The new Proframe helmet from FOX Is the lightest ever full-face helmet to be built by this renowned brand. Reputed to raise the ventilation bar for full-facers, the Proframe also promises to take protection to new highs for enduro and all-mountain riders. Having got wind of these claims, we took the lid out for testing.
One consequence of riding better and better bikes thanks to superior technology means that we’re even more likely to be pushing the pace on the trails. And while speed often brings safety, the risks are also arguably increased if you crash.
Most frequently the preserve of downhillers, full-facers are often overlooked by mountain bikers, who opt for open-face helmets in the hunt for better ventilation and a lower weight. But here’s where Fox see the new super lightweight and well-ventilated Proframe helmet stepping in to mix up the market.
The Fox Proframe Helmet in Detail
Weighing in at 735 g for the size M, the new Fox Proframe is bang in the middle of the weight spectrum between an open-facer (350 g) and a serious full-facer (> 1,100 g). The chinbar is secured to the helmet and can’t be removed – but Fox claim that won’t be necessary anyway thanks to those generous air vents. The helmet is made of EPS foam and lined with Fox’s own ‘Varizorb’ shock-absorbing technology, which entails strategically position cone-shaped inserts to optimize how it reacts on impact. The Proframe also features the now familiar MIPS system to minimize rotational forces.
The Proframe sports really high quality manufacturing and the design choices seem wholly sensible. The 23 bore vents have been added to the design to ensure that your head stays cool while climbing or when the temperature rises. The inside padding is fairly thin, but wider on the cheeks. There’s no cushioning on the front part of the chin guard. The visor is fixed in position and can’t be adjusted. The helmet strap has a magnetic closure.
First Ride With the Fox Proframe Helmet
As soon as you put this helmet on, you can’t deny that it’s both lightweight and breathable, making it feel so far removed from a full-face sauna. Much likes its mid-scale weight between a full-facer and an open-facer, the sensation of wearing the helmet is also somewhere in the middle ground. We tested it in fairly mild conditions of 10°C, which meant although we didn’t fully put its ventilation to the test, we were able to draw some seriously positive conclusions. The big, central opening in the chinbar means that air has an uninterrupted flow so your breathing isn’t impeded. Our test loop had a 600 metre climb and we didn’t once feel the need to remove the helmet in frustration from overheating. The regions with fewer air vents – like the rear of our heads and behind our ears – bore the brunt of the heat build-up.
Our test riders noted that there’s a bit of an echo created by the helmet, which might bother riders who like a good chat while riding. For a test rider with a head circumference of around 58 cm and a head that’s a bit longer than a regular one, the size medium was a winning fit. There’s no adjustment dial either, but we don’t think it’d be necessary. After riding for more than 30 minutes, there was some discomfort caused by the front edge of the MIPS system, which stuck out from under the foam – a fairly common issue with MIPS.
How Protective is the Fox Proframe
Fox are hyping the Proframe as a downhill-certified helmet with ventilation credentials that rank alongside open-face helmets. While the large vents do offer huge ventilation, they also reduce coverage but the helmet still does satisfy both the EN 1078:2012+A1:2012- and the ATSM standards and we look forward to talking it into the testing lab to properly measure protection offered by the lightweight chinbar.
Our Thoughts on the Fox Proframe
As promised by Fox, the Proframe lives up to their claims of delivering brilliant ventilation and a low weight when compared to an out-and-out full-facer. The production quality is incredibly high, as is its comfort (naturally, dependent on your head shape). While we’d rate the subjective sense of protection as being really high – we can’t actually determine how well it protects until we have facts to back-up our claims. On long rides with a lot of climbing, we’d probably still grab an open-face helmet. Similarly, if we were heading to a bike park or for a shuttled downhill day, we’d probably pick up a full-facer with more coverage. However, we reckon that the Proframe has the potential to satisfy many riders who’ve been looking for a lightweight full-facer that not only looks damn cool, but also keeps your head cool.
For more information head foxracing.com!
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer