Smith’s first foray into the crowded world of cycling helmets happened in 2013, when they introduced a mountain biking helmet called the Forefront. They’re recently stepped up their game offering a full-featured road helmet that, like the Forefront, features unique honeycomb-style protection that keeps you safe and breathes well. This new helmet was the Smith Overtake, and I’ve been touting it across Washington state throughout the Fall.
Smith Overtake MIPS Features:
- NEW X-Static with Reactive Cooling Performance Lining
- Ultra-Light Single Layer Webbing
- AirEvac Ventilation
- Ultimate Sunglass Integration
- MIPS system available in select colors
- Lightweight AEROCORE In-Mold Construction
- Ventilated Protection Featuring Patented Koroyd Material
- Integrated Skeletal Structure and Carbon Fiber Reinforcements
- VaporFit Adjustable Fit System
- 21 Optimized Vents Balance Aerodynamic Performance Without Compromising Ventilation
- MSRP: $250
Can a sunglass company compete?
It is a little risky to have your first road helmet offering be as unique as the Smith Overtake. The name of the company, after all, is ‘Smith Optics,’ so there’s a risk that people will take your product for a gimmick. And let’s be honest, the Forefront is weird – it’s missing the EPS foam that we’re all so familiar with, and instead it has this unique honeycomb structure that seems to good to be true.
The purpose of the unique protection, which Smith dubs ‘Aerocore,’ is a special structure that promotes air exchange while maintaining a high level of protection. This, coupled with the MIPS system, means that you’re riding in style, comfort and safety. First let’s jump into the Aerocore stuff. Aerocore is essentially the honeycomb pattern that’s obviously visible from the outside of the helmet. It works in conjunction with some standard EPS foam and, crucially, a new material called Koroyd that makes up the actual comb structure. Smith says that it absorbs more energy on impact than traditional EPS foam, and the most noticeable difference is that it excels at transferring heat and moisture. It basically means that all of the vents on a helmet are still providing some amount of protection, while on a traditional helmet those vents are just holes.
Equally important is the optional MIPS system that’s available in certain color schemes. It’s worth checking out the link to the MIPS page, because the technology is dead simple but highly effective. Essentially, on a MIPS-equipped helmet there’s a component to the structure that will rotate relative to the helmet during a crash that imparts rotational energy to your head. So, this rotation is transferred to the system rather than your head. MIPS has some excellent diagrammatic videos that explain the concept.
Of course, you’re not really thinking about these things when you’re riding. Fit and function are the name of the game most days. One of the neatest things about the Overatake, in terms of fit, is that the helmet is designed to cradle your head with some distance between your scalp and the Aerocore tubes. So, there’s actually not a whole lot of helmet in direct contact with your head, which makes for a comfortable fit on long rides. Naturally, there’s also a little micro-adjust at the back of the helmet to get a precise fit.
One of the coolest functions of the Overtake is that it was designed to work directly with Smith’s glasses, especially their Pivlock Arena Max glasses that I tested this summer. The upshot is that, taken as a pair, you have almost entirely uncompromised vision in all directions, especially straight ahead when your head is down, but also to both sides as you would expect. It’s primarily that great frontal field-of-view that Smith maintains by keeping the bulk of the helmet out of the way that’s unique. Additionally, there are glasses keepers so you can stow your glasses forwards, backwards or however’s comfortable. That sort of things is great for long hot climbs; hanging them off of my jersey has had me stopping and backtracking when the glasses popped out without my noticing before. I was really happy with the Overtake’s system – they held onto my Pivlocks like an absolute champ.
I suppose the one potential caveat to the Overtake is its weight. It clocks in around 250g and there are certainly lighter lids. The page for the helmet on Competitive Cyclist (linked below) offers some useful comparisons; suffice it to say, in both the categories of weight and aerodynamics, the Overtake is in the middle of the pack. It beats some helmets, but loses out to the top helmets in each category. Smith’s focus was on impact protection and overall function, so that’s what they’re trying to sell with the Overtake.
- Aerocore looks awesome and, by the research, keeps you safe
- MIPS is also a great protective feature
- Aerocore + Koroyd = great ventilation on hot days
- Intentional integration with Smith’s glasses is a really nice touch
- Very comfortable on long-distance rides
- Definitely kept my sweat-prone noggin cooler
- There are lighter and more aerodynamic helmets out there
The Bottom Line: Smith Overtake MIPS
It’s not an overstatement to say that Smith’s Overtake has taken the helmet world by storm. It’s become my go-to lid for both road and cyclocross endeavours, and the peace of mind that comes with having a helmet designed with such a high premium on protection is enormous. Fortunately, Smith didn’t stop there and it’s also competitive in every category, even if it doesn’t lead in all categories. No doubt it’s the sort of thing that you can promote as necessary protective gear when friends and loved ones start asking about what to put beneath that Christmas tree.
Buy Now: Available from CompetitiveCyclist