The best full face downhill mountain bike helmets of 2017

The best full face helmets to protect your noggin

Words: James Smurthwaite, Sean White and Pete Scullion

What are the best downhill mountain biking full face helmets? Well, it’s been three years since we pulled together a list of our favourite head protection so we thought it was high time to give it an update.

If you’ve got something in your noggin worth protecting then a full face helmet is an essential piece of kit – even more so now we’re starting to see the real danger of concussions. In downhill, the speeds are higher and the impacts harder than any other discipline of mountain biking so you’re going to want a full face helmet. Not only does the chin guard keep your mug looking pretty but the extra padding and wrap around protection could save your life.

At the bare minimum, you want the mandatory CE certification on the helmet for safety but a good helmet has more than this. Some full face helmets now have MIPs protection that helps protect against rotational impacts as well as blunt forces.

Comfort is also a vital factor of any helmet – you can’t focus on pinning it 100 per cent if your helmet is bobbling around or makes you sweat too much. The perfect full-face helmet will be low in weight and offer superb visibility, while keeping your head cool and safe.

Fit is also key. A large range of sizes on a model that has removable padding will give you the best fit. A lightweight, well-fitting full face helmet will give you the confidence to push hard on any run, allowing you, in many cases, to forget it was even there until you need it.

So, in no particular order, here are the best full face mountain bike helmets available.

Troy Lee D3

The Troy Lee D3 really doesn’t need any introduction to most of you. There have been so many iconic designs for pros and consumers alike you can’t help but have seen one out and about. It’s a telling endorsement just how many pros chose this Californian lid to look after them – especially as they’re the fastest in the world.

You might think it’s all about the looks with the Troy Lee D3 but you’d be wrong we love the fit, the ventilation is more than adequate and MIPS was added at the end of 2016 for extra protection. A hand laid pre-peg carbon/composite/MCT construction keeps weight low but strength high with a top layer UD (unidirectional) carbon weaves providing added strength and a touch of style.

TLD have spent plenty of time in the wind tunnel testing the aerodynamics, honing both the shape and twenty venting ducts to perfection. This all adds to the costs and you start to build up a picture of just what goes into this top end helmet and goes someway to justifying the high price tag.

With three different EPS shell sizes and six different sized cheek/headliner kits, this helmet covers a very broad range of head sizes and shapes and can be easily tuned for an excellent fit. The revised 3D cheek pad extends more toward the front of the helmet/chinbar area, for a more secure fit with a smooth finish in all areas increasing comfort further. The no detail is overlooked and on this version even the visor screws and D-ring strap clasp are made of titanium.

Price – £400 (Carbon MIPS)

Click here for a full review

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Giro Switchblade

There have been many helmets that claim to bridge the gap between trail and downhill using a removable chin guard but the Giro Switchblade was the original and now the best. It’s probably most suited to enduro racing, where the chinbar can be removed on the transitions and fitted for the stages, but this helmet has all the necessary accreditation to be raced downhill too.

Giro’s quality and detail really shine through (as it also does on one of our favourite trail lids, the Montaro). Equipped with MIPS technology, the Switchblade is triple-certified to CPSC, EN-1078, and ASTM-1952 Downhill safety standards – and that’s with or without the chin guard.

The helmet and chin-bar attachment in a very reassuring manner but don’t require any tools – you can shove the bar in your pack and just bring it out when needed. Some people have commented that it looks a bit goofy without the chin bar but we actually think it brings some moto cool – just look at Cody Kelly in it and tel us it’s not a good look.

Want to pack one helmet in your bikepark or road trip kitbag? This new design from Giro is definitely worth checking out.

Price: £249.99

Read a full review here

[monetizer101 search=’Giro Switchblade’]

Fox Proframe

The Proframe is another helmet that bridges the gap between enduro and downhill but it does it in a totally different way to the Switchblade. The Proframe’s chinbar isn’t detachable but is so vented you barely even know it’s there.

You’ll certainly notice it in a crash though as it’s so well made that it still conforms to safety standards. The Proframe is actually Fox’s lightest DH approved full frame helmet giving you a no-compromise approach to safety when it comes to descending. With a dual density Varizorb EPS liner providing improved protection (by spreading forces of impact across a wider area) and additional MIPS safety technology as standard too, it’s got all the tech you’d expect just in a slimmer package.

Fox list a medium helmet at 750g and our size large test sample weighed in at 852g –  a chunk lighter than most DH lids regardless. For reference, the Fox Rampage carbon hits the scales in the 1100–1200g zone.

