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Underneath the polarizing looks of the Fox Dropframe Pro helmet, you’ll find a well-thought-out and highly protective lid that’s a great match for gnarly trails or e-bike use. After ridding more than 500 miles in the Dropframe Pro, I came away impressed with its comfortable fit and the overall sense of security it provides beyond a standard half-shell model. All in all, this is my favorite 3/4-shell helmet at the moment.
Typically considered the least exciting part of a mountain bike helmet review, the unboxing process of the Fox Dropframe Pro is like most others. The helmet comes wrapped in a plastic bag and is then placed in a protective box, where three thin open-cell foam pieces keep it from jostling around. Despite the cardboard not being particularly thick, it provides adequate protection for the Dropframe Pro during transport and the helmet arrived unscathed. Included in the box is a second set pads that allow for fine-tuning the fit (more below). And although I was a bit disappointed to see that the Fox didn’t come with a travel bag–something that other high-end helmets like the Smith Mainline MIPS include–it’s certainly not a dealbreaker.
Fox Dropframe Pro Performance
Protection and Safety
When it comes to protection and safety, the Fox Dropframe Pro has a lot going for it, which makes it an excellent choice for enduro riders on gnarly trails. Like most quality lids, you’ll find a MIPS liner that helps reduce rotational forces during a crash, and the helmet receives a top rating of 5-stars from Virginia Tech’s independent helmet research lab. The helmet’s extra deep fit provides additional ear, jaw, and temple coverage, which add to the Fox’s level of protection and inspire a ton of confidence out on the trail. The Dropframe Pro also uses dual-density foam, which Fox claims helps to spread out the force of impact during a spill. While it may not be as breathable as a half-shell helmet, the Dropframe Pro is my go-to lid for exceptionally tough trails or when I prioritize protection over ventilation.
Comfort and Fit
Having ridden in dozens of mountain bike helmets over the past 20 years, I can confidently say that the Dropframe Pro falls somewhere in the middle of the comfort spectrum. While not as plush as ultra-comfortable half-shell models like the Troy Lee Designs A3, it’s certainly more refined than similar helmets like the Giro Switchblade (with the chinbar removed). The pads provide plenty of support, but their texture isn’t as smooth or soft as I would prefer. For example, the interior of the Smith Mainline helmet is exceptionally plush. Despite my preference for a slightly silkier experience, the Dropframe Pro remains comfortable during multi-hour rides.
In terms of fit, it’s extremely important to check Fox’s size chart before making your purchase. For some reason, the Dropframe Pro doesn’t follow Fox’s standard sizing range, and I had to go up a size to ensure a proper fit. After consulting the chart, I ordered a large, which worked well with my 57 cm and slightly rounded head. For reference, Fox’s half-shell Speedframe Pro in a size medium fits me perfectly. As mentioned earlier, Fox includes two sets of pad sizes with the helmet to help you achieve a perfect fit. After swapping back and forth a couple of times, I settled on the thicker set. If I could have my cake and eat it too, I would have preferred a cheek pad size that was between the two provided. That said, after about four rides, the pads broke in nicely.
Despite its big and bulky appearance, the Dropframe Pro offers a surprising amount of ventilation. Once up to trail speed, there’s a noticeable draft right above the ears that allows air to flow into and out of the helmet. And the 15 vents found throughout the shell keep heat buildup relatively low. In terms of temperature, I can remain comfortable in the low 70s while climbing, as long as I don’t push the pace. And while it can’t compete with an airy half-shell mountain bike helmet, the Dropframe Pro runs much cooler than similar lids like the Giro Tyrant. The flip side of the Fox running a bit warmer than a half-shell model is that it makes a great wintertime companion (at least in the PNW). All things considered, the Fox Dropframe Pro is a clear winner in terms of ventilation among 3/4-shell helmets.
Goggle and Glasses Compatibility
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Fox Dropframe Pro exhibited almost no signs of eyewear integration issues during use. The helmet has small slots right above the ear pads, and when I tried my usual variety of glasses (including my current favorite, the Tifosi Sledge Lite), I experienced zero issues. The Dropframe is also a prime candidate for goggles and I’m happy to report no problems there as well. I didn’t have any issues with the goggles hitting the top or sides of the helmet, and the strap didn’t block any vents, which is an important feature for hot summer rides.
How Much Does the Fox Dropframe Pro Weigh?
On my scale, the large-sized Dropframe Pro weighs 1 pound 2.1 ounces (18.1 ounces). For comparison sake, that’s about 3.6 ounces lighter than its closest competitor, the Giro Tyrant, and a full 10 ounces less than a lightweight full-face helmet like the Smith Mainline MIPS. The Fox even stacks up well against premium half-shell models like the Troy Lee Designs A3, which weighs 13.9 ounces. If you’re in the market for one of the lightest 3/4-shell mountain bike helmets available, then the Dropframe Pro should definitely be at the top of your list.
Key Features of the Fox Dropframe Pro
As expected with a premium helmet, the Dropframe Pro features a MIPS slip-plane liner that aims to reduce rotational forces during a crash. Fox did a nice job of integrating this feature into the helmet. It doesn’t interfere with the vents or airflow and I haven’t had any issues with it catching on my hair or riding glasses. The MIPS liner is a tiny bit squeaky when you first slip the helmet on, but as soon as you’re huffing uphill or bombing down a gnarly trail, the sound fades away and it goes unnoticed.
