Smith Payroll Half-Shell Helmet is Made for Enduro, E-Bikes [Review]

The new Smith Payroll mountain bike helmet is e-bike certified, open-faced, and ready for enduro rides and races too.
Smith Payroll helmet
Photos: Hannah Morvay

For those who are into winter sports, cycling, and even beyond, Smith doesn’t need an introduction. They offer some of the best helmets and eyewear on the market and are some of the most commonly used.

While their biking lineup covers essentially everything from road and gravel with the Trace, to downhill with the Mainline, and just about every kind of trail helmet in between, there was one area of opportunity they were missing: an enduro, or e-bike rated half-shell.

For riders who want a heavier-duty, open-face helmet with the Smith brand name, consider yourself covered now with the Payroll MIPS.

About the Smith Payroll MIPS helmet

Smith says the Payroll is made for enduro, trail and eMTB use, and is “E-bike certified,” meaning the helmet is tested at higher speeds than traditional bike helmets.

Like a lot of Smith helmets, the Payroll has a combination of Koroyd, for its impact absorption properties, and MIPS, to reduce the effects of rotational impacts on concussions. Smith says the helmet’s “integrated skeletal structure creates a roll cage for added strength and impact protection.”

The skeletal structure appears to be a good old fashioned helmet frame made from an EPS foam and the Payroll uses a MIPS Evolve Core system, which doesn’t look terribly different from the standard yellow slip liner. The system takes up most of the space on the inside of the helmet.

The Payroll has a total of 19 openings/channels/vents for airflow, a 3-position visor and an antimicrobial liner to reduce the chance of stinky pads.

The Smith Payroll comes in six different colors and sizes S, M, L, and XL and sells for $200.

On the trail

I had the chance to test the Smith Payroll with some of the fine folks from Smith around the time of its release on a trip to Sedona. Accordingly, I received the Payroll in the Matte Sedona and Pacific colorway.

The Payroll is noticeably beefier than the Forefront 2, the helmet with the next highest amount of protection in a half-shell form. I hesitate to say that the helmet is bulkier though. Some enduro half-shell helmets look big even before you don them, but the Payroll keeps a low profile while it extends more coverage around the back of your noggin’, temples, and crown.

This is some leftover Sedona red dirt, on the Matte Sedona color. It’s a pretty good match.

It sits comfortably on my brow ridge and leaves just the right amount of space between the glasses I’ve used and the helmet. This may be just a chance matter of fit, but the helmet straps are some of the better fitting I’ve had in some time too, and almost perfectly surround my ears. The buckle snaps together closer toward the corner of my neck too rather than near my chin. I’ve worn the Payroll for several hours in a day without any part of it getting uncomfortable.

I usually don’t take advantage of eyewear “docks” on helmets if they happen to include them, but the Payroll’s are easy to use without taking the helmet off.

As is to be expected with a beefier helmet though, the airflow is not as great as lighter options and it will get a little warmer than your average trail-rated mountain bike helmet.

Pros and cons of the Smith Payroll MIPS helmet


  • Recognizably Smith good looks and colorways
  • Good fit, comfortable
  • Eyewear channels are easy to find/use
  • Not the cheapest helmet, but still a good price


  • Can run warm

Bottom line

The Payroll looks, feels and fits like a Smith helmet while filling the gap between trail and downhill.