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Abus Gamechanger helmet review

19 Nov 2019
Verdict:

An aero lid that performs and even looks good on. However, some head shapes may struggle with sizing.

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Looks good • Well-ventilated • Fits sunglasses
Against 
You may struggle with the helmet’s shape • Doesn’t use MIPS

The Abus Gamechanger is very rare - it’s an aero road helmet that actually looks good on your head. So often when testing or using aero helmets, I cannot help but compare myself to famously large, mushroom-like heads. The Mekon from Dan Dare, Mario’s mate Toad, you get the idea. It doesn’t help that my head size is in the top 5% in the world, but the bulbous style of many aero helmets does me no favours.

Yet when I put on the Abus Gamechanger, I couldn’t help but think I didn’t look half bad. I am fully expecting to be told otherwise below the line of this review, but I cannot help but be fully impressed by how sleek and neat the Gamechanger looks.

It’s close to the head, fails to protrude out the back or front too much and hasn’t made a hatchet job of integrating suitable ventilation either. If I’m honest, I’m not surprised. The complete Abus road helmet range, as worn by Movistar in the pro peloton, are among the neatest looking set of road helmets on the market.

And what’s even more impressive is that this German helmet brand has produced substance as well as style.

Performance

To comment on aero performance is pretty hard. While Cyclist is located in a Central London office, it is yet to fork out on the necessary purchase of a wind tunnel meaning that I haven't been able to test the Gamechanger for watts gained/lost when dealing with airflow.

It certainly looks the part with a claimed 23% less frontal surface area getting in the way, sleek yet minimal airflow vents, large parts of smooth plastic bending towards a slight teardrop towards the rear. It also feels pretty fast but that’s likely to be all in the mind, which in itself is a good thing, I guess.

Also, which is quite rare for a cut-and-dry aero helmet, the Abus Gamechanger keeps your head cool.

Buy now from Halfords for £129

The first time I used this helmet was in Tuscany. It was warm, there was little wind and too much chianti the night before had brought on a bit of a blinder behind the eyes. Thankfully, the Forced Air Cooling Technology and large air channels used in the Gamechanger forced plenty of cool air between the helmet and helped soothe my sore head.

These same vents keeping you cool also double up as nifty storage space for your sunglasses, something that wasn’t possible on Abus’s older Aventor helmet.

Fit

Being designed primarily for aerodynamics, Abus has opted for that tried and tested long and slim profile that we know is best at cutting through the air efficiently and, unfortunately for me and all those with particularly round heads, is a shape that is not quite compatible.

While the front and the back of the helmet felt fine, I found the side of the lid a little too narrow, pinching regardless of how loose I set the retention system.

I realise this isn’t so much an issue for Abus, rather my head not being conducive to aerodynamic helmet shapes (it’s an issue I’ve experienced with rival aero helmets too), but it is worth noting if you have a head that is circular rather than long.

A shame for me personally because the rest of the helmet is plenty comfy. There’s minimal padding within the helmet but it doesn’t dig down on your head like other helmets can do and the rear ‘Zoom Ace’ retention dial can be shifted into multiple positions for a bespoke secure and comfortable fit suited to your head shape. This same system is ponytail friendly, too. 

Safety

One other thing that may plant a seed of doubt in your head when considering the Gamechanger is the lack of MIPS technology.

Currently, Abus does not offer the yellow, webbed, rotating safety system in any of its road helmets, instead promising to offer safety through its own Multi Shell in Mould construction.

This may not bother you as the jury is still firmly out on the effectiveness of MIPS (even I remain sceptical about how much more safe it keeps a rider’s head), but it is worth noting that this German brand is not buying into MIPS's claims just yet.

Price and colours

The recommended retail price for the Abus Gamechanger is £189. I can hear the wincing from you already. That sounds steep, I agree, but it’s actually a pretty standard price for an aero road helmet these days.

Plus, most places are currently retailing the Gamechanger closer to the £120 mark and have been for a while making this currently £55 cheaper than a Kask Utopia, £20 less than a Specialized S-Works Evade II and £99 cheaper than the Giro Vanquish. Sure, the Giro Vanquish also has a detachable visor and MIPs, but £100 is a huge difference.

Realistically, spending between £120 and £190 on something that could potentially save your life isn’t that much of an ask especially if you compare it to the price market of carbon road shoes these days.

Buy now from Halfords for £129

The Gamechanger also comes in a raft of colourways, all pretty corporate, sensible and muted allowing it to match most kit in your wardrobe. The option Cyclist tested was produced as a limited edition for L’Eroica and is a charming terracotta red and orange and will not be on sale in the UK, unfortunately.

But, that’s ok, because for 2020 there will be a really lovely dark green fade available which caught my eye at a recent trip to Abus’s manufacturing facilities in Italy.

Conclusion

I like the Abus Gamechanger because it was finally an aero road helmet that I thought didn’t look half bad on me. For the first time, I could be ‘fast’ without the compromise of looking like Peter Beardsley circa Mexico ‘86.

It also did the job at keeping me cool, storing my sunglasses, and not irritating my chin, all the things I ask for in a helmet. It’s just my almost perfectly spherical head and that faint yet constant pinch to my temple makes me incompatible with the Gamechanger. Gutted.

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Price: 
£129

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