When I first started mountain biking, if someone was wearing a full-face helmet at a local trail, someone in your riding group would have most likely had something to say about it, in a joking way of course. I’m not really sure when half shell helmets started to become more popular than full-face helmets, despite bikes and trails continuing to get more technical. Even a few years ago, I think the EWS field was split between half shell and full-face helmets if the venue allowed. With the emergence of these lighter and better ventilated full-face helmets, not only do I see more of them out on the trails, but I myself will often wear one when riding the local chunky trails that would have been for DH bikes only just 5 or so years ago.
In this comparison we will be looking at four helmets in the category of “Enduro full-face Helmets”: the 100% Trajecta helmet, the TLD Stage helmet, the IXS Trigger FF, and the Fox Proframe. These lighter and better ventilated helmets have been put into the “Enduro Helmets” category. While they all meet DH safety standards (more on that down below), they are all much lighter and have at least twice as many air vents to keep you cool while climbing or descending. This helps not only with cooling you down while you ride, but it’s also easier to eat and drink with these helmets. Again, more on that below.
When looking at this type of helmet, there are a few major features that I like. The first two are pretty obvious, weight and ventilation. These are the two you notice and feel the most. But there are a few you might not typically think of as well. One of the major ones is having a non-removable chin bar. This isn't to knock the helmets that do have removable chin bars, but when I'm riding fast technical trails and I hit my face on a rock, I want something extra sturdy, and I’ve seen a few chin bars come off in a crash. It eases my mind a bit to think that my chin bar cannot come off.
A few other major features I look for are in regards to safety, such as the safety standards each helmet is certified to and the helmet strap/buckle system. While I will not attempt to be an expert on nor do I even know much about helmet certifications for full-faces like these, I look for the CPSC and ATSM certifications.
The CPSC is a certification required for all helmets sold in the USA, and ATSM is the American standard for full-face helmets with a chin bar. If the helmet does have a chin bar, it needs to be tested as a full system.
The buckle system is also another feature to look at. None of these helmets use the classic buckle system, but I'll never turn down a helmet with the old school version of a clasp, as it's one strap feature that I will always consider safe. Most of these helmets use the Fidlock style buckle that uses a magnet with a “guided” channel to connect the two straps. While I was skeptical when these were first being used in any bike helmets, especially on these DH rated full-face helmets, it only took a few crashes for me to consider the Fidlock as solid.
The last style, which only one of these helmets use it, is the classic DH style double ring, or DD strap system. This is where you loop the strap through the double ring and loop it back through one of them. This is also very common on motorcycle helmets as well, so you know it’s very safe at all speeds and impacts.
The final feature I look for on these vented lightweight helmets is what I like to call the Eatability factor. After all, these helmets are marketed to the everyday aggressive rider, which means climbing in them. What you can eat and drink through the chin bar might seem like a feature you don’t need to look at, but if you can squirt some water into your mouth or take a bite or two of an energy bar, it goes a long way with me. There will be a full breakdown of the Eatability factor below.
The 100% Trajecta is one of the most recent helmets to be released out of the four that we are looking at. While 100% might not have been the first to the party, they made sure to come ready to party. The Trajecta helmet features 24 vents to keep your hot head as cool as possible. The weight for this guy comes in at 860g and while not the lightest in the test, it's much lighter than many other DH helmets on the market. The D-ring style closure is what helps hold the helmet to your head, and I think the D-ring closure boosts confidence a little when wearing the helmet. It might be a bit premature in this review to say this but, I think this helmet feels the most secure, certainly the most like a DH helmet. That could really be a pro or con, depending on what you want the helmet to feel like. The last feature is that there are only two helmet molds, but four sizes: SM, MD, L, and XL, with the SM/MD and L/XL sharing the same shell but pads that vary size.
What’s included? The helmet of course, as well as a few sets of pads and an extra liner. The varying sized pads are two different sized cheek pads and two neck pads. One set comes in the helmet and the alternate will be bagged separately within in the box. Our small came with 30mm and 35mm cheek pads and the neck pads were 16mm and 20mm.
The TLD Stage helmet came out shortly after the Fox Proframe, which was the first of its kind to hit the market. The TLD helmet was an immediate hit with the large TLD following and the classic styling of TLD helmets. One thing that is immediately noticeable is how small the shell is on this helmet, again, for what you are looking for that could either be a good thing or a bad thing. For myself, I really like the shape of the shell and how small it is. I think it blends the gap between a half shell and a DH full-face helmet. The Stage helmet features 11 high flow air intake vents and 14 exhaust ports to help keep that head chilled out. This helmet also features the MIPS impact system to make sure your head stays as safe as possible in a crash. The CPSC and ATSM standards are met with the TLD Stage, as well. Also, an adjustable visor is there to help you find your style, or it can be pulled all the way up to leave some room to put goggles there while climbing or in the shuttle. Weighing in as a featherweight at only 690g, there are three sizes available: XS/S, M/L & XL/2XL, all of which are adjustable with different cheek pads.
