Note: The Smith Rover helmet is no longer being produced. We’re leaving this review here because there are still some being sold by discount stores (L9 sports for example).
If you are looking for a low-profile, minimalistic and lightweight helmet, consider the Smith Rover. This isn’t the cross-country helmet of old, but it’s certainly less bulky than most modern mountain bike helmets. For xc rides, hot days, and good hair, this is one of our go-to lids.
Review in a Nutshell
- Bright colors
- Highly breathable
- Less rear-of-the-head coverage
- Non-adjustable visor
Price & Where to Buy:
- MSRP: $120 (non-MIPS), $150 (MIPS)
The best thing about the Smith Rover is the low-profile that keeps you from looking like an egg-head. While we love the coverage and safety of modern mountain bike helmets, lets be honest, they can look a little ridiculous.
My sister, who has an admittedly large noggin, borrowed this helmet one day and got all excited when she caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror: “This is the only helmet I’ve ever worn that actually looked good on me!” Indeed, if you suffer from ridiculous-looking-helmet syndrome, you might want to try on the Smith Rover.
The Smith Rover includes Smith’s Aerocore technology. In layman’s terms, Aerocore is a dual-density honeycomb layer that provides extra cushioning in the event of a crash. It also has the added benefit of stopping bees or other insects from entering your helmet vents while riding. If you’ve never had this happen, yes it is a thing, and no it is not pretty.
There are few mountain bike helmets with better breathability than the Smith Rover. This is largely thanks to the HUGE vents at the back of the helmet, as well as the AirEvac ventilation system. On hot days, the Smith Rover has become my hands-down favorite helmet to wear.
Bucking the “more-is-more” trend, the Smith Rover is surprisingly simple. You won’t find goggle clips, a Go-Pro mount, or adjustable visor. This might be a bummer if you want all that stuff, but for folks who just want a helmet, here you go. It keeps the weight and cost down and there aren’t a bunch of extra plastic pieces to break or screws to lose.
Like pretty much every mountain bike helmet on the market, the Smith Rover offers a rear fit-dial to cinch down the helmet and get the fit just right. This one is pretty easy to operate, and can easily be adjusted on the trail even when wearing gloves.
As for the straps, I dig that they are run thru the interior of the helmet so that they are held away from my face. This means less rubbing and less dirty, sweaty strap up against my skin. The buckle is pretty standard: it snaps.
MIPS and Non-MIPS Options
Ah, MIPS: one of the most controversial subjects in cycling today. Whether you love MIPS or think it’s a scam, you’re in luck: the Smith Rover comes in both version. (Why doesn’t every helmet manufacturer do that?!?).
Personally, I have the MIPS version because I’d rather err on the side of safety. If MIPS is going to save my life, great. If it’s a scam, oh well, I’m only out $30–which is what the extra MIPS technology will cost you, in this case.
Ponytail and Hair Friendly
A lot of times on the weekends we’ll go for an easy ride and then hit up a brewery or burrito-joint. For those kinds of rides, I always pick the Smith Rover. Why? Because it doesnt wreak havock on my hair. I might still end up with helmet hair, but it’s not DESTROYED.
Thanks to more minimal rear-of-the-head coverage, it’s actually possible to wear the helmet with a normal ponytail. Also, thanks to the good ventilation my hair stays pretty dry and doesn’t get too sweaty.
The MIPS version does have that pesky liner that hair tends to get caught on. If good hair is priority, skip the MIPS. Otherwise, just know that you’ll have the occasional snagged hairdo.
The Smith Rover comes in a whole bunch of different colors. Some are marketed as “women’s” and other aren’t–pick whichever one happens to float your boat. One thing to keep in mind is that the brighter of the colors–the pink and orange in particular–are SUPER bright and highly visible. I wore mine almost exclusively this past fall during hunting season when I wanted to make sure that I was seen. If you have to hit pavement on your way to the trail, they are nice for visibility in traffic as well.
If you want to buy a nice helmet without going into credit card debt, the $120 price-tag on the Smith Rover is pretty tolerable. It’s about half the price of some of the higher-price mountain bike helmets out there. No, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of those more expensive helmets; but those “extras” certainly anything you NEED.
Because it doesn’t have the extended coverage of most mountain bike helmets on the market today, the Smith Rover would not be my first pick for days at the bike park or on highly technical trails. That said, for folks doing cross-country riding or who ride in hot weather, the Smith Rover is a top pick.
More Stuff You Might Like
- 7 Best Women’s Mountain Bike Helmets For YOU
- 9 Ways To Increase Your Confidence On The Mountain Bike
- 7 Best Women’s Mountain Bike Clinics, Camps, & Events
About The Reviewer
Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.
An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.
Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life. Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son. If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.
Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.