Fox Racing Speedframe Pro Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Comfortable, secure, airy, feature-rich
Cons: On the heavier side, non-adjustable strap splitters
Manufacturer: Fox Racing
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With roots in motocross, Fox Racing has been one of the biggest names in mountain biking apparel and protection for as long as we can remember. It's hard to go a single day out on the trails without seeing the Fox Head logo somewhere. Whether it's a jersey, gloves, kneepads, or a hydration pack, Fox's gear is popular for good reason. The Speedframe Pro is the most recent addition to their lineup of helmets, and it was designed to compete with the best helmets on the market. Fox pulled out all the stops for this model and ultimately delivered the complete package. Despite putting it through its paces for weeks, we couldn't find much not to like.
The Speedframe Pro provides ample protection for your noggin. With dual-density Varizorb EPS foam and a MIPS rotational impact system, it received a five-star rating in Virginia Tech's recent bicycle helmet safety study. The dual-density foam is designed to aid in impact absorption at both low and high speeds, and MIPS is the most widespread rotational impact protection system available today. The system is comprised of a thin plastic shell that sits on the inside of the EPS foam and rotates a few degrees in either direction in the event of an impact. The idea behind MIPS and similar systems is to reduce the rotational forces on the brain when the EPS shell comes to an abrupt halt. Luckily during testing, we didn't get the chance to see how well it works, but we'll be glad to have it when the inevitable wad up occurs.
Beyond its safety features, the Speedframe also provides good head coverage and has a secure, comfortable harness system. The EPS shell fits low on the head and drops down in the rear for extra occipital protection. The harness is adjustable both vertically and circumferentially to ensure that any head shape can find a secure fit. A couple of other models we tested—namely the Giro Chronicle and POC Tectal—have a deeper fit with a little bit better overall coverage. Still, the Speedframe is well above average in this department. When swapping back and forth between helmets, it becomes readily apparent which ones feel secure and protective and which don't, and the Speedframe is clearly the one of the former.
The Speedframe Pro is an out-and-out comfortable helmet. The interior contour of the EPS shell doesn't create pressure points on the skull and should be versatile enough to fit most head shapes without issue. The EPS was clearly molded with the MIPS system in mind because the plastic liner doesn't feel like it takes up too much space on the helmet's interior. Early adopters of the MIPS system tended to feel a bit cramped with the plastic liner added to an otherwise well-sized EPS shell, but we're glad to see that Fox is one of the companies now designing around the system.
Along with the comfortable shell, Fox also made sure to include a highly-adjustable harness and an easily-manageable strap system. The 360 Fit harness has a dial adjuster at the rear of the head with 26 clicks and a huge range of adjustment. The harness can also be adjusted vertically between four positions with a snap-fit system molded into the EPS shell. The vertical adjustment allowed us to dial in the fit and ensure that the harness straps and dial didn't sit in an uncomfortable spot at the back of the head. The strap splitters give a wide berth between the straps and your ears and allow the straps to lay flat against the sides of your head. Our only complaint here is that the height of the strap splitters isn't adjustable, so if for some reason you don't find them comfortable as sold, you're out of luck.
This is one of the most well-ventilated models we tested. Its nineteen total vents include three directly across the brow and two full-length interior channels for front-to-back airflow. Even at relatively low speeds, you can feel the vents start to work as air flows across the top of your head. As with any helmet, things begin to get a little bit sweaty on long climbs, but, importantly, the Speedframe Pro does a great job of quickly cooling things back down once you're at the top and your speed picks back up.
The interior padding also aids in keeping you cool out on the trail. It's relatively minimalist to reduce heat buildup, and it's made of an absorptive, sweat-wicking material to keep sweat from rolling down into your eyes or onto your eyewear.
As you would expect from a top-shelf helmet, the Speedframe Pro comes standard with just about every feature you could need out on the trail. On the helmet's interior, you'll find the already-discussed MIPS rotational impact system, sweat-wicking padding, 360 Fit harness, and interior airflow channels. The padded liner is easily removable, washable, and constructed with antimicrobial material to minimize odor over the long haul.
