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In a sea of worthy competitors, Fox’s Speedframe Pro helmet stands above the rest with its impressive mix of comfort, premium features, and reasonable price tag. What really impressed me, however, is its above-average ventilation, making it especially well-suited for hot summer rides. From all-day backcountry pedals to ripping laps on your trail bike, the Fox easily handles it all.
Price: $180 Best Use: Trail, Enduro Head Shape: Intermediate Oval Construction: In-mold Virginia Tech Rating: 5 Stars Impact Protection System: MIPS Vents: 19 Weight (actual): 13.5 oz.
Pros: – Great combination of comfort, fit, and features at a reasonable price. – Above average ventilation. Cons: – Very hard to find a fault with this great all-rounder. – Storing glasses can be difficult.
Mountain bike helmets aren’t the most exciting things to unbox, but nevertheless, it’s an integral part of the buying process. As expected with a lid in this price range (around $180 at time of publishing), the Fox Speedframe Pro is placed in a big plastic bag that then sits inside a relatively thick cardboard box. This protective packaging, along with internal foam blocks, helped the helmet arrive in pristine condition.
Something I’ve gotten used to with high-end helmet purchases is the inclusion of an extra liner or set of pads, as well as some sort of protective storage bag. Unfortunately, Fox doesn’t include these extras with the Speedframe Pro (the Troy Lee Designs A3 does, for example). While this doesn’t at all detract from the standout performance of the helmet, it’s something to consider when making a purchase.
Fox Speedframe Pro Performance
Protection and Safety
Like any modern mountain bike helmet worth its salt, the Fox Speedframe Pro hits all the marks when it comes to safety and protection. The helmet features a MIPS liner–which is shown to reduce rotational forces on the brain during a crash–and the dual-density Varizorb EPS foam provides additional protection by spreading forces of impact across a wider area. Those safety features, combined with a relatively deep fit, help the Fox achieve a 5-star rating from Virginia Tech’s independent helmet research lab. I haven’t tested the effectiveness of these technologies on my own noggin, but I have no reservations that the helmet would do its job in a crash. All told, I feel confident wearing the Fox Speedframe Pro on a variety of high-speed and aggressive trails.
Comfort and Fit
Overall comfort of the Speedframe Pro is very high, which makes it one of my favorite all-around mountain bike helmets at the moment. At first, I was a bit skeptical of the Fox’s minimalist liner, but after my first ride those worries went away. The thin padding provides just enough cushion to not feel the hard interior against my head, and I came to appreciate its quick-drying nature after long and hot climbs. The MIPS liner also integrates seamlessly with the helmet and I never noticed any excessive noise or discomfort–two things I experienced with the Giro Switchblade. Rounding out the comfort package is what Fox calls their 360° Fit System, which as you tighten down the dial, applies even pressure around your entire head instead of just the rear. Overall, the system works great, remains comfortable on multi-hour rides, and stays put during rough descents.
In terms of fit, I found the size medium Speedframe Pro to be spot on for my 57 cm and slightly roundish head. There was plenty of adjustment left in either direction–just enough to toss a lightweight beanie underneath when it was cold–and I didn’t experience any strange pressure points. I’ve always had really good luck with the fit of Giro and Troy Lee Designs helmets, and I found the Fox to be quite similar, if not slightly more narrow or oval shaped. For additional reference, I experienced pressure points above my temples with the POC Kortal Race MIPS and couldn’t wear the helmet for extended periods of time without discomfort. Unless your head falls at either end of the spectrum (very oval or very round), then I don’t think you should have any issues with the neutral fit of the Fox Speedframe Pro.
In my opinion, the Fox Speedframe Pro is one of the best-ventilated mountain bike helmets aimed at aggressive trail riding. Although the 19 vents aren’t necessarily something to write home about, it’s the three right above the brow that make the helmet a standout for hot-weather rides. They simply allow more air to move through the helmet than all others in this category that I’ve tried (like the Troy Lee Designs A3 and POC Kortal Race MIPS). This excellent airflow, combined with its super comfy fit, make it my go-to lid for hot summer rides and backcountry epics where I know heat management is key. So while the Fox isn’t quite as cool as a true cross-country helmet like the POC Octal MIPS, it certainly comes close and provides a lot more coverage (and hopefully protection) in the process.
