The not-so-minor details
Fox Proframe Helmet
Exceptional breathability for a full-face.
Excellent Enduro or trail riding protection.
Non adjustable visor.
Could this be the first full-face helmet we’d consider using for a trail ride? Fox’s new Proframe claims to offer the breathability of an open face, but the protection of a full-face. Ok, it’s not the first helmet to make these claims, but we think it’s the best looking helmet in this category we feel (admit it, looks count when you’re putting it on your head) and it’s an impressive piece of kit.
We headed to Red Hill, on the Mornington Peninsula, to try out the Proframe at the helmet’s local launch. A steamy 31-degree day meant we had the ideal conditions to put the claims of breathability to the test.
Who is it meant for?
Obviously the Enduro race crowd are one target market for this helmet, but Fox are hoping to cast a wider net than just the race scene. If you ride trails that regularly terrify you, or you’re simply a very good crasher, then Fox are hoping this helmet appeals, even if your riding involves plenty of climbing.
Fox aren’t trying to position this helmet as an item for downhillers – they have their Rampage helmet for that market. That said, we can’t see any reason why you couldn’t use this for downhill too. Downhillers get hot too, right?
How light is it?
Our medium sized Proframe tips the scales at 755g, which is around 400g less than our already light Fox Rampage full face helmet (1178g). This doesn’t make the Proframe the lightest helmet in this class (the MET Parachute is about 100g lighter), but it’s still a big weight saving versus a normal full-face.
Open the windows and let some air in.
Weight is only part of the equation, and when it comes to wearability on a hot climb, the helmet’s venting and breathability are going to play a bigger role than the grams. The Proframe has 15 vents up front, and nine out the back. The chin bar doesn’t sit any further away from your face than a normal full face, but it has huge, gaping holes (wide enough to pass the banana eating test) to allow you to breathe easily.
The visor isn’t adjustable, but is positioned to drive as much air as possible into the vents. There’s a bit of a compromise here in having no adjustability, as we did notice you could just see the visor when descending. It wasn’t enough to be a worry, but we could still see it.
Is that chin bar removable?
No. Despite the metal pins that appear to secure the chin bar, it’s fixed in place. The pins are just part of the reinforcement that allow this helmet to receive full downhill certification.
What about strength? Can I faceplant with confidence?
Fox tell us that this helmet exceeds all the same standards as their Rampage full-face, so crash away! The more open vents of the chin bar might mean you get more gravel in your mouth, but your face should stay on.
The actual EPS material has a dual density (Fox call it Varizorb) which is designed to spread impacts across a wider area. It’s also MIPS equipped, which is a bonus, so if you do hit the dirt, the MIPS arrangement (which allows the helmet’s shell to slide slightly, independently of the liner) should ensure less rotational force makes its way to your melon.
Honestly, how is it to actually pedal in?
No bullshit here, this helmet was way, way nicer to climb in than we expected. We rode the Proframe on a properly hot day, over 30 degrees, and it totally outshone our expectations. We could breathe much more easily than in a traditional full-face, and there was an impressive amount of airflow to our face – we had none of that claustrophobic clamminess that can be part of pedalling about in a full-face helmet. Only on the top of head, where there is less venting, did we feel a bit hot.
Of course an open-face is still going to be a little more pleasant, but the breathability and all-round wearability for climbing was really good, and we didn’t feel compelled to rip the helmet off at the top of each climb like we normally would if wearing a traditional full-face.
Aside from the slight intrusion of the visor at the very top of our field of vision, overall visibility in the helmet is top notch. You can also hear everything properly, you don’t ride around in a muffled cocoon of silence of full-face silence, which is both more social and less disorientating.
Well, the Proframe is the first full-face we’ve seen that doesn’t look kooky if you ride wearing sunglasses and not goggles! There’s even channels in the padding to accomodate sunglasses arms comfortably. The chin strap buckle is nice too, using a magnetic clasp, which can be undone with one hand.
Each helmet also comes with two sets of pads of different thicknesses, so you can easily tweak the fit if you find it a little tight or loose in certain areas. There are a massive six different colours to choose from too. Six!
Couldn’t you just use a normal full face and take the cheek pads out for climbing?
Yes, but your head would be a damn sight hotter. The extra weight of a normal full-face is considerable, and the breathability of the Proframe is leagues ahead of any normal full-face out there. Plus, who wants the hassle of pulling out cheek pads? This is a much better option.
Would we recommend it?
Yes! The Proframe has a lot of appeal. It looks great, is comfy, and very safe. We’ve only had an hour or so of trail time in the Proframe so far, but that was more than enough to assess that it lives up to its claims of excellent breathability.