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Smith Trace MIPS Review: The Best Road Bike Helmets of 2020 – Cycling Helmet Review

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 90% 90%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 60% 60%
  • Aerodynamics 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 100% 100%

Price: $250

Weight: 280g

Vents: 18

Fit System: VaporFit

Safety Tech: MIPS, Koroyd

What We Like: Top of the Line Safety Features, Improved Ventilation Over Smith Overtake

What We Don’t: Still Not the Best Ventilation, Price

We have tested a number of Smith helmets here at Gearhacker, and we are yet to come across one that we haven’t been fond of. Smith helmets go all in on innovative safety technology. That has been a strong point in the Smith snow and mountain bike helmets that we have reviewed, and it was a strong point of Smith’s previous top of the line road bike helmet, the Overtake. Now, the Overtake has been replaced by the Smith Trace MIPS, which promises to bring its predecessor’s top-notch protection along with improved aerodynamics and ventilation.

Compare to Similar Products

See Our The Best Road Bike Helmets of 2020: Cycling Helmet Review!

POC Ventral SPIN

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 90% 90%
  • Aerodynamics 100% 100%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 100% 100%

Pros

Unparalleled Combination of Weight

Safety

Ventilation

Cons

Price

Weight: 280g

Vents: 14

Fit System: Proprietary 360 Degree Retention System

Safety Tech: SPIN

Giro Synthe MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Aerodynamics 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 90% 90%

Pros

Highly Adjustable

Well Ventilated

Aerodynamic

Great Sale Prices

Cons

MSRP is Nearly as Expensive as the POC Ventral Spin

Weight: 268g

Vents: 26

Fit System: Roc Loc 5 Air

Safety Tech: MIPS

Lazer Z-1 MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Ventilation 100% 100%
  • Aerodynamics 60% 60%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 90% 90%

Pros

MIPS

T Pro

Highly Adjustable

Magneto Eyewear Doc

Cons

Heavy

High MSRP

Weight: 284g

Vents: 31

Fit System: ARS Advanced Rollsys System

Safety Tech: MIPS, T Pro

Giro Aether MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Aerodynamics 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 100% 100%

Pros

MIPS Spherical

Roc Loc 5+ Air Fit Retention System

Cons

Staggering Price Tag

Weight: 267g

Vents: 11

Fit System: Roc Loc 5+ Air

Safety Tech: MIPS Spherical

Smith Trace MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 90% 90%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 60% 60%
  • Aerodynamics 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 100% 100%

Pros

Top of the Line Safety Features

Improved Ventilation Over Smith Overtake

Cons

Still Not the Best Ventilation

Price

Weight: 280g

Vents: 18

Fit System: VaporFit

Safety Tech: MIPS, Koroyd

Giro Foray MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Ventilation 70% 70%
  • Aerodynamics 80% 80%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 80% 80%

Pros

Premium Features at a Budget Price

Cons

Doesn’t Vent or Fit Quite Like the Giro Synthe

Weight: 298g

Vents: 21

Fit System: Roc Loc 5

Safety Tech: MIPS

Bell Stratus MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Ventilation 70% 70%
  • Aerodynamics 70% 70%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 70% 70%

Pros

Premium Features in a Mid Priced Helmet

Cons

Lacks Some of the Safety Features of the Bell Z20 MIPS

Weight: 296g

Vents: 18

Fit System: Float Fit

Safety Tech: MIPS

Kask Valegro

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 80% 80%
  • Weight 90% 90%
  • Ventilation 100% 100%
  • Aerodynamics 70% 70%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 50% 50%

Pros

Lightweight

Great Ventilation

Cons

No MIPS

Issues With Octo Fit Retention System

Weight: 234g

Vents: 37

Fit System: Octo Fit

Safety Tech: In Molding, MIT

Kask Protone

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 80% 80%
  • Weight 80% 80%
  • Ventilation 70% 70%
  • Aerodynamics 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 50% 50%

Pros

Highly Adjustable

Aerodynamic

Cons

No MIPS

Falls Short of the Giro Synthe’s Adjustability and Ventilation

Weight: 248g

Vents: 20

Fit System: Octo Fit

Safety Tech: In Molding, MIT

Bell Z20 MIPS

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 90% 90%
  • Weight 50% 50%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Aerodynamics 70% 70%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 80% 80%

