In which I head to Swinley Forest to ride in the new Fox Racing Proframe Helmet, and meet a friendly Redbull Rampage rider.
Yesterday Fox Racing held a Proframe test event at the Swinley Forest trails, and I went along to try one out. The event was open to the public and wasn’t just for press or bloggers – so you can rest assured that no bribery or corruption has taken place in an attempt to get a good review from me (I didn’t even get a cup of tea – what is the world coming to?!!).
The Proframe has launched to a bit of a fanfare earlier this year as it is the lightest (750gm) and most breathable full face mtb helmet that Fox has ever created. It’s got downhill levels of safety with comfort and ‘open-face’ ventilation levels that will appeal to Enduro/trail riders for whom the ‘full face or normal helmet’ dilemma often arises.
The session was a great idea: leave some ID at the hub. Head out with a Proframe helmet for a full speed sprint around Swinley Forest’s finest, flowiest trails. Return with a big smile on your face, not sweaty.
Anyway here, according to the Fox website is what makes it so special:
- 24 big bore vents for lightness and breathability.
- A secure visor positioned ‘to ram maximum airflow into the big bore vents’.
- A helmet buckle that is a thing of beauty when it comes to practicality, being fashioned with a magnet so you can use it while wearing gloves.
- A chin bar that is highly vented (its basically an open frame) yet meets ASTM Downhill standards for safety.
- A dual density liner to spread forces of impact across a wider area as well as MIPS (Multidirectional Impact Protection System) to reduce rotation forces in the event of a crash.
So what’s is the Proframe like to wear?
There is no women specific fit, but the sizing ranges from S to XL and my very average sized female head fitted into a medium helmet.
Once in place, your cheeks are cushioned by two foam pads – these are interchangeable so you can achieve a really snug but comfortable fit. It occurred to me that you could apply blusher to each pad and finish the ride with perfectly applied make up. I don’t think this is likely to be a selling point for most riders though.
The visibility is amazing, with no interruption to your side view at all. If you wear goggles then the vents are designed to minimise fogging.
Both my OH and I have come into trail riding via x-country riding and so we’re used to kit that is very light and breathable. However with two trip to the Alps ahead this summer we’re mindful that it may be time to invest in a little more head protection. So we rode hard over the climbs and drops of Swinley a) because we always do and b) we wanted to find out how a Proframe compares to a normal helmet when you get a sweat on. We were both really surprised how cool and comfortable we felt, even on short, sharp climbs where your heart rate and body temperature soars. You do get warm cheeks (those blusher pads again) but otherwise it was thumbs up from us.
A good way to judge comfort levels is how quickly you remove a piece of kit once you have finished using it. I have, for instance, seen riders coming off the trails with their full face helmet hanging off their bars. I can happily report that I could have worn the Proframe all day if it wasn’t for the somewhat inconvenient fact that it wasn’t mine and I had to give it back.
It’s a great looking piece of kit, styled to make you look as if you are a far more hardcore rider than you probably are (certainly in my case). It is available in seven colours, most of which are pretty full on colour-ways with the exception of the black one (for the rider who wants to go a bit stealth and doesn’t want to be a walking advert for Fox, presumably). At £215 each, you’ll want to make sure you choose a colour you like.
I had a lovely morning, and back at the Fox Proframe hub I was awash with post-ride feel good hormones although slightly in need of a cup of tea (a blatant excuse for what I did next, btw). At this point I was approached by a French gentlemen in a Fox t-shirt. He was admiring my trail bike and asked a few questions about it. Soon, and as a direct result of being someone who regularly Talks Too Much and needed a cup of tea, I was chatting away about steel bikes, how Cotic had loaned it to me for the year, what fun it was to ride, Sheffield, The North, writing for Singletrack, TWC, blogging and a lot of other stuff including, at one point, informing him that I believed ‘we all come from the forest’ (oh how I needed that cup of tea). He listened very patiently and didn’t try to run off until eventually – like someone at a drinks party – I enquired what he did?
“Redbull Rampage’, he replied.
So, I had the pleasure of meeting Pierre-Edouard Ferry*, who was working with Fox and who clearly has such high standards of professionalism that he is prepared to endure the ramblings of a woman who is in dire need of a sit down and a hot beverage.
(*Of course I didn’t recognise him: I have to watch Rampage through my fingers. Pierre, meanwhile, told me he doesn’t find jumping off mahoosive rock faces scary. We’re made of different stuff).
Anyway, we talked about him from then on: frankly, he was way more interesting.
The Proframe is great, btw.