It's undeniable that one of the bike important pieces of kit for mountain biking is the helmet - next to the bike itself, of course. Brands are beginning to understand our concern for having a super safe piece of protective wear that doesn't feel too lumpy, uncomfortable and downright ugly.

One such brand to boldly attempt to marry style and safety is Smith Optics. The US brand is highly regarded for producing some of the best protective wear for urban and snow sports, such as snowboarding, skating and cycling.

I was pretty impressed by the Smith Rover helmet earlier this year which saved my head from the fat-biking challenge of the Snow Bike Festival in Switzerland. So when the new Smith's Forefront MIPS Helmet landed on my desk, I wondered whether it would surpass my high expectations.

Smith's Forefront MIPS Helmet - Features

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As you can see in the photos, Smith's Forefront MIPS helmet has plenty of vents throughout and what makes this design even cooler is that the ventilation has been carefully incorporated into the aesthetic of the lid. So rather having a helmet with sections carved out for air-flow, Smith has made their ventilation a trendy feature.

We're beginning to see a lot more Koroyd technology being used in protection nowadays and that's because it's lightweight and incredibly robust upon impact. What looks to be a cross-section of cut straws not only aids the ventilation system but surpasses existing protection materials on the market.

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An integrated camera/light mount sits on top of the helmet and a goggle retention clip around the back.

The fastening mechanism uses a Boa retention system which comfortably cradles the back of your head and with small incremental adjustments, it's really easy to dial in a snug fit. The straps on either side have a pleasant silky smooth finish so there's no risk of irritation against the skin.

Last but not least, Smith's Forefront MIPS helmet comes in a wide variety of sizes catering smaller heads of 51cm up to larger sizes of 62cm. These sizes are available in some of the coolest designs and colours we've seen on the market - Perfect to compliment your theme with.

Smith's Squad ChromaPop goggles

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What better way to compliment your new Forefront lid than with a pair of matching Smith goggles. The new Squad ChromaPop goggles have been designed with years of snow and riding experiences to develop a lightweight, protective and crystal clear breathable pair of goggles.

"ChromaPop™ Lens Technology: Smith's patent pending ChromaPop lens technology enhances clarity and natural colour to let you live every moment in more detail. More detail gives you the advantage needed to perform confidently"

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The wide silicone strap is tacky to touch and stretchy making it a perfect fit for the Forefront helmet which has an integrated goggle strap clip to keep them in place. Nodules on either side of the lens make them suitable for using with tear-aways and the lattice ventilation around the frame help reduce fog buildup and keeps airflow channelled through.

Like the Forefront MIPS helmet, the Squad ChromaPop goggles are available in a wide variety of colours and lens grades to suit.

Verdict

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I didn't think I could like a Smith helmet more than the Rover which set a pretty high standard for the brand to match, let alone beat. However, the Forefront helmet has surpassed my expectations and it's largely owing to the clever ventilation system which not only has a function but is well incorporated into the design of the helmet.

It's comfortable to wear for long rides and when coupled with the Squad ChromaPop goggles, you get unparalleled optical excellence - they're certainly an eye opener.

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