Review: Smith Mainline Helmet and Rhythm Goggles

For a long time, I underestimated the importance of a bike helmet. Until last summer, that is, when I took what would’ve been a skull-opening digger had I not been wearing a helmet. The back of my Smith helmet took the brunt of the hit, and I walked away a little shaky but otherwise unharmed. A few days later, I was still, stupidly, wearing the same helmet, when a buddy noticed the big dent in the plastic. He plucked it off my head and pulled the liner out to reveal a huge crack propagating up the back of the helmet around to the front. Then he promptly walked outside and plopped it in the trashcan. “Your mom would thank me,” he said, and off we went to buy a new helmet.

After saving my life once, I decided Smith was onto something with their Mips technology. That stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. Essentially, it dissipates rotational forces caused by impacts to the head, reducing the risk of brain injury. Make no mistake, though, all helmets are one-and-done after a big crash, but Mips can protect your noggin if you take multiple thumps and thrashes in a tumble. While Smith uses Mips in nearly all their helmets these days, I opted for the Mainline Mips Helmet, which has a full-face, wrap-around jaw and chin protector.

My first impression when slipping the helmet on was a feeling of secure comfort—akin to putting on a well-worn baseball glove. With three sizes of interchangeable cheek pads, two sizes of foam crown liner, and two neck inserts, it’s easy to tailor the helmet to snugly fit your head. All the pads and inserts are washable, so keeping them clean is also no problem. Additionally, the helmet is remarkably well ventilated for a full-face model. This is thanks to what smith calls “KOROYD” technology, which looks like a bunch of plastic straws glued together. It provides both protection and airflow—enough so that when climbing short hills I can leave the helmet on without having to worry about overheating or dripping sweat. Overall, the helmet is lightweight (a mere 27 ounces for a size M), breathable, and incredibly safe—meaning it checks all the boxes for a good helmet.

To fit seamlessly with the Mainline, Smith developed their Rhythm MTB Goggles. For downhill riding, goggles are a nice upgrade over sunglasses. They provide a little more protection from pebbles, dust, and mud getting kicked up on the trail. Open ventilation on the top and bottom, however, still allows for enough airflow to prevent condensation. And with ten interchangeable lens options, there’s one for every set of conditions. Most days, I use green mirror, which does well in a variety of light conditions. But for riding at dusk or on really dark, stormy days, I use clear lenses, which come in the box with all models, regardless of the lens color you select. Together, the Mainline helmet and Rhythm goggles make for a worthy downhill-riding setup—one that will keep you safe, clear-eyed, and eating up trail this summer.

Both the Mainline Mips Helmet ($310) and Rhythm MTB Goggles ($95) are available at