SH+ Shabli Evo helmet review

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Italian manufacturing company SH+ has been around for nearly 40 years, having set up shop in 1978 to manufacture and assemble helmets and accessories for several other Italian brands. In 2000, SH+ started making its own helmets and eyewear for both the cycling and winter sports markets.

In 2016, SH+’s road cycling helmet range features five lines: the Eolus aero helmet line, and four lines of road helmets — the Sniper, Shake, Shot and Shabli. Within the Shabli range sit four models, the highest-spec of which is the Shabli Evo.

At first glance the Shabli Evo appears to have quite a “busy” design, with more logos and other branding on its surface than I’ve seen in other helmets. But these impressions quickly fade — the black stickers are barely noticeable when viewed at any distance and can always be removed if desired.

The Shabli Evo 26-vent design features a steep drop off to the front of the helmet, giving it more of a rounded, dome-like appearance than some other helmets on the market (Lazer’s range, for example). This rounded profile and its short length give the helmet a compact look, both on the head and off.

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The Shabli Evo has soft, comfortable padding in all the right places and fits snugly to the head when tightened properly. I did have some initial difficulties getting the straps adjusted for proper fit, but after a bit of fiddling I managed to achieve a comfortable fit. Note: SH+ recommends setting up the straps such that the buckle sits to one side of your jaw, rather than directly underneath your chin (see image above).

My only real criticism of the Shabli Evo is the Twin System IV retention system — the mechanism which keeps the helmet firmly attached to the back of one’s head. Putting on the Shabli Evo pushes the Twin System IV up inside the helmet, ensuring it doesn’t sit properly.

To achieve the proper fit, I found myself needing to pull the retention device down from inside the helmet and position it properly at the back of my head. Ultimately this only takes a brief moment and once the Twin System IV is in place, tightening and loosening the helmet is easy.

The bridge between the helmet shell and the retention system is very malleable and can result in the device being pushed up when putting on the helmet.
The bridge between the helmet shell and the retention system is very malleable and can result in the device being pushed up when putting on the helmet.

At 233g (277g with winter cover — see below), the Shabli Evo is within a few grams of the Specialized S-Works Prevail, about 10g heavier than the Giro Aeon and about 20g lighter than the Giant Rev. It feels light to hold and is barely noticeable on the head once properly attached.

As with several helmets in the SH+ range, the Shabli Evo comes with a plastic winter cover which can be attached to the helmet to provide some protection from rain and the cold. There are no instructions that come with the cover and I initially struggled to work out how to attach it. Thanks to a colleague’s help, I soon worked out that the answer lay in the chinstrap anchor points.

The chinstrap anchors come out and can be threaded through the winter cover to secure it in place.
The chinstrap anchors come out and can be threaded through the winter cover to secure it in place.

The anchor points can be popped out of the helmet, through the cover and then tightened to keep the cover in place. There’s no way to affix the cover at the back of the helmet and it doesn’t feel terribly secure in that spot, but the cover does stay in place as planned.

By sitting on top of the helmet the cover does block most of the vents, reducing airflow (note: the vents at the back are still exposed). While I didn’t get a chance to test the helmet in the depths of winter, this design should help to keep warmth close to the rider’s head while keeping the rain away. When riding with the cover on in mild conditions (roughly 20 degrees C) I didn’t notice any additional unwanted warmth or sweating, but I certainly wouldn’t use the cover when the weather is any warmer than that.

The winter cover does change the aesthetics of the helmet considerably. It’s a bit of an unusual look, something of a cross between a regular road helmet and a vent-free aero helmet. While I can appreciate the utility of the cover, I’d probably prefer to wear a cap or other headwear underneath the helmet in miserable conditions.

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In Australia, the Shabli Evo is available through a number of stockists and retails for AU$299. This makes the Evo cheaper than top-end offerings from Poc, Kask, Giro and Lazer (among others), all of which cost beyond AU$300 and even $400 in some cases. Would-be customers in other markets should check with distributors for local pricing.

The SH+ Shabli Evo does everything you’d expect from a top-of-the-line road helmet. It’s light, comfortable, well-ventilated, and comes at what is arguably a reasonable price point for a high-end helmet.

As with any product, the aesthetic appeal of the helmet will be down to personal taste but from a comfort and ease-of-use perspective, the Shabli Evo is an admirable performer.

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