ROAD.CC8 OUT OF 10
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rate the product for quality of construction: 10/10 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.
Rate the product for performance: 9/10 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.
Rate the product for durability: 9/10 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.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable) 5/10 About bang-on for this type of helmet. If you want light weight, don't go aero.
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable) 9/10 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.
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.
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: It's certainly a well-designed helmet with great styling and fit, and not a bad price in this market.
Overall rating: 8/10