If you’ve read some of my other helmet reviews, then you know that I was a little slow to come around to the idea of magnetic Fidlock buckles. Originally, I thought they were solving a problem that didn’t exist. That said, I’ve really come to appreciate their ease of use and the ability to clip and unclip with one hand. This is especially true with the Dropframe Pro, which I routinely unclip on long doubletrack climbs and then reattach before dropping into singletrack.
I’m not usually a fan of fixed visors–I like to adjust them up and out of the way when not needed–but the Dropframe Pro’s visor position and length seem to agree with me. It’s certainly on the longer side of the spectrum, and it works very well for blocking flying mud and dirt as well as the setting sun. In fact, a recent evening ride included about an hour pedal to the top of the hill, and I was staring into the sun on the horizon the entire time. The Fox’s large visor did a great job of blocking the blinding light and I came away impressed. That being said, I’d still like the option to move it up or down on occasion.
However, storage is not a strong suit for the Dropframe Pro. Despite trying all sorts of positions and locations, I just couldn’t find a comfortable or viable way to store glasses or googles when not needed. In the end, I found myself stashing glasses in my waist pack for long climbs. While this isn’t the end of the world, it does take up a bunch of space in my Dakine Hot Laps waist pack.
Issues with the Fox Dropframe Pro
So far, so good with the Fox Dropframe Pro. Throughout my testing, I haven’t experienced any unforeseen issues related to the helmet, and everything still looks new-ish (despite putting loads of miles and vert on the helmet). However, if I’m being picky, I’d love for the visor to be adjustable and the cheek pads to be a wee bit softer, and I could go for a designated spot to store eyewear during long climbs. None of these are deal-breakers or major issues, but rather minor improvements that I’d like to see for the next iteration. As always, if something crops up over the coming season, I’ll be sure to report back.
The Bottom Line
In terms of functionality and overall thoughts on the Dropframe Pro, I’m pretty darn happy. It offers a lot more coverage than a standard half-shell helmet, it’s surprisingly cool and lightweight, and it’s comfortable. I’ve found myself reaching for the Fox for particularly gnarly rides, e-bike laps with friends, or during the cooler months when I might benefit from a little extra heat retention than a half-shell helmet can provide. As long as you pay close attention to the size chart–and you don’t mind the slightly polarizing looks–then I think you’ll be happy too.
Giro’s Tyrant Spherical is probably the closest competitor to the Fox Dropframe Pro. Like the Fox, the Giro uses a 3/4-shell design that provides more coverage than a half-shell helmet, features a MIPS liner to help reduce rotational forces during a spill, and is meant for rowdy trails or dirt jump sessions. However, there are some notable differences between the two. For starters, the Fox’s 15 vents and larger ear holes do a much better job of keeping your head cool in warm temps compared to the Giro. Also, the Dropframe Pro is almost 4 ounces lighter than the Tyrant Spherical, which is pretty significant. Finally, the Fox scores quite a bit better than the Giro in Virginia Tech’s independent research lab (although both receive 5-stars). I do like the adjustable visor and lower price of the Giro, but in the end, I prefer the Dropframe Pro for the reasons listed above.
Fox Dropframe Pro vs. Giro Switchblade
Another popular 3/4-shell option is to run the Giro Switchblade without the chin bar attached, something I’d done for years before picking up the Dropframe Pro. While the Switchblade worked OK for this, it was never a great solution. The Giro runs hot, isn’t all that comfortable compared to the Dropframe Pro, and is loud on the trail. I did like the ability to bring the chinbar with me for extra spicy descents, but if that’s the case now, I just opt for a lightweight full-face like the Troy Lee Designs Stage or Smith Mainline. I’ve always been a huge fan of Giro helmets, but at this point, I don’t see a real reason to choose the Switchblade for 3/4-shell purposes over the Fox Dropframe Pro.
Fox Dropframe Pro vs. POC Kortal Race MIPS
If you’re looking to maximize head protection and coverage, but not interested in a full-face, then there’s a good chance you’ve considered the POC Kortal Race MIPS helmet. The POC is one of the deepest fitting half-shells and offers loads of protection, not to mention it’s also one of the few helmets that’s rated for e-bike use and passes the Dutch NTA 8776 certification. Not surprisingly, the half-shell POC offers better ventilation and comes in a bit lighter than the 3/4-shell Dropframe Pro (about 4 ounces less). It also feels more streamlined and less bulky out on the trail. However, the extra ear, temple, and jaw protection that the Fox Dropframe Pro provides can’t go unmentioned. If you’re waffling between the two and wondering if you should go with the more-protective Dropframe Pro, then it’s probably the better (and safer) choice.
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Erik Nilson, founder of Cascade Gear Reviews, boasts a decade-long journey in the outdoor industry. He began his career at REI, excelling in marketing, merchandising, and product development. Later, at Switchback Travel, Erik managed cycling content. With multiple Pro podium finishes in mountain biking, he’s not just an industry expert; he’s an active participant. Whether testing gear, capturing photos, or crafting reviews, Erik’s hands-on approach defines his dedication. Based in Winthrop, WA, he brings experience, expertise, and passion to outdoor gear reviews.
Erik Nilson, founder of Cascade Gear Reviews, boasts a decade-long journey in the outdoor industry. He began his career at REI, excelling in marketing, merchandising, and product development. Later, at Switchback Travel, Erik managed cycling content. With multiple Pro podium finishes in mountain biking, he's not just an industry expert; he's an active participant. Whether testing gear, capturing photos, or crafting reviews, Erik's hands-on approach defines his dedication. Based in Winthrop, WA, he brings experience, expertise, and passion to outdoor gear reviews.
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