Game changer? Maybe. Very good helmet? Definitely. The Abus GameChanger might not be supported by any actual aero figures against its competition, but it delivers sleek styling, a low profile and a comfortable fit with a large range of adjustment.
I'll get my little gripe out of the way first. Naming a product 'GameChanger' is a rather bold statement. Abus must certainly have thought long and hard about the features of this helmet, but it hardly revolutionises helmet design. Giant, Specialized, Bontrager and many others have a similar lid in their line-ups. Anyway, on with the review of the helmet, rather than the name.
The Abus starts off really well. The fit is excellent, with a low profile and very little bulging on the sides of the lid. It looks good straight out of the box. My poorly shaped face doesn't usually sit well with aero helmets, so to have one that looks good makes a very nice change (it's not me in the photos).
While we're on aesthetics, the colour options are also a pleasant surprise, given that quite a few aero helmets come in only a few garish choices. It did help that this blue version matched my Shimano S-Phyre XC shoes and socks! The matt blue finish hasn't marked, even after being rammed into tree branches in my last cyclo-cross race, and the contrasting glossy black recessed sections and black honeycomb vents give this helmet a high quality finish.
The sunglasses port at the back of the helmet is great, too, keeping your shades secure and out of the wind.
Internally, there is minimal padding. Initially, I was a little concerned by this as I thought it would negatively affect the comfort. However, with the fit of the internal shell being so good, I've not wanted for any extra padding. The secondary benefit of reduced padding is the absence of a waterfall of sweat after about 20 minutes. On hard rides, and especially during racing, my shades will often be filled with sweat that's been trapped by thick padding on the forehead. This then releases into my eyes, just as I'm about to enter a technical corner. The Abus seems to direct that flow down the sides of my head. Yes, this means that I get a very sweaty chin strap, but I'd rather it was there than in my eyes.
Not that I've had the usual river of sweat in my eyes during my cross races. And it might just be a feeling, but my head appears to be cooler when riding to work in this than my trusty Lazer Z1.
That leads me neatly into airflow. The only figures Abus gives us is that the GameChanger 'offers 23% less frontal surface area' than its vented helmet. There's a large hole at the forehead with fins directing air over the top of your skull. Air that has passed over the top is directed into two smaller holes on the top, with a massive vent at the back. There's also a channel at the sides for extra cooling.
As it's an aero helmet, I would like some figures to show how it performs against its competitors; 23% less frontal surface area is all well and good, but that's over Abus's own vented helmet. Abus really needs to get this in a wind tunnel and compare it to its rivals.
Getting a good fit with this helmet is very easy. The 'Zoom Ace' retention system works very well, providing ample adjustment options. It's also 'pony-tail friendly' apparently, though I don't have the flowing locks to test such a feature.
The straps are a fixed design with the only adjustment being at the chin. I haven't found this to be a problem – the straps sit comfortably against the skin and I can't feel them flapping – but I dare say some might find it an issue.
My favourite feature is the 'Eyewear Dock'. This is a great solution to stowing sunnies when not in use. It keeps the arms away from your head, thus avoiding discomfort, but also keeps the glasses out of the wind, protecting your marginal gains.
Weight-wise, this medium comes in at 272g which is just 2g over the claimed weight. For weight weenies, that's 10g lighter than the Specialized Evade.
As for value, the Abus isn't cheap but it's very competitive. The Kask Protone, for example, is £40 more, though the Specialized Evade is slightly cheaper at £175. Both of these option are currently heavily reduced online, while a quick search finds a good stock of the GameChanger, but only at full RRP.
Is it worth the cash? Well, if you care about free watts, then it's a good option. However, its competitors are currently cheaper and there are no figures to say that the GameChanger is faster than any of them. However, finding a helmet that works well, looks good and feels comfortable is a tricky task, and so for me, the GameChanger wins my money.
Cool, stylish and comfortable, Abus has a strong contender in the aero lid game
road.cc test report
Make and model: Abus GameChanger Road Aero Helmet
Size tested: 52-58cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Mainstream and average? That's just not you! The new ABUS GameChanger is the ultimate aerodynamic helmet for performance road cycling – developed in cooperation with Movistar Team."
Well I'm probably mainstream and certainly average. But hey. Abus is aiming this at fast riding and I'd agree, that's where this helmet fits best.
"The unique flow patterns of the ABUS GameChanger were developed by engineers, designers and athletes: A joint initiative against the cyclist's natural enemy – the headwind."
Abus, if you're going to say these things, you need to back them up with the data from the engineers. Although, I do agree, the enemy is a headwind.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Abus lists the following:
The AirPort located in the back of the GameChanger offers two decisive benefits: Your glasses can be quickly and safely stowed in the specially formed dock and they are then fully integrated into the helmet design, offering a valuable aerodynamic advantage.
Zoom Ace is the fine adjustment system with a handy wheel providing an individually customized fit.
FlowStraps – for ultimate comfort. The fixed webbing arrangement is an ode to adjustability – customization is no longer necessary. Thanks to these specially designed straps, flutter and wind chatter is a thing of the past. The FlowStraps are aerodynamic, flutter-free and skin-friendly – a ABUS innovation (pat. pend.).
Forced Air Cooling Technology
The perfect temperature management of the head is only possible when all vents are effectively interconnected. The elaborate Forced Air Cooling Technology channels the incoming air around the head and provides the perfect climate.
Multi Position Design
The innovative Multi Position Design features a significantly reduced surface area exposed to the wind in all conditions. Optimized aerodynamics, regardless of head tilt and inflow angle. It offers 23% less frontal surface area than our current top helmet.
I like the minimalist, yet highly effective, retention system. It keeps weight down, but does its primary job of keeping the lid on very well.
I've seen other reviews complaining about overheating, but I just haven't had any issues. Sure, it's not the helmet I'd choose for climbing Alpine cols in high summer, but for racing and fast rides in the UK, it's fine.
This has been loose in the boot of my car and clouted into tree branches. I can't see any significant damage occurring during regular use.
About bang-on for this type of helmet. If you want light weight, don't go aero.
The only reason this doesn't get a 10 here is because the lack of adjustment under the ears might be an issue for some riders.
It's more expensive than some of its rivals. Those rivals also seem to be heavily discounted online. I'd be happy to pay extra to have this well fitting option, but that's rather personal.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. I could feel the channelled air over my head. I didn't get the sweaty head feeling, even when racing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit is brilliant. And the looks. It's a helmet that I actually like wearing, instead of wearing just for an aero gain.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's no supporting data, which, for an aerodynamic product is poor.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The lack of aero data is frustrating, but it's certainly a well-designed helmet with great styling and fit, and not a bad price in this market.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.