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Smith Payroll MIPS Bike Helmet Test and Review

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Updated May 13th, 2024

Manufacturer and Model: Smith Payroll MIPS Mountain Bike and E-Bike Helmet
List Price: $200


The Smith Payroll is the latest mountain bike helmet from Smith Optics. It is designed for mountain biking but it is also NTA-8776 certified for use with E-Bikes. This means it has more back of head coverage and is tested to provide protection for higher speeds than a typical US CPSC or EN1078 certified helmet. Beyond certifications, this helmet is loaded up with features such as MIPS Evolve, Koroyd and Smith’s Vapor Fit System.

What we liked:

  • The helmet just feels comfortable with a good snug fit. The Vapor Fit System makes it easy to adjust
  • It has lots of safety tech such as MIPS Evolve and Koroyd Honeycomb energy absorber.
  • It’s got plenty of ventilation for hard riding.
  • It has a 3 position visor and works well with sunglasses or goggles
  • It’s certified to EN1078, US CPSC and NTA-8776

What we didn’t like:

  • It’s a little pricey with a retail price of $200
  • At 15 ounces it is a few ounces heavier than the average mountain bike helmet

Smith Payroll product image


  • Construction – In-Mold with Koroyd Honeycomb and EPS liner
  • MIPS – Yes
  • Vents – 19 lbs
  • Weight – 15 oz as tested (size Large)

Video Review

Smith Payroll Features

Let’s talk about some of the features of the Smith Payroll. Let’s start off with the helmet construction.

1 – Construction

The Payroll uses In-Mold construction with a 2 piece polycarbonate shell. Inside, you will find an EPS liner combined with a band of Koroyd honeycomb energy absorber. The Koroyd goes from in front of your ear and wraps around the rear top of your head to the other side. It covers where you are likely to hit your head on the ground if you take a fall.

The helmet has a MIPS Evolve inner layer. This allows a more open and ventilated helmet than the traditional yellow plastic MIPS layer we’ve seen in helmets for years. The helmet has a bunch of anti-microbial foam pads on the inside.

The construction looks very tight and of high quality. There is no sloppiness or poor fitting parts anywhere. You would have to look really hard to find a flaw anywhere in the construction.

2 – Safety Features

The Payroll is one of the few mountain bike helmets out there that is also NTA 8776 certified for e-bikes. The NTA-8776 cert means that they did impactor testing at 28mph instead of the normal 20mph that US CPSC and EN1078 certified helmets get tested at. NTA-8776 helmets also have more back and side of the head coverage. These are all things that will make you feel better while trail riding at higher speeds.

This is not a substitute for a full face helmet if you are going to be riding downhill or doing a lot of jumps. It’s about as good of protection you can get for those of us staying on the ground while riding normal speeds.

The helmet uses a combination of EPS foam and Koroyd for energy absorbers. The Koroyd runs in a band around from the side of your head over to the top back of your head. Koroyd plastic honeycomb offers more energy absorbing for the same thickness than EPS. It also allows for venting through the energy absorber without cutting larger holes in it.

3 – Comfort

I have spent a few hours on the trail and bike path with the Payroll. It’s one of the most comfortable bike helmets I’ve worn. It has a nice snug fit after you tighten down the size adjuster. It’s got just enough foam padding inside to feel good without feeling sloppy.

The Smith Vapor Fit system allows you to quickly adjust the strap. It uses a separate strap below the ear openings so you only have one layer of webbing going under your chin and through the size adjuster. Most helmets run both straps down from the ears under your chin.

Only having one layer in the buckle makes it much faster and easier to adjust. 2 straps are always awkward to adjust, and you end up tightening one more than the other.

The helmet visor has 3 positions and will work with goggles. This lets you lift goggles up onto your forehead after raising up the visor. I never bike with goggles, so I do not personally use this feature.

4 – Ventilation

The helmet has 19 vents. The vents on the side and top rear go through the Koroyd. I find the ventilation good enough for cross country riding with some decent hill climbs.

5 – Weight

My size large Payroll weighed in at 15 ounces. This is a few ounces heavier than my Smith Engage mountain bike helmet. The extra coverage and more thicker absorber add a few ounces to the weight. It doesn’t feel quite as feather light as the Engage does. It’s light enough to be comfortable for a long day of trail riding.

Recommendation – Buy or No Buy?

I like the Smith Payroll helmet a lot. It works great for trail riding or riding e-bikes. It’s one of the few mountain bike helmets out there that is also e-bike certified making it perfect for riding Class 1 E-MTB’s. I plan on spending a lot more time riding with the Smith Payroll this summer.

Smith Payroll product image

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See our guide to the best EBike Helmets for other good options.

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Ryan Craig
Co-Founder & Chief Editor

I am a total gear nerd and love learning how things work and thinking about how they could be improved. Nothing excites me more than trying out new gear. I’d rather spend 3 hours taking my bike apart and learning how to change something than go to a bike shop. These days, I reside in Michigan by the Great Lakes and go skiing, biking, and boating as much as possible. Visit our About Us page and learn more.


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