Smith Overtake helmet - review - Road Cycling UK

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Helmets

Smith Overtake helmet – review

An aero helmet with decent ventilation and innovative safety design

When the Smith Overtake helmet arrived in the postbag ready for testing, it was immediately distinctive. Normally you can’t say that about a lid, but Smith’s aero road helmet really does look like a well-engineered piece of kit.

Its main purpose is to be an aero helmet while also providing good levels of ventilation, all the while giving excellent protection (of course). To achieve this, Smith came up with the ‘Aerocore’ concept, which makes the most of a striking material known as ‘Koroyd’ that firstly absorbs and then apparently disperses more energy on impact, while also helping to create a boundary layer of air that can flow over the head, according to Smith.

Simultaneously, it also allows the EPS foam helmet shell to feature more vents – 20 at our count, and 21 if you choose to count the rearmost hole as two – so ventilation is intended to be very good despite the aero properties of the lid.

The Smith Overtake helmet is designed to combine aerodynamics with ventilation

On the road, we have no way of actually testing the aero claims, nor are we about to have a crash on purpose to see if our higher brain functions remain intact after impact (sorry about that), but if the numbers are to be believed (and they are Smith’s own, obviously), then this is a quick helmet.

  • Specification

  • Price: £185 (£200 for MIPS version)
  • Weight: 259g (medium)
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, large
  • Size tested: M
  • Colours: Various
  • Website: Smith Optics

While riding, the Koroyd, straw-like hexagonal construction proved itself capable of providing ample (if not spectacular) levels of ventilation in typical UK late summer/early autumn conditions.

Compared to open vented helmets, I found it to give (anecdotally) about nine tenths of the cooling performance when rolling at speed. When climbing, it’s a little less effective because air isn’t being forced over the helmet. I personally found things got a little toasty around the flanks of the lid when really working hard on a climb, but when rolling at speed on the flat or down a descent, it is impressively cool considering you’re riding with partially blocked ventilation holes.

I primarily tested the Overtake in temperatures in the low twenties and during a cool snap when the mercury dropping to around 7-8 degrees in the morning. Given my observation that it gets a touch warmer on climbs, I think it’d struggle in very warm summer weather especially in places like the Alps, but for general UK riding it’s fine.

An added bonus is if you happen to be caught in a shower, where the Koroyd material functions as a membrane to protect against water entering the helmet. In a prolonged downpour it’ll naturally allow water in, but when it comes to showers it’s got you pretty well covered (if you’ll pardon the pun).

The Overtake also has a lightweight retention system, known as ‘Vaporfit’. The aim of this minimalist system, which takes the form of a rear cranium support that’s adjustable via a dial, is to keep airflow as high as possible without negating support.

Nothing new there, but the curvature of the narrow supports that surround the circumference of the head are flexible and do provide a surprising amount of comfort when fitted properly, which you can further customise by lowering or raising the rear to one of three settings.

That comfort of the overall fit is assisted by the helmet’s pads, which as you’ll see from the pictures fit around the frontal area and up over the central portion of the head. The pads are plushy and (most importantly) well positioned to have minimal blocking effect on the ventilation.

Ventilation is good in typical UK conditions but it can get a little warm on harder climbs

It all sounds pretty good so far, but there’s a small word of warning to be had: the design of the helmet means that if you have a backpack with a helmet attachment device (as I do), it’s rendered useless thanks to the blocked-off nature of the vents, and central pillar support. Yes, this is an issue with many (nay, all) aero helmets, but it’s worth noting if you want to transport your Overtake in between rides. Most riders won’t find it an issue, I’d imagine.

If you happen to own a set of Smith’s decent Pivlock sunglasses, they’ll fit nicely on the helmet when you aren’t wearing them, and the lid sits high enough off the head for the shades to fit perfectly (unlike when we wore the Pivlocks with the MET Manta recently).

While the Overtake tested doesn’t feature MIPS, there is a MIPS-specific version available for an extra £15

This non-MIPS helmet medium helmet weighed in at 259g, which is reasonable for an aero helmet, all things considered. The Overtake is also offered in a MIPS version, bumping the price up to £200.

Conclusion

The Smith Overtake helmet is a striking lid, and has many things playing in its favour. Given its all-round performance, reasonable weight and good levels of ventilation in most conditions (for an aero helmet), £185 seems slightly less outrageous than it might otherwise appear.  

Pros

  • Innovative design
  • Reasonably airy for an aero lid
  • Comfortable fit
  • MIPS version available

Cons

  • Expensive for a non-MIPS lid
  • Physically bulky
  • Can get a bit warm when working hard

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