Review: Fox Rampage Pro Carbon Helmet
April 21st, 2013
Launching a new product into a successfully packed market place means you really have to go above and beyond when it comes to exceeding expectations and delivering something that really stands out. For Fox, they’ve seen more than their fair share of success within the moto market and even in the lower price point MTB market, where the tried and trusted
Being a self-confessed helmet connoisseur, I was more than interested in the prospect of a new full-face mountain bike helmet from Fox and especially so after the success of another recent Fox helmet, the V4, which was released into their moto line last year. Were we going to look at a scaled down V4 from a brand with expertise in both sports? Understanding that mountain biking or indeed aggressive bicycle riding full stop isn’t MX, is always something that I feel needs to be acknowledged as they are two sports that may share certain characteristics, but in actual fact have very different demands when it comes to the product that follows them.
While Fox have had success in MTB with a carbon shelled helmet – the V3R, it was also not a massive leap from a standard moto V3 in terms of its overall design with regards to a very specific end user. While it wasn’t designed from the ground up for mountain biking, it did open riders eyes (including ours) to a seriously comfy helmet and an integral part of the Rampage Pro Carbon’s delivery from the drawing board to the track.
Attention to detail and an overall high aesthetic value, the Fox Rampage Pro Carbon not only looks rad as hell, it also stands out from the crowd with some eye catching features that truly separate it from the competition. The 17 vents not only help with airflow and reducing trapped perspiration, they also add a sense of menacing purpose to the Rampage Pro Carbon which I feel make it look all the more bad ass! With 3 sizes of EPS liner and 2 individual carbon shell sizes, mean that each specific helmet size is designed to fit like a glove – or fit like a helmet that actually fits like it should…With a greater degree of accuracy in the sizing of the shell combined with equally correctly sized EPS liner, it reduces the level of pressure required from the padding to secure the helmet to your head.
Holding the Rampage Pro Carbon in your hands is an education in its self; solid, solid, solid! While manufacturers like Troy Lee and Bell have upped the ante in this sector of the market, successfully delivering a product that meets and exceeds a riders needs, the Fox is by far the most solid, which is especially evident in the chin guard – it’s barely compressible. The designers at Fox have increased the material in this area and quite possibly another reason why Josh Bryceland finally put the moto lid back on the shelf and left it there for downhill.
Breaking down the Rampage Pro Carbon for a post ride wash, your looking at 14 individual parts – washers and all. Dis-assembly and reassembly is pretty straight forward and very similar to their moto helmets – not a bad thing at all – although the main part of the pad-set is a little fiddly to get right on the first few attempts. I was a little concerned that the matte black finish on our test helmet would be a pain to clean, which is quite common with matte finishes, but no issue what so ever. The Rampage Pro Carbon’s visor is also pretty special – designed to optimize ventilation and visibility, it has also got angular adjustment screws, which are designed to fit against a molded relief in the helmet shell maintaining a sleek and aesthetically minded feel.
Fox describe the Rampage Pro Carbon’s interior or ‘pad-set’, as “luxury” and they couldn’t be more spot on – this is one well put together and not to mention, a very comfy interior. Manufactured from a moisture wicking material, which when combined with the 17 vents, makes for one cool helmet and in more ways than one… The cheek pads are nice and unobtrusive against your face and don’t pinch around the jaws (something I really don’t like), while the main bulk of the Rampage Pro Carbon‘s fit is taken care of by the generous central pad that cradles the forehead and around the base of the skull. The mesh cap that holds all the individual raised pads section in place, also spaces your hair away from the vented air channels in the EPS liner to improve airflow and cooling – this makes for a helmet that is cool, comfy and incredibly well balanced.
While the Rampage Pro Carbon should (in my mind anyway) come with a spare peak, it does however come with one of the nicest carry bags I’ve seen, and a must have bit of kit!
Safety in Numbers…
On the safety front, the Rampage Pro Carbon meets the CPSC 1203, ASTM F1952, AS/NZS 2063:2008 and the EN 1078:1997 approved – all of which are also met by the £100 standard Rampage, which is a third of the cost… There’s no getting away from the fact that the Pro Carbon is stacked like a pit bull against it’s little brother and is visibly more rigid against it’s peers in the market place too, which raises further questions with regards to what standards matter and should there be a new standard that acknowledges the safety prowess of this new breed of scaled down moto helmets that quickly, and thankfully, are becoming the norm?
