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Smith Persist MIPS Review

This stylish, well-built helmet packs in comfort and features at a lower price point than most
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Smith Persist MIPS Review
Credit: Smith
Price:  $130 List
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Manufacturer:   Smith
By Luke Hollomon ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 9, 2023
66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 17
  • Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Ventilation - 25% 5.0
  • Adjustability - 20% 6.0
  • Weight - 15% 7.0
  • Style - 7.5% 8.0
  • Durability - 7.5% 6.0

Our Verdict

Smith markets the Persist as a gravel helmet, but we found that it's a good performer across all disciplines. The padding is comfortable, it adjusts to fit almost any shaped head, and the head retention dial is easy to turn, even with thick gloves on. The ventilation is good, though not exceptional, but it's made up for by the impressive style and durability given by the full wrap of polycarbonate protecting the EPS foam. Its weight is competitive with the top bike helmets costing over twice as much. If you're looking for a durable, comfortable, attractive helmet to use across multiple disciplines or even just on the road, the Smith Persist provides great features at a lower price.
REASONS TO BUY
Very comfortable
Great style
Good for all disciplines
REASONS TO AVOID
Less adjustable than some
Middling ventilation
Narrow at the temple

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Bottom Line With comfort, adjustability, and style usually reserved for much more expensive helmets, the Persist performs across disciplines at a lower priceA well-ventilated model with MIPS that won’t break the bankA high-value performer with great ventilation, giving it great bang for your buckWith its low price, light weight, and great adjustability, we can overlook a few flaws in this very good helmetGreat value packed into a lower-priced helmet though some issues with the fit and finishing
Rating Categories Smith Persist MIPS Bell Stratus MIPS Specialized Airnet... Lazer Tonic Kineticore Giro Agilis MIPS
Comfort (25%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Ventilation (25%)
5.0
7.0
9.0
5.0
4.0
Adjustability (20%)
6.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
7.0
8.9
4.5
8.9
6.3
Style (7.5%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
5.0
Durability (7.5%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
4.0
Specs Smith Persist MIPS Bell Stratus MIPS Specialized Airnet... Lazer Tonic Kineticore Giro Agilis MIPS
Measured Weight 326 g (Size L) 296 g (Size L) 364 g (Size L) 296 g (Size L) 336 g (Size L)
Size Range 59-62 cm (Size L) 59-63 cm (Size L) 52-62 cm (Size M) 58-61 cm (Size L) 59-63 cm (Size L)
Number of Vents 21 22 18 18 32
MIPS? Yes Yes Yes No, Kineticore Yes
Sizes Available S, M , L, XL S, M, L S, M, L S, M, L, XL S, M, L

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Smith Persist earns good scores across the board This helmet is lightweight, durable, and stylish while bringing good adjustability and comfort to a lower price point. The interior padding is plush, the retention system is easy to adjust even with thick gloves on, and the straps are high quality. Its ventilation is a bit limited compared to the highest scorers, but it's adequate for the job. Smith advertises the Persist as an all-road helmet, good for gravel, tarmac, and mountain trails, and we agree.

Performance Comparison


smith persist mips - a wet, chilly climb in the blue ridge of virginia as fall weather...
A wet, chilly climb in the Blue Ridge of Virginia as fall weather closes in.
Credit: Emily Hollomon

Comfort


We recognize that everyone's head is a little different, and everyone has slightly different ideas of comfort. With that in mind, the adjustability and plush padding of the Persist make it one of the more comfortable helmets in our lineup. A helmet's weight can also contribute to its comfort or lack thereof. Although this isn't the lightest helmet in our lineup, it's not far away. The Persist performs well here due to its great retention system, soft interior padding, and adjustable Y-buckles.


Everyone has a unique noggin shape. The Vaporfit tensioning system reaches all the way around the head and distributes force evenly across heads of all shapes and sizes. The Vaporfit tensioning system has a large dial that makes easy work of adjustments, even with gloves on. The thick padding on top of the head and around the forehead makes this a cushy helmet that appeals to many head shapes. Smith has done a great job removing pinch points and distributing tension to make the Persist a plushy lid.

