The new Fox Proframe claims to be light enough for pedalling but tough enough for descending.
How does the new DH certified, light weight helmet actually feel on the trail? Let’s find out …
Light and tough?
Fox’s new Proframe helmet landed last week with some pretty bold claims. A full face helmet that’s light and airy enough for trail riding but that is also certified for downhill riding. Sounds good to us.
Over the years I’ve fallen into a pretty strict helmet regime. Full face for uplifts, open face helmet for everything else. That means 90% of my riding is in an open face. It’s light, it’s airy, there’s no limits to peripheral vision and it just feels very unintrusive … all of which make me comfortable on my bike. I was really interested to see if Fox’s new helmet could persuade me to break that rule.
My first ride in the Proframe was a wet and windy trip round the Mendips. It’s a good combo of tough climbs and rooty, muddy, slippy downhill tracks. t’s quite gnarly in places with some decent sized jumps, steep stuff and roots absolutely everywhere to offer plenty of opportunities to taste soil … the need to cover some ground and a bitch of a climb to finish means that I’d always pack an open face helmet.
The first thing I noticed when donning the Proframe was the unusual feeling of being “one of those guys” that’s wearing a full face on a trail ride. Like the dude you see commuting round town in a full face. It’s perfectly sensible but it just looks a bit kooky, right? Sorry guys!
Fox can’t help you with that … but it does feel like they’ve done a great job of creating a very good looking helmet. To me atleast, the Proframe looks fast, purposeful and stylish. There’s no wacky colour schemes and the overall shape looks as close to a ‘proper’ full face as you’re likely to get.
I popped the Proframe on in the car park and got stuck in to a muddy slog up to the trails.
The big vents in the chin piece kept air flowing nicely and let me breath very freely. As unpleasant as it sounds, beads of sweaty condensation around the main, front vent from my breath showed how well it was working as an air intake and an exhaust port.
Before you can enjoy our local trails you have to muscle up a short, sharp, loose climb and then spin up the fire road. Cresting the loose section I was really surprised to find that the Proframe hadn’t crossed my mind once on the way up. My legs were tired, sure. My heart rate was beating like Def Leopard’s drummer. I wasn’t struggling to get air in or out and I wasn’t overheating. I got to the top, had a chat, left the Proframe on my head, carried on. Really impressive.
The Proframe meant that I arrived at the top of the trails packing a full face with very little extra effort compared to my usual open face helmet. The extra piece of mind from wearing it felt great … particularly on the fast, slippy, rocky trails that are in full winter-mode.
Where conditions were sketchy, it felt good dropping in with a bit of extra protection. That translated – for me at least – to a bit more confidence on the bike.
Now I’ve got the Proframe in my setup, there’s no real excuse for not wearing a full face. There are gnarlier trails I’ll always wear full face and there are mellower trails I’ll always wear open face.
The Proframe makes those “I dunno, it’s pretty gnarly but I don’t want to be too hot” trails a way easier decision. There are plenty of big, pedaly days out in South Wales that I’d pack this helmet for now that I’ve got it. Bike Park Wales pedal-up laps? Definitely. Trail centres? Probably not.
Comfort and fit
The Proframe’s fit is adjust by swapping out the pads inside the helmet – thicker pads make it smaller, thinner pads make it bigger. There’s three different combos of pads supplied which you can mix and match to find your ideal fit. At first the brow padding felt a bit uncomfortable, I mixed up the different size pads and found a combo that worked nicely.
The Proframe doesn’t have that deep, comfortable, snug fit of the Rampage Pro Carbon, it feels a lot more like an open face helmet. The pads on the cheeks feel quite akin to a full face helmet – but that’s where the similarities end. The rest of the padding is low profile, quite thin and much more like your open face. That means a slight sacrifice in comfort but less weight and less thick, spongy padding to absorb sweat.
I was happy to see the addition of a magnetic buckle on the chin strap. That was easy to use, feels really secure and makes fastening your helmet one-handed whilst riding a breeze.
I love to be cynical and pick holes in products, but I’m struggling after my first ride. Fox have nailed it with the Proframe.
It’s light enough to climb and to charge pedally singletrack, it looks great and it’s got enough protection for proper, technical riding. Adding it to my kit-bag has changed my perception of where and when I’d wear a full face … ultimately making my riding safer and making me more confident. For the Team Wideopenmag boys that are out racing big, hard, gnarly Enduro World Series races in Fox kit I can see the Proframe making their lives a lot easier and a lot safer.
Will this become my only helmet? Nope, I’ll always want the ‘feel’ an open face helmet. Will it become my only full face? I don’t race much downhill, I race a bit of enduro, I ride plenty of uplifts, downhill tracks and bike parks. I ride loads of pedal-up-the-fire-road, ride-down-the-gnarly-track stuff. For my set up, I’d be happy if this was my only full face.
You can learn more about the Fox Proframe helmet on Fox’s website here.