Fox's new Rampage Pro Carbon full-face reminds us how far helmet technology has progressed since the days of wearing padded leather caps. Hell, it's progressed a ton just in the last few years. We now know more than ever, how important it is to manage head trauma, concussions and other brain injuries. The science of helmet design is being taken more seriously by everyone from athletes and their sponsors, to the brands who develop products and strategies designed to protect the brain.
It's now documented that it takes far less than just a hard hit to cause permanent injury and that there are different forces at play which can contribute to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Presently, brands are working harder than ever to come out with products that minimize damage both from direct impacts as well as rotational forces that the head undergoes when it hits the ground, which (according to much research) contribute more to concussions than a direct impact.
There are a variety of systems now on the market that work to minimize rotational forces. MIPS is the pioneer and the most popular, and while each system works differently, the common goal is to reduce the rotational force from any impact. Fox's "Fluid Inside" system represents one of the newest strategies.Fluid Inside System Fluid Inside
is a Canadian protection brand that Fox has chosen to partner with on their new Rampage Pro Carbon helmet. Fox says that they tried working with a number of different products and they believe that this is the best one for them to use with the Rampage Pro. The basic premise is that that the head is suspended by a number of specially shaped fluid filled pads instead of elastomer cushions or a slippery MIPS skull cap. Fox says it took a lot of testing and many different methods of using the new concept before arriving at the final product.
The fluid inside was tested to not freeze or lose its protective properties in conditions ranging from sub-arctic to flaming hot, according to Fox. They spent time with the helmet going straight from freezers to impact tests and subjected it to a myriad of conditions far worse than anyone would ever ride in to ensure that the helmet would provide protection, no matter what.
Inside the helmet, there are seven different "pods" filled with fluid that help dissipate the energy and rotational movement transmitted to the head in the event of an impact. The pods are designed to both compress and to move on a slip plane to allow for rotation.
Fox's PR video does a good job of animating how some of the technology in the RPC works.Innovative Design Elements
The visor on the helmet is held on with magnets. Fox calls this their Magnetic Visor Release System or, MVRS. The magnets use an ample amount of force to keep the visor right where it is supposed to be but in the event of an impact, it will break away. This further mitigates rotational forces that could be put on the head in a crash.
The shell of the helmet is composite and Fox offers different shell sizes, along with four sizes of EPS liners in order to offer a wide range of fits for riders. Research indicates that a close fit is critical to maximize protection. There is a dual-density EPS foam that is in-molded, meaning the liner and shell will respond as one structure. Dual-density Varizorb foam is shaped to spread out an impact over a wider area of the head and helmet rather than having it all concentrated in one spot.
The face guard of the helmet is molded, has a reinforced internal frame, and is designed to absorb an impact rather than simply shattering. It has a lot of ventilation, but those openings are covered by a molded-in screen to protect the rider from dust and trailside debris. And, last but not least, the liner is made out of X-Static. It's removable and washable so you can keep your helmet clean and it also is antimicrobial to keep the funk down.MSRP:
$499.95 USDInitial Impressions:
While I haven't had a chance ride in the new RPC quite yet, I did check it out with Fox and spoke with their athletes in Rotorua at Crankworx this past week. It's a new product and no doubt, Fox wants to sell all that they can, but it's clear that Fox did their homework on this one, and that building the safest helmet they could was paramount to them. They took their time and utilized a lot of resources in the development of the helmet.
Athletes today are undoubtedly more concerned than ever about being safe on the bike and preventing brain injuries. Everyone should be. The Rampage Pro is evidence that Fox works closely with their athletes to keep them as safe and comfortable as possible and their team is on board to assist in the development process. That says a lot more to me than any marketing video or press release ever could because, at the end of the day, I'd rather have a great helmet and an alright bike than an alright helmet and a great bike.