Smith Convoy Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable, MIPS included
Cons: Fixed visor, finicky straps, below average ventilation
Manufacturer: Smith Optics
Compare to Similar Products
|Price||$49.99 at Backcountry|
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|$180 List||$69.99 at Evo|
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|$80 List||$104.92 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable, MIPS included||Great ventilation, seamless eyewear integration, good coverage||Lightweight, comfortable, affordable||Very affordable, great coverage, stylish, comfortable, MIPS||Reasonably priced, comfortable, innovative sweat management system, MIPS, adjustable visor|
|Cons||Fixed visor, finicky straps, below average ventilation||Heavier than its predecessor, non-adjustable visor||Less coverage than some other models, small visor, average ventilation||Fixed visor, warm, visor doesn't detach||Moderately heavy, ventilation could be better, buckle failure in previous Consumer Reports testing|
|Bottom Line||A good option to save some cash and stay protected on the trail||A stylish, breathable update on a classic with great eyewear integration but a one -position visor||A versatile trail helmet that will stand up to all-day adventures and won't cost you an arm and a leg||An affordable helmet with high-end styling and coverage||An affordable, quality helmet that checks most of our boxes at a reasonable price|
|Rating Categories||Smith Convoy||Specialized Ambush 2||Giro Radix MIPS||Specialized Camber||Bell 4Forty MIPS|
|Specs||Smith Convoy||Specialized Ambush 2||Giro Radix MIPS||Specialized Camber||Bell 4Forty MIPS|
|Rotational Impact Protection System?||MIPS||MIPS SL||MIPS||MIPS||MIPS|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||12.5 oz, 355g||13.4 oz, 378g||12.6 oz, 360g||13.8 oz, 394g||14.32 oz, 406g|
|Number of vents||21||15||25||13||15|
|Goggle or Sunglasses Integration?||eyewear integration||Yes||No||No||Goggle integration|
|Adjustable Visor?||No||No (breakaway feature)||Yes||No||Yes|
|Sizes||S, M, L, XL||S, M, L||S, M, L, XL||XS, S, M, L, XL||S, M, L|
|Certifications||CPSC, CE EN1078, AS/NZS2063||CPSC||CPSC, CE EN1078||CPSC||CPSC Bicycle for ages 5+|
|Virginia Tech Helmet Safety Rating (if applicable)||5-star||5-star|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Smith is well known for their unique, high-end helmets with Koroyd protective shells, but the Convoy features a more traditional EPS helmet construction. This model is aimed at riders who aren't looking to break the bank, but still value good head protection. It maintains the sleek styling of the higher-end models but forgoes many of the nifty features found in most modern mountain bike helmets.
Despite the low price, the Smith Convoy offers very similar protection to the most expensive models we tested. It is CPSC and CE EN 1078 certified, meeting the standards for sale in the US and Europe, and the interior of the EPS shell includes a plastic MIPS liner designed to rotate slightly on impact. In the event of a crash, the MIPS system should reduce the rotational forces applied to your head and mitigate the chance of an injury. If you hold the EPS shell firmly in one hand you can use the other hand to feel the rotation and range of movement of the plastic MIPS shell.
For the Convoy's low price, however, you do miss out on a few of the safety features included with many more expensive helmets. Many of the helmets we tested include multiple EPS foam densities designed to help mitigate both low and high-speed impacts, but the Convoy's shell is constructed of a uniform, single-density foam. Additionally, the EPS doesn't have a co-molded skeletal system to improve structural integrity like many of its high-end competitors. The EPS shell itself provides good head coverage, but it doesn't drop quite as low on the back or sides of the head like some other models we tested.
We were pleasantly surprised with the Convoy's comfort and versatility. Through long days of testing, we never felt any nagging discomfort. The EPS shell is well shaped to fit a variety of head shapes and sizes. We had a number of different testers try it on and provide feedback on the fit, and we didn't get any negative comments about pressure points or pinching at the back of the head. The fit feels natural when you slide the Convoy onto your head, and we didn't have any discomfort develop over the course of longer rides. The shell is available in four sizes, from small through extra-large, all but the furthest head size outliers should be able to find a comfortable fit.
