Specialized have been quietly working away on a new helmet offering for some time now. The “Ambush” is a refreshing take on an enduro style lid which offers substantially more protection than your average XC/trail helmet. The latest from the Big S boasts some really cool features and right away it’s apparent that it has a great deal of ventilation in some places where many competitors are lacking. We have been putting some time in on a sample we were given a while back. Although we haven’t had a ton of time on the lid, these are our initial impressions.
Colors : Black, Orange, Yellow
Weight : Size medium is 279 grams w/o visor
Price : 179 Euro
While not everything on the Ambush is completely groundbreaking, there are some new standout features that really resonated with us. First off, you won’t be fussing with the straps. We really liked that they each permanently attached in two places on the helmet, and the chin strap is routed through a fixed plastic retainer. There is only one singular point of adjustment (under the chin) and we actually quite preferred that. We never had to fuss with it, and it was always in the right place.
Next up, the visor was well engineered. Not too long, and a bit on the shorter side, it’s wide range of height is adjusted by a sturdy slotted bit that has very noticeable detents in it. You won’t be fussing with having to tighten anything. As previously mentioned, we haven’t had the helmet for all that long, so the jury is out on how long those detents will stay firm. However, it seems well built through and through. Another nice feature with the visor is how easy it is to ride with goggles resting underneath it on the long climbs.
We really loved the tensioning system of this helmet. A clickwheel is mounted into the frame of the helmet itself and as you dial it, the wheel tensions an internal harness that cradles your head all the way around. We never felt any strange pressure points, it was super comfy and easy to adjust while riding whether we were wearing gloves or not. We were taken aback by how thin the internal harness was, and initially worried it would dig into our heads, but rest assured, it proved to be incredibly comfortable. The harness’s height is adjustable out back with two slotted tracks that also feature some nice detents. One last point regarding the retention system : it was super discreet and low profile around the ears. This meant that it didn’t interfere with the arms of our sunglasses whatsoever. This is probably the first helmet we’ve used which we can say that about.
The Ambush comes with two sets of pads. One is slightly thicker than the other so you can fine tune your fit even further. We opted for the thicker set as it felt a bit more comfortable and would likely absorb more sweat.
Speaking of sweat, this brings us to our final talking point : ventilation. This is where the Ambush really shines. Not only was it one of the most comfortable helmets we’ve ridden in this category, it was far and away the coolest. We’ve got to attribute this its two unique, large front ports on the forehead, and the six large vents that compliment them out back. In addition to the aforementioned openings, the helmet is graced with great ventilation everywhere else as well.
In addition to all of the other features, Specialized have obviously ticked all of the boxes in regards to safety. While – fortunately for us, we haven’t had any major spills in the Ambush, we’re confident that it will keep us safe. Its secure fit and fantastic coverage should do an excellent job protecting your noggin all the while keeping you nice an cool on the big climbs. Hats off to Specialized! They just might be the new king of this category.