Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8082

Unless you’re completely new to bicycle helmet technology, by now you’re probably familiar with MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) and other methods of rotational impact mitigation. The thought is that while bicycle helmets have protected against straight impacts, they haven’t done much in the way of protecting the brain from rotational forces which are pretty common in most crashes.

One of the biggest players in the new protection game, MIPS is becoming easier and easier to find on helmets from most of your favorite brands. While Smith announced their MIPS equipped line a bit ago, they are just now becoming available – mostly due to the amount of customization they wanted for their low friction layer. As it turns out, not all MIPS helmets are created equal…

Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8084

Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8079 Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8080

As Smith tells it, the reason for the delay on the MIPS helmets can be traced to their custom liner. Wanting to ensure the liner had as little impact as possible on ventilation, the MIPS liner for the Smith helmets is built with a grid like pattern that supposedly has more vent holes than any of the competing liners. On the Forefront mountain helmet you’ll find 54 vents, while the Overtake Road helmet uses 40. The MIPS system is used in addition to their Koroyd and EPS construction which is a bit of a departure from traditional helmet design. It seems to work pretty well too, at least in the specific crash situation we experienced.

Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8086 Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8087

Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8088

Inside the helmet instead of rigid attachment points the MIPS liner is held in place with elastic bands which feel like a silicone material. This allows the liner to easily float inside the helmet and provides the necessary low friction layer between your head and the helmet.

Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8089 Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8090

Other than the addition of the MIPS liner the two helmets are the same as the standard Forefront and Overtake only with a $40 upcharge for the system ($250 and $220 standard, $290 and $260 for MIPS). Available in 4 colors for the Forefront and 5 colors for the Overtake, the helmets remain fairly light at 331g and 279g respectively.

Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8093 Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8094

Soon, MIPS versions will also be available in their dirt lids with the multi impact Axle and single impact Maze.

Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8099

Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8095 Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8096

Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8101 Smith Forefront MIPS mtb helmetSmithIMG_8100

While we were at Press Camp we also got a look at the Forefront mount kit which provides an easy to use mount for GoPros or lights. The $15 kit includes a clip that is held in place by adhesive and a single screw once you remove the protective cover that is included with the helmet. The Light mount simply clips into the GoPro mount so you can strap any handlebar light to it. Designed with a breakaway feature, the Forefront Mount kit is available now.

Other big news surrounding Smith includes their relocation from Sun Valley, ID, to Portland, OR. Smith is quick to point out that the move isn’t because Smith is in trouble, but more the opposite – their past years have been their best yet. But due to how remote Sun Valley is for a company trying to success on a global scale, Smith found it necessary to relocate to a city with an international airport and easier access to the rest of the cycling world. Smith will be opening a new building in August, and will have some exciting new product announcements around the same time. Stay tuned.



  1. MIPS makes no sense. especially with all that exposed koroyd. won’t your hair or skin just get stuck on the koroyd in an impact? isn’t having a normal helmet with a bunch of sweaty/greasy hair more effective at mitigating these rotational forces than some flimsy plastic that pivots a little bit? how tight are people actually wearing helmets? I love the language they use on the MIPS website…there is no proven safety benefit.

  2. Got excited about the pricing for a sec- the MIPS versions retail for $40 *over* the prices stated: $260 and $290 🙁

    I’d love to find out if MIPS makes the Overtake any cooler- siting off the head slightly might help make it a little breezier.

    • @Marc, I had that exact thought. It does make a little gap between the liner and the Koroyd. I’ll keep you posted.

  3. “I love the language they use on the MIPS website…there is no proven safety benefit”…truth…and says it likely wont reduce injury. Also, only moves a very small amount ( mm’s) Ahhh —-more Marketing BS.

  4. Counting the number of vents in a helmet is about as useful as counting the number of feathers on birds to see which one flies better. Quality, not quantity.

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