Ventilation


The Persist is a well-ventilated helmet, though it missed top marks due to there being other options out there that are much more airy. Still, its 21 vents allow consistent airflow and the minimal padding on the crown of the head helps that air reach all the way through to your scalp.


On long climbs followed by cool descents, the plush padding of the Persist can soak up sweat that the limited airflow allows, making the descents clammy. In this category, the Persist performs equally to much more expensive helmets but isn't a top-notch performer in our measurements.

smith persist mips - slightly less ventilation actually helps on a rainy fall day like...
Slightly less ventilation actually helps on a rainy fall day like this.
Credit: Emily Hollomon

Adjustability


This metric is tightly related to the last. The Vaporfit one-handed tensioning system is very nice on the Persist. It's not as tunable as the top-level BOA system found on some other premium models, but it's easy to turn and distributes force well. The tensioning system wraps around the head and provides tension around the full circumference of the head. The chin strap system is also super simple to adjust.


The Persist has a standard Y-buckle system that is similar in design to several other helmets we tested. It combines soft webbing and easy flick-lock mandible buckles that make positioning the webbing junction easy. Unlike other models, the lengths of each side are fixed, so getting the buckle right in the center of our chin can be challenging, if not impossible. The tight rubber band and rubber strap ends firmly held any extra material in place.

smith persist mips - the rubber strap ends that prevent them slipping out and flapping in...
The rubber strap ends that prevent them slipping out and flapping in the wind are a nice luxe touch in this price range
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Weight


The size Large weighs in at 326 grams making the Persist a competitively light helmet, especially for a less expensive one that receives a full wrap of polycarbonate over the EPS foam.


We're not sure where Smith found such weight savings on a helmet like this, which also features a low sweep over the back of the head and a full plastic shell. It's impressively lightweight for a helmet of its price, competing with helmets that cost twice as much.

smith persist mips - the lighter weight makes the persist comfortable in the rolling...
The lighter weight makes the Persist comfortable in the rolling mountains of Virginia.
Credit: Emily Hollomon

Style


The Persist received consistent compliments from other riders out on the road. Many people seem to like the simple and classic styling.


It comes in bold colors like “Matte Flamingo” and “Matte Cinder” as well as more neutral ones like White and Black for those who prefer a low-key lid.

smith persist mips - the persist comes in flamboyant colors like this matte...
The Persist comes in flamboyant colors like this Matte Flamingo-Merlot version
Credit: Smith Optics

Durability


The Persist has a protective polycarbonate that wraps fully around the helmet's interior EPS foam material. It is well bonded and tidily finished, resisting dents and dings from being thrown in the trunk or falling off our handlebars.


The internal EPS foam is sufficiently protected in the brim and around the base of the helmet, protecting this more vulnerable material from abrasion. It lacks the added protection of a travel bag that comes on pricier helmets, so you do need to take care in the car. In our testing, the straps have shown no breakdown or sweat retention and the Vaporfit retention system has stayed smooth.

smith persist mips - the persist has no exposed eps foam externally, preventing dings and...
The Persist has no exposed EPS foam externally, preventing dings and scratches with its polycarbonate shell
Credit: Emily Hollomon

Should You Buy the Smith Persist?


The Persist isn't at the top of any category, but it's very consist across the board. Outperforming or coming close to helmets almost double the cost, Smith has packed a lot of value into this lid. If you're looking for a helmet that's a consistent performer that won't break the bank, the Persist is a great option.

smith persist mips - the smith persist is a good looking lid, seen here climbing libby...
The Smith Persist is a good looking lid, seen here climbing Libby Hill in Richmond, VA
Credit: Emily Hollomon

What Other Road Bike Helmets Should You Consider?


The Smith Persist persistently scored well in all our metrics and is a great helmet to use in just about any cycling discipline. This lid packs features into a less pricey piece, providing excellent value. If you're looking for something with the best ventilation no matter the cost, check out the Specialized S-Works Prevail 3. For our favorite overall helmet with a premium lightweight design, great ventilation, and excellent all-around performance, we recommend the Trek Velocis. And if you're looking for another well performing helmet at a lower price, check out the award-winning Lazer Tonic Kineticore.

Luke Hollomon