Goggle and Glasses Compatibility
I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to getting dirt or bugs in my eyes–I basically become incapacitated if this happens–so I don’t go a single ride without some type of eye protection. Which is why I’m happy to report that the Fox Speedframe Pro works well with a variety of options. So far, I’ve had zero issues using the helmet with a number of glasses, including the Tifosi Sledge Lite (my current favorite), Julbo Rush, and the more casual Native Eyewear Wells. And while I’m not really a half-shell and goggle sort of guy, I did toss my Giro Blocks on for a ride with no issues. I’m pretty confident that no matter what type of eyewear you’re using, they should work just fine with the Speedframe Pro.
In terms of storing goggles or glasses when not in use, the Fox Speedframe Pro does an average job. It doesn’t have any specific features to hold eyewear–like Oakley’s DRT5 helmet does–but the visor lifts up high enough to fit goggles, and the open vents hold sunglass arms just fine during climbs. The Fox isn’t a standout in this area but it does fall in line with most other competitors like the Troy Lee Designs A3.
How Much Does the Fox Speedframe Pro Weigh?
The Fox Speedframe Pro weighs 13.5 ounces on my scale (claimed weight is 13.4 ounces), which puts it right in line with other half-shell mountain bike helmets. It’s the same or within a few ounces of popular alternatives like the Troy Lee Designs A3 (13.9 ounces) and Smith’s Forefront 2 (13.5 ounces). However, it can’t compete with stripped down and lightweight XC options like the POC Octal MIPS, which tips the scale at a scant 9.5 ounces. Having said all that, the Speedframe Pro’s great airflow and excellent fit makes for a helmet that feels much lighter on the head than the scale might indicate.
Key Features of the Speedframe Pro
The Fox Speedframe Pro features a MIPS liner which is said to help reduce rotational forces on the brain during a crash. And while I didn’t verify MIPS’ effectiveness, it does seem like helmets equipped with this slip-plane technology tend to score much higher in Virginia Tech’s independent helmet research lab. In terms of integrating the liner into the helmet, Fox did a great job and I have nothing negative to report. It remains silent while out on the trail, it doesn’t inhibit airflow in the slightest, and it never got hung up on my hair or interfered with my glasses (all issues I’ve experienced with other helmets). All told, Fox really nailed the inclusion of the MIPS slip-plane.
At first, I found magnetic Fidlock buckles to feel like an unnecessary feature that only added to the overall cost of a mountain bike helmet (something none of us are interested in). However, it didn’t take long for me to appreciate their ease of one-handed operation while pedaling, as I often unclip my helmet on long and slow gravel road climbs. And to be honest, I now find them sort of fun to use (yes, I’m a man of simple pleasures). All told, the Fidlock buckle on the Speedframe Pro works just as well as any other on the market and gave me no issues throughout testing.
The visor on the Speedframe Pro has three different positions and is the perfect size in my opinion. It’s large enough to block dirt and mud that flies off a front tire–as well as the setting or rising sun–but it’s not so big that it obstructs your view while riding. It’s a bit longer than the Troy Lee Designs A3, which I also spent a lot of time in recently, and is the more versatile option overall. Having said that, the visor only attaches on either side of the helmet (there’s no center anchor) and it’s a bit flimsy when you try to adjust it with one hand. I don’t usually move my visor up and down all that much while in motion, but if you’re someone who does, you may find yourself becoming slightly annoyed with Fox’s design.
360° Fit System Dial
Another standout feature of the Fox Speedframe Pro is its 360° Fit System, which expertly held the helmet in place no matter how rough the trail got. What’s unique about the system is that not only does it tighten the back of the lid like most other models, but it also connects to the front of the cradle. So when you tighten down the dial, the entire interior cinches down evenly on your head. With other models, like the TLD A2, I would have to overtighten the helmet before dropping in on a gnarly descent to keep it from moving around slightly. However, this isn’t the case with the Speedframe Pro. The 360° Fit System creates one of the most even and secure-fitting half-shell mountain bike helmets I’ve ever tested.
