Flow’s First Bite: Fox Proframe Helmet

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.

Fox's Ross Wilkinson introduces the Proframe.
Fox’s Ross Wilkinson introduces the Proframe.

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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?

Fox Proframe helmet-8815

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.

Big vents in the chin bar ensure the Proframe is Banana Friendly®.
Big vents in the chin bar ensure the Proframe is Banana Friendly®.

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.

From front on, you can see just how many vents the helmet has to suck air across your head.
From front on, you can see just how many vents the helmet has to suck air across your head. Modelling by Baxter Maiwald (agency enquiries welcome).

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.

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Kaia Ellis, razzing about on the trails of Red Hill.
Canyon Australia and Fox riders Kaia Ellis and Baxter Maiwald.
Canyon Australia and Fox riders Kaia Ellis and Baxter Maiwald.

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.

While the metal pin might lead you to think the chin bar can be detached, it's fixed in place.
While the metal pin might lead you to think the chin bar can be detached, it’s fixed in place.

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.

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Tegan Molloy on the rooty, dusty Needles downhill run.

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.

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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.

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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.

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What else?

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.

With its open, vented look, the Proframe actually works well with sunnies, whereas a normal full face tends to look a bit funky.
With its open, vented look, the Proframe actually works well with sunnies, whereas a normal full face tends to look a bit funky.

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!

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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.

The Fox Australia crew.
The Fox Australia crew.

Fresh Product: Bell Super 2R, With Detachable Chin Guard

Bell are now in their 60th year of producing helmets, that’s a lot of brain saving! Also, Bell are coming back into mountain biking in a big way with a renewed sense of style and providing great helmets to the new-school enduro crowd.

Their Super was released to loads of oohs and aahs due to it’s feature packed function with a trendy, fresh look. It could integrate a GoPro nicely in to the vents, fitted goggles perfectly, and offered more protection than your standard mountain bike lid. The Super is now expanding, the new Super 2R with removable chin guard is coming soon, and new to Bell is the integration of the special scientific MIPS protection system on top end Super and Stoker models.

[divider]Bell Super 2R[/divider]

Starting at $299 (and $329 with MIPS) this new lid will ensure that you’re always carrying the right protection for the trails ahead. In comparison to a regular full face helmet, this one is far lighter and more open for great visibility and breathing.

Detachable chin guard helmets have come and gone over the years, with some unsafe and horrendously ugly designs, but the Bell Super 2R looks to be spot on.

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We take our helmets off to Bell for this one, successfully creating a safe, light and good looking helmet for the growing enduro racer market.

The Super 2R is a variation on the Super with a detachable chin guard, no more need to carry two helmets on a road trip or tied to your bag in an enduro event! Using clever buckle clasps like you would see on Snowboot bindings, the chin guard clips on so quickly and easily, without even the need to take the helmet off.

Bell also have helmets available with MIPS technology, the clever slip-plane system in the helmet that is designed to rotate inside the helmet to reduce the jarring energy of an impact.

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The Super and Super 2R is also available in the matte black and white.
The Super and Super 2R is also available in the matte black and white.

The whole Bell range looked amazing, loads of great colours, and killer value too.

#soenduro