Inside of the shell is a highly-adjustable harness system and minimalist padding. The Vaporfit harness features an adjustable dial with small, indexed clicks that allow both a wide range of adjustment and micro-adjustments to get the perfect fit. As you tighten the dial, it pulls tension around most of the head rather than just pinching at the back, meaning you can wear the helmet snug and secure without pressure points. The padding is relatively thin, but it's well-placed and feels plenty soft when donning this model.
We weren't huge fans of the simple, single-point strap mount at the helmet's rear or the simple strap splitters at the ears. The combination of the two makes it so that every time you put on the helmet you have to fuss with the straps to ensure that they're not twisted at the back of the head. Our favorite helmets in the test were quick to throw on and buckle, but to don the Convoy without twisting straps required some extra attention.
It didn't take long for us to realize that the Convoy compromises a bit on airflow. Despite having 21 vents and small internal airflow channels, we found that this helmet can quickly get a little bit balmy on long climbs and hot days. Unlike the most well-ventilated models in the test that allow you to feel air flowing across the top of your head, even at low speeds, the Convoy feels a little bit stagnant. It isn't as stifling as some of the full-coverage models we tested, but we certainly wouldn't call it cool and breezy.
In addition to the airflow issue, we noticed that the padding can quickly get overwhelmed by sweat when things get hot. Our favorite helmets feature highly-absorptive padding that handles sweat and keeps it off of your face, but after just ten minutes of climbing on an average day in the Convoy, we often found sweat dripping down our foreheads and into our eyes or onto the lenses of our eyewear. Having to stop and clean the sweat off of lenses before every descent is not an ideal way to spend your time on a bike ride.
As an entry-level model, it's no surprise that the Convoy skimps a little bit on the features. It does, however, offer a few basics. Beyond the already-mentioned MIPS liner, it has a three-position vertically adjustable harness, adjustable ear splitters, and vents that allow you to store sunglasses when the light gets low. The ear splitters are easy to adjust but they don't do a great job of holding the straps flat against the side of your head or preventing twisting. Ideally, we would have liked to see an adjustable visor to allow for goggle storage to make this a more competitive model, but it's hard to complain when the Convoy comes at such an affordable price.
What the Convoy lacks in features, it makes up in weight. At just 355 grams according to our trusty kitchen scale, this helmet scoffs at the idea that in order to save weight you need to spend more money. As one of the least-expensive helmets in our test, the Convoy is also one of the lightest. The racers among us that value cutting grams above all else may want to consider this helmet as their next weight-saving purchase.
For the most part, the Convoy strikes us as a product that will stand up to extended use and abuse. We had no durability issues in testing despite countless hours of riding and less-than-friendly treatment. The plastic exterior shell is co-molded with the EPS foam, meaning that you don't have to worry about them separating over time. The exterior finish doesn't scuff easily, so it should stay looking like-new for some time.
Our only real durability concerns surround the exposed lower edge of the EPS foam and the vertical adjustment point on the harness. The plastic exterior shell doesn't extend around the bottom edges of the EPS, leaving the foam exposed to damage from daily wear and tear. The vertical harness adjustment has three mounting points that attach the harness to the MIPS shell rather than the EPS foam. We worry that with extended adjustment this plastic-to-plastic snap could wear out, but we also understand that the vertical adjustment is usually a set-it-and-forget-it feature.
As one of the least-expensive helmets currently available with rotational impact protection, we certainly think the Smith Convoy holds some value. Riders just getting into the sport or looking for a kid-friendly helmet that will stand up to some abuse will like this simple, functional, protective model, but we think there are a few other options at just a slightly higher price like the Giro Chronicle MIPS or Bell 4Forty MIPS that will give you more bang for your buck.
After weeks of pedaling, jumping, skidding, and messing around out on the trails we found some definite bright spots from this wallet-friendly model. It doesn't quite stack up with some of the other inexpensive options we tested, but we think it has some merit as an entry-level option. It's stylish, lightweight, comfortable, and protective, and for such an affordable price we don't think we could ask for much more.
— Zach Wick
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