Riding in the Rampage Pro Carbon
Like I’ve previously said, the Rampage Pro Carbon feels like a solid piece of kit when you first handle it and every bit the premium product it is billed to be, but it’s not until you slip it on and spend a day hammering down some trails that you see what Fox have really delivered… Spending most of 2011 in the V3R, it was and still is a rad helmet, but there was always an inkling feeling that it wasn’t quite there, especially next to a D3 or POC for example. Not quite there for one reason, and that was the look and feel of what was ultimately a slightly modified moto helmet – in an ideal world, you’d want a helmet to fit and feel like a moto helmet on your head, but looks like a bicycle helmet. In a nut shell, that pretty much sums the Rampage Pro Carbon up…
As important as it is to feel good in what you wear on the bike, both in terms of how it works and of course looks, I also love product that you quickly forget your using – as a yard stick, new gear that’s on your mind for what ever reason is taking concentration away from what’s important; and that’s you, your bike and the trail you’re shredding below. The Rampage Pro Carbon has in no time at all, become very much a part of my riding routine – fit, forget, shred and try to look rad in the process!
Probably not an area that’s been discussed in great detail, but moto helmets, downhill riding and neck braces don’t mix. They are wider and larger in every way and due to the way we mountain bikers move around on our bikes while negotiating the terrain we do, the ability to position ourselves correctly is all the more critical. While the whole idea of the neck brace is to restrict (to an extent) movement, you still need to be able to look ahead on the steep stuff – With our Leatt DBX brace and with the rear table lowered all the way through its travel, the Rampage Pro Carbon worked a treat – just look at Danny Hart and Andrew Neethling…
It’s fair to say I like the Rampage Pro Carbon and like it rather a lot. As the helmet first started popping up at events last year under Fox’s factory riders, it was pretty evident from the offset that while it adhered to the angular and aggressive design cues from other US based helmet manufacturers, it was also very different at the same time… From the large extended chin guard, to the angular channeled peak and all the way to the multitude of automotive looking aluminium (aluminum to all our N.American readers) grilled vents – the Rampage Pro Carbon looks every bit as it feels and that’s where the magic really is.
Talking to several Fox athletes throughout last year, offered me the opportunity to ask the question “so what’s it like?” – but of all the positive feedback you’d expect from sponsored athletes, there was one statement that stood out and heard over and over – “oh yeah, it’s really comfy!” With this in mind and having experienced first hand what badly sized helmets are like, the Rampage Pro Carbon had a lot to live up to prior to it landing with us to review. Thankfully it does fit and does so extremely well – quite possibly one of the comfiest on the market and certainly the result of the more precise shell sizing. Aesthetics and marketing aside, a helmet has to fit and be comfy to be considered successful in its role and is pretty much as important (if not more so) than the helmets ability to do its job when the need arises should you go over the bars!
Not only does the Rampage Pro Carbon have a lot of vents, it’s also got some big ones too! While the unseasonal weather has limited our ability to get over heated while out riding, I can’t see why it can’t match or better that of the competition – we’ll be running a ‘premium full-face’ group test this summer, so we’ll let you know…
As far as the weight is concerned, at 1150g’s, it’s bang on for a helmet that nestles into this new category of ‘beefed up’ DH helmets. So, it’s very comfy, pretty light, looks awesome and quite unlike any other helmet on the market and is available in 4 attractive colour-ways. So what’s the downside to Fox’s latest full-face offering? To be honest, not many if any at all. Maybe the lack of a spare peak? – the only thing that crosses my mind, would be something subjective like aesthetics? I do love how the top brands in the game (Fox, TLD, Urge, Bell, Giro) right now have carved an aesthetic niche, be it the glossy graphics of Troy Lee or the bold colours of a POC – the point is, that while they all do the same job and thankfully do so rather well, the choice for the consumer has never been better and for the Fox fans out there, to which there are many, who have been waiting for that premium “task specific” full face, it’s now here and here with a bang. The Rampage Pro Carbon kicks ass and at £320, is pretty well priced considering the materials, manufacturing and pedigree of what has already become a familiar sight on podiums across the world. Recommended protection that looks as good as it performs!
For more on the Rampage Pro Carbon and Fox’s 2013 MTB range, tap the big logo below and get involved. Happy trails, Olly