A full four years on from the Montrailer, ABUS has shaken up its mountain bike helmet range, bringing along some of the brand’s road helmet success to the party. And its efforts haven’t been in vain thanks to excellent airflow, great comfort and a sleek silhouette. The ABUS Cliffhanger appears to tick all the right boxes and is a worthy consideration to anyone looking at finding one of the best mountain bike helmets. That said, it’s not without a couple of fit issues.
ABUS Cliffhanger MIPS - Technical details
The Moventor was met with mixed criticism, mostly due to its hefty weight and some size issues but with the ABUS Cliffhanger is poised to set the record straight. The Cliffhanger is a half shell hat that’s designed to perform through the most demanding trails thanks to an impressive feature list and some very well considered design cues.
This helmet uses Multi-Shell In-Mould construction, which achieves a permanent bond between the shell and the EPS material, and ABUS has kitted it with the Zoom Ace MTB adjustment system, which adjusts for height as well as circumference. On the subject of adjustability, the Cliffhanger comes with the non-slip TriVider strap system, enabling the user to tailor the straps’ fit.
Upping the helmet’s durability is a moulded lower shell to reduce the amount of bare EPS exposed but what’s really cool is ABUS’s clear commitment to safety within the Cliffhanger. Not only does it come with Mips but built into the lid with the task of reinforcing the EPS is ActiCage that’s said to optimize stability.
It’s also QUIN ready. QUIN is ABUS’s crash detection system, which is similar to that of ANGI (found on Specialized helmets). It detects crashes but can also offer a location via GPS and alerts any emergency contacts to your spill. It doesn't come preinstalled, however, and is a £60 extra should you want it. Although, it’s great to have the compatibility from the off, allowing for the investment further down the line if required.
Elsewhere, there’s a three-position height adjustable visor that allows plenty of space for goggles, a Fidlock buckle, ponytail compatibility and a total of 14 pretty sizeable vents. The Cliffhanger weighs 356g (against ABUS’s claimed 410g) which isn’t too shabby at all, especially considering the reinforcement built in.
ABUS Cliffhanger MIPS – Performance
I was invited to the lovely Forest of Dean for the launch of the Cliffhanger which posed as a great opportunity to try of a couple of sizes. After fiddling with both the medium and large, I settled on the medium, which offers a fit for head circumferences from 54-58cm, of which my magnificent dome tops out. Although the roundness of my head measures 58cm, there was still some adjustment in the Zoom Ace MTB fit system, which cinched down for a perfectly secure fit. Speaking of the fit system, it’s great to see that ABUS has put some clear effort into its vertical adjustment. It’s easy to move and in tandem with the circumference adjustment, it makes for an incredibly confident fit.
I did find that my head was on the limits of the Cliffhanger’s width, however, as it was noticeably tight to my temples. This could be down to a couple of things or a combination of the two; my head may not be as oval as I thought or Mips was taking up a bit of valuable space. Either way, any initial discomfort caused by this narrowness was quickly forgotten about and I’ve been perfectly happy riding big days with this size Cliffhanger with little issue in the regard. I could have very easily gone for a large, but it felt a touch too big for comfort.
That aside, the airflow that the Cliffhanger’s gaping vents encourage is nothing short of impressive. The three vents at the brow of the helmet engulf masses of air, which is then guided effectively over the head thanks to three equally large channels cut into the EPS, then exhausted out the rear. Vents elsewhere around the lid also do an amicable job of cooling the head. For a helmet with such heavy hitting intentions, I have absolutely no complaints about its ability to keep cool.
The coverage that the Cliffhanger offers is spot on, too. The rear portion stretches down behind the ear and the temples are well protected. These little temple drops are cut away internally too, to make enough room for even the widest of riding spectacles.
While bendy and conforming, I found that the TriVider strap dividers were very tricky to adjust. Unfortunately, one of the chinstraps weren’t in an ideal spot (which can be forgiven) and it interfered with my ear and would become a bit irritating every once in a while. Sadly, the strap divider is mega fiddly so I struggled to find the best strap placement. Replacing these dividers with something similar to what’s found on Troy Lee Designs helmets would be a huge improvement.
As a whole package, however, the Cliffhanger is a very solid helmet. It's lightweight and airflow combined with good comfort make for a lid that’ll please a lot of riders whether you’re riding trail or through some more demanding tracks thanks to the safety features it offers, and can accommodate.
ABUS Cliffhanger – Verdict
With a pricetag of £180, the Cliffhanger is reaching the mid-premium end of the scale with excellent helmets such as the Troy Lee Designs A3 which is now £220. The A3 is a clear favourite for its excellent comfort alone but its airflow doesn’t quite match that of the ABUS Cliffhanger. It’s not as light either, and it can’t accommodate goggles under its visor. Quality-wise though, these two helmets are neck and neck.
The £100-£200 price point is a seriously competitive area band the £190 Lazer Jackal makes it even harder to make a decision here. Its fit is better but it lacks the airflow and the lightweight of the Cliffhanger. So the ABUS Cliffhanger carries quite the bang for buck.