With a price of £215, we feel this is a realistic option for many riders, especially for those who currently own just a open face trail lid and are looking for more protection for a spot of enduro racing, uplifting or the black runs at bike parks.

Price: £215

Read our full review here

[monetizer101 search=’Fox Proframe helmet’]

Bell Full 9

With over 50 years of helmet experience, it’s safe to say Bell know how to keep a rider safe. BMX vert riders were using their moto 9 MX helmet in the noughties but needed something lighter – the Full 9 was born and put Bell firmly back on the full face map for downhill mountain biking.

It is quite simply as near perfect as we can imagine a full face mountain bike helmet getting, and it just reeks of quality. Comfort is second to none, and with no fewer than six sizes on offer everyone should find an agreeable fit. Bell have even managed to do a good job on the venting front without the helmet feeling like it won’t stand up to a big impact.

The features like a removable helmet cam mount, integrated speaker mounts and cheek pads that can easily be removed in a serious crash just make you realise how Bell have thought about every single aspect of this lid. While this helmet isn’t exactly cheap the good news is that Bell are also now making the Transfer–9 which shares a very similar design, but is whole lot cheaper at £159.99. The choice is yours.

Price: £424.99

[monetizer101 search=’Bell Full 9 helmet’]

Fox Rampage Carbon

Moto styling and downhill protection were the two key features Fox were looking to integrate into the Rampage carbon and they balanced them perfectly. With no less than five size options built from one of two outer shell and three EPS inner sizes, they’ve got the comfort and accuracy of fit in check too.

The outer carbon shell is very well ventilated. 17 ports duct air through and out the rear of the lid very effectively regardless of the weather and even pushing back up the hill with the helmet on overall comfort is still high. The removable Dri-Lex™ liner padding has a real quality feel and dries quickly too. A compression headliner is another detail that adds further comfort. The wide opening gives great vision all round, and the visor adjusts easily (and stays put) over a good range, also shifting air through the front brow vents.

The Rampage Pro is light, very comfortable, has great design details and is a good price for a premium carbon shell full–face lid. This Fox lid and the Troy Lee D3 sit at the top of our wish list for pure downhill helmets.

Price: £345

Read our full review here

[monetizer101 search=’Fox Rampage Pro Carbon helmet’]

Poc Coron

You can never mistake when you’re looking at a POC helmet. Clean lines, monotone and very cool, the Coron is definitely a product from the Swedish style-masters.

POC have always had a no compromise approach to design, with premium materials, well-developed technologies and safety taking a priority. Their products are far from cheap but rarely disappoint, and can be seen as a good long-term investment if you can afford it – plus, if you’re going to spend on anything, it may as well be protecting your noggin.

In 2016 POC introduced a new shell material called M-Forge. This has advanced fibre technology said to outperform previously known shell materials and has benefits in terms of multi-impact performance and durability. In terms of weight, there is no penalty either with the Coron weighing in from 1050g depending on size.

The Coron may look hotter than a Swedish sauna but there are essential brow and jaw vents to keep sweat to a minimum.

Price: £385, £425 (SODERSTROM EDITION)  0844 811 2001

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100% Aircraft

100% is making the hop over from being a legendary motocross brand and into the world of downhill. They’re doing it the right way too and now sponsor Specialized, Cube, Giant and Commencal teams on the World Cup circuit. As first helmets go, we think they’ve smashed it with the Aircraft – we absolutely love the styling and it backs it up with plenty of tech too.

Weighing in at just over a kilo with 25 vents and plenty of fitting options you can be assured of fit and comfort and there are plenty of colour options to keep even the tartiest rider happy.

Price: £299.99

[monetizer101 search=’Aircraft full face helmet’]

Urge Down-o-matic

The Urge Down-o-matic was updated last year and, although it’s lost the iconic circular vents, the performance and comfort remain. They styling is still unique too and at £180 it’s probably a contender for the best value full face on the market.

You won’t find a carbon version of the Down-O-Matic anywhere, but what you do get is their ‘Veggie’ compound. This is a linen fibre construction, similar to that of carbon fibre, but much kinder to the environment. Just like linen, you don’t need to iron this lid either.

Price: From £179.99

Decade Europe 01792 469 811

[monetizer101 search=’Urge Down-o-matic’]

O’Neal Fury

It doesn’t get much better for value than the O’Neal Fury. In fact, we reckon you should probably cough up for this even if you only do a handful of uplifts a year. There aren’t many noticeable sacrifices here for the money and, in fact, we reckon it has the most ingenious fastening system out there. It looks good for a budget option too!

Price: €139.95

[monetizer101 search=’O’Neal Fury RL’]

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