Fox Dropframe Helmet Review
Words by Robert Johnston
Mountain biking helmets have been diversifying rapidly over the last few years, with new types of helmet popping up and becoming popular fast. What once was a category with only two main styles – the “XC lid” open-face style, and “downhill full face” helmets – has now been joined by breathable “enduro” full faces; convertible full faces; and most recently moto-trials inspired open faces that extend over the ears.
Fox racing anticipated, or perhaps inspired, this boost in popularity of the moto-trials style open face, with the introduction of their Dropframe helmet at the beginning of 2019. The Fox Dropframe helmet was released without a hype-driving advertising campaign, seemingly appearing in the wild without anyone really knowing but instantly caught the attention of the public with its’ polarizing looks. It seems as if this “soft-drop” approach worked, with the helmet instantly spreading its presence across the fashion-conscious mountain bike scene, no doubt bolstered by riders like Josh Bryceland regularly repping the Fox Dropframe helmet in videos and events around the globe.
The Dropframe is advertised as “the choice for trail riders seeking more coverage, more confidence, and more fun.” As previously mentioned, it features additional coverage around the ears and around the back of the head, dubbed the M.O.RE. Guard (Mandibular Occipital REinforcement Guard), offering a similar level of protection to their Proframe full face, but without the chin-piece. A dual-density Varizorb™ EPS liner takes care of your head in an impact, promising improved protection over the standard single-density liners. 15 vents (8 big-bore intakes, 7 exhaust) channel the airflow through the helmet to manage heat, aided by the fixed visor that’s designed to direct the air into these vents.
The Fidlock SNAP buckle is carried over from the Proframe, providing easy 1-handed fastening of the helmet, and a moisture-wicking, anti-microbial helmet liner takes care of padding duties. The Fox Dropframe doesn’t feature any sort of ratchet system. Instead, the fit is tuned using the padding of different thickness, much like your typical full-face helmets. There’s no rotational protection technology on the Dropframe, which is surprising to see for a premium helmet in 2019, though the effectiveness of these technologies is still up for debate. The Dropframe retails at $169.95, placing it at the upper end of the open-face helmet pricing scale, alongside competitors such as the Troy Lee Designs A2.
When the Dropframe first turned up on my doorstep, I was really unsure of the looks, but over the testing period, I became a fan, especially when worn with goggles. The black iridium paint finish looks great, with a slight oil-slick style to the highlights, and received a number of compliments when out on the trail. The finish proved to be very tough, too, surviving the test of time well and looking fresh after months of testing and rolling around on the floor of my van a few times.
Tuning the fit of the Dropframe to your head is a simple affair with the included padding. Once adjusted to your skull, the helmet sits really snug. In fact, it’s the most solid feeling open-face I’ve ever put on my head. Putting the Dropframe on requires spreading the ear-guards (quite a lot in the case of my big ears), which means the sides of the helmet really hug your head, giving you a locked-in full-face feeling. The overall helmet weight is reasonable for its extended protection at 440g (size medium, measured), which, combined with the fit, makes for a helmet that is barely-there. The visor barely intrudes on your vision, and the shape of the helmet integrates with both goggles and glasses nicely. The Fidlock buckle – utilizing a magnet to help things slide in to place – is a favorite of mine, and offers easy fastening with reduced chance of pinching skin compared to a standard buckle.
The venting does a reasonable job of keeping your head cool, though this is no ultra-airy XC lid. The padding absorbs a good amount of sweat – it was only on the hottest of days that I ran into issues with sweat bypassing the forehead pad and running into my eyes. The anti-microbial properties of the padding had a tough task in remaining smell-free with me as the tester but lasted a good amount the test before the inevitable stank set in. Popping the padding out and sticking in the washing machine fixed this with ease.
Thankfully I’ve not had a chance to verify the protective capabilities of the Dropframe, though I trust that the Varizorb technology employed would do a stellar job of keeping my brain intact.
I do have one gripe with the Dropframe – with the super-breathable Proframe full face in the Fox lineup, why would you choose the Dropframe instead? Money aside, the Proframe offers near enough the same riding sensation as the Dropframe, albeit with an ever so slightly less secure fit, but provides you with that extra jaw protection. Perhaps it could be a styling thing, with the Dropframe having a more casual appearance – but if it were up to me, I’d save up that little extra cash and take the additional protection of the Proframe.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Fox’s Dropframe helmet offers trail and enduro mountain bikers the option to make a style statement, and receive additional head coverage compared to the standard open-face helmets available on the market. Not everyone will love the looks, but the secure fit, effective venting, and overall quality make the Fox Dropframe helmet a viable option for anyone after a new trail lid.
Awesome Paint Job
Lack of Rotational Protection
Limited Benefit Over Proframe Full Face
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