Specialized Ambush helmet review

Great ventilation, but a steep price tag

Helmets
The Specialized Ambush is a full coverage helmet designed for all mountain use. In addition to impressive coverage, it also manages to deliver best in class ventilation.

The Specialized Ambush is a full coverage helmet designed for all mountain use. In addition to impressive coverage, it also manages to deliver great ventilation.

Lowdown: Specialized Ambush Helmet

The Specialized Ambush is the most well ventilated full coverage helmet I’ve ever tested. It’s an incredibly well thought out piece of protection that features an innovative retention system, as well as convenient eyewear storage solutions. The only thing it’s missing is advanced safety tech (think MIPS) to help reduce the risk of rotational or sub-concussive injuries. Read on to learn more.

Stat Box
Vents: 20 Price: $180
Size tested: Small Weight: 300g
Sizes: S, M, L Rating: 4 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4 out of 5

Pluses
Minuses
  • Great ventilation
  • Expensive
  • Goggle Storage
  • No MIPS option
  • Novel retention system
  • Straps can get twisted

Review: Specialized Ambush Helmet

The Ambush is a full coverage helmet from Specialized designed for all mountain use. It features 20 massive vents for sucking in air that are possible due to a Kevlar-like inner structure.

This material, which Specialized calls Aramid, acts like an inner skeleton that helps reinforce the air ducts. It also allows Specialized to get away with using lower density foam in critical areas.

The Ambush offers ample room for goggle or sunglass storage.

The Ambush offers ample room for goggle or sunglasses storage.

The large vents lend a unique profile to the Ambush, which is further heightened by the visor shape. This visor is attached via two screws and rides on a ratcheting slide in the center.

When slid all the way up, there’s clearance for even the largest goggles. There are also conveniently located vents to slip your sunglasses into for storage.

For whatever reason, the helmet clips on our review sample frequently tangled.

The helmet clips on our review sample frequently tangled.

The straps attach directly to the exterior of the helmet. This arrangement is similar to what you’d find on most skate style lids and is becoming increasingly popular in the MTB trail segment.

There are probably some safety advantages to this method, but we like it because you don’t have to untangle the straps before every ride. However, we still had some minor issues with strap tangling as pictured above.

The helmet has a quick drying liner.

The helmet has a quick drying liner.

Most retention systems only tighten at the back. The retention system on the Ambush wraps around your head using a Boa style arrangement. As the dial is tightened, it exerts equal pressure around your noggin, which eliminates possible pressure points.

Continue to page 2 for more on the Specialized Ambush trail helmet »


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  • R. Wilson says:

    I like the look of the Ambush. One problem though; It doesn’t look as though the vents would accommodate a typical strap mount for a helmet lamp. Since I ride a lot at night I wouldn’t even consider a helmet that I can’t use my lights with. Going forward I’d like more manufacturers of bike helmets to offer helmets that can accommodate a Gopro type mounting system. Since Gopro now offers “slide-in” quick release type mounts I think it would be super cool to see a helmet with a built in “Gopro slide buckle/clip for people who are using this type of mount ( which, may I add is becoming more the GO TO set up for helmet lamps. ) The Gopro buckle clips are very low profile and take up little space. Of course if used it would have to be replaceable in case any of the plastic on the clip broke during a crash.

  • Ben Bernanke says:

    Firstly, MIPS is a marketing scheme. There is no evidence that shows that MIPS helmets are in any way safer than dropping straight down onto the crown. This, isn’t even what MIPS is designed to do.

    The Ambush DOES have “advanced safety tech”, just not MIPS specifically. MTBR never fails to use it’s reviews to push an agenda.

    R Wilson, the Ambush also can easily mount lights. The helmet has two recesses on the inside of the helmet that allow most, if not all light straps to be mounted. These recesses also allow said straps to fit inside the helmet without compromising fit. Then again, your comment seems more about speculating, and suggesting something to fit your specific desires.

  • Dave Metcalf says:

    I took a real bad fall, hit the back of my head , broke my ambush helmet and 4 ribs my supraspinatus tendon in my arm was torn and will need surgery on my shoulder but my head was fine spent 2 days in the hospital but I was sure glad I spent the extra money on that helmet . I probably would have died without it !!! I AND MY FAMILY THANK YOU FOR MAKING SUCH A FINE HELMET I REALY FELT IT SAVED MY LIFE .

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