denizmerdano walters fox proframe cover 2.jpg
Review

Fox Proframe Helmet

Words Ryan Walters
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Jan 21, 2022
Reading time

Mountain bikers have it pretty good these days. Supply chain issues notwithstanding, we are blessed with an abundance of options when it comes to the gear we choose. When I first threw a leg over a mountain bike many years ago, I basically had two options in a helmet: a roadie inspired half-lid that was fine as long as I never, ever planned on crashing - or a watered down motocross bucket that looked and felt more like a diving bell than a bike helmet.

Today, we have as many different mountain biking disciplines as we have headset standards, and the reality is that any modern bike is a marvel of engineering, allowing us to access terrain and speeds that weren’t possible a few years ago. We’re going faster, further and higher than ever before, so it’s important that our safety gear keeps pace.

In our neck of the woods, it seems that enduro is the discipline of the moment, enjoying huge growth in recent years. And by enduro, I don’t only mean the race format, but more generally the idea of “earning your rowdy turns.” We now have bikes that can be pedaled to the top of a mountain, and yet are nearly as capable as their DH cousins on the way down. This has necessitated a whole new arena of protective gear - products that offer maximum protection, but are still comfortable on prolonged climbs and traverses. Thankfully, helmets have come a long way since the early days, with many brands offering enduro specific lids. Some, like the Bell Super DH, offer full-face protection with a removable chin bar. For those of us channeling our inner Super Dave Osborne, 3/4 helmets like the Giro Tyrant are available. But if a lightweight, breathable full-face with a fixed chin bar is what you’re after, Fox hopes their Proframe will meet your needs. It’s a MIPS equipped, DH rated helmet, coming in at $339.95 CAD / $269.95 US.

The Proframe is a great looking piece of kit, with on-trend, angular lines, and available in a stealth black colour that will never go out of style. I feel like this helmet should be standard issue equipment, included with the purchase of every WAO Arrival - since they look as if they’ve been lifted from the same mould. But if the plain black doesn’t do it for you, the Proframe is also available in louder colourways like Stone, Slate Blue and Tortoise.*

*Stone and Tortuise seem to be out of stock right now however

The first thing you notice when picking up this helmet is how light it is for a full-face. At just 750g for a medium, it just might be the lightest helmet in the category. The huge vents no doubt help to reduce the weight, but considering not a wisp of carbon fibre was used in its construction, 750g is very impressive. Included with the helmet is a selection of different-sized liner and cheek pads to customize the fit, as well as some spares. At 61cm in circumference, my cranium size lies somewhat beyond the bell curve average. And yes folks, it’s true what you’ve heard about men with XL heads: we wear XL helmets.

My first ride wearing the Proframe was a chilly fall day with a bit of drizzle. Starting with a long climb, I was surprised how much airflow there was through the helmet. Those enormous vents really do work! While we British Columbians won’t see any truly hot days for the next several months, I don’t doubt that the Proframe breathes nearly as well as my everyday half-lid, possibly better over the top of the head. I’m a chronic fogger of lenses while climbing in humid weather, and I was able to leave my riding glasses on while wearing the Proframe for the majority of the way up, which is seriously impressive. The chin bar is mostly holes anyway, so it’s almost as if it’s not there from a ventilation point of view. Speaking of the chin bar, it goes pretty much unnoticed while riding - it was basically invisible to me at all times. It sits just far enough off your face that you can sneak a squirt from a water bottle from just above the bar. If you’re a good shot, risk it all and go for the exciting squirt through the 5-hole!* Hydration pack users should have no trouble accessing their bite valve while wearing the Proframe. 

*Not recommended in cold weather when you’re trying to avoid a soaking wet chest

After my first lengthy climb, I discovered a minor flaw in this otherwise comfortable helmet. It turns out the brow pad just above the eyes is not the most effective at dissipating sweat. It fits quite snugly against the forehead, with no airflow channels or breaks in the pad. Once saturated, it wasn’t long before sweat began to drip down the sides of my face. While the pads are comfortable, their design is super basic, with far less effort put into sweat management than other helmets in this price range. I feel that the MIPS liner might compound this issue, as it adds a layer of non-breathable plastic over the pads. It should be noted that I only encountered this issue during long, sustained climbs where airflow was low and cardio was high. It was never an issue otherwise.

denizmerdano walters fox proframe13.jpg

My photographer tells me that cool guys wear one pair of goggles and zero pairs of gloves.

