Here are 5 of our favourite full face helmets for enduro mountain biking … or for anyone that doesn’t want a full fat full face.
Many mountain bike races now insist on a full face for timed stages, with a helmet on for the duration, including transitions. We’ve hammered out five of the best on the market today to work out where you should be spending your money and trusting your brain.
In this test are Fox ProFrame, Giro Switchblade, Bell Super 3R, Lazer Revolution FF and the IXS Xult. The Fox and IXS offerings are your new breed of lightweight full face helmets aimed at the enduro crowd, while the rest have removable chin guards with varying methods of attachment.
Of course, these aren’t all just for racing, they work really well for riders that want the safety of a full face without the added weight and reduced comfort of a full bore full face. They’re ideal for people that ride a mix of pedaly and technical trails (Bike Park Wales for example), don’t have the budget to buy two helmets or that plan on travelling and are tight on space.
Weight: 750g (size M)
Key features: Light weight, DH certified full face.
The Fox Racing Proframe helmet is one of two helmets of the bunch that are full-time full-face.
By adding 24 large vents and getting the weight right down Fox have taken away the need for a removable chin piece. We were a bit cynical at first but in all but the hottest of weather it really is light and airy enough to be worn all ride.
Fox have also managed to create a helmet that’s downhill certified on both the helmet and the chin piece. That means no compromising protection for comfort – you can be cool and comfy whilst still knowing you’re well covered. Add in MIPS protection and the Fox begins to be useful for the bike park, big mountain holidays and ‘proper’ terrain.
We’d like a couple of improvements. A larger pad on the brow would add a bit more stability and comfort. We’d also like to see a means to adjust the helmets tightness other than swapping out pads.
The Fox Proframe has changed my options of what I ride in, taking away the excuse to leave the full face in the van or the need to take two helmets on a trip away. It hasn’t completely removed the open face helmet from my kit bag … but for technical and fast trails, enduro racing or bike parks it’s a great helmet.
- Feels lightweight and airy to wear
- DH rated on chin piece and helmet
- Airy enough to be worn in all but the hottest conditions in place of your open face
- Magnetic lock on the chin strap is great
- Brow padding can be a little uncomfortable to some riders
- No adjustment to helmet tightness
Vents: 23 on the helmet, 4 on the brow, 6 on the chin.
Key features: Removable, breakaway POV mount, adjustable peak, goggle guide.
The Bell Super 3R goes head to head with the Giro Switchblade for the gong of the best option for a helmet that offers both open face and an easily removable chin guard. Like the Lazer, the Super 3R starts with a half face helmet with an integrated chin guard. Unlike the Lazer, however, the chin guard on the Super can be removed and attached with your eyes closed.
Inserts in the chin guard sit into two rear vents on the helmet at the back of the head, with three easy to use retention clips that secure the chin in place. In place, the chin does sit a little high compared to the others but does offer good cover to the face.
Like the Lazer, the Bell offers the helmet to the rider that wants a solid open face helmet with the option of adding some extra protection should the occasion arise. The retention system for the chin is childs’ play compared to even the Giro and is far more straightforward than the 6-bolt Lazer offering.
While it’s not by any means the cheapest, the Bell offers the best combination of the helmet most people will use frequently, low weight, good venting, an easily removable ATSM certified chin and breakaway POV mount.
If it was my money, I think the Bell would pip the rest.
- Most vents on test.
- Open face helmet with integrated with chin guard.
- Easy access to retention adjustment.
- Second most expensive on test.
- Colours might not suit everyone’s taste
Weight: 730g (size S)
Key features: POV mount, ATSM certified removable chin guard, adjustable visor.
Effectively a ‘normal’ helmet with the option of attaching the chin guard, the Lazer Revolution FF is the helmet you’re more likely to use on a daily basis. With the chin guard removed, the Revolution is a light, safe and comfortable helmet that will do the job of protecting your loaf on all day missions.
