The Fox Mainframe (MIPS) is an economical trail helmet. It looks good, is comfortable when riding, has decent coverage, effective ventilation and comes in several colourways. Plus, the MIPS offers an increased level of protection. On the whole, it’s a good value trail lid.
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Fox Mainframe MIPS Helmet - Details
The Mainframe isn’t anything new, but it offers proven protection. Made from expanded foam, the plastic shell has a MIPS cradle inside. The plastic bonded outer shell doesn't wrap around the base of the helmet, which over time leaves the foam liable to dents and marking. At this price, it's a compromise worth having because the MIPS cradle adds extra protection.
Inside the Mainframe, there are removable sweat pads that cover the rim. You don't feel them whilst riding and they absorb a decent level of sweat. The MIPS has some fairly large areas of plastic, and at times these could feel sweaty, especially at the back.
You'll find an adjustment dial at the rear to close the cradle and tune the fit - it works well, and didn't dig in or undo over time. The webbing strap is soft and easy to adjust around the ears, and the chin clip was comfortable and reliable.
The generous peak is removable, but mainly in case of crashing. Its fixed position slightly compromises the protection, but it's generally ok. The fitted and tied style makes the helmet look clean and low profile.
Fox Mainframe MIPS Helmet - On the Trail
The Mainframe felt comfortable to ride in, it's nice to wear, and the padding isn't too bulky. There is a good level of all-around protection. The design means the rear of the head is fairly well covered.
When riding, it channelled air efficiently and was well ventilated, only heating up on longer, harder climbs at lower speeds. On traversing and downhills, it cooled well and felt good to wear.
At times (such as longer climbs) the MIPS cradle got pretty warm where the helmet wasn't vented. I felt the difference in comparison to MIPS cradles on other helmets which are more webbed at the rear.
The peak of the Mainframe is in a fixed position meaning at times it’s hard to use the peak for shade or rain cover. You can’t adjust the position to allow for goggles or glasses but I think that given the price point, that’s a reasonable compromise.
The lack of outer shell wrapping around the inside meant the foam suffered a few scuffs and knocks, but nothing that impacts the comfort of the helmet. Long term, this may mean you'll need to replace the helmet earlier than you'd like, but given the price, it's viable.
Fox Mainframe MIPS Helmet - Summing up
The Fox Mainframe is a decent helmet - it offers solid trail protection thanks to the added benefit of MIPS, (which helps combat injury in low speed, twisting loads in crashes) it looks good, comes in several colours, and is reasonably priced (£79.99 at the time of review).
When compared to the ION Traze Amp MIPS at twice the price, the Mainframe is affordable and holds its own in looks and performance. I didn’t feel it was as good as the Smith Engage because, at only £15 more, it feels a lot more refined.
I like that I didn't really notice the Mainframe when riding. All complaints I have are minor and didn't cause any issues. I think the lack of features are a reflection of the price point - it is simple and performs well, but is less polished than pricier helmets.
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