When the trail tipped downwards and speeds increased, the Proframe had a very secure feel with no unwanted wiggle or movement. The cheek pads are snug but comfy, and there is plenty of room around the ears if earbuds are your thing. More importantly, you can easily carry out a normal conversation at a civilized volume while wearing the Proframe - no yelling required! The Fidlock SNAP buckle uses a magnet and click interface that takes about a minute to get used to, but after you figure it out, it almost feels too easy and you may wonder if you’ve done it up securely. As long as you hear the telltale “click,” you’re good to go.

Riding in the Proframe feels very different from full-on DH or moto helmets. Its venting and light weight give an airy feeling that is closer to a half-lid than a DH helmet. In spite of this, the Proframe is safety rated to ASTM F1952, a downhill racing standard set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The addition of MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) aims to provide another layer of crash protection, allowing the helmet to rotate independently from the head, potentially reducing trauma to the brain in the event of an impact. While on the topic of MIPS, I did at times experience the dreaded “MIPS squeak” while wearing this helmet. This is a common complaint of the MIPS system, caused by the MIPS liner rubbing against the helmet foam. I admit that the squeak was barely perceptible, but it was there. I’m also not sure if other MIPS helmets are worse offenders, but the Proframe squeak is not a deal-breaker for me. I only noticed it when I actively listened for it, and it didn’t affect my riding in any way. Still, I could see how some folks might find this unbearable, and there is a vocal segment of the riding community who cannot get along with MIPS helmets for this very reason.

While the integrated visor adds to the clean aesthetics of the helmet, and possibly assists in airflow, I found myself wishing that it was adjustable. The fixed position of the visor was a touch too low for my liking, at times slightly obscuring my view when looking far down the trail. Not a fatal flaw by any means, but if I could have it all, I’d nudge the visor up just a bit. Aside from the visor, the field of vision was great. I generally avoid goggles when not racing, riding lifts or posing for Deniz, and some full-faces don’t play nicely with glasses, so I was pleased that the Proframe seems to work well with just about any style of riding lens you can throw at it. Ah yes, the unforgivable fashion faux pas of glasses in a full-face! I’m a kook, and I’m ok with that.

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At this point, there aren’t too many reasons why I wouldn’t choose the Proframe over my half-lid for most of the rowdy, local riding I do. The only real flaw I can find in this otherwise excellent helmet is the sweaty brow pad, and the real test for that won’t happen until next July. Until then, the Proframe just might become my daily driver. It’s gnarly out there, and having the extra protection of a chin bar gives me a bit more confidence, and slightly less to worry about when riding at the limit.

If you’re the type who likes to get loose on pedally rides, or maybe you just don’t have a generous dental plan - the Proframe is definitely worth a look. I hear it even works well for enduro racing.

Fox Proframe Helmet

Available in S, M, L and XL sizes.

$339.95 CAD / $269.95 US

foxracing.ca

rwalters
Ryan Walters

Age : 40

Height : 1803mm

Weight : 86kg

Ape Index : 1.03

Inseam : 787mm

Bar Width : 780mm

Preferred Reach : Pretty comfy at 487mm these days.

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Comments

DogVet
Hugo Williamson
4 months ago
+4 Kos Ryan Walters JVP Phlegyas

I have one in the white, much better for riding when it’s sunny and hot, compared with a Black helmet.

Reply

hongeorge
hongeorge
4 months ago
+2 Dogl0rd Pete Roggeman

I really wanted one of these when they first came out, but when trying on in a shop, the brow had a really uncomfortable seam on it that was irritating my face, almost like part of the MIPS liner was touching my face - even sizing up was no help. Sounds like there's a different pad in them now, maybe better in that respect, but shame it doesn't deal with sweat. Wish more brands would look at the Oakley DRT5 and the little silicon pad it uses to channel away sweat - that's been a gamechanger for sweaty types like me, so much so that I can actually wear glasses with it.

Reply

nzstormer
Michael Stormer
4 months ago
+2 hongeorge Greg_M

At least there are a few more to choose from now. I have the TLD stage, the Smith mainline looks nice, ixs  trigger looks nice, 100% , leatt and I'm sure there are a few others. I think this style of helmet is fantastic, and encourage anyone to consider it.

