Aero can be funny. Something may look fast, but we all know that looks aren’t everything. And sometimes what looks slow and bulky is actually pretty darn quick. That’s why we have the tunnel. The tunnel doesn’t lie. Inside, fast is fast and slow is slow. Which is why when Smith told us their new Overtake was just 1.06 seconds behind the Specialized Evade over 40 km in the tunnel, our mouths collectively hit the floor. To our eyes, the Overtake looked like the helmet you grabbed when the thermometer was in the triple digits, not to transition. But as we mentioned earlier, you can’t judge a book by its cover.
The Smith Overtake
There are many ways to build a helmet. You can start with an aero foundation and build in ventilation and safety, or you can begin with ventilation in mind and build in aero. You get the idea. Smith, however, has the benefit of their AEROCORE technology to start with a base of ventilation, aero, and safety.
Smith’s philosophy behind AEROCORE construction is to increase airflow and improve temperature regulation, resulting in fog-free vision and improved impact resistance. This objective was achieved through the combination of materials such as EPS and Koroyd (the green honeycomb-like material around our helmet above), a new material that absorbs more energy upon impact (compared to international standards), while also increasing airflow. Koroyd is an energy absorber by nature, which is fully breathable and doesn’t compromise impact performance. Koroyd’s open cell construction allows cool air in, while expelling hot air from the rider’s head. The completely open cell construction integrates with internal channels to create the full AEROCORE construction, providing ventilated protection.
Smith has used AEROCORE on a number of their products, but the Overtake was developed to be an aero offering at the next level. Starting with CFD design, Smith built an aero layer above and around the Koroyd and then took it to the FASTER tunnel in Arizona (along with a Specialized Evade, Giro Air Attack, and Giro Aeon). Based on the Wind Averaged Drag method that Smith used, the Evade was the overall winner – but the Overtake was not far behind.
|Model||WAD at 25mph (40k/h)||Time saved over 40k TT at 25mph (40k/h)|
|Specialized Evade||409||0.0 seconds|
|Smith Overtake||412||+1.06 seconds|
|Giro Air Attack||419||+4.15 seconds|
|Giro Aeon||474||+26.8 seconds|
*time difference v. baseline model
Our Overtake was the MIPS (Multi-directional impact protection system) equipped version. When you fall to the ground at an angle, rotational forces are generated. A helmet integrating MIPS technology creates a sliding layer between the outer shell and the head. This allows the helmet’s outer shell to slide relative to the head when hitting the ground, decreasing the rotational force and reducing the potential to damage your brain.
Smith says the regular Overtake will weigh in at 250g. Our MIPS-equipped medium weighed in at 279g and will set you back $290 (the non-MIPS version comes in at $250).
We got the chance to put in plenty of miles with the Overtake and never had a single complaint. The Overtake is incredibly comfortable to wear. Like all helmets, comfort starts with the retention system, and Smith simply got it right. The straps under the ear fit nicely and are easily adjusted. The clasp at the bottoms is small and unobtrusive. And the rotary dial at the back is plenty big enough – even for gloved fingers.
When it came to ventilation, our noggin says the Overtake was at the top of its class. This isn’t a helmet that you can’t wait to take off at every rest stop. In fact, there were few rides, if any, that we didn’t start to forget it was up there. Unlike some helmets where you can feel the specific ventilation channels, the Overtake was cool throughout the entire helmet.
If we had to pick out a negative, it’s the Overtake’s outward appearance. Sure, the data from Smith said it was fast, but we had trouble believing it based on looks. With its overlapping angles and cutaways, we saw plenty of reasons for it not to be fast. But as we said earlier, data always trumps eye tests (though we still wouldn’t mind seeing an aero test done by a neutral third party).
Finally, it can be easy to overlook safety when shopping for a helmet. We can all get caught up in aero data and numbers, but safety still trumps all—especially when you depend on it. And while it’s hard to say that one helmet is safer than another (they are all tested to meet specific standards, but helmet safety is rarely tested comparatively), features like MIPS are game changers. Riding safe is important to the AeroGeeks team, and MIPS is one more way to help make sure we return home in one piece. Interestingly enough, with almost any helmet review we publish these days, we have readers asking if MIPS is a standard or optional feature. So we know we aren’t the only ones wanting to make sure we get home safe.
The Overtake was everything advertised and more. Smith preaches balance, but it’s easy to think of balance as just being a middle ground. But when the ventilation was this good, and Smith’s data says the aero is at the front of the pack, you realize that Smith’s version of balance isn’t just a middle ground – this is king of the hill. And when it comes to picking our race day tools, king of the hill (or better yet, top of the podium) is exactly where we want to be.