In the box: The TLD Stage comes with a lot of extra pads. There are three different cheek pads; 15mm, 25mm and 35mm, and two neck pads; 15mm and 25mm. I am confident that pretty much anyone could dial in the fit of this helmet. It also comes with an extra liner as well. Put it all in a drawstring bag and you are ready to go ride.
The IXS Trigger helmet is the newest in this group and also happens to be the lightest. It’s insanely light at +/- 600g for our test size S/M, but also has some other cool features that set it apart as well. Starting with the one-piece EPS mold that incorporates an X-frame cage in the front of the helmet and around the ears. This helps improve safety beyond the CPSC and ATSM standards. I certainly don’t mind a little extra protection in a helmet. Another feature that sets this helmet apart is the dial adjusted fit, similar to what you would find in most half shell helmets. This really helps dial in the fit to your head, along with the second set of cheek pads that are included. This helmet uses the Fidlock system which does great keeping the straps clasped and the helmet on your head. I found this helmet to be the most comfortable for all-day riding compared to the others in this test.
In the box: The helmet, as well as an extra set of cheek pads, either bigger or smaller than the ones inside the helmet. There is also a drawstring bag to hold it all together.
The Fox Proframe is the original gangster in its field. The Proframe was the first helmet to come out in this ultra-light, ultra ventilated helmet that also met CPSC and ATSM certifications as well as being equipped with a MIPS system. Featuring 24 large ventilated air ports, and weighing in at 750g, it’s in the middle of weight in this test, and extremely breathable. There are four sizes of the Proframe; S, M, L, & XL along with different sizes of cheek and neck pads to dial in the fit. To help keep the helmet on your head in the event of a crash is the Fidlock buckle system, as with most of these helmets. It's worth mentioning that I've never had any issues with this style of closure. The Proframe’s visor is fixed to one position, which they say is designed for airflow. I didn’t have any issues with the visor being fixed but this could be an issue for others. I think the Proframe helmet really sits right in the middle of the test. While you can pedal in the helmet and do all-day rides, it also feels right at home on heavy shuttle or park days where I would normally grab my full-face helmet. The largest ports on the chin bar also offer great drinking and eating ability, I'll get into a full breakdown on Eatability soon.
In the box: The helmet (duh), and you will also find a plethora of pads to fine-tune your fit. There are three different sized cheek pads. With the three sets of cheek pads you also get two neck roll pads that have quite a large size difference. There is also an extra liner so you can keep the helmet fresh after a season of riding. Last but not least, a drawstring bag is included to keep it all together.
Since there is a ton of information to compare these helmets, I'm going to break it down a little bit. Weight first, then sizing and fit, then comfort and wearability. I think these will cover most topics on what most people look for in a helmet besides the safety and seeing as though all these are equal in that area, let’s focus on the differences.
Weight plays a major part in helmets, or at least I think so. If you have ever ridden with a moto helmet you know what a heavy helmet feels like. While it’s not a huge factor, I think the difference between a few hundred grams does matter, after all, 222 grams is nearly half a pound. The lightest in the test is the IXS Trigger helmet at the claimed weight of 600g, and our test model was actually a few grams under that! Second is the TLD Stage at 690g, third is the Fox Proframe at 750g, and fourth is the 100% Trajecta at 860g. So the total variance between all the helmets is about 260g, that is worth mentioning and talking about. While I wouldn't quite make my choice on weight alone, it’s a factor to consider.
IXS Trigger FF = 600g
TLD Stage = 690g
Fox Proframe = 750g
100% Trajecta = 860g
This is where it gets to be completely opinion-based. Everyone’s head is different and fits some helmets better than others. I’m going to try to keep this as neutral as possible. From a fit perspective, the IXS fits the widest variety of head sizes, because the retention system is a dial fit like a half shell, when all the other helmets are more like your typical DH full-face helmets. So I think the IXS has the fitment range. While it only has two sets of cheek pads that don’t vary that much, it still fits a wide range of heads, so IXS only made two sizes in the Trigger FF.
I think the 100% helmet has the most secure fit, feeling almost like a standard DH full-face, and if that is what you are used to then the 100% is just a lighter option. Also coming with two cheek and neck pads you can dial in the fit from there.