Reply

mammal
Mammal
4 months ago
+1 Ryan Walters

I've always been intrigued by those silicone channels that Oakley uses, and wondered why way more companies don't use that idea. Seems genius to me.

Reply

Zowsch
Zowsch
4 months ago
0

It did work really well for about a year and half but it has a shelf life... mine wore out to the point that the channels started pointing downward, allowing the sweat to flow down, so I flipped it upside down, but the material is now so sticky and gross that it is so unpleasant to put on (after multiple attempts to clean it).

Reply

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
4 months ago
0

I had one but I can overwhelm any sweat device. It worked for me for only a short while. I’ve tried a number of other headband kind of things but non really do much. The only exception is the Sweat Buster microfibre replacement brow pads. Buy several and keep a dry one in your pack for the descent. Wring out the wet one and clip it to the outside of the pack and it might dry enough to use again for another descent.

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
4 months ago
0

Hmm, weird. I definitely didn’t have any irritation. Maybe the brow pad wasn’t aligned properly in the helmet you tried?

Reply

hongeorge
hongeorge
4 months ago
0

I tried more than one - this was years ago, mind, when they were first released, am sure I saw it mentioned in a review also.

Reply

hongeorge
hongeorge
4 months ago
0

Found the review - https://www.bikeradar.com/reviews/helmets/full-face-helmets/fox-proframe-full-face-helmet-review/

> The only major gripe I had was with the brow padding, which I’d argue isn’t big enough, because it allows the plastic edge of the MIPS liner to rub your forehead on long rides.

Reply

T-mack
T-mack
3 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I have the same gripe actually. So weird they put that pad there so thick.

Reply

rnayel
RNAYEL
4 months ago
+2 Ryan Walters Deniz Merdano

I am digging the chin bar for shore riding and appreciating the increase in helmet options. Currently rocking the iXS Xult, which is hot and gets uncomfortable quick climbing, to the point of just bringing it when I'm climbing the fireroad or shuttling.

@Deniz, @Ryan, even @MeatEngineAndrewMajor, what would you guys recommend as the best ventilated full face/Enuro with a chin strap helmet for use in these parts?

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
4 months ago
+1 RNAYEL

Bell super DH 

Smith Mainline/ TLD Stage

Leatt Enduro 4.0 

In no particular order

Reply

Kenny
Kenny
4 months ago
+1 Agleck7

I feel like the brow thing might be because the helmet tend to rock forwards on you head? I have similar issues with mine, and I find the visor hangs too low and cuts off my vision when descending at speed, I have to try to tily my head up to an uncomfortable position tonsee down  the trail. 

I've actually considered shortening the visor or otherwise altering it somehow because I really like the helmet otherwise. 

Have also considered the stage but seems a waste of money when I have a program already that *almost* works great.

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

The Proframe definitely didn’t rock on my head at all. If anything, the brow pad was a touch too tight, making it collapse down to nothing, and not allowing it to absorb any sweat at all. Still, I’d prefer the tight feel over a wobbly fit for sure.

Reply

4Runner1
4Runner1
4 months ago
0

Maybe a fit issue? Regardless, doesn’t sound like it works for you at all. If you have trouble seeing down the trail then that’s a hazard. Ones helmet shouldn’t be the potential cause of a crash. Sounds like you should cut your losses and try another size or brand?

Reply

MTB_THETOWN
MTB_THETOWN
4 months ago
+1 Ryan Walters

I just retired one of these helmets after about 3 years of use. I agree that it breathes incredibly well, and I wear a halo sweatband under all my helmets to control sweat, which I recommend. However this helmet doesn't work as well with glasses as goggles in my experience or my friends. I now have the specialized gambit and it is noticeably lighter, just as ventilated, and stays more secure (especially with glasses) because of the dial adjuster. The proframe was the best option when it was released, but if the gambit or Troy Lee stage fits your head they both seem to be more evolved versions of the concept.

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
4 months ago
+1 MTB_THETOWN

I think you’ve just touched on what I believe to be the most important consideration in picking a helmet - fit. Some head shapes just work better with some brands. My fat head seems to work really well in Bell and Fox lids.

