Saturday, June 15, 2024

Smith 2024 Cycling Reviews: Payroll MIPS Bike Helmet with Aleck Crash Sensor. Trace MIPS Bike Helmet, Motive Sunglasses with ChromaPop Bronze Mirror Lens

Article by Jeff Valliere

In the article I review Smith  2024 cycling helmet and sunglasses:  Payroll MIPS Bike Helmet with Aleck Crash Sensor. Trace MIPS Bike Helmet, and Motive Sunglasses with ChromaPop Bronze Mirror Lenses.

Payroll MIPS $220 ($200 without Aleck Crash Sensor)

Sizes: S/M/L/XL

14oz/397 g (size med)

Introduction/Fit/Style:  The Payroll Mips is designed for mountain biking and e-biking, with full coverage protection. It features zonal Koroyd protection, Mips impact technology and Vaporfit adjustment system.  

Additionally, Smith offers the option of an added Aleck Crash Sensor that will send out emergency alerts in the event of a crash.  

The Payroll Mips is reasonably lightweight considering all of the features and protection that it offers (at just 14 ounces in my size medium), is stylish, well ventilated and has an exceptionally safe/secure feel to it.  

I always wear a size medium in all brands/types of helmets and that is the case here with the Payroll, where the Vaporfit adjustment dial really snugs up the helmet, but I also still have plenty of room underneath if I want to add a beanie or cycling cap.  While this looks like a large helmet (and it is a large helmet), I like the modern design and the Matte Black/Topo colorway, which is pretty sharp in person.  The visor is also adjustable to 3 different positions to accommodate space for your goggles.

Pros: Protective, well vented, comfortable, easy to adjust, beefy visor, Koroyd, Mips, Aleck crash sensor option

Cons: Large in size, no color options for Koroyd model (Matte Black/Topo is the only color option)


Aleck Crash Sensor:  

The Aleck crash sensor is a small disk that is just over an inch in diameter that fits seamlessly into the Vapor fit adjustment dial on the back of the helmet.  The crash sensor connects to your phone via Bluetooth and integrates with the Aleck app. (free).  

The pairing process is quite quick and easy, then once set up, you can add contacts for emergency alerts in case of an accident.  

Charging is via an (included) USB-C cable and takes 1.5 - 2 hours for a full charge.  I find that the charge lasts for nearly a month before I need to recharge (at 10%), though I will admit it is easy to forget (you can check in on the charge level within the app.).  

Also in the app is a locator map that always shows the location of your helmet and presumably yourself when you are wearing it.  Whomever in your contacts list that you designate to be an emergency contact will be able to track your location such as you would with Garmin Livetrack or Strava Beacon (though unlike Garmin or Strava, you do not have to initiate an activity, it always shows location, when you within cell range of course). 

 If you were to fall and trigger an alert, then your contacts would be notified, as would 911 and the sensor emits a loud emergency siren to call attention to anyone within earshot.  If this is a false alarm, then you can disable the alert on your phone.  

Your location/connection however is predicated on having cell service and is not a substitute for a true satellite tracker like a Garmin inReach or Apple’s Emergency SOS.  

I have not had any false alarms despite lightly trying to, as they have worked hard on their algorithms to prevent this and they so far seem to have done a great job.  There is a mode where you can test, so when you activate test mode, give the helmet a slap, you can hear it screech loudly and flashes/sounds alert on your phone.  You can then cancel to turn off the alert.


The zonal Koroyd impact coverage is light, well ventilated and (reportedly) provides great impact protection.  You can see it well through the vents which look a lot like honeycombs.  I like that it lets in air, but will still protect from impact or any sticks or branches when mountain biking and has the added bonus of helping to keep out bugs and bees while still maintaining max ventilation.

Vents:  There are 19 strategically placed vents (6 of which have the Koroyd lining), which allow for very good airflow.  Even on the warmest days, the Payroll feels cool and airy, while simultaneously providing good protection from the sun.

MIPS:  The MIPS system consists of an inner plastic liner which rides independently from the rest of the helmet, with the intention being to reduce the rotational forces caused by angled impacts to the head.  I have not yet tested this out (and hope not to), but it makes sense and now insist upon it with any helmet for myself or my family.

Performance/Conclusions/Recommendations: The Payroll MIPS is a large helmet and at 14oz., it is no featherweight, but it is not necessarily designed to be that, but instead designed to be maximally protective.  With the larger size comes increased crash protection and greater overall coverage. WHEN combined with the Koroyd, Mips and Aleck Crash Sensor, provides peace of mind that if the worst happens, you stand a better chance.  It is very comfortable, well ventilated, easy to adjust and has a nice looking style to it.  I find it to be ideal for riding my e-Bike, as well as my mountain bike and sometimes my gravel bike when I feel like I will need the visor.

