Words and photos by Rhian Atherton
Introduced in early 2019, the Fox Dropframe Pro mountain bike helmet is definitely Pro when it comes to head protection. The extended rear coverage and ear protection are typical for a full-face lid, but an open face? This is something out of the norm.
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This particular lid offers more shell coverage around the ears, jaw, and back of the head, utilising a M.O.RE. (Mandibular Occipital Reinforcement) Guard design. Its clever construction focuses on maximum coverage while keeping to the open face category.
You may be wondering, why buy a helmet that isn't quite a full-face lid but is much more than a standard off-road lid? Suppose you want the best of both worlds; this is something in between. It's quirky, attention-seeking and as unique as a Mangalitsa Pig (is it a sheep or a pig? Either way, it's cute!) Your delicate head will have plenty of protection. Plus, once you slip it onto your head, you may never want to take it off. It's like putting on a fresh pair of cosy socks on your cold feet.
As soon as I slip the lid onto my head, I instantly feel snug and safe. It wraps around with familiarity, as someone who is used to the feel of a full-face helmet. Fox claims the Small/Medium is 460g, and considering its beefy build, this is surprisingly lightweight. It feels light to wear too, which you want for fast and technical riding. The helmet utilises MIPS's impact protection system, lined with an impressive structure offering traditional protection within its shell makeup. Fox uses a dual-density EPS foam called Varizorb™, which combines two densities of foam arranged to interlace one another for added strength.
The side 'ears' of the helmet do have a slight flex. It helps with manoeuvring the helmet over the ears more comfortably. It left me wondering how solid and safe they would be during an unfortunate knock. However, the sides feel sturdy and supportive while riding, which is ten times better than the total lack of ear protection you find on traditional open-face helmets.
The peak is fixed in position. I'm a little disappointed because its size is too big, and its positioning is too low. While perfect for sun protection and creating a feeling of being protected, it obstructed my vision far too much, but only while descending very steep trails. Fox says it's perfectly positioned for maximum airflow, which is true but shouldn't useability be paramount? Having a peak that can tilt up and down to your heart's content is better and safer for a gravity-specific helmet
Thanks to the 'Airflow' design of 8 big bore vents paired with seven exhaust vents, plus the gap around the ears, ventilation is brilliant. Air will be flowing as you descend, but you will be aware you've got this on your head if there's even a glimmer of sunshine. I was glad of the moisture-wicking pads as my head increased in temperature rapidly on any incline, but this was a blatant reminder that the Dropframe Pro is purely a gravity-focussed lid.
Padding is something this helmet does not lack. Fox has put a lot of care and attention into the comfort aspect, and for me, the padding is spot on. My cheeks felt cushioned against the ear protector pads, with ample padding throughout the internal cavity, similar to a full-face lid. Fox offers a fit kit for the Dropframe model at £12, which can be used to replace worn pads.
The only issue I found during riding was that the pads along my forehead felt very noticeable, especially while descending fast bone-shaking technical terrain where I was being thrown about. This is more down to my tiny noggin and needing an extra pad along the front or back to hold it more securely. The helmet would also move slightly down towards my eyebrows at higher speeds.
A magnetic buckle connects the side straps and is easy to use even with chunky gloves. I like the simplicity of the single buckle to do the helmet up. No side straps to slide in position. There is no dial at the back either, so it's best if you get your size and padding choice perfect from the beginning. With a quick and easy click of the Fidlock SNAP magnetic buckle underneath the chin, you're good to go.
There are no mounting attachments for lights or a GoPro device, but these accessories can be added with specific adhesive kits. Goggles and sunglasses can be worn without any problem unless you like to temporarily pull them up off your eyes as there's not enough room.
Fox Dropframe Pro |Value & verdict
Doing some digging into this style of helmet, you will be limited on choice. I found the only similar style was the Giro Tyrant with MIPS, which is 140g heavier and £30 cheaper than the Dropframe Pro, priced at £150. Price-wise, you get your money's worth with the whole package of high-end materials, protection and aesthetics.
If, like myself, you like to be a little different from the trend and embrace the maximum protection of an open face helmet while looking like you should be on board a trials bike, then go for it.
The Dropframe Pro offers more protection in terms of technology and design. The extra coverage and internal MIPS safety technology are ideal for enduro riders who want an alternative to a full face. Maximum safety is bundled into an open face design but is too warm for trail riding, and a shame the peek is fixed.