Ross tests (perhaps a little too literally) the latest Forefront 2 helmet from Smith Optics
The Smith Forefront 2, as the name suggests, is the updated version to Smith’s popular Forefront helmet. Rather than just making a few small tweaks to the existing model though, the Forefront 2 has been completely redesigned.
Big changes over the last model include deeper rear protection and a bigger visor, which has three fixed positions allowing you to store glasses and goggles underneath when you’re not wearing them.
Smith Forefront 2 Helmet Features
- Lightweight Aerocore in-mold constructionZonal ventilated protection featuring patented Koroyd material
- Integrated skeletal structure
- MIPS system available in all colours
- VaporFit adjustable fit system
- 20 optimised vents
- XT2 anti-bacterial performance lining
- Ultra-light single layer webbing
- AirEvac ventilation
- Three-position adjustable visor
- Ultimate sunglass and goggle integration
- Integrated accessory mount sold separately
- Weight (Size M, MIPS,) 385 grams
- CERTIFICATION: CPSC, CE EN 1078
The protection on the rear of the helmet has been increased over the previous model by extending the Koroyd panel further down. For those that aren’t familiar with the term Koroyd, it’s the drinking straw lookalike protection set into the helmet that’s designed to crush and deform to absorb an impact. Conversely, it has also been removed from other strategic sections of the helmet, which is to increase air flow. In the sections where there is no Koroyd, Smith has formed internal air channels, which combined with the open sections of shell aim to increase ventilation over the previous model.
The Forefront 2 also features AirEvac™ channels that are designed to channel airflow to prevent your eyewear from fogging up and there are also front and rear channels allowing you to store glasses when not wearing them. As you’d also expect from a company that produces their own bike specific goggles, the Forefront 2 has worked fine on the odd occasion that I’ve gone full enduro and opted for goggles. On top of the helmet is a removable cover that reveals a screw socket for an accessory mount (GoPro, Lights etc.) that can be purchased separately.
The Forefront 2 benefits from a lightweight Aerocore in-mould construction, with our size medium weighing in at 385 grams with a smattering of local (and not so local!) dirt and grit. On top of the increased Koroyd protection, all colours of the Forefront 2 are available with a MIPS liner for additional brain saving protection. Adding MIPS into the mix does make the helmet heavier (and more expensive) but it’s only a 20 gram increase which is a reasonable trade off for the added protection. If you decide to go without the added MIPS liner, you’ll save those 20 grams and 20 quid.
There are seven different colour options for the Forefront 2 meaning that even the most style conscious of riders can find one to match their latest goggles and matching kit. The one we’ve had on test is the Matte Grey with no shouty colours or graphics, just subtle, understated copper branding.
On The Trail
I generally sit pretty much in the middle of most brands’ ‘medium’ sizing when it comes to helmets and the Forefront 2 was no different. Putting the Forefront 2 on for the first time was pretty unremarkable, in the best possible way. The medium helmet fitted well and was easy to adjust with both the webbing and the rear adjustment dial. The internal cradle also has multiple positions, with three up / down positions and another three forwards / backwards positions to get the fit spot on. The webbing is easy to adjust on the fly by just opening a buckle and tightening the strap, and the rear cradle cinches up easily with the dial to create a snug fit.
I’ve been using the Forefront 2 for a good few months now and tested it in every condition imaginable, from rain to snow to sun and everything in between. The general fit has suited my head well. Where some other brand helmets seem to sit quite ‘wide’ on my head, the Smith doesn’t have as much of a gap at the sides and I’ve found that I’ve not had to have the cradle fastened up super tight to keep it stable and secure. With a decent low weight, and easy to adjust retention system, the Forefront 2 has been become my go to helmet and has come with me on riding trips to Wales, Scotland and Italy.
Not only has the Forefront 2 been comfortable to wear, I’ve also found it to breath well enough and haven’t found it overly hot riding in spring UK and Italian temperatures. Whether grinding up hour long fire road climbs or flat out, physical descents, the Forefront has been cool and comfortable.
It’s not without a couple of slight issues though. I found that after prolonged periods wearing certain glasses I would sometimes get hot spots above the ears. The cradle sits quite low down across the top of the ear and this sometimes caused the cradle to put pressure on the arms and make things slightly uncomfortable. This tended to be with glasses that had straight arms, rather than a more profiled shape that wrapped round the ear. I don’t wear glasses all that often though and it certainly wasn’t a major issue, and if I did need to take the glasses off for any reason, there was ample storage that held the glasses secure for general riding.
The only other point to note is that I found that I needed to run the visor one click up. I found that if I ran it in the lowest position it was quite noticeable when riding, and although not a massive issue (this is the case with plenty of other lids I’ve tried), I preferred to have it one click up and completely out of the way.
The big plus point for me though has been the protection. I had a pretty big crash nose casing a decent sized gap and had a pretty spectacular off. It was big enough to completely smash my front wheel to the point where it had blown the tyre off and the rim was that bust it wouldn’t fit through the fork. I broke a bunch of ribs and also tried to dig a pretty big hole in the rock hard ground with my head. Although the outer shell was reasonably intact, the MIPS liner had done its job allowing the outer shell to move independently of the inner, which was really noticeable as the liner was now offset by a good 15-20mm to the rest of the helmet. I walked away from that crash (and a further 4 miles back to the office as the wheel was unrideable!) with just a couple of busted ribs and since I had no concussion symptoms afterwards I’m 100% sure that the Forefront 2 stopped me getting any serious head injuries.
There’s a lot to take into account when choosing a new helmet – breathability, protection, eyewear storage and looks – to name but a few, and for me, the Forefront 2 has ticked all the boxes. It looks good, is lightweight and breathes well across varied conditions. Top of the list though is protection and the Forefront 2 has proved itself to be excellent in that department. It’s certainly not a cheap helmet, but given how well it performed when needed, for me it’s definitely worth the investment.
|Tested:||by Ross for 11|