The TLD Stage and Fox Proframe have a more similar feeling fit to them, in that they don’t quite feel like a full-face or a half shell. The overall coverage is there, but the “normal” feeling you get from a full-face is missing. It’s not a bad thing, just different, and again, each has a range of cheek pads and neck rolls to dial in the fit.
IXS Trigger FF: Best fit range with retention dial
100% Trajecta: Most secure feeling fit
Fox Proframe & TLD Stage: Tunable fit with cheek pads
If the section before wasn't opinion based enough for you, I'll give you more of my opinion here. This is highly subjective on what will work for some and what won’t. I think the easy to change cheek pads and neck roll that the Fox Proframe and TLD Stage offer make them some of the most comfortable helmets, especially the feel of the TLD Stage. The shell is light and small, and once you dial in the fit with the cheek pads, you forget it's there. The same with the Fox Proframe, but the shell is a bit bigger. That could also be that I'm on the smaller side of what the Proframe fits, so if you happen to be in the bigger size of the helmet you might not have the same feeling. If I was racing an enduro race, I would pick either the TLD Stage or Fox Proframe. The 100% Trajecta seems to be the best as a DH replacement in my opinion, except it's lighter and breaths better. If I was going to a bike park and might have a slightly pedally day, I would for sure grab the 100% Trajecta. There is something that just feels solid about the helmet and I would feel comfortable on all types of terrain with this lid on. The IXS I think gets the top for all-day wearability, and if I was planning on pedaling a big day but wanted full-face protection, the IXS is a no brainer, no pun intended. It's the lightest, it breathes well, and the fit system lends itself to be comfortable with any type of riding. While the IXS felt snug and secure, it didn’t quite have the bulk or feel of a full-face, more so like a half-shell with a chin guard.
IXS Trigger FF = All-day riding
Fox Proframe/TLD Stage = Pure Enduro Helmet
100% Trajecta = Do it all Fullface helmet, trails to the park
Now, this is a true test of how “Enduro” these helmets really are. You are supposed to climb in these lids all day, you have to eat and drink right? This part of the test is how well can you eat and drink out of these helmets. Most of this will be from above, below or inside the chin-bar, so the size of the chin bar and how large the vents are, is key for this Eatability test.
Starting with the Hostess HoHo test, a solid snack while on the bike and pretty small in size to see if we can actually get this through the chin bar and take a bite while riding. The 100% Trajecta, TLD Stage and Fox Proframe had a large enough opening to pass through a HoHo, while the IXS Trigger did not pass the HoHo test.
Moving onto the Banana test, another solid snack while riding, especially if you are out monkeying around. I'm happy to say that all helmets were able to pass the Banana test, making these Enduro helmets safe for use by all primates.
Last, and certainly the least liked test was the 7/11 burrito test because you never know when you might have to have lunch but no time to stop pedaling so you leave your helmet on. Or mid shuttle runs, helmet on and cold gas station burrito to keep the laps flowing. To start, the 100% Trajecta and IXS Trigger did not have a chance to pass one of these monsters through the chin bar while the TLD Stage helmet barely passed and the Fox Proframe, unfortunately, passed enough to get a large bite and gag/throw it right back up.
In short, all of these helmets have the potential to pass some food through the chin bar while keeping them on your head. Water, Hostess HoHo’s, Bananas and even a nasty 7/11 gas station burrito… You know, because after all these are Enduro helmets and you'v got to stay Enduro all the time.
"With the ever-growing segment of “Enduro” style full-face helmets, the choice will become harder and harder to make. Even just picking between these four helmets to wear for the day is a tough decision. I think all these are great, but they do excel at slightly different styles of riding. The 100% Trajecta is great if you are looking for a do it all full-face helmet that you can ride the lifts and pedal if needed. It's not the lightest, but I found it the most secure feeling. The TLD Stage and Fox Proframe are very similar feeling in my opinion. The fit varies between the two but I would be grabbing these helmets for the same style of riding. Big bike riding, where I'll be pedaling a bit but need all the protection going downhill, maybe something like riding the Cannell Plunge in Kernville with 9k descending with 2k of climbing, the Stage or Proframe would be my choice. The IXS Trigger is the lightest and I think the most comfortable for all-day wear. My local steep trails are about a 45min climb and 8-10min descent with DH worthy terrain, so the IXS would be my go-to choice. It’s light, it’s comfortable, and the dial retention system feels like a half shell. In the end, it's all about options and what works best for your head and riding style." - Liam Woods