Issues with the Fox Speedframe Pro
After about four months of use, I haven’t had a single problem with the Fox Speedframe Pro. The liner hasn’t delaminated at all, there aren’t any paint chips or nicks, and the webbing looks no worse for wear. At this point, I don’t expect any surprises from the lid. However, since this is one of my favorite mountain bike helmets at the moment, I’ll continue to log miles and report back if any issues pop up.
The Bottom Line
All told, I’ve been extremely pleased with the Fox Speedframe Pro. It’s lightweight and comfortable enough for all-day epics, the above average ventilation is a perfect match for hot summer rides, and the relatively deep fit inspires plenty of confidence to tackle gnarly descents. Furthermore, it undercuts a number of other options–like the TLD A3 and Smith Forefront 2–by $40 to $70 and gives up very little (or nothing) in return. Simply put, it’s a phenomenal all-around lid and one of the best mountain bike helmets available on the market today. From beginner cross-country rides to pro-level enduro trails, the Fox Speedframe Pro handles it all.
The Fox Speedframe Pro and Troy Lee Designs A3 (in-depth review here) are two of my favorite mountain bike helmets at the moment. Each lid is comfortable, provides plenty of coverage and protection, and looks good out on the trail–making either model a great choice. However, there are some subtle differences between the two. If you’re on a budget and value airflow above all else, go with the Fox as it’s about $50 less and the three vents above the brow make it the cooler option in hot temps. On the other hand, the Troy Lee Designs A3 has a more premium feel to it, is slightly more plush and comfortable, and has a bit more coverage. The A3 also includes a protective carrying bag and extra liner with your purchase. In the end, both are great options and it will simply come down to your specific needs.
Fox Speedframe Pro vs POC Kortal Race MIPS
POC’s Kortal Race MIPS is another popular option for aggressive trail riding. It offers one of the deepest fits and most coverage of any half-shell mountain bike helmet I’ve tried, and it also has RECCO location detection and NFC (near field communication) capabilities that store emergency medical information. It’s also one of the few helmets in this category certified to the Dutch NTA 8776 e-bike standard. However, the POC’s narrow and deep fit resulted in pressure points right above both of my temples, and the lid interfered with all of my sunglass options (uncomfortably pushing down on my nose). For me, the Fox offers superior ventilation, is more comfortable, and undercuts the POC by about $70, making it the better choice overall. However, if you have an oval-shaped head, put a lot of value in connectivity, and ride e-bikes, then the POC Kortal Race MIPS may be the better choice for you.
Fox Speedframe Pro vs Smith Forefront 2
Another popular mountain bike helmet that I’ve racked up the miles on is Smith’s Forefront 2. Like most other premium options, the Smith is comfortable, looks really good, and features a MIPS liner. However, that’s about where the praise ends. For starters, I found the Smith to run significantly warmer than the Fox Speedframe, which I believe is due to the extensive use of Koroyd (the straw-looking things in the vents). Second, the visor is sort of useless in my opinion. It’s too short to really deflect mud or dirt from your front tire, and it can’t really block sun that’s low on the horizon. Finally, priced at $250, the Smith is about $70 more than the Fox and has little (or nothing) to show for it. In the end, I think the Fox Speedframe Pro is the better helmet and smarter buy.
Fox Speedframe Pro vs Fox Speedframe
One final alternative to the Speedframe Pro is Fox’s standard Speedframe model, which is a great option for budget-restricted riders. For about $50 less, the Fox Speedframe utilizes the same 360° Fit System as the Pro, and with its identical design, it flows air just as well. And perhaps most important of all, the standard Speedframe still features a MIPS liner to help reduce rotation forces on the brain during a crash. However, you do lose out on the magnetic Fidlock buckle, dual-density EPS foam, and the premium liner found on the Pro model. For a helmet that can often be found on sale for around $100, the Fox Speedframe ranks high in terms of value.
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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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