FOX RAMPAGE PRO CARBON MIPS HELMET REVIEW
Review by Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen
Fox’s Rampage Pro Carbon helmet has graced the top step of countless podiums thanks to the excellent roster of mountain bike athletes on the Fox Racing roster. Those athletes, along with some dedicated designers at Fox sought to improve their top-of-the-line helmet and as a rider who spent time in the first-generation model, I was excited to see what was different once on my dome. The last Fox RPC downhill helmet was a great looking, but heavy unit, and there’s always room for improvement as technology and development evolve. So, in preparation for the upcoming bike park and downhill bike season, let’s begin our Full-Face Friday series with a review of the new Fox Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS helmet.
The Fox Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS helmet continues to share the same moto-inspired aesthetic as the outgoing model, with a relatively large silhouette that puts your head a good distance away from the ground in a crash and gives confidence that there’s plenty of material in between to take the sting out of an impact. Filling the space between your head and its carbon fiber shell is the dual-density Varizorb™ EPS foam, which should ensure that impacts of all severity are handled effectively. This allows the RPC to exceed all the major downhill helmet testing standards. Varizorb is Fox’s in-mold EPS material that is designed to dissipate impact forces of varying speeds.
The headline change to Fox’s all-singing, all-dancing downhill helmet is the switch from Fluid Inside technology to a MIPS protection system. Though the outgoing system was quite neat, it’s safe to say that the widespread use of MIPS tech is for good reason and we’re happy to see it return to the Rampage Pro Carbon. In case you’re out of the loop, the MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) technology adds a slip plane between the skull and the shell of the helmet, which is claimed to reduce rotational forces on the brain by at least 10% compared with the same helmet without the tech.
Further contributing to the rotational impact reduction is the breakaway visor, attached to the helmet with screws that are designed to shear before forces get high enough to snag and cause damage. This visor is fixed, which ensures it always looks “right” but is one of our only gripes with the helmet in performance terms, but more on that later.
Ventilation is provided by a total of 17 vents, which all feature injected mesh vent screens to keep debris out, something we love the looks of and the added protection from debris and penetration. The vents on the mouthpiece are given a further layer of protection thanks to a foam cover, preventing water and mud from getting through into your grill. The padding is all removable and washable and features the X-Static treatment to keep bacteria buildup to a minimum to ensure the helmet stays smell-free. The Eject cheek pads are designed to allow them to be removed with the helmet still on the head, to facilitate safer removal if there are suspected neck injuries following a crash.
The new Fox Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS is available in 5 color options from plain black through to the stunning Teal/Black flake colorway tested. Sizes available run from S-XL to fit heads from 55-62cm but beware, this helmet runs small so sizing up may be required. The premium features, styling and materials mean it also carries a premium price tag to match, retailing for $499.95/£460. Not exactly an affordable value, but not totally out of line, although spare visor and or cheek pads would be a nice way to soften the blow to customers, granted those potentially just create more waste if not used, so we’d vote for a $25-50 savings and allow customers buy replacement parts if needed.
Following a chat with the Fox guys last year, we were supplied with a Large sized helmet for my 57cm head. As you may have seen in our unboxing video, this proved to be the right fit for me, providing a very snug wrap-around feeling on the head that suggests riders with the suggested 59-60cm head on the Fox size chart may struggle to fit inside this helmet. As with every helmet, it’s important to try it on before you purchase to make sure your head is as well protected as it can be, but we’d suggest going a size larger if that’s not possible.
The first impressions of the metal flake paint job and general lines on the helmet have held true throughout the test period. The Fox Rampage Pro Carbon helmet is a stunning helmet to look at. Thankfully with the correct size helmet on your head, the performance matches the looks, giving a reassuringly solid feeling on the head devoid of any unwanted movement or noises no matter how much slower you are than Sam Hill. Speaking of noise, the thick padding around the ears does block a fair amount of noise so the helmet will isolate you from ambient noise more than some other more open and airy helmets. For us, a quieter helmet and experience can give us a sense of calm and that we’re not actually going that fast, so we can push harder and faster. Think of riding in a super loud rattly car with the windows down at 70mph vs a silent luxury car at 90mph.
The thick padding all around the head ensures there are no pressure points, and so it’s a helmet we’d happily keep on our head for a full day shuttling. At 1,241g, the weight of the helmet is on the higher side in the mountain bike world, but it wasn’t so heavy as to be a nuisance. Ventilation is acceptable too, and thanks to ample space between the mouth and chinbar, the effects of the mesh and foam coverings over the mouthpiece don’t create the same “hot breath” sensation. The vent screens do a nice job of keeping debris out, but also add a step when cleaning the helmet after a muddy day. Even though ventilation is fine for a full-face downhill helmet, it’s not the helmet we’d grab for racing enduro or spending any serious time in the saddle, but then again, that’s not what the Fox Carbon Helmet is designed for.
The X-Static padding does a good job at fending off the smells until the pads are thick enough with dust and dirt to demand a washing, and through multiple times being popped in and out of the helmet they remain solid in the helmet and have resisted too much packing down. Double D-ring closures are the downhill and moto standard for good reason, with unparalleled feelings of safety as you tighten them. The carbon fiber buckles are an awesome touch of class, adding to the generally ultra-premium notions of the new Fox Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS helmet.
The breakaway visor looks real neat on the helmet, with its fixed position perfectly matching the lines elsewhere on the helmet, but when combined with its relatively short length, the lack of adjustability leaves your vision very susceptible to flaring up in the evening sun. This, combined with the weight would be our only requests for change with this brain bucket, which ticks all the other boxes but doesn’t quite reach the level of perfection that we’d love if spending our own money on it.
The Wolf’s Last Word
At $500 bucks, the Fox Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS helmet is a serious investment into both style and protection. While style is subjective as is value, one thing that is not is safety. A big area we’d love to know more about from all helmet manufacturers is the safety and ability of how well their products handle impacts of varying speeds and how they compare to others in similar categories. With the current system just giving consumers a Pass/Fail experience of only knowing that a helmet met the certifications, we think consumers deserve to know more.
This is no fault of Fox Racings, but as we reflect on our own head traumas and realize that we’re potentially affecting how others spend hundreds of dollars to keep themselves or their loved ones safe, we’d love to know if a helmet just barely squeezed by with a passing grade or if said helmet greatly reduces the energy of concussive or sub-concussive hits compared to a competitor’s lid with a similar price tag.
Without those safety numbers available, we’re essentially just reviewing the superficial and comfort-oriented parts of a brand’s helmet, and when it comes to those, the Fox Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS is a badass helmet. We love the shape, styling, fit and color of this lid and will certainly be wearing it often once the chairlifts start spinning.
EDITOR’S NOTE – If you’d also like more brands to send helmets to Virginia Tech or a similar institute to see more definitive data on impact energy transmission, please let us know with a comment down below.
Weight: 1,241g (Size Large)
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.