The helmet's exterior features a large, adjustable visor with three indexed positions, one of which allows for goggle storage on the front of the helmet. The indexing is firm to ensure that the visor stays put when you set it in place, but this also means it's not as easily adjustable on the fly as some models we tested. Regardless, we were still able to use one hand to adjust the visor and stow our goggles on the helmet while riding. The helmet's outer shell also has subtle channels in the sides and rear to secure your goggle strap for the rowdy descents.
Rather than the standard chin buckle found on Fox's mid-range helmets, the Speedframe uses a Fidlock magnetic buckle. This is one of just a few models that we tested to use the Fidlock buckle, and we were skeptical of the system at first. After a few rides, though, we quickly got used to it and came to appreciate the ease-of-use while wearing gloves. All you have to do is get the two halves in the ballpark of where they need to be, and the magnet pulls them into place. Once it's locked in, it's as secure as any buckle system we've used.
When it came time to pull out the kitchen scale, the Speedframe Pro didn't particularly stand out from the pack. In fact, at 407 grams (14.4 ounces), this model falls right around the average among the trail helmets we tested. Given everything that this helmet has to offer, we don't think a mid-class weight is particularly a bad thing, but after the feature-packed Specialized Ambush tipped the scales at just 350 grams our frame of reference was changed.
Out on the trail, the Speedframe Pro feels feather-like on your head despite its weight, but so do many of the models we tested. For reference, most of the other top performers in our test came in a bit lighter: The POC Tectal Race at 365 grams, the Smith Forefront 2 at 374 grams, and the 100% Altec at 381 grams. The differences are small in the grand scheme of things, but we would be remiss if we didn't point out that the Speedframe is a little bit chunkier than the rest of our favorite models.
After a few weeks of putting the Speedframe Pro through its paces, it came out looking like new. After we took the time to wipe down the mud splatter and brush off the dust, you could hardly tell that it had been used. Despite more than a few interactions with overgrown brush on the trail, a minor tumble on the garage floor, and a couple of trips crammed in a backpack, the outer shell barely showed a scratch. The finish stands up well to abrasion and is easy to clean.
Beyond appearances, the Speedframe is also built for the long haul. The outer shell is fused to the EPS in the mold, and it leaves no foam exposed on the helmet's exterior to chip away over time. The strap mounts are molded into the EPS, and the magnetic Fidlock buckle won't wear out with extended use. Our one point of minor concern is the vertical harness adjustment where the two pins snap into a molded insert in the EPS. We worry that with many adjustments over time, pins' fit might start to wear out and loosen. This adjustment is typically a set-it-and-forget-it feature for most riders, however, so our concerns are minor.
The Speedframe Pro comes at a significantly lower price than some of the other top performers in our test. The Specialized Ambush, Smith Forefront, and POC Tectal Race will each put a considerably larger dent in your wallet for a similar level of performance, so we think the Speedframe Pro is a great buy. It has just about everything you could ask for in a comfortable, safe package, and it only gives up a few grams to its more-expensive counterparts. Unless you're a gram counter hunting for the lightest kit available, the Speedframe is one of the best helmet options out there.
We spent weeks putting the Speedframe through its paces and didn't find any issues with its performance. It's a comfortable, safe, feature-packed chunk of EPS that will last you for as long as you can avoid hitting the deck. Fox clearly put in the work to create a well-rounded product.
Fox also offers a pared-down version of the Speedframe that includes many of the same features but lacks the magnetic Fidlock buckle, the antimicrobial liner, and the dual-density EPS shell. If you like the Speedframe Pro's style but are looking to save a few bucks, this is a good option.
We also tested the Fox Dropframe—a full-coverage, open-faced enduro helmet with similar styling. If you're hunting for more protection, the Dropframe is an excellent place to look.
— Zach Wick