The Review | Crash Testing the Specialized Ambush Helmet
Admittedly, reviewing a helmet can end in two ways; yet this runs a path less traveled, giving an in-depth look into how well it performs in a crash. Originally showcasing its prototypes at the SeaOtter festival back in May, Specialized took an extended period of time to get this helmet completely dialed, one thing which Andrew is entirely grateful for.
Despite having the choice of three helmets, the Specialized Ambush is what I reached for the most, riding a total of 1400km over two months. Through rain, shine and the occasional misdemeanor, it fared me better than any other. Upon submitting a claim through Specialized’s heralded crash replacement scheme, it will be the dedicated helmet to protect my noggin for the foreseeable future.
Some truly staggering advancements grace the Ambush’s bulky exterior of which I (could be argued by my co-workers) owe my still intact brain cells. Sheer size is normally an ambition left to the bodybuilders of this world, but Specialized have hit a niche gap in the market, offering size and safety which isn’t punished with an inaugural weight disadvantage. Sporting an inch thick armor known by the global giant as an ‘Aramid-Reinforced Skeleton’, along with a ‘Multi-Density EPS construction’, it’s entirely surprising that it only weighs 240 grams. Pretty crazy for the size!
We received the Ambush in a medium, and contrary to first impressions of feeling more accommodating towards a larger headed individual, the easy adjusting Mindset 360 Fit system made sure a deep, secure fit was achieved, much like a full-face. The system, which eliminates wasted fitting time, uncomfortable rides and Mr. Bobblehead like wobble when powering through rock gardens, comprises of a singular dial snuggly concealed at the back of the helmet and adjusts all straps simultaneously for an easy 360 fit. Not everyone had the same experience as me, though. Both Trevor and Christoph tried out these helmets and found the rear too loosely fitting. I suggest getting into a store and trying one out before purchase for this reason.
Adjustable visors may not be the pinnacle of all things technologically advanced in this day and age, but with two sets of goggles in case I ever fancy going #FullEnduro, stowing them above my brow without slipping down at inconvenient moments was a breeze. The rigidity stops unwanted wobble on the fast, technical trails but also doesn’t need too much force to re-adjust the position. It may not be a game changer, but it’s the little things…
Remember when we hit that ripe age where we chose the pair of trainers with more comfort than style? Well, at the age of 21 I’m still not there, but this helmet has slowly got me teetering on the edge of the fence. ‘Tri-fix web splitter’, or more commonly known; the straps that go around your ears, set comfort to the next level.
Visually very bowling ball like, Specialized named their patented sweat catcher, the ‘Gutter Action Brow’. On long climbs or hard sprinting sessions it kept sweat from filling the insides of my goggles, but be warned, after 500km I removed and washed the pads when a questionable odor decided to presence my nostrils on a sweltering day, one I’d never wish upon my worst enemy. For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction: queue the washing machine.
‘4th Dimension Cooling System’ – or known to the non-marketers of this world; air vents, are truly monstrous creations and easily tops the list of features needed redesigning for next years model. With this, brushing overhanging foliage on trails would be something advised against unless you’re next stop is a paintball field filled with pent up anger filled miscreants. To the credit of Specialized, the system does keep your head well ventilated and at the same time reduces overheating on hotter days, but I’d love to see something along the lines of mesh covering to stop unwanted objects interrupting my rides.
If you’re currently scouring the market for a super lightweight protective helmet that covers all the basics, but offers quick fitting, comfort and you’re not bothered by foliage sticking out the top, then you will definitely suit this stealthy giant. Even in black it makes a statement.
Secure, quick fitting
Packed with tech
Air vents are too big
Tester: Andrew Richardson
Time tested: 2 months
Ridden KM: 1400km+
For more info, visit: specialized.com
Words & Photos: Andrew Richardson