Smith Trace MIPS Bike Helmet

Sizes: S/M/L

10oz/280g (size med)

$250 ($270 with Aleck Crash Sensor)

Introduction/Fit/Style:  The Trace Mips is Smith’s top of the line helmet for road or gravel, featuring Complete Koroyd coverage, Mips, a well vented lightweight design, Vaporfit Dial adjustment system, integrated skeletal structure, Air Evac venting to keep glasses fog free and integration with Smith eyewear (as well as others).  

I typically wear a size medium in helmets (always) and the medium Trace fits me perfectly with room to spare if adding a cap or beanie underneath.  I find the style of the Trace to be great, as it looks modern, is not too big or bulky, has clean smooth lines and plenty of ventilation.  

Like the Payroll, the Trace is also available with the Aleck Crash Sensor option, for $20 extra (a bargain if you need a crash sensor or additional crash sensor).

Pros: Lightweight, packed with safety features like Koroyd, Mips, Aleck and integrated skeletal structure, comfort, ventilation, ease of adjustment and style.

Cons: a minimal and removable visor would be nice

Most of the vent ports are filled with Koroyd, which is one of the many things I like about the Trace, with only the center two being open.  This is really helpful to keep bugs and bees out of your helmet which are especially problematic if you are low on hair! 

The MIPS inner shell, shown here, “floats” independently of the helmet decreasing rotational forces upon impact.

A closer look at the Koroyd 

Rear view of vent vents and Vaporfit Dial


The Trace is an exceptionally well executed helmet, as it is super lightweight, comfortable, well vented and cool, protective with the Koroyd keeping (most of) the bugs out!  I also appreciate the seamless integration with Smith sunglasses (like the Motive shown below).

The Trace is ideal for road or gravel riding, whether you are racing or training, as it is so light, sleek and cool.  

Smith Motive Sunglasses with ChromaPop Bronze Mirror Lense

29 grams 

$185 as tested ($175-$185 depending on the lens)

Intro:  The new Smith Motive sunglasses are designed primarily for cycling, but can also be used for a variety of outdoor sports such as running, backcountry skiing and hiking.  At just 29 grams, they are lightweight and with a sticky nose pad and temples, they stay put when riding or running hard.  They provide maximal coverage with a large lens and wrapping desig, with a half frame for a wide field of vision.  While the Motive provides large coverage, the fit is medium and works well for my face that is on the small side.

Lens quality/clarity:  

The Bronze Chromapop lens provides 14% VLT, as compared to the 12% for the Opal lens, 15% for the violet mirror lens and the much darker 10% for  the black lens and black gold mirror.  

While I have sensitive eyes in the bright sun, especially as I frequent high altitudes and often blinding alpine conditions, my focus here was more along the lines of versatility and the ability to bike or run on intermittently shaded trails.  

The Bronze Chromapop lens has proven to be the perfect choice for these applications, as they enhance contrast and natural color making trail details very defined.  They are dark enough for my eyes to be relaxed in bright sunshine, yet light enough so that I do not struggle on cloudy days or in the shade.  

I have used the Motive in a variety of conditions:  bright sun, cloudy days, in the trees, and above treeline.  I am able to really interpret the trail ahead with such good contrast and definition thus  I feel more confident moving fast over technical terrain.


I have a somewhat small face and will admit that I would not wear these day to day and primarily reserve them for cycling only (and the occasional trail run for testing) and may use them for backcountry skiing next winter.  They are medium fit though and stay on my face well no matter how rough of trails I am mountain biking or running are.

I do appreciate the wrap-around, full coverage design and frameless bottom, that allows for an unobstructed field of vision and excellent wind coverage.

Conclusions:  The Smith Motive sunglasses are high quality, sturdy, with a solid design that allows for maximum coverage, unobstructed field of view and the highest quality Chromapop lens and integrate seamlessly with Smith Helmets.  I would highly recommend them for all types of cycling, from road, to gravel to mountain.  They are also good for hiking and backcountry skiing, but are a bit too much for my trail running preferences, but they do stay put and the lens optics are top notch.

The Smith Optics Helmets and Sunglasses featured in the article are available at


Jeff Valliere has been around bikes his entire life, as a toddler following his dad to bike races and bike shops, BMX racing as a kid, working in bike shops as a mechanic for 14+ years (10 at U-Bikes in Boulder where he met John) and racing as a professional road cyclist for several years.  Jeff no longer races, but still loves to ride as he introduces his daughters to the joys of cycling.  In addition to being obsessed with cycling, he runs mountains daily and has been reviewing running shoes/gear/tech for RoadTrailRun since 2015 and for other publications/companies since 2005.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Jeff Valliere said...


Anonymous said...

weird to include the 2021 trace mips helmet in a 2024 review but it is a very good helmet

Jeff Valliere said...

Anon, it is not one they are actively promoting, but was one I wanted to test/review and they were gracious enough to send me one.