Designed and imagined with the needs of everyday riders at their core (nope they don't come with a coffee cup and croissant - some needs can't be met here), Smith recently released to the US their new Route and Rover helmets. A less expensive pairing than the Forefront and Overtake (we'll get onto why that is in a minute), the Route offers a road orientated shape, but equally is one we can see proving popular on both casual rides and commutes, whereas the Rover, the more MTB orientated lid, is squarely aimed at mountain trail and bike-packing adventure.
MAKE TECH NOT TEA
Smith Optics (to use the eyewear, helmet, and goggle-making company’s proper name) has been around for over half a century. With a history of developing innovative tech to enhance kit performance, Smith was the first company to make a ski goggle with a sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam (incredibly innovative then, now completely the norm - don't fall asleep at the back). So yada yada yada, a couple of years ago they parlayed their tech-chops and entered the heady world of the bicycle helmet with the Forefront and the Overtake, for trail/MTB and road riding respectively.
Let's just say that they were popular....really popular.
Built around the science fiction arousing name of Koroyd, this wonder material afforded a step change in the level of impact protection when compared to traditional helmet materials. Smith cleverly combined Koroyd with EPS (Expanded Polystyrene - not a boy band, or something you picked up on holiday), to make what they call an AEROCORE construction system which improves impact resistance while also effectively ventilating, regulating temperature and offering swooshy noise aerodynamics.
Without trying to reinvent the wheel, Smith has managed to help change the way we look at styling, as well as which materials we use in the helmet industry. Lightweight construction with subtle aerodynamic properties and outrageous styling and colours to choose from, what’s not to like?
The main difference between the Route and the Rover and the Forefront and Overtake is that everyday applicability. There is a larger amount of Koroyd used in the construction of the Forefront and Overtake, which in part is down to their race ready credentials. In the Route and Rover, the use of Koroyd is much more targeted, and is used only in key areas where an impact is most likely. There's also good news for lovers of the current dimension: a larger proportion of Koroyd does not make you more susceptible to breaches in the space/time continuum. Cake, eaten.
The bike for me is a part of my life from commuting and just stress relief. Yea, it's how I get most of my exercise.
Nolan, Smith Ambassador and Tester
To compare performance with other helmets on the market, the unique selling point of the Route and the Rover is the use of Smith's heady blend of protection and ventilation tech, plus the applicability to a wider range of disciplines - there won't be many commuters pulling on a Forefront MIPS and goggles. Ok, there will be one, there is always one.
Smith's top-end helmets are widely praised for offering a supremely comfy fit, and the same fit system is used in the Route and Rover. Many other design fundamentals are also the same as helmets further up the Smith range, meaning that you can effectively snag a top of the range helmet at a lower price; something not necessarily the case with other lid brands.