Review: Fox V3R Carbon Helmet

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Fox have always occupied a special place within mountain biking and were one of the first ‘moto’ brands to introduce bicycle specific products back in the 90’s when Shaun Palmer burst onto the scene. Fox introduced a style back then that encapsulated the sport and set a standard, which is still there today with ‘new school’ riders like Danny Hart and Josh Bryceland and by all accounts, it doesn’t look like Fox have any plans to take a back seat any time soon.

With an ever increasing presence on the race scene and a roster of pro riders that reads as a who’s who of modern downhill racing, Fox are firing on all cylinders in 2011 with some awesome riding gear designed to take ‘style’ back to the race track. In this, the first of several reviews looking at some of the 2011 Fox range, we take a close look the V3R Carbon helmet; based on the popular V3 MX helmet and re-engineered for the needs of todays downhill competition, the V3 represents a product focussed on the needs of today’s riders looking for maximum protection without sacrificing style. Read on to find out more….

Review: Olly Forster

Photos: Alex Tyler

The V3R is available in 2 distinct colour ways for 2011 – the one we tested is the ‘Black/ White’ scheme, which definitely has the ‘racer’ look about it and certainly had plenty of attention while out ridng. The V3R’s shell size is obviously larger than that of traditional full face MTB helmets, but with more people wanting the advantages posed by an MX style lid, the V3R hits the nail on the head delivering both a light weight and attractive helmet where MX meets modern downhill and meets it head on.

The Fox V3R Carbon.

Coming in at 1160 grams (size medium), the carbon and kevlar shell all helps to keep the overall weight to a minimum and with more and more riders choosing to go down the MX helmet route, having an option with all the benefits and without the one major disadvantage – weight.

Check the graphics – not too wild and not too subtle and will definitely work well with what ever crazy or subtle kit you choose to ride in. Check the rear exhaust ports too – this is part of what Fox call a ‘smart venting system’ which incorporates 10 intake and 4 exhaust ports to help keep your head cool on summer days.

There’s no two ways about it, this helmet looks bad ass! Check all the venting on the front too – sweet!

Nice grill – attention to detail is everywhere on the V3R combined with the robust feel and sheer solidness of this helmet.

The front adjustable ventilation ports locked down for when it’s cold and….

….open for when it’s hot and dusty! The adjustable visor has plenty of movement fore and aft too and doesn’t impede vision.

The Fit.

Mountain Bike and Moto-Cross helmets may look similar with their ‘all-over’ protection and general shape, but they have very distinct and differing ‘fits’ to one another. To sum it up, MTB helmets feel loose in comparison and for the first time MX helmet user, you may be convinced you’ve got the wrong size helmet all together as MX helmets come in pretty tight to increase the helmets fit and maintain it’s position for maximum effectiveness in the event of a crash.

Like anything anatomical, it is always advisable to try before you buy as going off the recommended size guide might inadvertently take you down the garden path as it did me. If we use a very common helmet as a staging block for discussing the V3R’s fit – the much loved TLD D2, which I’m a Medium/ Large in and generally a large in most single sized helmets. With the V3R, I had to go down a size to the Medium rather than the recommended Large. It did feel quite tight at first, but out on the track and over the rough stuff it felt perfect and incredibly comfortable. After a few weeks pretty much solid use, the V3R has now bedded into my head and fits like a glove – try before you buy!

The EPS Liner – Notice all the channels for directing air flow from the front to the back, cooling your head in the process.

No velcro here – the cheek pads are attached via some super sturdy poppers that are designed to aid in the overall fit and feel of the helmet, but also to keep your head in the optimum position for that potential over the bars moment.

The fully removable Coolmax comfort liner and cheek pads comprises of only 3 parts to keep things super simple.

The central Coolmax liner comprises of one main unit rather than several individual pieces – this then ‘pops’ effortlessly out and once cleaned, dries very quickly to keep your helmet looking and feeling fresh. I would recommend that you avoid machine washing the liner and hand wash/ drip dry to maintain the feel and fit.


