Specialized Ambush Helmet - Review

May 12, 2015
by Mike Kazimer  
Specialized Ambush helmet review

The Ambush is Specialized's latest addition to the all-mountain / enduro helmet category, a lid that features the most coverage the company has ever offered in a half shell helmet, extending further down the back and sides of a rider's head than any of its predecessors. Underneath the helmet's in-mould shell is an aramid-reinforced EPS liner that uses a higher density foam on the sides of the helmet, and a lower density foam located on the top for maximum energy absorption.

Extra coverage may have been the overarching goal for the Ambush, but Specialized didn't forget about ventilation, and there are 20 vents along with internal channeling that's designed to keep air flowing in and out of the helmet. The ratcheting dial for the Mindset 360 adjustable retention system is cleverly integrated into the shell of the helmet, part of the reason the helmet is able to extend so low in the back. Pairing goggles with a half shell helmet is a common occurrence these days, which is why the Ambush's visor has such a wide range of motion. There are no screws to loosen or dials to turn to adjust its height; instead, it pivots on a serrated track, giving it fifteen available positions. The shape around the ears and forehead has also been designed to allow sunglasses to be worn without the shell getting in the way. Weight (actual, size M): 325 grams. Colors: black, moto orange, hyper green, white, gloss white. Sizes: S, M, L. CPSC / SNELL certified. MSRP: $180.00 USD.


Specialized Ambush helmet review
The chin straps are designed to sit flat against the side of a rider's face.
Specialized Ambush helmet review
A serrated track gives the visor a wide range of motion.

Specialized Ambush helmet review
The Ambush offers extra protection at the side and back of the head compared to a typical XC helmet.
Specialized Ambush helmet review
The Mindset 360 retention system has the dial built into the helmet's shell.


Pinkbike’s Take:
bigquotesFor as substantial as the Ambush appears, it has the flyweight, barely-there feel that's the holy grail when it comes to fit, enveloping the head with the amount of comfort you'd expect from a well worn ball cap, not a plastic and foam mountain bike helmet. One of the most impressive aspects of the fit is how securely the helmet stays in place, without the shifting from side to side that can occur with some of the heavier extended coverage options out there. No matter how rough the trail the Ambush stayed put, and there wasn't any need to overtighten the retention system to achieve this level of security. The Mindset 360 retention system proved to be simple and effective - it's easy to access and used one handed, and there are enough detents that dialing in the perfect fit is effortless.

Ending a ride with eyeballs filled with mud is one of my pet peeves, which is why I regularly commit the fashion faux pas of riding with goggles and a half shell. The Ambush provides plenty of room for goggles to be worn without causing the helmet to tip towards the back of the head, and the visor tips up far enough to accommodate them when they're not in use. Sunglasses didn't pose any problems either - even ones with larger frames didn't come in contact with the shell of the helmet. Regarding ventilation, the Ambush doesn't suffer from the lack of effective airflow that's the Achilles' heel of many all-mountain helmets, and even on hot and humid climbs up shade-free logging roads I never felt like I was overheating.

Riders whose checklists of must-haves for a new lid include 'helmet cam mount' or 'MIPS liner' won't be able to tick those boxes, but other than those two items, the Ambush possesses all of the features that you'd expect from a high end mountain bike helmet. Specialized have combined an excellent fit, light weight, and extended rear and side coverage into an attractive package that's one of the best options currently on the market. The price is a touch higher than some of its contemporaries, but the Ambush backs this up with stellar performance out on the trail. - Mike Kazimer




Visit the high-res gallery for more images from this review.



www.specialized.com, @Specialized


68 Comments

  • + 30
 but you can get a giro feature with MIPS for half the price....
  • - 11
flag SlodownU (May 12, 2015 at 6:29) (Below Threshold)
 Why would anyone buy this helmet when you can get a Bell or Gyro with more features for less, and that doesn't make you look like a giant walking dick with ears?
  • + 8
 Way too expensive without mips.
  • + 4
 Its due to the Snell Rating is expensive for a company to pay for the testing. In all honestly not sure why they payed for the snell rating.
  • + 3
 ignore my early morning spelling and grammar.
  • + 18
 MIPS.... what a joke. You have hair and skin that moves. MIPS is a scam! I know.... Go ahead... vote me down if you just spent $ on it.
  • + 16
 Didn't read the comments, but I can guess more than a few fall into one of two categories. Maybe both:

