FOX RACING MAINFRAME MIPS HELMET REVIEW
Review by Sourpatch
The Mainframe is Fox Racing’s latest helmet offering, having launched in October at Sea Otter. Drew and I were fortunate enough to pick up a little care package from the folks at Fox during the show, which included a Mainframe helmet. Although it’s supposed to be a more budeget-friendly and affordable mountain bike helmet, the looks had me excited to put it to the test. It wasn’t long before I started racking up the miles with a post-Sea Otter stop in Santa Cruz followed by a three week road trip to Tennessee.
Fox’s Mainframe is a fairly simple helmet when compared to the likes of the previously reviewed Speedframe Pro MIPS. The Mainframe has a basic in-molded EPS liner that features channels to link up the shells 13 vents and move air over the head. The rear of the helmet has been extended for added protection. Additionally, Fox has equipped the Mainframe with the MIPS system to aid in the reduction of rotational forces in the event of an impact, with an in-built dial adjuster that is able to slide up and down between a few positions to tailor the fit. A moisture wicking liner is used in this helmet which is both removeable and washable. Rounding out the features are the standard buckle closure system to keep the Mainframe fastened to the wearers head; fixed ear cradles, and a fixed visor to block out the sun and maintain the style.
The Fox Mainframe is available in three sizes: Small (51cm – 55cm), Medium (55cm – 59cm) and Large (59cm – 63cm), as well as a Youth (48-52cm) to suit the groms. In addition to the three sizes, the helmet is also available in three different colors: Tortoise/Bronze, Flo Red, and Slate Blue. The biggest talking point is the Mainframe helmets price, at $89.95 it is Fox’s first half shell mountain bike helmet under $100.
Fox concentrated on the essentials for protection and designed a safe, yet practical helmet. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Fox Mainframe is one good looking brain bucket. From the first ride getting the helmet snugged down and feeling comfortable was a breeze thanks to the fit adjuster that is integrated into the MIPS system, offering a more secure fit than many helmets using a separate adjuster and MIPS liners. The size medium fit true-to-size once adjusted, was comfortable and shared a similar profile to many of the other medium sized half-shells I have been wearing, letting my averagely shaped skull sit comfortably with no pressure points.
On the trail, the Mainframe feels like your normal, MIPS equipped half-shell helmet, sitting firmly in place on all types of terrain. On the hotter days it was evident that the helmet runs a little warm, specifically during the climbs, so the ventilation seems to be an area Fox was able to compromise on in the name of price savings. That said, there is a silver lining to the less-than-ideal ventilation – when there is rain coming down the helmet does a good job of keeping water out, and there’s no brain freeze effect on the coldest days.
Being a “budget” helmet, Fox has forgone the use of a magnetic Fidlock closure system, as well as an adjustable visor. They’re the only real giveaways that the Mainframe is not a top-tier helmet, and while they are both things I would have loved to see included on this helmet, adding those two features would likely push it over the $100 price point. Because the external shell doesn’t wrap around the edges of the EPS, the perimeter of the helmet is a bit more susceptible to damage in transit than a premium level helmet too, but it didn’t prove to be a concern for myself, and my Mainframe is still looking fresh after a couple months of abuse and several thousand miles bouncing around in a fully loaded van.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Fox Mainframe is a solid helmet when comparing the price to the features included. Sure, there might be a few cheaper helmets on the market with similar features, but many of them look like hot garbage. The size range on the helmets make it easy to fit a plethora of head sizes, the helmet is comfortable and stylish. My only complaint is that the Mainframe runs slightly warm even though there are plenty of vents, breathability is not as good as some of the more expensive helmets on the market. Additionally, an adjustable visor would be nice but it’s not a deal breaker given the budget price point. If you are looking for an affordable, MIPS equipped helmet, the Fox Mainframe is worth taking a look at.
Weight: 390g (Medium)
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