Smith Optics Signal MIPS review

Smith Optics latest helmet is aimed at the 'everyday' rider but does it mean budget?

Cycling Weekly Verdict

At just £64.99 the Signal MIPS offers a real wallet-friendly yet feature packed helmet. Barring the basic styling and slightly heavier weight it might be difficult to justify needing to spend any more on a helmet.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Safety features

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  • +

    Crossover styling

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Basic looks

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The Signal MIPS helmet marks a a change in focus for Smith Optics and introduces a safety packed helmet to a whole new audience, thanks in part to a price point hitherto unknown to the premium company (barring its Maze Bike urban helmet which is targeted at a very different audience). We reckon it's one of the best budget bike helmets and also one of the best bike helmets for commuters.

The Signal MIPS shares some of the characteristic styling found on all of Smith's premium helmets, but it's a little bit more boxy. The brand has also saved cash by swapping out some of the high-end technology and laborious construction techniques available on the range topping models, but of course it still meets the relevant safety requirements.

This helmet does still have a high quality in-moulded construction, utilising a single density polystyrene main material that's been heat moulded to a durable outer shell. The shell is thick enough to take the abuse the day-to-day commuter or regular user will put it through.

Basic styling but well ventilated, comfortable and safe.

>>> The best helmets for road cycling 

The straps have a thicker weave than on the more expensive versions and are not as soft or malleable, but I didn't find them them uncomfortable or obtrusive. An adjustable clip enables the user to adjust the straps around the ear and jawline. It does use the same quick-release clip as on all of Smith's other helmets.

MIPS liner, adjustable retention and comfortable padding. The Signal MIPS packs a punch.

The same can be said for the Vaporfit retention system, the easy to use dial system is comfortable and actually wraps the entirety of the head rather than the 270 degrees of its other versions. The pads are comfortable and in general use I have found the Signal MIPS to be as good as many, much higher priced helmets, in terms of its ability to just get on with the job and virtually disappearing from your thoughts when riding.

It also came out at just 7 grams heavier than the £200 Trace helmet, mainly thanks to it's lack of complicated safety tech like the Koroyd material used in the Trace. Talking about safety, as the name implies the Signal does have a MIPS liner to reduce the rotational forces of impacts and potentially mitigate injuries.

best cheap cycling helmets

Simple sunglasses storage was always to be expected with a Smith Optics helmet.

The Signal MIPS is not the best looking helmet in the world. It is a touch square and chunky looking from the front and with its basic gloss colour it does look a little bit like a pumped up toddler helmet or as someone else mentioned, a bit like it's made for a Lego or Playmobil figure.

However, if you like or simply don't mind the simpler styling you will find the Signal MIPS to be a well ventilated and safe helmet that does have plenty of cross-over appeal for everyone from commuters to gravel and cross-country riders. And being designed by a brand specialising in eyewear you can be assured there's a place to put your glasses.

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James Bracey

James Bracey's career has seen him move from geography teacher, to MBR writer, to Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and video presenter. He possesses an in-depth knowledge of bicycle mechanics, as well as bike fit and coaching qualifications. Bracey enjoys all manner of cycling, from road to gravel and mountain biking.