It isn’t every review we get to say a product helped keep the AeroGeeks safe. But the Smith’s Ignite MIPS gets that distinction after our Chief Editor hit the pavement during a demo ride. Luckily for him the only major damage was to his ego. The Ignite MIPS kept his head off the pavement and sometimes it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day helmets are more than just aero and cooling – they are meant to keep our noggins safe. But thats also why when you see the images below you may notice some scuffs, bumps, and scratches to our bright yellow Ignite. Because any time you hit the deck at 20 mph – something is going to break and everything is going to hurt.
The Smith Ignite MIPS
The Ignite is everything that Smith learned from building both the Overtake and Podium TT, packed into an every ride helmet. Easy ride with friends, grab the Ignite. Criterium ride – the Ignite will have you covered. T1 to T2 – the Ignite will handle that too. It’s a through and through aero road helmet. And with any aero road helmet – the start of it is the shape. The Ignite shape is very much a hybrid of the Overtake and Podium – fewer (but intentionally placed vents) with an internal AEROCORE construction.
The 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 black honeycomb-like material around our helmet above), a 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.
Up front you get four intake vents, up top two more, and on the rear sides small outflow vents. Plus a big vent at the rear. The two main up front side vents feature the above mentioned Koroyd. On the interior shots you can see the Koroyd features down both sides of the Ignite.
The end result of this venting and shaping is a helmet that Smith says is not only 2 minutes faster than the Overtake at an IM distance (when at an average speed of 27mph) but can beat their own TT helmet (the Podium) as well. They also quote a 3 second faster time than the newly released Specialized Evade II as well over the same distance. And while we are the first to say that we always take manufacturer derived data with a grain of salt (tunnel speeds, head shape, helmet orientation can all have an impact on what helmets come out fastest) – any time a company will not only say that their road helmet is faster than own TT lid but that 2 of their competitors aero road lids (the Evade and Vanquish) are ALSO faster than their own TT lid we have to believe there is some unvarnished truth to those numbers.
The Ignite MIPS is now (just last week in fact) available at retailers and will set you back $250.
We started riding with the Ignite back in November giving us 3 months to get to know it before it was fully available. And being that ours was their high visibility yellow it definitely made for some questions in our local group rides. We put about 75% of the miles we intended on the Ignite before we hit the deck but walked away confident we had gotten a good understanding of what makes the Ignite tick. Unfortunately because we hit the deck our Ignite immediately was placed into RIP status and put into our hall of thanks (where we store all of our crashed gear – luckily for us it only has one additional helmet to keep it company).
Without an aero sensor on our bike (don’t worry one is coming to start giving more specific observed aero data to our reviews) or time in the tunnel we aren’t able to specifically say whether this helmet made us faster or slowed us down. Nothing jumped out at us either way as to this being an extremely fast or turtlely slow helmet. But we never felt it held us back and more so it accompanied us on some of our fastest days in the peloton. So we will defer to Smith’s data for now and say it is fast.
Ventilation however, we can comment on. And while it may be ice and snow for almost everyone reading this article. Here in South Florida the temperatures have been in the 80s quite a few times recently so we have some experience with the Ignite in the heat. We would put the Ignite some where between the Vanquish and the Air Attack in terms of cooling. Those vents certainly pull some of the heat away but not as much as we would have preferred or thought. Our Chief Editor has about the bare minimum of hair on his head (to even claim he has hair) so is a great discerner of what helmets best put air over the scalp – and while there are those four main vents we just did not feel as much air moving over them as we would have liked.
Now if you consider Smith’s data, this is a helmet that has traded a bit of ventilation for a few less grams of drag. And for someone looking to top the podium (or where races aren’t sometimes conducted in triple digits) that is not going to be a major concern. But for those racing at a distance where over heating is a razors edge concern – heat will play a part. (This is one of the reasons why helmet choice is so individual – the tradeoffs between fit, heat, and speed are highly specific to an athletes needs and wants).
And speaking of fit – one of our favorite features of the Ignite is the retention system and dial. The Ignite was easy to put on quickly (say when exiting T1) and the dial was easy to adjust regardless of if we had full fingered gloves on or bare fingers soaked in sweat. The padding around the helmet did an admirable job keeping sweat off our glasses and face. Overall we found it a very comfortable helmet to put some miles in on. And when we hit the deck – our chief editor honestly didn’t even realize he had bumped his head until he saw the scuff marks on the lid after. It absorbed all the energy from the impact and transmitted hardly any of it to our actual noggin. (Now that isn’t a normal test and we cannot comment on how others do the same but we figured we should share that as well – and please don’t ask us to make it a part of our criteria as well!)
We wouldn’t call the Ignite a successor to the Overtake even though the Overtake was the first aero road helmet from Smith. Instead we will call it the end result of the learnings of both the Overtake and the Podium – a helmet that is faster than both yet still is capable of being an every day helmet. It is definitely a helmet we would consider not only riding in the peloton but over long distance triathlons as well. Our only real trouble is that we will definitely need a new one to ride in (and Smith if you are listening we definitely prefer one with some AeroGeek’s green). Thanks as always for reading AeroGeeks.com – make sure to stay tuned for the latest news and reviews and subscribe to our social media feeds!