Smith Engage: A Quality Helmet at a Fair Price [Review]

The $130 Smith Engage half shell mountain bike helmet looks great and includes MIPS and Koroyd safety tech.

When I jumped back into the world of mountain biking a handful of years ago I did what I imagine quite a few of us have done. Cringing at the price of my bike, I bought the cheapest helmet I could find that looked “good enough.” I think it cost $45 on Amazon, with MIPS, which was good enough for me.

I’ve progressed as a rider since then and realized that brain protection is worth throwing some money at. It has been fun to try new helmets and learn about the different technologies that have graced my dome. 

Finding fairly priced helmets with high levels of safety integration can be difficult, so I was excited to see what the Smith Engage is all about.

While I don’t intend for this to be a comparison between the two lids, my daily driver as of late has been the Smith Forefront 2, a helmet I have been very pleased with. I feel that it is important to note this because I constantly found myself doing just that, comparing the mid-tier Engage to the Forefront 2 that I had grown used to. But, if we are going to compare the Engage to another helmet, perhaps it is a good thing to have our standards set so high.

All told, I spent the better part of the summer with the Smith Engage half-shell helmet on my dome. I’ve logged quite a few very sweaty miles—probably around 125 — in the Engage. 

The Smith Engage

Before we jump into my experience testing the Smith Engage, let’s get ourselves acquainted with the helmet. For reference, my head is around 59cm in circumference, which puts me in between medium and large depending on the helmet brand. With Smith, I am very comfortable in a size medium.

“Big berms, rock gardens or flowy rollers. No matter the trail, get after it with confidence in the Smith Engage mountain bike helmet,” is how Smith introduces their helmet. And, in my experience, the Engage seems to live up to those expectations.


Call it “open face” or “half shell,” the Smith Engage is your typical trail helmet weighing just 12oz (for a size medium). Despite the half-shell design, the Engage provides decent coverage toward the back of your head. 

The padding inside the helmet is fairly minimal but more than adequate to ensure a comfortable fit. An adjustable dial, roughly the size of a nickel, sits at the back, allowing easy adjustment. Clockwise to tighten, counterclockwise to loosen.

A two-position, adjustable visor helps keep the sun out of your eyes, despite its short stature. In the fully up position, Smith has designed the Engage with an integrated spot for sunglasses or even goggles. Channels provided by the air vents help hold the arms of your sunglasses in place.

Twenty-one vents are patterned over the top of the shell, allowing for maximum airflow on those hot days. The Engage also incorporates Smith’s AirEvac ventilation system. This ventilation system is located where the helmet meets your forehead, providing a bit of extra airflow which in turn helps prevent goggles or glasses from fogging up.

The Smith Engage is completed with a standard chin strap buckle with easy tightening and adjusting. 


Like many helmets, Smith started with expanded polystyrene foam, EPS, at its base layer. EPS helps slow your head down during an impact and dissipates the forces of the impact into the surrounding foam.

Furthering the protection provided by the Engage, a layer of Koroyd is added to the helmet. This honeycomb-like layer crumples on impact, absorbing high levels of force, while remaining light and breathable. 

Smith has two Koroyd offerings in its helmets: complete and zonal protection. Complete protection is exactly what it sounds like, where the entirety of the helmet incorporates a Koroyd layer. Zonal protection, which is what the Engage comes with, has Koroyd only in vital impact areas. For the Engage, the Koroyd material is located above the temples, moving toward the forehead.

MIPS seems to be becoming a standard in helmets, and the Smith Engage is no exception. MIPS, or Multi-directional Impact Protection System, helps reduce rotational forces to the brain during an impact by allowing for the head to move 10-15mm in any direction.

All this technology results in a helmet that is CPSC and CE EN 1078 certified and is priced at $130. Smith offers the Engage in four sizes S-XL and in six different colorways. 

My experience with the Smith Engage

As I said before, the more I progressed as a rider, the more I wanted a helmet that would take care of my brain. I am happy to see Smith offering a helmet that not only comes standard with MIPS but also offers Koroyd protection technology for a reasonable price.

The fit of the Engage was perfect for my head. That has been a reality with all three Smith helmets I’ve worn. The foam pads are minimal and comfortable. I appreciate smaller pads that don’t soak up and hold a bunch of sweat.

Everything concerning the helmet’s fit is easily adjustable. A clamping device easily pops open and closed again to adjust the straps going around the ears. The dial adjustment in the rear of the helmet is easy to use and it didn’t pull my hair. The Engage snugs up to my head without squeezing it uncomfortably which is good because I’ve experienced headaches with other helmets.

I like the adjustable visor and integrated sunglasses holder and use it regularly. To be honest, this is one of my favorite features on Smith helmets. I love being able to take my sunglasses off during long fire road climbs. Being able to throw them on my helmet is an added bonus.

Technologies like Smith’s AirEvac that claim to keep your eyewear fog-free can seem gimmicky. I am sometimes skeptical of such claims. However, the AirEvac ventilation works. I have had very little, if any fogging while wearing sunglasses. During times that I have put my sunglasses back on to find the lenses are fogged up, the fog quickly goes away as I begin to pedal.

And, if I can be vain for just one second, the Smith Engage, and all Smith helmets, just look cool. Despite hearing other complaints about wanting a longer visor, I like the shorter profile visors like the one the Engage has. With that said, I am wearing sunglasses every time I ride.

What I had a hard time with

All in all, the Smith Engage helmet was a big win for me. But there were a few things that I just didn’t get along with. 

I couldn’t seem to get the straps around the ears to agree with me. For the first several rides I adjusted those straps multiple times. Loose, tight, or in between, the straps rubbed and irritated my ears. I feel this was mostly because the straps wouldn’t lay down flat on the sides of my head.

After several rides, and probably with some sweat soaking into the straps, they began to lay down a bit better. I’m not sure if they stopped rubbing against my ears or if my ears just got used to it, but pretty soon I wasn’t noticing them as much.

The other aspect that concerned me, and this comes from my subconscious comparison to the Forefront 2, is that the Engage only has zonal Koroyd coverage, not complete. With that said, the zonal coverage does protect some of the more vital areas, and at nearly half the price of the Forefront. But, I couldn’t help but wonder if that was some sort of a compromise.

Pros and cons of the Smith Engage mountain bike helmet


  • Comfortable and well-ventilated. 
  • Integrated safety technologies such as MIPS and Koroyd.
  • Integrated features such as AirEvac and a sunglasses holder.


  • Buckle straps that irritate my ears and won’t fully lay flat.
  • Zonal Koroyd coverage rather than complete coverage.

Bottom line

Zonal or complete Koroyd coverage was easily pushed out of my mind when I was on the trails. I confidently rode in the Smith Engage and found it to be a great helmet. For $130, it seems like the Smith Engage offers a great mix of value and quality.

  • Price: $130 (previous year models are currently on sale for $60)
  • Buy from Smith Optics

Check out our mountain bike helmet buyers guide and our picks for the best mountain bike helmets.