Almost a decade has passed since the emergence of the first dedicated aero road helmets and they have rightfully become a performance staple in bike racing at all levels. One of the breakout stars in the aero road helmet category is the ABUS GameChanger – as worn by the likes of Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin Fenix, Emma Norsgaard, up-and-coming American talent Matteo Jorgenson and former SoCalCycling.com Team member Abner Gonzalez, all of Team Movistar. It’s not just the riders that make this helmet look cool. The GameChanger stands out with thoughtful design details and a low-profile aesthetic that looks just as fast as it is. Let’s dig in to find out what makes this helmet a winner.
After a full season of training and racing with the GameChanger, the most impactful feature for me is the well-executed internal padding and retention system. The ratchet retention cradle is simple and sturdy. I like that you can slide the cradle up and down without having to take the helmet off. This is especially useful for someone who has long hair. It’s nice to be able to adjust it on the fly according to hairstyle, glasses and position on the bike. There’s no fancy rotational impact liner with rubber pieces to get caught on your hair and pull it out, unlike some other brands I’ve used.
The padding is also well-considered. It integrates nicely with the retention system and provides a good amount of coverage. It’s fairly thin but I found it to be more durable than the padding in previous helmets I’ve owned. The biggest “game-changer” for me is the sweat-wicking capabilities. I tend to sweat a lot and previous helmets I’ve had would incessantly soak up and drip sweat onto the lenses of my glasses. With the ABUS GameChanger, there’s something about the padding and the interface with my forehead that allows for sweat to wick back and off to the sides. With the GameChanger, the padding isn’t soaking wet and my glasses are noticeably cleaner after hot and sweaty rides. This might sound funny but the sweat-wicking functionality actually improved my ride enjoyment and that’s a big win for me.
While my glasses are cleaner, I still get the same salt stains on the straps of the GameChanger. The good news is that they’re easy to clean as they’ve been thoughtfully designed in a way that eliminates unnecessary plastic pieces that get in the way of washing the salt out. Even with this minimal approach the straps still provide a snug and comfortable fit. Of course, fit is a personal thing that can vary from person to person. I find that the helmet fit is a bit more oval-shaped than some other helmet brands but even though I have more of a round shape head the helmet still fits great.
Fit is important but so are looks, and it’s not just Van der Poel making the ABUS GameChanger look good. It has a compact and low profile shape without excess bulk that looks good on everyone I’ve seen wear it, regardless of head shape. There is a curved parting channel that gives the helmet a sleek and dynamic aesthetic while incorporating the helmet’s main front-facing ventilation openings. On the top of the helmet are two small air inlet channels that provide some visual breakup from the relatively smooth and simple surface area. The rear vent is reminiscent to some kind of Formula 1 exhaust and looks great from behind, especially in a contrasting color. The front of the helmet features a docking port to hold your sunglasses on a climb or at the cafe. From my experience, they tend to work quite well at retaining a variety of different shaped glasses. Just be careful when looking down or back as I’ve seen riders drop glasses like this before. The docking ports are surrounded by a honeycomb mesh pattern for some visual detail and added ventilation.
As a dedicated aero helmet, the ABUS GameChanger’s primary goal is not heat management but I still find the cooling capabilities to work quite well as long as you’re moving at speed. However, when on steep climbs in direct sunlight it does seem to trend warmer than the fully vented helmets I’ve used. I think most people tend to expect this and wouldn’t be surprised to hear it.
The ABUS GameChanger is an aero road helmet dedicated for speed as has been proven by some of the world’s best bike racers. The helmet definitely has a cool factor boasted by these riders but also by a unique visual aesthetic that minimizes excess bulk and maximizes functionality through thoughtful design details.
Could this be the next addition to your personal helmet lineup? If so, let us know in the comments below.
- Multi Position Design: For optimal aerodynamics regardless of head tilt
- Forced Air Cooling Technology: Sophisticated ventilation system for an optimal head climate
- FlowStraps: Aerodynamic, flutter-free and skin-friendly thanks to specially developed strap profile
- Zoom Ace: Finely adjustable adjustment system with handy adjustment wheel for customisable fit
- AirPort: Aerodynamic glasses holder with strap guide
- Multi Shell In Mold: For safe shock absorption
- Ponytail compatibility: Helmet well suited to plait wearers
- Weight – 270 Grams
For more information on the ABUS GameChanger please visit ABUS.com.
Review by Rex Roberts, SoCalCycling.com Team