1. Outrage about the price.

2. Unsubstantiated, anti-Specialized hate.

How did I do?
  • + 6
 So far you're correct about the price, but I don't see too much Specialized hate. I think if it had MIPS (magical imaginable probable something) the price would be fine.
  • + 19
 Specially designed A1?
  • + 14
 Tried this on at the shop today. Holy crap it's light. Seems to cover a tiny bit more than my super but the dial fit is definitely better
  • - 2
 The super hardly covers at all, not a great comparison.
  • + 4
 but both same intended use
  • + 15
 That price really ambushed me...
  • + 5
 Looks like Specialized is trying to launch a surprise attack the on the helmet market
  • + 7
 Bell super is like 60 bones from jenson. That's where it's at.
  • - 4
flag VTwintips (May 11, 2015 at 21:43) (Below Threshold)
 I've gotta respect Spesh for ensuring that I get protection when I reach into my wallet before I get fucked.
  • + 8
 @topherdagopher yeah but the Super makes you look like the Great Gazoo and doesn't breathe well at all!
  • + 12
 @chezotron What if we want to look like sweaty headed gazoos
  • + 2
 Then more power to ya @RickTheHuman but I just felt it to be a huge heavy helmet. Specialized does make good helmets even if I won't buy a single Specialized product. Had em in the past and loved em. I'm just trying to find a good all around helmet that actually ventilates well. My Giro Feature does NOT.
  • + 3
 Ambush is only 35 grams lighter than the Super 2. Is 35 grams really the difference between a "heavy" and a "light" helmet? Admittedly the Super was my least favorite for looks, but now that I've got one it's growing on me a bit. My opinion is the Ambush doesn't look any better. Fortunately it's pretty easy to avoid seeing my reflection when I'm riding my bike...
  • + 6
 @ecologist - The medium Super 2 weighs 400 grams, which is 75 grams more than the Ambush. Still not a massive weight difference in the grand scheme of things, but enough to be noticeable when you try both of them on.
  • + 2
 Gotcha...I was going from Bell's website which of course must quote the weight of size small (360g).
  • + 1
 The Bell Super is like wearing a piping hot turd on your head. I bought one, wore it once in 75 degree weather and sold it on craiglist. It fit my head very well but is noticeably heavy and is one of the worst breathing helmets I've owned. I bought an equally massive helmet (POC trabec race) and the difference is night and day.
  • + 1
 well, fortunately for me I live in a cold place. yes, it snowed today. seriously.
  • + 6
 What have they got inside for the headliner I don't see any pics of the inside. I'm definitely in the market for a new lid that offers more protection, I was leaning towards something with MIPS but fit is #1 on my list. I've owned a couple of Special Ed's helmets already because of their great fit.
  • + 3
 you might want to go to your local specialized dealer to try it on. I wanted this helmet but the medium was way too small and the large is massive but I do have the same problem with the TLD A1 helmet so its probably just my deformed head...
  • + 16
 @HackSawyer, here's a photo of the inside of the helmet: www.pinkbike.com/photo/12222463.
  • + 7
 i just like to put a trojan magnum on my head and inflate it with my shock pump. doesn't ventilate very well, but i look like a big sweaty gazoo...
  • + 6
 I have this and the A1. I loved the A1 until I tried the Ambush. The TLD shall reside on the shelf and look pretty from now on.
  • + 7
 Looks like a sweet helmet, but I have the vice which retails for $90. . .
  • + 1
 Best helmet on the market.
  • + 2
 One of the best motorcycle helmets (at least by several motorcycle magazie reviews online) is made by HJC and is less than $90.00 and it has full face, a polized shield, removable washable head liner, and holds up to snell testing. Im sure there is sound reasoning for the up tag price here, but this is not nearly as difficult to make. Seems odd to me our helmets have to be SO expesive.
  • + 1
