Bike

Deep Dive: Smith Podium TT Helmet

Smith's Podium TT is designed for athletes looking for the aerodynamic benefits without losing the road-helmet feel. Our tester shares his thoughts.

Review Rating


Basics

A minimalist-designed helmet providing lots of tech into a small package, this is an aero helmet for those who don’t want to stray too far from a traditional road helmet feel.


Pros

Includes two lenses and a carry case

Lightweight and non-obtrusive feel

Easy to adjust on the fly

Cons

Ear covers are short allowing for the bottom half of riders’ ears to be exposed providing an unusual sensation while riding


Weight

360g

Price

$350

Brand

Smith, available at competitivecyclist.com


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Until Smith introduced their unconventional and unmistakable Koroyd product to cycling helmets (imagine a honeycomb-looking structure designed to dissipate force as it collapses on impact), Smith was not a brand typically seen in the cycling and triathlon space. As a company, they have been more associated with ski/snowboard helmets and most notably their long history in performance optics. Admittedly, when considering a TT/tri helmet, Smith is not often on the radar. And yet, the Podium TT is a pleasant surprise.

RELATED – Spring 2021 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Helmets

Smith Podium TT Helmet: The Basics

If “coolness-factor” could translate to Watts, the style of this helmet would be equivalent to ceramic bearings. In addition to clean lines, the minimalist styling of the helmet provides excellent weight balance. Unlike the fore/aft tipping sensation typically felt with traditional aero helmet design, the Podium TT remains in place and does not bounce when riding on rough surfaces. If you are new to TT helmets, this lid from Smith will feel more like the road helmet you are accustomed to. It weighs only 360 gm (size Medium) and is equipped with both MIPS and Koroyd for added safety.

Smith Podium TT Helmet: The Good

Aerodynamics are not always just what you can gain while sitting still in a wind tunnel but rather what is actually achievable on the road. This is a helmet that doesn’t need to be readjusted on the road every time it moves—due to poor balance. Its size also means it is both light and unnoticeable—a helmet you do not have to “mess with” that allows you to stay in your aero position longer, keeping you riding faster. In the event you do have to adjust the helmet, the dial is accessible and easy to use while riding.  

That said, $350 for a dedicated race helmet is not loose change you find in your couch cushions. However, with the Smith Podium TT you do get two quality lenses that are easy to swap with secure magnetic attachments (making a race day lens decision a breeze if weather conditions should change), and a durable carry case to protect your investment.  

Smith Podium TT Helmet: The Not-So-Good

In striving for a minimalist helmet that is packed with tech and safety features, Smith may have pushed the svelte design a little too far. I wear a size medium helmet, and would argue that I have appropriately sized and placed ears for my head. I point this out because the sides of the helmet do not come down far enough to cover your entire ears (I was concerned that maybe I do have anatomically unusual ears, but after scouring several images of other riders wearing this helmet, I found protruding earlobes to be consistent).  

Although the minimal sides may help with heat dissipation, it does provide an unusual sensation of wind crossing only the bottom half of your ears. If you are used to a traditional aero TT helmet with full ear coverings, this odd feeling will be noticeable. For those new to the TT/Tri helmet scene, it may be a non-issue.   

Smith Podium TT Helmet: The Conclusions

Smith has produced a quality, lightweight, fairly well-ventilated, and aesthetically cool triathlon/TT helmet. Like any helmet—due to variables in riders’ head shapes and preferences for fit and finish—you should try on the helmet before making a $350 investment. However, if the shoe fits (or rather the helmet) the Smith Podium TT is a great choice for those new to the aero helmet market or those looking for an upgrade. 

RELATED: Triathlete’s 2021 Gear Guide