Abus Airbreaker Review | EOY ThrillGear Roundup
The EOY Thrill Roundup reviews standout gear—whether terrible or great—from the past year. Each review includes a "Bias-o-Meter" to gauge any potentially biases I may have toward the product which may or may not influence my objective take on that specific thing in the world. Wow, infotainment!
Helmets. If you don't wear one, you'll die. And next to bibs and shoes, helmet choice is one of the most personal choices an isolated and weird cyclist can make. Does it fit your brainpan? Does it look good? Does it ventilate? Does it apply bizarre, troubling pressure on your stage-coach-tiler brain pan? Helmets are a deeply personal choice and preference, and the wrong helmet won't last long in your arsenal.
Since about 2017, I've gone through *roughly* a helmet a year. The Kask Protone was first—a very good helmet with some fussy issues that my partner now uses. Following that was some bowling-ball-looking Oakley thing (the less said about that the better). After that the Giro Aether—a truly excellent helmet that I shouldn't have let go. In many ways, that helmet marks the new benchmark for what a good, breathable, and comfortable helmet should be. After that, the Sweet Protection Falconer arrived. Kind of different, good looking, but not refined enough to make the cut over the long term. I sold it to a friend for a six pack or so a year after purchasing.
Wanting to replace the aforementioned Falconer, I picked up a Abus Airbreaker this year. I did so for two core reasons.
1) It's a bit different. If you've read my last review of the Bliz Matrix sunglasses, you'll see a theme here. Where possible, I like to "go off the beaten path" of big bike trends, slightly.
2) The colour. My god the colour. The dragonfly-like oil slick colour is flat out gorgeous, and matches my thrillkit well.
So, I picked one up in May of 2021. After about six months of use, how is it?
High Level Details
Price: $360 CAD (at time of purchase)
How Long I Wore It: Purchased in May 2021, worn for every ride since.
Bias-O-Meter: Very Low Possibility of Bias. Purchased with minor discount from local shop.
Overall Rating: 9/10
Straight up, this is a fantastic looking helmet—especially in this colourway. I'm a big fan of "classic" helmet aesthetics (re: many speed holds, high ventilated, etc), so this fits the bill perfectly. I absolutely adore the Flip Flop purple colourway, and had many-a-folk comment on the helmet over the course of the season.
Highlight: I love how compact this helmet looks. It totally avoids "bowling ball helmet" syndrome, and has no weird proportions on the head.
I honestly have no issues whatsoever with the aesthetics of this thing, and am tempted to recommend it solely on that basis. In my opinion, it just looks THAT good.
+ Classic yet Futuristic Look
+ Outstanding Colour Options
+ Looks Compact and Sleek
Fit, Comfort, and Finish
My head is a fairly standard Medium sized human head. Still, with all of my past helmets (with the exception of the Giro Aether), there's been *something* off. The Sweet Protection Falconer sat too low on my head, and the not-very-adjustable head cradle dug into the back of my head. The KASK Protone, while very good overall, had a bulky, weirdly situated strap that always felt a bit restrictive.
As for the Airbreaker? Pretty excellent. The padding is visually minimal, which at first might look like a drawback. But, somehow, they've managed to situate the pads thusly so that it feels close and snug on the head, but totally without pressure points.
The straps are super lightweight and unrestrictive feeling. At first glance they look just a touch cheap, but the benefit here is that they feel soft and light to wear.
The cradle, meanwhile, is excellent. Again, at first glance, it doesn't look especially memorable. Cradle with small dial—that's it. But the adjustability is excellent and, again, less is more in this situation.
It's a snug fitting but never restrictive feeling that doesn't get bogged down in fussy details, and just works. The only issue? I've found it uncomfortable to wear with caps or head gear. That's not a huge dealbreaker for me, as I'm not a big on-the-bike headwear kind of guy. But for whatever reason, the helmet just fits too tight and too high when paired with a cap.
Other notes? The buckle is slightly underwhelming. It's simple, it does it's job, and it doesn't do anything new. But it feels like just another buckle, and while that might reduce fuss and keep weight down, for this price, something slightly special might be nice (re: a magnetic buckle).
+ Perfectly Snug Fit
+ Comfortable, No Pressure Points
+ No-nonsense and Fuss-Free Design
- Doesn't Pair Well with Caps
- Some Low-Rent Feeling Materials
Ventilation and Sweat Management
I hate overheating in a helmet, so will always opt for ventilation over aero. The Airbreaker ventilates brilliantly, and I never felt TOO HOT in this one. Take a look at it, and you'll see why—this thing is *deeply* ventilated, reminding me of the good'ol'days of the Catlike Whisper, when ventilation ruled the roost.
Sweat managent is good, if not excellent. Unlike the Falconer or Oakley helmet, I never had an issue with excessive sweat drips into the eyes or onto my sunglasses. And unlike the Protone, the thin padding strips don't soak up sweat, only to ooze fluids-galore when pressed against the head.
However, the Airbreaker can't quite match the smart sweat management of the Aether. That helmet, somehow, managed to funnel sweat from my brow to the sides of the head, whereas *some* sweat trickled vertically from my brow to my eyeballs with the Airbreaker.
It is still vastly superior to most helmets, but just isn't quite on-level with something like the Aether.
Related note: this helmet stashes glasses simply and nicely. No issues with finding the right zone to stick'em, and my Bliz Matrix sunglasses never moved an inch when climbing, cruising, or descending up to 75km/hr. Nice.
+ Excellent Ventilation
+ Like, Really Good Ventilation!
- Sweat Management and Funnelling Could be Better
Straight up, I love this helmet. It looks great, it's comfortable, it's chilly-cool, and it is unfussy. It's definitely not cheap—$360 for a helmet is expensive, especially for one without MIPs. But given the performance and overall execution, it's hard to find much to fault here. In fact, dare I say it—this helmet is a slight bargain compared to the Giro Aether ($420~ CAD), and competes directly with the KASK Valegro helmet (which also focuses on ventilation, and comes in about $350 CAD). Interestingly, Abus's aero helmet—the Gamechanger—comes in slightly cheaper at $300. I haven't yet reviewed that one, but would be curious to do so—so far, I'm deeply impressed with the simplicity and quality of execution by Abus.
Takeaway? Highly recommended if you can stomach the price.