Adding the chin guard via the 6-bolt attachment is, unsurprisingly, much slower than the Giro or Bell options but you wouldn’t buy this helmet if the full face requirement was your one and only thought. This helmet is for those who dabble in the odd race or big mountain and want the extra protection, without having to shell out for another helmet.
For what the Lazer offers, it’s a sensible choice here for anyone who spends more of their time in an open face helmet, in the cheapest package.
- Works best as a helmet to use day-in, day-out.
- Integrated POV camera mount.
- DH rated.
- Not the best looking.
- 6-bolt chin attachment slower than Giro or Bell options.
Key features: Fibre reinforced polymer shell, XTrail integrated absorption padding, Vortex ventilation system, EPR emergency padding release, Double D closure, adjustable peak.
What you see here is the Darren Berrecloth signature IXS Xult which is simply a custom colour over the other standard, and Cedric Gracia signature, options. Coming from a long line of excellent non-carbon fibre full face helmets it’s not surprising that the Xult is a bloody good option. The weight doesn’t feel like a kilo plus on your head, visibility is good and venting excellent on all but the stiller, sweatier days.
As with all IXS full face offerings, cheek pads are removable and washable, there is a double D-ring closure and the helmet just seems to sit right from the get-go. If you’re racing any sort of technical enduro races or up, this is going to be high on your list. A downhill rating means you can ride hard knowing that your dome is protected against all but the worst of crashes.
This IXS offering will go head-to-head with the ProFrame for your fixed full face dollar, so in the end it’ll be a matter of personal preference or whether the slightly more expensive Xult hurts the wallet more.
- Quality full face packed with features.
- Downhill rated.
- Heaviest on test.
- Most expensive on test.
Weight: 975g (size M)
Key features: Peak with integrated POV mount, DH rated with or without the chin guard, hydrophylic and anti-microbial padding, MIPS equipped, Roc-Loc Air DH closure, double D-ring closure.
In stark contrast to the woeful reputation the previous iteration of the Giro Switchblade was lumbered with, the current offering from Giro is arguably the benchmark by which the others are compared. DH rated regardless of the chin guard is an impressive feat of engineering, especially when the helmet looks as good and is just as safe with or without it.
Giro have made excellent helmets since forever and there’s something very Mad Max 2 about the Switchblade that makes it instantly recognisable. Despite it’s non-carbon fibre construction, the helmet pips the IXS offering in the weight stakes, if only marginally, but has the benefit of the easily removable chin.
Unlike the Lazer though, this feels more like a trials motorbike helmet than an open face helmet when the chin is removed, meaning it can be a sweaty affair on hotter days. That said, it’s kept my head warm and safe while up mountains in the snow, but that’s a fairly niche bonus really.
The Switchblade goes directly in competition with the Bell Super 3R, the latter winning on weight and price.
- The benchmark.
- Fast and easy chin guard removal.
- More protection than the Lazer with the chin removed.
- DH rated.
- As expensive as the IXS Xult and only slightly lighter.
The best of the bunch
All these helmets, in reality, performed the tasks asked of them with no real complaint.
In the end, it was simply a showdown against five very good helmets and picking the one that came out on top.
The helmet that came out on top was the Bell Super 3R.
Bell’s latest enduro offering ticks all the boxes. Light, inexpensive, modular and safe. It’s hard to overdo how easy the chinguard is to install and remove from what is a very good, MIPS-equipped half face helmet. With the chin off, it pips the Giro for keeping the heat down, as the latter covers the ears making warm days a touch sweaty. The Bell pips the Lazer for the chin guard mechanism and not much else. If you ride a normal lid 90% of the time with the odd race, the Bell is the obvious choice.
A very honourable mention has to go to the Fox ProFrame as a full face that comes very close to offering the same level of comfort and protection as the modular helmets. It packs full downhill protection into a light, airy helmet and for almost (but not quite all) of your riding will do a brilliant job.
For more product reviews from Wideopen, you can visit our reviews page here.