More and more bike park and uplift venues are being developed across the world, meaning there is an increase in riders wearing full face helmets; and the rise of Enduro has resulted in more and more riders opting for goggles over glasses with their open face helmets. This can be seen as a fashion faux pas, but I’ve adopted it and quite like it. However, there’s no covering up the fact that us mountain bikers have been riding in goggles that have the same DNA as motocross goggles. They’ve usually been slightly adapted to suit our needs but still they’re not perfect.
Over the past few seasons Smith has taking large, bold steps in producing MTB specific items. Stomping both feet down with the introduction of the unique Forefront helmet, they turned the helmet market upside down opting to construct it with Koroyd over the usual materials and methods. Smith’s goggle range has previously been made up of two models and it categorises them on the website in the ‘Off Road’ subsection. Then last year Smith launched the Squad MTB goggle – arguably the first goggle specifically designed for MTB riding. They are available in 12 colour options, including a Semenuk special.
As it did with the Forefront, Smith went back to the drawing board when developing these goggles, and looked at the bugbears most of us mountain bikers have with wearing goggles. The design team set out to heal the wounds that have been left etched in our minds from using products brought over from our petrol-headed friends.
Fogging can be a nightmare and is usually made worse in damp conditions or when working hard. Smith has removed the open cell, soft layer of foam that usually surrounds the frame body, instead opting to construct this area with lattice weave around the bottom and top of the frame. Vents in the lens also help to reduce fogging issues. The lattice weave also makes for a more flexible frame allowing the goggles to fit a multitude of faces, and stopping them getting too misshapen when on top of your helmet. Other nice features include three layer foam (as per most goggles), ultra wide strap, roll off system compatible and a nice wide nose area. In use the Squads’ comfortable three layer foam and wide nose, along with the incredible vented lattice frame, results in a no compromise feel. They don’t have the usual claustrophobic sensation that many overly complicated, overly constructed moto style goggles have.
It’s incredibly easy to change the lenses out, and Smith sends the Squad out with a cylindrical carbonic-x anti fog lens and a clear lens as well. As I mainly ride in the dark Calder valley I have mostly been riding in the clear lens, though our Ignitor mirror lens is more than usable in the dull, tree lined valley tracks and it looks a trick on sunny days – when we get them.
The Squads have performed excellently in all scenarios. During damp uplift days – when no matter what goggles you have, they fog up in the bus on the lift up the hill – they have cleared quickly as soon as my wheels started heading down those DH tracks. It’s with open face helmets where the Squads shine the brightest. A large field of vision, paired with wide nose area means you forget you are wearing them. As above the lattice frame provides more ventilation than any other goggle I’ve experienced, and when breathing hard there’s no hint of fogging.
Overall: The Squads cost less than high end glasses, they provide far more protection and have amazing features that remove pretty much any chance of fogging, unless you start to slowly grind your way back up and forget to remove them from your face. ST recommended.
All images and copy courtesy of Singletrack Magazine.