Small          55 – 56cm / 671/8 – 7

Medium    57 – 58cm / 71/8 – 71/4

Large          59 – 60cm / 73/8 – 71/2

X-Large     61 – 62cm / 75/8 – 73/4

The cheek pads are pretty thick and initially give you a squashed in feeling, but the idea that a helmet shouldn’t move past the skins natural movement is exactly how a helmet should fit – what’s the point if it moves under an impact and especially if your using a neck brace? The V3R may take a ride or two to get accustomed to the feel and fit, but I guarantee the end result will be one of, if not the snuggest and most comfortable helmets you’ve ever used.

Track Side.

Out riding in the V3R, it was a pleasure to use in more ways than one. The fit of course, was very secure and definitely inspired a lot of confidence, which to be fair is pretty important in safety gear. Secondly, it had to be the vision and amount of it  – we tried a few different shapes of goggles from Oakley to get a good feel of what works and what doesn’t and they all fitted perfectly, although the Main Pro’s were also testing from Fox looked and felt more than at home on the V3R.

That then brings us to the looks department – some may say it’s ugly due to it’s size, but if you look around at other helmets in this category from TLD and Bell, they are going bigger and taking more from their MX line, as are 661 and if you haven’t noticed, the actual V3 MX helmet is one of the most refined in the game and doesn’t come up a great deal bigger than it’s nearest counterpart in MTB, the TLD D3. The Fox V3R represents a top of the line helmet that takes everything that Fox have learned from years of MX helmet manufacturing and using it to produce a product that recognises the demands of today’s downhill riders. With modern tracks getting faster and the jumps getting bigger, the sport often moves faster than the product designers and safety regulators can keep up with; that is if you don’t have your finger on the trigger, which Fox most certainly do and the Fox V3R is just one example of where listening to your top tier athletes delivers what the week end warrior wants and needs.

With the increasing use of neck braces we tested the V3R with the popular Leatt DBX model with no issues with restricted movement – in fact, they feel like they were made for each other and will be an invaluable partnership for anyone looking for a good package that works together. Leatt DBX Review Here!

A distinct advantage of using an MX shell to make a downhill helmet is uncompromised compatibility with 99% of all goggles and an excellent maximum peripheral vision. Pretty much all the goggle on the market, aside perhaps the Nema and Giro models are designed around an MX helmet and some full face MTB helmets out there have a less than favorable compatibility rating – not with this bad boy I can tell you!


All in all the Fox V3R is an awesome piece of kit that addresses the needs of modern mountain biking and the extremes to which even amateur riders are pushing themselves today. At £290 the V3R is also well priced considering its pedigree as a top spec helmet used by World Cup pros with the looks to match and with a fit and feel that has made me think twice about how other helmets fit altogether. The V3R’s nearest rival in the functionality and protection department has to be the Troy Lee Designs D3, but at £135 cheaper and only 90 grams heavier, the V3R certainly poses as both a cost effective and a highly desirable product.

The only negatives I can think of would maybe be the lack of choice in colour ways and graphics and a few options along the same lines as the one we tested, but in a few different colour options, would be cool. The other niggle, for me, was the lack of a good helmet bag – this might be neither here nor there for some, but at almost £300, I would like a proper helmet carry bag, even a basic one rather than the supplied one, which although attractive offers little to no protection in the back of a van full of gear.

Looking at the V3R, and considering it for a long days riding in the heat of summer, some may be concerned by the lack of large vents – the kind some of us may be more accustomed to on a regular full face MTB helmet and the lack of any such vents on the V3R. Considering a DH run is between 1 and 5 minutes max and a session on your MX bike can be up to half an hour of solid riding, it makes you think just how important all of those vents actually are and how much they reduce the helmets impact resistance? The V3R’s venting system is more than adequate for descending even the longest tracks in the stickiest heat, so no worries there, although I wouldn’t recommend walking around in the sun with it on unless you have to!

So who would be the ideal end user for the V3R? I’d say someone looking for maximum protection with little to no weight penalty, someone who’s familiar and likes the feel of an MX helmet and someone who’s a bit of a style aficionado too and perhaps, thanks to some of Fox’s athletes, wants a piece of the Fox action. At the end of the day this is a pretty special helmet and if your in the market for such a helmet, I’d wholeheartedly recommend the V3R. For more information, hit the Fox Head logo below.



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