Abus’ latest collaboration with the Movistar Team has resulted in the development of this new lightweight and airy lid designed for riding in the hot conditions that the major summer tours usually deliver.
According to Abus, the Airbreaker was developed almost from the inside out. The Italian-made helmet uses special tooling, with a unique ‘slider’ construction that only a few premium helmet manufacturers have access to.
As the material is introduced into the mould, the internal shape is slid into position (almost the reverse of traditional EPS foam manufacturing). Having the external shape as the constant, and manipulating the internal shape, reduces the amount of material needed and increases channel depth.
And the Airbreaker has some seriously deep channelling – 28.3mm – and benefits from a huge reduction in overall mass. My test helmet (L) weighs just 228.9g (Abus claims sub-200g for the Small), while still meeting international standards.
Lightness in helmets is a weird thing though: the difference between this super-light pro-level lid and a mid-level such as Giro’s Foray (265g) is about the weight of a tennis ball, which is pretty much moot.
At the rear, the exhaust ports are very generously proportionedWarren Rossiter/Immediate Media
Abus tells us that the Airbreaker is based on tech learned from its aero-special GameChanger, and while there are similarities in the exhaust ports on the rear of the helmets, the main similarity I can see is the volume.
The GameChanger looks positively minimal compared to some of the more mushroom-like aero lids (that smaller frontal area has a big effect on overall aero gains) and the Airbreaker has the same minimal profile.
A lightweight helmet should make up for the difference in performance with the comfort afforded by the improved airflow, and the Airbreaker is an absolute master at that.
Those large channels funnel a serious amount of air across the top of your head, cooling as well as any helmet I’ve tried.
The Airbreaker’s pads sit on a semi-rigid skeleton anchored in place by this flat head screwWarren Rossiter/Immediate Media
It’s not just the clever construction and deep channels either, it’s also the padding. Unlike most helmets, which rely on separate pads and plenty of Velcro, the Airbreaker’s pads are mounted on a semi-rigid skeleton that’s held in place by a combination of a central flat-head screw (plastic) at the crown and co-opting the rear cradle (three position) mounts at the temples.
This has the added advantage of keeping the pads a few millimetres from the inner surface of the helmet – again adding plenty of space for air to flow.
The largely vented surface (28 vents) has a meshed section (Multi-Speed Grid) running from the crown backwards. Abus claims this mesh helps guide cooling air across the top of your head and onto the back of your crown, where it says most heat builds up.
From the crown of the helmet backwards is a mesh section that Abus calls the Multi-Speed grid, which offers both cooling and aero advantagesWarren Rossiter/Immediate Media
Abus also claims this mesh delivers an aerodynamic advantage over a standard open vent. Finally, when the pros (or anyone riding in seriously hot conditions) pours a bottle of water over their heads, the mesh helps retain the liquid for longer, assisting with cooling.
I haven’t had chance to try this out on my wet, cold rides around Wiltshire in February and March, but I can confirm that the airflow through the lid is impressive. The low weight combined with the airflow had me reaching for my head on several occasions to check I’d remembered to put a helmet on.
Abus Airbreaker helmet adjustment and fit
The soft-touch pads are anchored by stainless rods, which allow you to remove the straps to clean them properlyWarren Rossiter/Immediate Media
At the rear, the cradle offers plenty of vertical adjustment (32mm) and the slimline micro-adjusting cradle is also borrowed from the GameChanger. The fit is spot on and Abus has done plenty of work improving the contact points.
The straps are now made from a lighter, softer material and ribbing on the leading edge makes it easier to put on and take off your glasses without interfering with the straps.
There are glass ports front and rear for when you’re not wearing your shades, and both keep things pretty secure. I also like the fact that the straps are held in place with stainless spars, which can be popped out so you can remove the straps and wash them properly.
At just 228.9g for my large test sample, the Airbreaker is a very light lidWarren Rossiter/Immediate Media
After several years making a range of decent budget lids, it seems Abus is quickly learning what it takes to make a premium helmet that can compete with the likes of Giro, Bell, Kask and Specialized to name a few. The one chink in Abus’ armour is the lack of a MIPS option in the range, or a MIPS-like anti-roll system.
Overall, I’m seriously impressed with the Airbreaker. It oozes quality in both construction and design, and the fit is superb, as is the adjustment. The advantage of MIPS is debatable – and often contentious – but if there’s even the slightest chance of a beneficial effect I’d rather have it than not, though.
And besides, the clever set-away from the helmet body pads appears made for an anti-roll safety system.