Reply

Squint
Squint
4 months ago
+1 geno ____

This helmet was a serious contender when I was shopping a year ago, but ultimately went for the iXS Trigger mostly because of the adjustable click dial fit (like most half lids) instead of relying on various thickness of pads, which many of the FF helmets seem to go with. Sweat hasn't been a problem and it's lighter. 

It's great to see so many options for light well ventilated FF helmets. 

Am I the only one who's meh on the fidlock? Just a simple buckle is easier IMO.

Reply

kos
Kos
4 months ago
0

I've got one for hot, slow-speed, tight woods dirt bike riding. It's killer, but without goggles, I'd agree with Ryan that it's so-so at sweat management.

What's the best open face helmet for sweat management? Opinions requested!

Reply

Greg_M
Greg_M
4 months ago
+1 4Runner1

The IXS Trigger FF has a brow pad that extends out towards the front of the helmet, this does a good job of absorbing the sweat on your brow and taking it forward so it drips in front of your face and not on your face.

Reply

Ride.DMC
Ride.DMC
4 months ago
+1 4Runner1

Another benefit of the IXS Trigger FF is that the visor is adjustable with a wide range of motion.  For me it came down to a choice bewteen the IXS, the Smith Mainline and the Fox Proframe.  All 3 fit my head nicely, but in the end the Smith didn't have a fidlock buckle and I am personally tired of struggling with a D ring, and the Fox had a fixed visor.  The IXS happened to have a great fit and all of the little extras I was hoping to get.

Reply

Captain-Snappy
Merwinn
4 months ago
0

See two comments above.

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
4 months ago
0

Interesting. So you use it for moto? I’m sure that Fox wouldn’t approve, but it’s funny that MTB products are crossing over to moto - after so many years of the reverse being true.

Reply

kos
Kos
4 months ago
0

Yes, moto, but only for slow, tight woods riding on extra hot days.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
4 months ago
0

Poc Kortal seems to have the most effective sweat management for me. Even there I have to wear a cotton buff as a do rag under to absorb all the sweat. Works really well but makes the helmet run a little warm.

Reply

hongeorge
hongeorge
4 months ago
0

As above, really rate the Oakley DRT5. The band can leave a red mark on your forehead for a little while after wearing, but small price to pay for me

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
4 months ago
0

I personally can only compare the Proframe to the Bell Super DH. Having the ability to remove chin bar is nice, and essentially gives you 2 helmets in 1. And if you don’t mind packing the chin bar during climbs, that’s a win for the Bell. The Proframe feels far more secure on my head though. I think Proframe looks better too. 

If you only have one helmet, go for a convertible like the Bell. But if you have a dedicated half lid, I’d recommend the Proframe.

Reply

JVP
JVP
4 months ago
0

Any fellow narrow-headers out there have luck finding a light/vented full face like this one? Hard to find a shop with a good stock to try on, especially these days (Seattle). I REALLY need a helmet like this since I rarely wear a FF due to running hot and almost exclusively earning my turns these days.

Reply

gerrit
geno ____
4 months ago
+1 JVP

Narrow head? That's me. I returned about 12(?) helmets, because all were either too short (pressure on the forehead) or too wide - the Proframe was both.

I ended up with the IXS Trigger FF MIPS, almost perfect fit. Only downside is, I would prefer a double D ring on the strap. The Fidlock is quite bulky and you cannot get the precise adjustment of a double D ring strap.

Reply

BlinkTooFast
Clive Norton
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 geno ____

Interesting, thanks. I've had double D rings since, I dunno... since I started riding motorbikes in 1995? and have always got on well with them - right tightness everytime, regardless of hair length or hydration/fatness level, etc.

My FF helmet is due for renewal, so I'd started looking for Fidlocks based on others' rave comments. It'd be more convenient everytime I jump on and off the ski lift. Maybe I'll move more cautiously and keep double Ds in the running...

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

My Bell Full 9 has D rings, and this has the Fidlock. I agree that the D rings are easier to adjust fit on the fly, whereas the Fidlock is just easier to do up and release. The ability to unfasten with one hand is pretty nice, especially those moments where you want to remove the helmet while still riding. But I personally wouldn’t base my helmet choice on the fastener. Pros and cons to both.

Reply

ThadTheRad
Jake Smith
3 months, 2 weeks ago
0

I love how light my proframe is but I do not love the MIPSqueak. It's bad enough that I've gotten a bit of sensory overload resulting in some serious demotivation on a long climb.

Reply

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