ABUS CLIFFHANGER MIPS HELMET REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston | Photos by Dusten Ryen
Since receiving our ABUS CliffHanger and Airdrop helmets for their Tech Check feature, we’ve been logging many miles with them between general trail time and as our official helmet sponsor for the 2023 eMTB Destinations Tour. Now, before you feel our review may be compromised, we inform any brand wishing to sponsor travel, or other features in partnership with us, that we do not guarantee a product review as part of that contract, let alone promise that it will be a favorable review. However, since all three of the riders we’ve put in the ABUS Cliffhanger helmet have had the same impressions, we felt it was worth sharing with our readers who may be looking for a mountain bike helmet that’s different from the usual crowd.
The CliffHanger is the flagship half-shell aggressive mountain bike helmet in the ABUS lineup, offering some extended coverage and premium features over their MoDrop helmet. There are three different versions offered: the $159.99 CliffHanger; $199.99 CliffHanger MIPS (tested) with a MIPS liner to reduce the rotational impact forces on the brain in a crash, and CliffHanger QUIN with pre-fitted QUIN crash detection system.
The CliffHanger MIPS we tested does not come standard with the QUIN system, but it can be added separately to the pre-formed space in the shell designed to house it for $69.99. The QUIN system uses five sensors to collect data during use, and this data is analyzed by the QUIN app on your smartphone, which can detect crash or impact situations. This allows for a contact or the emergency services to be notified if you are unresponsive after a crash and provides live GPS tracking to ensure they can find you. If you’d like to learn more, watch our detailed Tech Check video here.
All three versions of the ABUS CliffHanger share a “Multi-Shell In-Mould” construction, with the outer protective shell and energy absorbing EPS bonded together permanently. Running through the EPS is an ActiCage structural reinforcement system, increasing the rigidity of the helmet without adding considerable weight, which lets the MIPS-equipped CliffHanger tip the scales at 413g (actual) – a very respectable weight for its class. The helmet features ventilation in the form of six intakes and eight outlets, keeping air flowing over the head to reduce temperature build up.
Keeping the EPS safe is a molded lower rim, reducing the chances of damage occurring. There’s an adjustable peak to offer the preference of style and blocking out the sun, with room underneath to stow goggles or glasses. The shell is shaped on the inside and outside with glasses in mind, with the inside having cut-aways to ensure glasses legs don’t foul with the helmet; and channels in the outside of the shell under the peak to allow glasses to slide in for storage when they’re not required.
On the inside of the CliffHanger is the Zoom Ace MTB fit system, giving a 360-degree adjustment to dial in the fit. The rear of the Zoom Ace system has a wide height adjustment range to ensure it sits in the optimum spot on the back of the head. The straps can be tweaked to sit nicely around the ears using the TriVider strap system, and ABUS opted to use a FidLock magnetic buckle to make fastening and removal easy. The ABUS CliffHanger MIPS is offered in a Small to Large size range to fit 51-61cm heads, with 6 colors available to choose from.
ABUS kindly supported our 2023 eMTB Destinations Tour, supplying us with their helmets and bike locks to keep our heads and bikes safe as we toured across some of the best eBike spots on the west side of America. This tour allowed us to put many long days in on the ABUS helmets, leaving us with some firm impressions on the CliffHanger MIPS.
Thankfully both myself and Drew sit very averagely in terms of head shape, and both have a 56-57cm head that allowed us to fit happily inside the medium CliffHanger MIPS. As we discussed in our Tech Check feature on the helmets, the CliffHanger has a slightly more oval shape than some, which can lead to issues with fitment for rounder headed individuals – as always, it’s crucial to try on a helmet to ensure you get a comfortable and safe fit before you hit the trails and rely on it for protection.
The adjustability of the Zoom Ace fit system was much appreciated, letting us get a very “locked in” feeling with the rear cradle sitting in the perfect spot below the occipital bone at the back of our heads. Though adjusting this was easy, it proved to be a little too easy at times. Compared with the “pop-in” style of vertical adjustment, the ABUS cradle didn’t stay in the adjustment position as securely, meaning we occasionally had to readjust the helmet during the ride, and most times it was taken on or off. It doesn’t feel like a safety issue, more a comfort and convenience challenge.
The TriVider straps were a little tricky to use to get a comfortable spot for the straps around our ears, but once that adjustment was made then we were able to forget about the need to adjust, and it offered a welcome range of adjustment to get the straps sitting just right. The peak had a useful range of adjustment, letting us easily stow glasses or goggles below, but didn’t block out the lowest hanging sun, as we found out on a couple of late evenings on the desert trails.
We were both able to obtain a very comfortable and solid fit on the head, ensuring the CliffHanger stayed put through every head bounce and braking bump. The ABUS lid ventilates fairly well for its coverage, thanks to the long channels from front to rear to allow air to pass over the head and vent heat and moisture build up. Though we have not yet tested the QUIN system, the ability to retrofit it to the CliffHanger MIPS is appreciated, and likely something we would do if we frequently rode alone. The finish quality is very high, with all of the details well covered, and the ABUS helmet looks great in our eyes, so if it fits your head then it’s likely a good buy.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Provided the slightly oval shell shape fits comfortably to your dome, the ABUS CliffHanger MIPS is a very solid performing and high-quality helmet that we’d have no trouble recommending. ABUS have done a great job creating a stylish mountain bike helmet that is incredibly comfortable, breathes rather well for the amount of coverage it has and should help keep your noggin secure in the event you hit the deck.