 Not picking on you @losmarauder but there is "holds up" to standards (ie dot, snell, etc) and those that make a compelling case for exceeding those standards. Brands like Shoei, Arai, and Suomy are 5 times the amount of money in part due to the extra r+d work, durability and of course, bitchin' paint jobs (Suomy). Owning is believing in this case and in general, you get what you pay for.
  • + 1
 I agree. When I used to ride, I wore the best I could get (at the time, Simpson, AGV, Shoei) and yup, they cost big. I own a TLD A1 for the same reason. I will pay for the best, just seems there is so much less to a mtb helmet in compairo for the cost. One odd point I found with motorcycle helmets, was the more one paid the more likely one was to wear it. So if there is any cross reference, I say charge the moon.
  • + 5
 Actually for 180 and snell certified that's not bad.
  • + 3
 Helmets from walmart are snell. Certified
  • + 6
 Yes it's Snell rated and it has a kevlar matrix inside the foam that keeps it light and strong. The fit of this and the dissident carbon are second to none as well
  • - 2
 @makripper wouldn't know don't shop at Walmart. Would love to see it since Snell certs are really hard to get
  • + 3
 Not really! Go look at any low end helmet. It's ansi and snell rated hhaha.
  • - 7
flag Krzymndyd (May 12, 2015 at 10:27) (Below Threshold)
 Well I guess Snell went down hill. 10 years ago there was only a hand full of MX helmets that got it and were really expensive. Doesn't matter would not buy anything from specialized anyways.
  • + 1
 can't see how they went down hill? my first helmets were from walmart when i was a kid and were snell certified. it's a non profit foundation. www.smf.org
  • - 3
 Nothing is non profit. CEOs and CFOs get paid. They show no profit at the end. Well anyways enjoy Walmart
  • + 3
 if you really care about MIPS so much and you want an Ambush, wear a cycling cap under the helmet.
  • + 4
 $180 piece of styrofoam? go home ur drunk
  • + 2
 fox stricker fits well and looks good...and you can get it for 80 bucks and save yourself 100 bucks for something else
  • + 3
 Giro feature
  • + 1
 The name is spot on coming from a company the really knows how to Ambush us price wise.
  • + 2
 The price for that helmet really caught me off-guard.
  • - 2
 Too bad tld has the specialized guys already covered....this will be a nice add on sale to the specialized enduro buyer at dealer, whom doesn't know what ews stands for.
  • - 2
 Hmmm, still happy with my ISX Trail RS that was designed with the help of Richie Schley. Oh, and its cheaper, has same features (or better) and it's the same weight.
  • + 0
 Why do these (XC) helmets cost more than many certified DH full face ones?
  • + 1
 cause its not xc it is an Enduro Helmet, thats why its so expensive. fashion sucks... helmet looks good...
  • + 1
 Same cost as a mid-level full face, yes, but not the same as a high end full face, and this is a high end half shell.
  • + 0
 Not bad ... but a1 is better!
  • + 13
 You've used both then have you, or just random e-tourettes?
  • - 2
 $99 and certified. throw a winter liner in it and you're good to go for fat biking bernunlimited.com/shop/bike/men/morrison.html
  • - 1
 Idk why helmets are so expensive. It's like they're trying to make people avoid wearing them.
  • + 9
 There are plenty of more affordable helmets out there, including ones from Specialized, but prices goes up when the weight goes down.
  • + 1
 On that score, over in SA I ride a local vendors extended coverage helmet, my second one after a crash, so i know it works - weighs just over 300g and at today's exchange rate comes in at US$ 50 or so.
  • + 0
 I go through helmets way too often to spend 180.
  • + 3
 Just out of curiosity, how often do you get a new half shell?
  • - 2
 If I'm lucky about 4-5 months. But there have been a couple times where they will only last a few weeks. There are a lot of trees in santa cruz haha.
  • + 0
 Damn man!!! At least they're all working and protecting your head!!
  • - 3
 Call china, tell them you need packaging for some new electronic device. Give them these specs and materials. Then take bets on how far below 5 bucks it will cost.
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