Well, after a cool start to summer, good old Mid-Atlantic heat and humidity is back with a vengeance. Today was a pretty run-of-the-mill ride in to work along a route I’ve ridden probably a thousand times through PVSP and Halethorpe/Arbutus. The only thing worth noting is that for the first time in 10 years, I have a new helmet. It is a Smith Network road bike helmet. A few weeks back, I also bought the MTB helmet at the same price point, which is called the Session. The Network is maybe a few grams heavier than my old Bell Sweep helmet, but (like the Session) it has a MIPS system that is supposed to reduce rotational impact forces on the head during a crash. Both helmets use the same pads, which will be convenient when it comes time to replace them. The Session has a plastic visor (which seems to be standard issue on MTB helmets) and the Network comes with a fabric visor, similar to a baseball cap brim, which attaches between the front pad and the MIPS shell.
Today was my first ride with the Network. As I mentioned earlier, it was soupy out (mid-70s with a dewpoint in the upper 60s). The first thing that I noticed was that more sweat was dripping down my face than with my old helmet, which had a beefier front pad. This really wasn’t a huge issue, though, as the sweat seemed to wick to the sides and away from my eyes. After an hour of riding, the pad reached saturation and I did start to get some dripping in the front, but this happens with me with every helmet. I also frequently have issues with sweat dripping into my eyes and burning, but had no problems with that today. Weather permitting, I’ll get to test the helmet again during the ride home, which will be shorter but likely hotter.
A day or two ago, I ordered a couple of helmet liners from SweatHawg to use with these helmets. They are supposed to attach to the velcro points inside the helmet (in place of the pads) and help to keep the sweat out of my eyes. They’re also washable, so I’m hoping they’ll be easier to keep clean than the helmet pads. I’m a little bit worried about how they’ll affect fit and ventilation, but I am optimistic that they will work out.