Specialized Ambush helmet review

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Full Product Name: Specialized Ambush helmet

Retails Price: £120

Available From: Specialized 

A super light, and super ventilated trail helmet

Designed to offer maximum protection at minimal weight and be comfortable no matter how hard you ride, the Ambush is Specialized bikes full flight trail helmet – and it packs a hell of a punch.

There are plenty of helmets around at the moment that offer great protection – like the Bell Super 2R and the Troy Lee Designs A1, but the one vice they both have is ventilation. Whilst manageable, you don’t realise how warm they can be until you try a helmet with amazing ventilation.

And this is that helmet. Read on for our Specialized Ambush helmet review…

Specialized Ambush helmet review

The rear of the helmet sits low on the back of your head, but keeping cool is no issue with the Ambush. 20 huge vents see to that.

The low down

Even before picking it up, the Ambush looks light. Twenty huge vents mean at first glance you see more fresh air than helmet, and picking it up confirms it – our medium/large sample weighed under 300grams – which is nearly 100grams lighter than the equivilent size in the Troy Lee Designs A1.

The peak uses thumb screws on either side, and interestingly has a ratchet in the middle – which means it’s easy to move it up and out the way for resting goggles on, if that’s your thing.

Specialized Ambush helmet review

The close fit and low profile design are really good traits in a helmet – though folk with rounder heads found it a little close fitting.

For security, the Ambush has a retaining system that tightens all around your head, rather than just pinching at the rear, and is easily adjustable with the wheel that’s part of the helmet shell. The cradle itself has five positions at the rear, so dialling in the fit to suit the shape of your head is easy. The fit is extremely secure and very comfortable even when tightened right up, though a few people with rounder heads that tried the helmet found it a little snug around the temples. The fit is similar to that of the Troy Lee Designs A1, but the helmet feels substantially lighter on the head.

Specialized Ambush helmet review

A quality thumb wheel is easy to adjust, even with gloves on.

The Ambush helmet uses a multi density EPS design, which helps them slim the helmet down a bit – it’s certainly a fair bit slimmer in profile than the A1 and the Super 2R – though the light feeling and huge vents do make you feel a little more exposed.

The strap design uses a Trifix flat piece that’s not adjustable. This sits up flat against the head, but we missed the adjustability to take the slack out of the straps. We also found at speed the strap flapped around a touch – no big deal but noticeable all the same.

Specialized Ambush helmet review

The Ambush is crammed with details – the huge vents we loved; but the non-adjustable Trifix strap cradle wasn’t perfect.

On the trail

The immediate thing you notice when strapping the Specialized Ambush helmet on, is how incredibly light and comfortable it is. The Troy Lee Designs A1 set the bench mark for us in terms of helmet comfort – but we found the Specialized a touch comfier, partially due to the weight.

Whilst others had given the TLD A1 flak for it’s venting, I never had an issue as I tend to run on hot any way and just put up with it – but the ventilation on the Ambush is bonkers. The two vents on the fore head pull in so much air your head can actually feel too cool at times, though for riding in hot weather there’s no other helmet with this amount of coverage that is as cool as the Ambush.

However, the air flow on this helmet is so good that on several occasions I found myself trying to claw wasps and bees out the helmet at dangerous speeds! It would be nice to see this lid with some mesh on the front vents, although mesh vents do tend to hamper ventilation.

Specialized Ambush helmet review

Sausage hat and goggles is trade mark enduro – and the Ambush works really well like this. Image | Callum Jelley

Although I’m not a fan of the goggles and sausage hat look, I gave it a try with the Ambush helmet and they feel excellent with it. The low profile design means the strap locates well at the rear of the helmet and they stay in place. With the moveable peak it’s also really easy to pull them up on to the front of the lid for climbing.

Specialized Ambush helmet review

At first we found exposure on fast trails made us feel somewhat naked – that’s how light and ventilated the Ambush is! Image | Callum Jelley

We say

Since the Ambush helmet turned up for review, we’ve used it almost exclusively. The ventilation and coverage it offers are excellent, and once on it’s nearly forgotten about.

Which is perhaps our only niggle – It’s so light and well ventilated that when the trails get gnarly it just doesn’t feel as substantial as the Troy Lee Designs A1 – despite having a nearly identical amount of head coverage. 

At under 300 grams, the Ambush is nearly XC race weight, but with full trail coverage. Once used to the (lack of) weight, we bloody loved it. 


What helmets are you rocking for trail use?

Let us know below! 




In Reviews


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