Pros

Float Fit Race Retention System

Ventilation

Cons

Weight

Nowhere to Stash Sunglasses

Weight: 305g

Vents: 18

Fit System: Float Fit Race 

Safety Tech: MIPS

Kask Mojito X

  • Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%
  • Ventilation 60% 60%
  • Aerodynamics 60% 60%
  • Safety Tech and Additional Features 50% 50%

Pros

Solid Performer in Every Category

Cons

Doesn’t Vent or Fit Quite Like the Giro Synthe

Weight: 220g

Vents: 26

Fit System: Up & Down Fit System

Safety Tech: MIT, In Molding

Comfort, Fit, and Adjustability

The Smith Trace MIPS road bike helmet uses Smith’s Vaporfit retention system. The Vaporfit system uses a standard dial in the rear of the helmet to adjust the tightness of the helmet, while the cradle provides for three positions of vertical adjustability, which lock solidly into place rather than shifting during bumps like the vertical adjustment found on the Kask helmets that we reviewed.

The Vaporfit system is very similar to the 360 degree, wrap around nature of BOA fit systems, and allows for a high degree of adjustability without creating pressure points or hotspots.

Meanwhile, the Y straps are large and easily adjusted via standard flip lock buckles.

Weight

At 280g, the Smith Trace MIPS might not win any ultralight awards, but when you consider the added weight of the MIPS insert and plentiful Koroyd protective lining that it sports, the Trace’s weight is actually pretty impressive.

Ventilation

Ventilation was a key area where Smith looked to improve on the Trace’s predecessor, the Smith Overtake. While we love the added protection that Koroyd offers, it causes helmets to run a bit warm. The Trace added two large front facing middle vents free of Koroyd to allow for maximum ventilation. Meanwhile the Koroyd lined vents are angled to channel the maximum amount of airflow into and out of the Trace

In the end, the Smith Trace MIPS is not the most ventilated helmet on the market, so riders who tend to run hot should take this into consideration. However, we are willing to live with a bit of extra heat for the added protection that the Smith Trace affords.

The Smith Trace MIPS also features Smith’s Air Evac ventilation system, which is aimed at pulling air and moisture away from your face and out the exhaust ports, keeping your eyewear fog free.

Safety Tech and Additional Features

Smith has a single-minded dedication to setting the bar for helmet safety, and that commitment is clear with the new Smith Trace MIPS. In addition to the standard MIPS insert to help mitigate rotational impacts, the Smith Trace MIPS features AeroCore and Koroyd. Aerocore is Smith’s own proprietary in molding solution, which claims to offer improved protection via the polycarbonate shell reinforced EPS foam. Meanwhile, Koroyd is where we felt that the Smith Trace, and Smith helmets in general, really takes Smith’s safety-first approach to the next level. 

The Koroyd lining is the honeycomb-like liner that you can see in the Smith Trace MIPS and other high-end Smith helmets. It is essentially made from hundreds of tiny straws that are heat welded together. In the event of a crash, these straws collapse in a very specific and controlled way, which Smith claims absorbs impacts exponentially better than standard EPS foam alone.

We have reviewed a lot of helmets, and we have found few safety technologies that we were more impressed by than Smith’s Koroyd lining.

As far as features, there is a channel between the Koroyd and the shell of the helmet on each side to allow the convenient storage of sunglasses.

Aerodynamics

As with ventilation, aerodynamics is an area where Smith sought to make improvements on the Overtake. Side by side, the Trace is a smaller, sleeker looking helmet than the Overtake, and it looks like it would be significantly more aerodynamic. Smith even goes so far as to claim that after testing the new Trace MIPS against other high-end road bike helmets, the Smith Trace MIPS was found to have the best ventilation of the bunch. However, Smith did not release which helmets were included in this test.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a helmet that goes all in on safety technology, then a Smith helmet will rarely steer you wrong and the Smith Trace MIPS road bike helmet is a perfect example of that. It certainly makes a few sacrifices to achieve its lofty goal of pushing the boundaries of helmet safety, but we think they are well worth it. Finally, at $250, the Smith Trace MIPS is right in line with other top of the line helmets from a pricing perspective. If you want maximum protection and don’t mind a helmet that is a bit warmer than the competition, then the Smith Trace might be the best road bike helmet for you.

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