Product: Smith Variant Brim Helmet
- Removable Goggle Lock
- 22 Vents
- X-Static Performance Lining
- Hybrid Shell Construction
- AirEvac 2 Ventilation
- Adjustable Boa® Fit System
- Snapfit Ear Pads
- Low-Profile Dual Regulator Adjustable Climate Control
- Skullcandy™ Audio Systems Available
- SIZING: (Boa® FIT SYSTEM) + Small 51-55 cm + Medium 55-59 cm + Large 59-63 cm + X-Large 63-67 cm
- CERTIFICATION: ASTM F 2040, CE EN 1077:2007 CLASS B
- WEIGHT: 440 grams / 15.5 oz.
I’ve worn the Variant Brim for a little over a season now, and for the most part, I’ve been very happy with the product.
I picked one up after destroying my Giro G10 MX helmet on my knee (I’d worn the G10 MX for the prior two seasons), and the first thing that struck me about the Variant Brim was it’s weight. While it may not be as light as a hard shell park helmet, for a helmet with continuous interior padding and a vented design with airflow adjustment, the Variant Brim seems to be on the lighter end of the spectrum. What’s more, the helmet seems less cumbersome and bulky than similar models on the market.
Smith’s major selling point for this helmet is the efficiency of its venting, and rightfully so. The Variant Brim is the first helmet I’ve owned in which opening and closing the vents has had a truly noticeable effect on the temperature of my skull. Leaving the vents closed on storm days and open on when it’s sunny keeps things comfortable.
As for the venting mechanism itself, I suppose there are some very minor shortcomings. First, the tabs that open and close the vents on either side of the helmet are a bit hard to find and manipulate with gloves on, much less mittens. Maybe I’m being hyper-critical here, but if we’re going for perfection, a slider with slightly more surface area and some sort of rubberized coating would make the vents easier to use on the lift.
Second, vents on each side of the helmet are moved by two different tabs. Having one tab to do the work would make things that much simpler.
I would also like to see an aftermarket audio system that involved fully replacing the Brim’s ear pads, rather than just shoving the speaker units into the existing ones. I loved the TuneUps available for Giro helmets, but was disappointed that Smith’s setup was seriously uncomfortable. (Don’t take my word for it through, you might have more compatible ears)
As far as I can tell, the brim on the Variant Brim is mostly cosmetic. I can’t say it does much for blocking the sun, but two slats in the brim seem designed to direct airflow toward the vents.
Minor griping aside, the venting on the Variant Brim works really well, the helmet is light, the liner chin strap are very comfortable, and it’s offered with a range of cool color styles and graphics. The centerline of the helmet is left unobstructed by vents or styled ridges, so sticking on a mount for a helmet cam is easy.
All in all, no huge disappointments in the functionality of this helmet, and Smith seems to have addressed the (small) issues with the venting mechanism on their newer Vantage helmet, but that update is going to cost you. (We’ll be posting a review of the Vantage soon.)
As for the fashion department, I’ll leave the real style-police duties up to you, the buyer, when you try it on at your local shop.