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Fox Racing Dropframe Review

The Dropframe provides extended head coverage and protection in a no-frills package
Fox Racing Dropframe
Photo: Fox Racing
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Price:  $200 List | $199.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Dual-density EPS shell, extended coverage, large visor
Cons:  No fit adjustment, sub-par ventilation, no rotational impact protection system
Manufacturer:   Fox Racing
By Zach Wick ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 23, 2020
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#21 of 23
  • Protection - 25% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Ventilation - 20% 6
  • Features - 15% 7
  • Weight - 10% 5
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Dropframe is a full-coverage trail helmet that aims to please those of us who spend most of our time on high-speed, chunky, descents but still like to pedal back to the top. Billed by Fox as an enduro/trail helmet, this model provides nearly the same coverage as a full-face helmet without the chin bar. It doesn't offer any fit adjustment other than two sets of pads with different thicknesses, however, and the sizing is a little bit on the small end when compared to the rest of the helmets in our test. After a few weeks smashing down the most technical trails, we discovered that we appreciated the extra coverage this helmet provides, but it left us wanting for better ventilation when the trail turned back uphill.

Dropframe Pro Helmet

Fox no longer makes the original Dropframe helmet that we tested here. They now only produce the Dropframe Pro version, which we are linking to in our review. The major difference between the two is that the Pro version includes MIPS for added protection.

July 2021

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Dual-density EPS shell, extended coverage, large visorAmazing ventilation, comfortable, dual-shell protection, good head coverage, feature-packedComfortable, secure, airy, feature-richReasonably priced, comfortable, innovative sweat management system, MIPS, adjustable visorInexpensive, comfortable, versatile fit, durable
Cons No fit adjustment, sub-par ventilation, no rotational impact protection systemAverage weight, expensiveOn the heavier side, non-adjustable strap splittersModerately heavy, ventilation could be better, buckle failure in previous Consumer Reports testingLacks standout features, slightly heavy
Bottom Line The Dropframe provides extended head coverage and protection in a no-frills packageAn incredibly airy and well-designed helmet that lives up to its high price tagThey pulled out all the stops for this new trail riding helmet, and it showsThis is an affordable, quality helmet that checks most of our boxes at a reasonable priceThis helmet provides a high level of comfort and competitive performance at a wallet-friendly price
Rating Categories Fox Racing Dropframe Giro Manifest Spher... Fox Racing Speedfra... Bell 4Forty MIPS Giro Chronicle MIPS
Protection (25%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Ventilation (20%)
6.0
10.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Features (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Weight (10%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Specs Fox Racing Dropframe Giro Manifest Spher... Fox Racing Speedfra... Bell 4Forty MIPS Giro Chronicle MIPS
Rotational Impact Protection System? Varizorb EPS liner Spherical MIPS MIPS MIPS
Adjustable Visor? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of vents 15 19 19 15 14
Goggle or Sunglasses Integration? Yes Integrated eyewear grippers Yes Goggle integration No
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 1 lb 1 oz, 499g size L 14.1 oz, 401g size L 14.4 oz, 407g size L 14.32 oz, 406g size Large 14.5 oz, 410g, size Large
Sizes S - L S-L S - L S - L S - L
Certifications CPSC, CE EN1078, AS/NZS2063 CPSC Bicycle for ages 5+, CE EN1078 CPSC, CE EN1078, AS/NZS2063 CPSC Bicycle for ages 5+ CPSC Bicycle for ages 5+, CE EN1078

Our Analysis and Test Results

Fox Racing's roots in motocross mean they're no strangers to making beefy, highly-protective helmets, so they were positioned perfectly to take advantage of the rapidly-evolving mountain bike helmet market with the Dropframe. Recently the lines between half-shell trail/XC helmets and full-face downhill helmets have been blurred. These days you can find convertible full-faces with a detachable chin bar, lightweight enduro full-faces, and, most recently, open-face helmets like the Dropframe. Released in 2019, the Dropframe was one of the first of a wave of open-face helmets to hit the scene, so we were excited to get our hands on it and see what it had to offer.

Performance Comparison


Part of the new full-coverage, open-face wave, the Dropframe...
Part of the new full-coverage, open-face wave, the Dropframe provides ample protection.
Photo: Sarah Strobel

Protection


Protection is the Dropframe's greatest strength. On a continuum from lightweight cross-country helmets to full-on downhill lids, this model lands further towards the downhill side of things. The EPS shell is comprised of dual-density, impact-absorbing foam and provides far more coverage than your standard trail helmet. The shell extends far down the back of the head and drops down around the ears to provide extra protection from side impacts. Fox's M.O.RE. (Mandibular Occipital Reinforcement) guard design is meant to keep your ears, jaw, and occipital lobe safe. On your head, this helmet feels similar to Fox's Proframe full-face model without the chin bar.

Our test model, the standard Dropframe, doesn't include any kind of rotational impact system, but for a small upcharge, the Dropframe Pro includes MIPS to help protect your head from rotational forces during an impact. We were a bit disappointed to see MIPS

not included in the base model, since it is quickly becoming a standard feature on any trail helmet worth its salt.

