The pinnacle of Smith’s mountain bike trail helmet range, the Forefront 2 has seen updates over its predecessor to better manage heat.
The new design is intended to ensure you stay cool enough to drop into whatever rough and rowdy trails you come across.
To keep you feeling safe, Smith uses Koroyd protection and a MIPS liner. The helmet’s cradle and peak are adjustable, and Smith has managed to fit in 20 vents to improve its ventilation.
This updated mountain bike helmet doesn’t come cheap though, at nearly £200.
Smith Forefront 2 helmet details
The Forefront 2 gets an in-moulded shell that wraps around the whole helmet to provide a robust layer that should see off the bumps and bashes of everyday use.
Smith uses Koroyd for its impact protection. There is a thinner layer of single-density EPS foam that forms the structural skeleton on the helmet.
Inside, large portions of the helmet use Koroyd with a centre channel cut out that has open, uninterrupted vents.
Koroyd is an impact-absorbing material comprising of short straw-like tubes that are fused together into a lattice. These straws are designed to act as a crumple zone to dissipate and reduce the force of direct and angular impacts.
To further minimise rotation impact forces, Smith has fitted a MIPS liner to the Forefront 2.
The MIPS liner is separate from the retention system. Unlike many other trail helmets, Smith doesn’t use a 360-degree strap, but a shorter 270-degree cradle, the brand’s own VaporFit. It attaches near the temple area of the helmet.
The cradle is height-adjustable, with three positions to tailor the fit, and is tightened using a dial at the rear. The Ionic+ antimicrobial lining offers sweat-activated odour control.
Smith has squeezed 20 vents into the Forefront 2’s design. Three are left open and the other 17 are covered by the Koroyd protection. This honeycomb design should enable breathability without trapping heat inside the helmet.
The peak can be placed in one of three positions, and the form of the helmet is claimed to work with Smith’s mountain bike goggles or sunglasses. There is even a vent under the brow of the helmet to enable hot air from inside goggles to escape.
Sold separately, there is a clip-on mount that fits into the top vent of the Forefront 2, which can act as an accessory mount.
The Smith Forefront 2 is an expensive lid at £199. It’s available in three sizes: S (51-55cm), M (55-59cm) and L (59-62cm), with a size small weighing 372g.
Smith Forefront 2 helmet performance
Smith has managed to make a slim silhouette with the Forefront 2, and it will suit those who prefer a sleeker design. I’m not convinced the peak matches the helmet perfectly, but otherwise it’s a smart-looking lid that offers the coverage you’d expect from a capable and expensive trail helmet.
That sleek design philosophy has been incorporated internally as well, with Smith supplying little padding inside.
What padding there is, isn’t particularly plush either, and for me this is the helmet’s biggest weakness. It’s not that comfortable and wouldn’t be my first choice to pick up on the way out for a long ride.
The retention cradle is comfortable enough when tightened to a point where it keeps the helmet stable on descents with hard compression and rough line choices. However, the Forefront 2 tended to slip forward easier than other helmets.
Despite this, it didn’t cause any sore pressure points and is more comfortable than other helmets with a similar lack of padding. I didn’t notice any distracting noise from the MIPS liner, which is a positive because some can creak.
When riding with the peak in its lowest setting, it fell into my line of sight, so I used the middle position to keep it out of the way.
Smith has made the Forefront 2 more ventilated than the Endura MT500 MIPS, which also uses Koroyd for its impact protection. This is down to the large open vents over the top of the helmet. Plus, Smith has managed to line up more of the Koroyd tubes with the airflow into the helmet.
However, it doesn’t compete with the Specialized Ambush 2 for ventilation and sits in the middle of the pack in terms of breathability.
For glasses with short arms, there was no interference with the shell and riding glasses rested comfortably. Glasses I tried that had longer arms would bottom out on the shell, pushing them off my face.
You could, though, stash glasses and goggles on the Forefront 2 easily enough – as you’d hope for such an expensive helmet.
For this price, it would be nice to see Smith include an accessory mount.
How does the Smith Forefront 2 helmet compare to the Endura MT500 MIPS?
Both of these lids use Koroyd protection, along with EPS foam and MIPS. The Smith is lighter and more vented thanks to the well thought-out location of the Koroyd. This makes it cooler in use.
However, the Endura wins on comfort and style, with plush padding and a secure fit that doesn’t cause pressure points. For all-day comfort, the Endura outshines the Smith, but it might not be right for those who run hot.
Smith Forefront 2 helmet bottom line
Considering its price, I would expect the Forefront 2 to be close to flawless. While it’s a good helmet, it isn’t great and that’s what you should expect for so much money.
Padding and comfort are limited, and ventilation is moderate. There are other helmets that offer similar tech and features, with better riding performance, for a lower price.
How we tested
These helmets make up our 2023 trail helmets group test.
We tested nine open-face lids from a range of brands, featuring different tech and takes on performance and comfort to see who came up with the goods.
- Leatt MTB AllMtn 4.0 review
- Troy Lee Designs Flowline MIPS review
- Endura MT500 MIPS review
- Lazer Jackal KinetiCore
- Bell Super Air Spherical MIPS review
- Specialized Ambush 2 review
- Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS review
- Scott Stego Plus review
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, GBP £199.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 372g (Small), Array, g|
|What we tested||br_whatWeTested, 5, 8, What we tested, Smith Forefront 2|
|Year||br_year, 5, 9, Year, 2023|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Smith optics|
|Features||br_Features, 11, 0, Features, MIPS, Koroyd, adjustable retention cradle, adjustable peak|
|MIPS||br_MIPS, 11, 0, MIPS, Yes|
|Helmet type||br_helmetType, 11, 0, Helmet type, Mountain bike open face|