What do you look for in a bicycle helmet? Good looks? Ventilation? Speed? Or perhaps its primary purpose….. safety? It seems that in order to go after all of these characteristics, helmet manufacturers have previously had to pursue a give ‘n take relationship with riders. This helmet will save you 45 seconds over a 40km time trial!
This helmet will keep you soooo cool with its 37 vents! But it will act like a sieve. Finding a helmet that ticks all the boxes is tough. After a month or so of riding ‘The Overtake’ from Smith Optics, I feel this helmet takes us closer to solving the equation of delivering aerodynamics with ventilation and aesthetics, all the while holding safety to a premium.
The Overtake distinct construction makes use of Smith’s patented AEROCORE™ which is a combination of regular EPS foam with Koroyd®. Koroyd® is the honeycomb looking material that fills the vents in the EPS foam structure of the helmet. Using this AEROCORE™ technology Smith claims to able to provide ventilation with very little loss in aerodynamics. The helmet comes with the option of Mips Brain Protection System as well which sits between the AEROCORE™ and the outer shell. The overall weight of the helmet runs 286g for a large which puts it lightest in its class for aero road helmets (Giro Attack 295g, Evade 347g). The straps are a soft weave material, not unlike Giro’s straps and are adjusted easily with tri-glides, a feature that some helmet makers do away with in an attempt to claim a lower weight. The Vapor Fit dial system at the rear offers 360-degree fit to maintain even pressure throughout.
Free speed, who doesn’t want it? Through its development with famous aerodynamicist Len Brownlie, Smith ran the Overtake against other leading aero road helmets such as the Specialized Evade and Giro Air Attack. The final results had it finishing a close second to the Evade in wind average drag (WAD).
One of the advantages of Koroyd® is that is allows the thickness of the helmet to be slimmer than others. Koroyd® is 20% stronger than EPS so by using less material, a slimmer profile cuts through the wind. Having done several races and TT’s in the helmet the biggest thing I’ve noticed is how quiet it is. The air-flow over and through it seems to be effortless and very controlled. The ear straps took a little bit of work to adjust properly so that they were not flapping around at high speed but are now dialed in snug.
The combination of Koroyd® and EPS allows more vents to be placed on the Overtake without sacrificing protection and comfort. 20mm of Koroyd® passes the same safety standards as 25mm of EPS and offers a 30% reduction in energy transmission upon impact. The Mips Brain protection system is a supplemental feature The Overtake offers providing state of the art protection. The low friction Mips layer lies between the shell and the liner. When subjected to an angled impact the low friction layer allows the helmet to slide relative to the head, resulting in less jarring. Thankfully I have not had the opportunity to test out the safety characteristics of the helmet quite yet but having them in place gives me greater assurance in protecting the old noggin.
Each vent in The Overtake is filled with Koroyd®. By using the honeycomb structure Smith claims to increase ventilation both to and from the head through greater laminar flow and stack-effect. Laminar flow as we all know is preferred over turbulent. In the case of heat exchange with your head it makes sense that to get cool air in and hot air out you would want the flow to be as laminar as possible. The second observation I have made is that the Koroyd® structure must also be utilizing stack-effect (think in terms of your fireplace chimney) to exhaust hot air from your head. By having hundreds of small chimneys the Koroyd® is in fact ‘pulling’ hot air through the helmet to keep you cool. This removal of heat also provides fog-free vision, something I have benefitted from through the entire use thus far. I haven’t had a truly hot day yet to test the ventilation but having tried the ‘other’ aero road helmets I can say that this one feels to provide more air flow.
The Overtake comes in 12 different colours. A large range compared to other helmets. Everything from hot pink to mustard yellow (no judging) to matte black which is what I purchased. Every aero helmet has its distinct look to it, The Overtake does not disappoint here. Somewhat between the Evade and the Synthe, it takes on a Transformer like look from the front. The side profile actually looks quite normal with a sloped back forming a pointed end to it. Depending on what colour scheme you choose the Koroyd® can blend into the helmet (matte black) or distinctively stand out (white/green). The one drawback I have found with the design is that placing your glasses can be a bit of a challenge. Smith advises to turn the frame upside down and place on the front channel although this can be tricky while riding. If I take the glasses off I have been opting to place them behind my head for a more secure fit.
Overall I have found the helmet to offer a nice alternative to the first generation of aero road helmets providing little ventilation. The Overtake ups the game for ventilation without sacrificing aerodynamics. The Koroyd® material pulls this helmet a part from the field in terms of research and design. With performance and safety data backed by results I feel confident that this helmet is giving me an edge on aerodynamics and safety while out on my bike.