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We had some summer! Well, some of us had to leave the country to see any of it, but it’s confirmed that the Grinder crew has been out on actual dusty trails on several occasions over the last couple of months. This doesn’t mean we’ve gone easy on our gear testing. Far from it! We’ve been out every evening, bashing stuff so we can tell you what works and what doesn’t.


Price: £120.00 // From: Ultrasport, Tested: Two months

Better known for its eyewear and goggle range, Smith Optics is a relative newcomer to the helmet market. Despite this, the company has made quite a splash since introducing the Forefront and Overtake helmets thanks to their distinctive designs and innovative Koroyd technology.

The Rover is the latest helmet offering from Smith Optics, and it comes into the range as a cheaper alternative to the existing Forefront. Stylistically speaking, it’s a little more conventional than the Forefront which is a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it design.

Our test helmet is a MIPS-equipped model, though a non-MIPS Rover is also available for 20 quid less. All Rover helmets come in three sizes, and you can also get a non-peaked version called the Route.

The Rover is still built with a polycarbonate outer shell and an EPS foam core, but instead of lining the whole helmet inner with Koroyd (which is apparently quite an expensive material), it relies on a small Koroyd panel on each side of the head. Made up of lots of tiny plastic tubes, Koroyd is designed to offer a lightweight and breathable crumple zone that Smith claims is better at absorbing impact energy than EPS foam. With the Rover, Smith has used less of it, but placed it in the spots where you’re most likely to need it.

A side benefit of the reduced Koroyd coverage is improved ventilation. I’ve found the Rover to be a little breezier than the Forefront, with 18 large vents creating good airflow that isn’t interrupted as much by the tiny plastic Koroyd straw tubes. Mind you, coverage around the back of the helmet isn’t quite as deep as the Forefront, but it still offers more protection than a traditional cross-country lid.

The finish on the Rover is excellent, and I dig the toxic-waste matte green colour. The full in-mould construction ensures that there’s less exposed foam to damage, with the PC shell wrapping all the way along the underside of the helmet rim.

Helmet fit is always going to be subjective, but Smith has gone some way to ensure the Rover will work for as many noggins as possible. The VaporFit system provides multiple anchor points for adjusting the harness, so it’s worth experimenting with it to get the fit dialled in properly. Its svelte profile also minimises interference with riding glasses, which is a pet peeve of mine.

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About Singletrack

UK Adventure: A Dead Good Day Out Pete Scullion follows one of the Lake District’s coffin trails, from graveyard to pub. UK Adventure: Down The Sandstone Way Oli Townsend checks out England’s newest long distance trail. International Adventure: Rumble in the Jungle Jason Miles races across Sri Lanka, fuelled by tea, coffee, and a fear of elephants. Trail Hunter: Through the Bogs of Time Tom Fenton revisits the remote, and rather wet, Doethie Valley. Is it as good as he remembers? Singletrack Room 101 Resident Grumpy Mark presides over your submissions to Room 101. Classic Ride: Avebury, Wiltshire Tom Hutton explores the rolling hills and standing stones, while testing Murphy’s First Law of Mountain Biking. Grouptest: Waterproof Shorts We’ve ground our gussets, soaked our seams, and wet our waistbands in search of shorts to keep our derrières dry. Bike Test: Living the Ti-Life Jason Miles stops stroking and staring at three polished 29er lovelies from J Guillem, Kona and Stanton and takes them out to see whether they ride as well as the look. Through the Grinder An array of goods sprinkled with summer rain, ground in summer mud, and very occasionally exposed to actual direct sunlight. Grinder Bike: Scott Scale 710+ Scott’s plus size hardtail put through mile after mile of testing. International Adventure: Murky Morzine Our Rob heads off on his summer holidays, which prove somewhat damp, but nonetheless fun. International Adventure: Blackburn Rangers Chipps goes riding in the wilderness with the varied characters who will be promoting the Blackburn brand this year.