The Dropframe is the most generously-padded helmet in the test.
The Dropframe is the most generously-padded helmet in the test.
Photo: Sarah Strobel

Comfort


Overall, the Dropframe is a comfortable helmet. The EPS shell is well contoured to fit a variety of head sizes, and the thick internal padding is well-placed. The ear-covering sections of the EPS shell flex to fit over your head as you pull the helmet on and help accommodate slightly for different head sizes. Out on the trail, we didn't have any nagging issues with pressure points or headaches.

During testing, we found that our size large Dropframe fit slightly smaller than other helmets we tested of the same size, and our biggest complaint with this model is the lack of options to adjust the fit. Our large-headed testers found that the ear-coverage sections of the EPS shell squeezed their heads a little bit tight, and their only recourse was to swap to the second, thinner set of pads that Fox provides with each Dropframe. Even after fiddling with the pads, a few of our testers found they couldn't get the fit dialed in just right for their heads.

The fixed visor is positioned for optimal airflow.
The fixed visor is positioned for optimal airflow.
Photo: Sarah Strobel

Ventilation


Inevitably, as the Dropframe tries to strike a balance between downhill crusher and lightweight trail helmet, it gives up some ground in the airflow department. Even with eight large intake vents in the front and seven exhaust ports in the rear along with the open-ear design, this high coverage helmet doesn't facilitate airflow as well as the best trail helmets we tested. The interior front-to-back channels in the EPS foam are small, and the thick padding means things can get balmy quick at low speeds.

That being said, we think that the Dropframe vents well given its designed purpose. If you're spending most of your time ripping technical descents and aren't trying to break any records on the climb back up, this helmet does the job admirably. Even on hot days, we never ran into a situation where we had to stop and take the helmet off for relief like we would with a full face. We wouldn't want to wear it in our next XC race, but that's not what the designers at Fox had in mind.

Other than the magnetic buckle, this model is fairly bare bones in...
Other than the magnetic buckle, this model is fairly bare bones in terms of features.
Photo: Sarah Strobel

Features


The base-model Dropframe is no-nonsense, and doesn't include much in the way of gadgets. The visor is fixed in a single position to optimize airflow, the only fit-adjustment option is pad swapping, and there is no rotational impact protection system included. It does include some of the staples of a modern, high-end helmet, however. The interior liner is made of antimicrobial, sweat-wicking material, the EPS shell is comprised of dual-density foam, and the M.O.RE protection system flexes to provide a slightly larger range of fit.

We were happy to see that Fox included the Fidlock magnetic buckle over the traditional buckle as well. Despite our early skepticism over the magnetic system, we became big fans throughout our test period and discovered that Fidlock is especially convenient in gravity applications when you're typically wearing thick, dexterity-hampering gloves. We're thinking that more helmets might start going the way of the magnetic buckle in the future.

Despite the ample coverage, it's surprisingly lightweight and isn't...
Despite the ample coverage, it's surprisingly lightweight and isn't too much of a nuisance on the way back up the hill.
Photo: Sarah Strobel

Weight


Given its size and level of coverage, we were pleasantly surprised when we threw the Dropframe on the scale. It comes in just over one pound at 499 grams and is actually lighter than a few of the standard trail helmets we tested. For reference, the lightest helmets in the test came in right around 350 grams, and the only other full-coverage, open-face helmet we looked at, the Giro Tyrant MIPS weighs a whopping 718 grams.

The designers at Fox did a great job of making the Dropframe protective enough for serious terrain while keeping the weight down at a reasonably pedal-able level. Out on the trail, the helmet doesn't feel cumbersome on your head. As long as the weather isn't too hot, it can trick you into thinking it's a standard trail helmet, but at the same time, it provides peace of mind when you're on the ragged edge in gnarly terrain. This balance is where we think fox nailed it with the Dropframe.

This helmet is built to last so you can stay out on the trails.
This helmet is built to last so you can stay out on the trails.
Photo: Sarah Strobel

Durability


Like most Fox products that we've gotten our hands on, the Dropframe is a well-put-together product, and we think it will last as long as you can avoid hitting the deck. As with any EPS foam-shelled helmet, this one should be replaced after an impact, but if you can avoid it, the materials and construction will last. The outer shell is fused to the EPS in the mold, so there's no chance of separation over time, and the shell leaves no EPS exposed in vulnerable areas to chip away over time.

Value


The Dropframe is on the cheaper side when compared to other high-coverage gravity helmets out there, and it falls right in line with some of the high-end trail helmets we tested. If you're looking for a little bit of added protection in a lightweight package, we think this one is a good place to look. If you're not worried about weight, though, we feel that the Giro Tyrant MIPS is a more versatile option that includes a rotational impact system.

Conclusion


We found a lot to like and a little bit to gripe about with the Dropframe. We were a bit disappointed with the lack of a rotational impact system, and we were hoping for a little bit better ventilation from a helmet that touts itself as a trail/enduro lid. On the other hand, we were impressed with the lightweight, high-coverage combination that Fox cooked up.

Other Versions


As previously stated, Fox also offers a Dropframe Pro for an additional $20 that comes equipped with MIPS.

Fox also offers a line of true half-shell trail helmets, including the Speedframe, which we also reviewed and loved.

Zach Wick