- VaporFit™ provides excellent fit even on smaller heads
- Zonal ventilated protection featuring Koroyd™ material
- MIPS system optional
- Competitively priced for MIPS helmet
- Lifetime warranty
- Can get warm on hot days
Cost: $180 MSRP with MIPS; $150 MSRP without MIPS
How obtained: review sample from company
Available: online, retail, Smith website
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 40+ hours
Sleek Design with High Marks for Safety
When I set out to test this helmet I encountered a number of firsts. I own a great pair of Smith ski goggles for winter fat tire biking, but never used or even tried on a Smith helmet. That was until a visit to Smith’s booth at InterBike 2016. Testing this lid is also the first time I ever used a helmet with MIPS. And definitely the first time trying one that uses Koroyd.
Snug, Comfortable Fit
I always have issues finding a helmet that fits well because I take a small. Seems most helmets are designed for a man’s head. But as I put on the Route helmet, it fit perfectly. Just a few turns of the rear adjustment dial and the helmet was snug and very comfortable. The sleek design and light weight were also a plus, weighing in at 10 ounces (300 g).
I noticed from my very first test ride, the helmet stayed in place. If I hit a bump on the road or trail, it didn’t move around on my head. When road riding, I wear a rear mirror on my sunglasses, so the snug fit prevents any issues with my mirror or sunglasses being jostled.
The snug fit is attributed to Smith’s VaporFit adjustable system, which uses an integrated rotary dial adjustment system. Each VaporFit system has a full 5cm of rotary adjustability. Additionally, the system can be moved up/down or forward/backward at the attachment points. The final result is increased comfort with a personalized, secure fit.
In addition, the placement of the straps also works really well. There was no rubbing of my ear or uncomfortable positioning. You just put the helmet on and forget it’s there.
Ventilation vs. Added Safety
Smith’sobjective and design philosophy behind the company’s Aerocore™ construction is to increase airflow and improve temperature regulation, resulting in fog-free vision, and improved impact resistance. The Route helmet utilizes two Koroyd side inserts (I describe it as “honeycomb”-looking material) providing zonal ventilated protection on both sides of the helmet. Koroyd is a unique structure designed to reduce trauma levels by managing the energy transfer in an impact.
In a crash, the Koroyd cores crush, dissipating the energy from the impact and reducing trauma. This is most helpful in low-speed crashes where the impact often is not enough to compress the Styrofoam inside the helmet, but great enough to cause head trauma.
The inserts are basically strips of Koroyd material (the green “honeycomb” you can see in the photos). The inserts cover 4 of the 18 vents. When I was testing the helmet, a black model, the temperature of my rides ranged from 40 – 75 degrees F (4.4 – 24 C).
As the temps got into the 70s, I did notice my head got much warmer than it would in some of my other helmets. For me, this helmet brings with it a choice: added safety over being a little warmer. I’d pick the safety factor (but my choice will likely change when temps climb beyond the 70s).
I should mention that one of the most common complaints about the Smith Overtake and Forefront helmets has been poor ventilation because they used full-Koroyd inserts over the majority of the vents in those models, basically covering the entire head in Koroyd.
However, in reading other reviews of the Route model I tested, with the limited side inserts, I did not see any similar comments about lack of ventilation. So to be fair, my own experience may not be the same as other riders. I tend to run hot when I ride, and I have thick hair; your results may be different.
This helmet comes in both MIPS and non-MIPS versions. The helmet I tested had the MIPS technology, which is becoming more and more common across many of the major helmet companies’ entire lines.
You can see the MIPS liner (light gray) covering the Koroyd inserts in the inside photo of the helmet, above. The liner attaches to the helmet on the little yellow posts, which allow the helmet shell to slide over the liner in the event of a crash. Click the following link for more info on MIPS.
What is MIPS?
Modern (non-MIPS) bike helmets are wonderful pieces of technology in terms of their impact resistance. They are designed – and tested – to help prevent skull fractures and other major blunt-force trauma. They are not, however, designed to mitigate the forces that can cause a concussion.
A Swedish company called Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) patented the slip plane concept (what it calls a low-friction layer), using two layers in the helmet (the MIPS “liner”) to help mitigate the rotational force of an impact, which can result in a concussion or other brain injury. Here’s how the company itself describes the technology:
“In a helmet with MIPS Brain Protection System the shell and the liner are separated by a low friction layer. When a helmet with MIPS Brain Protection System is subjected to an angled impact, the low friction layer allows the helmet to slide relative to the head.”
I like the sleek design and secure fit of the Route helmet. The additional safety features are also a big plus, without breaking the bank. During my testing period, I received numerous compliments on the helmet design, as well as curiosity about the Koroyd material. This will definitely be one of my “go to” helmets until temps get above 75 degrees. In hotter/humid temps, it will just be too warm for me, but your experience may differ.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio.