Koroyd and MIPS-equipped; hi-viz color, with other colors to choose from; minimalist retention system
Bright and visible; if you don’t like high viz yellow, there are eight others colors to choose from; Koroyd in most ventilation ports keeps bees and other insects out of your helmet when you’re riding; the helmet has one of the smoothest-functioning harness systems we tested
Exposed EPS foam at the light mount can get chewed up from strapping and unstrapping a light; critters can still fly in through the ports left Koroyd-free for strapping lights.
The Trace clearly has safety on its mind, with a hi-viz shell encompassing Koroyd honeycomb material to address impact forces, and MIPS to counter rotational forces. The real treat is the minimalist and super-comfortable retention system. Venting is good, but if you’re after the airiest helmet, this isn’t it. It’s a unique offering that earns top marks for comfort.
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With a record number of cyclists getting hit and killed by cars each year, Smith decided to focus on making riders more visible to motorists with its neon yellow Trace. The helmet provides high visibility from all directions day and night thanks to the bright yellow crown, and 360° reflectivity when the helmet is illuminated by headlights or other lights. If you want to be even more visible, and also be able to better see where you’re going, the helmet has light-mount compatibility. Beyond visibility, however, the Trace also offers a minimalist fit and feel, and an exceptional retention system.
For the past three years, Smith helmets have featured Koroyd, a honeycomb-shaped material that Smith claims crumples more evenly on impact than straight foam, and absorbs both direct and rotational impacts better than the straight EPS foam used in most helmets. Koroyd achieves this without blocking ventilation, according to Smith. The wind should pass right through Koroyd’s honeycomb tubes.
The Trance has 18 vents, most of which are oversized. They channeled air around my head to keep sweat to a minimum on straightaways and descents. On climbs, the ports did a fine job of dissipating moisture. That said, Koroyd is definitely not as airy as an open-vented helmet. Air often has to strike the honeycomb openings at just the right angle to actually reach your head. If you’re after the most vented helmet out there, this helmet might disappoint you, but it’s not exceptionally hot either.
In addition to crushable and impact-absorbing Koroyd, Smith’s Trace has a rotational-force absorbing MIPS liner. Smith worked with MIPS to design it so the plastic MIPS liner doesn’t block venting. Minimalist antibacterial pads Velcro to that liner. They were a soft interface between the helmet and my head, and they kept the funk at bay, even when I zipped this helmet inside my gear bag and forgot about it between rides.
The rear vent ports held sunglasses securely when I wasn’t wearing them. Sunglass frame arms slid securely into Rear vent ports. When I was wearing shades, the Trace’s eyebrow vents did a great job of drawing air through to keep my shades from fogging.
The helmet retention system was the most minimalist and the most comfortable of any helmet I tested. Ultralight webbing works seamlessly with the twist-to-tighten harness to secure the helmet without it feeling restrictive. Four harness positions gave me options. The best choice sometimes varied with my hairstyle du jour.
The Trace offers adequate venting and excellent comfort — thanks in large part to the minimalist retention system. The hi-viz color option is an added bonus for the safety-conscious, though there are other colors available. It looks unique, fits well, and offers impact and rotational protection thanks to Koroyd. The Trace ticks all the boxes for a reliable road or gravel helmet.