or riding with the kids. We’re people, too.
“We wanted to bring our protection story to a user group that’s less thrill seekers, a broader audience,â€ says Smith road/tri marketing manager Mallory Burda. “They care about clean styling and protection—but they’re real people.â€
And that’s important; just because you A) aren’t racing or B) can’t afford the best doesn’t mean you can’t have close to the same level of impact protection. The honeycomb Koroyd technology is solid (a technology that will prove to have an interesting testing and development backstory soon) and has a unique look to boot. But as with anything this advanced, technology costs money. As much as some may want it, a price of upwards of $280 for a helmet with a MIPS liner was simply too expensive.
The new Route and Rover change that. Based on studies, Smith created an in-molded helmet with great design characteristics, and incorporated Koroyd in select places, specifically the sides of the head, where those studies found the chances of an impact is greater. After that, they simply created a sharp helmet. 18 vents and AirEvac ventilation, plus the two vents using Koroyd equals 20 vents. Anti-microbial padding, interior channels for even more cooling and the VaporFit adjustable helmet retention system and this helmet is done. It also integrates with Smith’s optics line like their PivLock sunnies.
MIPS will be made available on either model, and in all of the company’s matte colors options. (Ed note: we love the camo version!)
Oh, price? $150, or $180 for a version with a MIPS liner. Consider the safety element, and that you’re getting the Koroyd tech, at a fraction of the full-Koroyd helmets.
Will it live in my daily helmet rotation? Sure will; I love the cool matte look. Will it see time in my hard ride circulation, counter to its “everymanâ€ target consumer? In fact, it already has; my first ride—out with Smith’s Mallory Burda— was a two-hour XC bang-around along Park City’s Wasatch Crest Trail. The Route (we would have tested the Rogue but wanted a test helmet more for the road) was up for that, no problem.
But headed home, the Route was also the first helmet I grabbed when I went for a super easy two-hour solo coast cruise. It ticks the boxes; it’s light enough, has tons of ventilation (one cannot understate the value of those interior channels, allowing more airflow). And without the Koroyd in the front of the helmet, it’s a touch cooler, too. Yes, a bee got into our helmet’s front vent this weekend, but no harm, no foul; it seemed to be getting into the honeycomb port. “Go home, bee, you’re drunk.â€
I have a few helmets that are more “throwbackâ€ looking with built in visors, et cetera. But given what I know thus far about Koroyd, I’m a bit more apt to cross busy El Camino Real for a Peets Coffee run with the Route than a “classicâ€ style helmet; even if there’s a little more safety in the Route than a basic EPS helmet I’ll take it. But we think it’s more than just “a little.â€ The Koroyd use in bikes—we think—is going to be a big deal in helmet safety than we realize. Long story short, it’s an “entry levelâ€ helmet with the best safety technology available in the category. And it gets extra style points; we’re partial to the matte finish and the bright colors.
Happily for us all, the helmets are shipping now; get them at select Smith retailers, or direct online at smithoptics.com