Let’s be honest, there’s a heap of options out there when it comes to protecting your noggin. The decision between safety, style, comfort and your other personal preferences (aero, sunnies storage, etc) can be tricky but, ultimately, you need to ensure your head is protected at all times. Smith stands out from the crowd by using something called Koroyd - a technology they founded to enhance impact protection. Koroyd is made up of hundreds of extruding hollow tubes. Smith uses Aerocore construction it calls ‘EPS foam’, and Koroyd, to deliver breathability as well as increased impact protection. In the Smith Network helmet, the Koroyd is placed in different zones to offer the ultimate impact protection where it's needed, at the sides of the head. Going one step further to protect your head, Smith have also used MIPS technology. It’s fair to say, this lid has you covered when it comes to head protection.
Onto the style of the helmet - which is always subjective, right?! Personally, I like the design and aesthetic of the Smith Network. It’s got some swag without being too over the top. It’s well-suited to the road, all-road, gravel, leisure or commuting with a focus on comfort and protection rather than race and aero. That’s not to say it isn’t swift through a block headwind, though, because it is - but that’s not its primary focus. And anyway, I wouldn’t be the rider to test this lid at high speeds. I’d say it’s a versatile lid and can adapt to any riding style or environment you might be pedaling through.
I’m a medium in most helmets and it’s no different with the Smith Network. The fit feels great and is easily adjustable (but not as supreme as some others) by the Vapofit retention system. The straps do what they do and buckle you in, but they don’t feel uber fabulous, however, this is just small gripe. Occasionally, I found they liked to tangle on themselves and twist, but this problem isn’t unique to the Network. On the comfort front there's enough X-Static padding to keep things uber comfy. There’s also an antimicrobial lining that offers sweat-activated odor control which helps when your helmet is dangling from your stem at the front of the café.
The handy storage compartment (pass-through channels) on the front or rear helps you stow your sunnies away. It makes sense that – with Smith being an optics brand first and foremost – the eyewear integration is dialed. I’ve used the sunnies storage with a few different brands - Oakley and 100% to name a few - and it works well but is best with Smith’s own sunglass styles. I used Smith Wildcats and found them great - easy and simple to stow away on the lid. However, on bumpy occasions i.e. rough gravel roads, they did bounce around quite a bit so I removed them from the storage port. The most noticeable part of their clever helmet/eyewear integration is the AirEvac™ ventilation system which integrates with Smith eyewear for fog-free lenses. Believe me: this works - really well! On climbs, I often have my lenses fog up, but with the Network/Wildcat combo I didn’t have any trouble whatsoever. And, the group who we did a recent long ride with, all had the Smith Network and Smith Wildcat combination and didn’t experience any fogging issues either.
I can’t talk at length about the ventilation as it’s been mid-winter when testing this helmet. However, from what I’ve experienced, it seems to vent reasonably well and I’ll report back when using it in spring/summer. Overall, it’s a great lid packed with a ton of features. The two layers of protection (Koyord/MIPS) does add some weight but it’s a small price to pay. Smith have paid great attention to the integration between helmet and eyewear and have added subtle style without being overzealous. This lid has been on high rotation since receiving it and I don’t expect that to stop anytime soon.
Distributor: Sportive NZ
Words: Liam Friary
Images: Jeremy Hooper