Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Specialized Ambush

- published June 2016

84

2016

RATINGS

Comfort
5
Ventilation
8
Features
7
Fit
5
Weight
9
GEAR INSTITUTE RATING
84

SHOP

MSRP
LOW PRICE
$180.00
N/A
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

THE GOOD

  • Outstanding ventilation & coverage
  • Large, adjustable visor
  • Goggle-friendly

THE BAD

  • Side straps not adjustable
  • Visor not removable

THE VERDICT

The Specialized Ambush is a lightweight helmet with outstand rear and side coverage and visor size adjustability. Although it delivers a secure fit with its factory settings, the Tri-Fix web splitter is a double-edged sword. The side straps will never touch or chafe ears but it offers no adjustability either. 

FULL REVIEW

COMFORT
The Specialized Ambush’s key to comfort feature is the straps. The side and chin straps are composed of one thin strand of webbing that allows for only one piece of webbing under the chin instead of the usual two. 

The Tri-Fix web splitter sits well below the ear lobes and spreads the two upper lengths of webbing into a wide U-shape around the ears (instead of a standard V shape). The combination of the Tri-Fix web splitter and the thinner webbing prevents the straps from touching or chafing the ears and allows the straps to lay flat on the side of the face. 

However our tester found that there was some slack on the side straps that should have been tightened but could not be due to the Tri-Fix web splitter’s lack of adjustability. 

The minimalist padding is one large forehead piece and one separate piece at the top of the head. Though thin, they are perforated and do a decent job of preventing sweat from dripping onto the face. 

VENTILATION
The Specialized Ambush’s twenty air vents do an outstanding job of air intake to dry the pads and allow our tester’s head to breathe. Six rear vents are generous in size and easy push out warm air for optimal comfort. 

FEATURES
Safety and impact-protection is delivered via Specialized’s patented Aramid-Reinforced Skeleton for internal EPS support and Energy Optimized Multi-Density EPS construction to manage impact energy.

The Specialized Ambush measures 17.5 inches from front to back and fifteen inches from side to side, this increased surface space translates to the highest amount of coverage of all the helmets in the test.  

The visor measures four inches in length from the longest point in the center and offers the most sun shading as well as the widest range of adjustability thanks to a channel of micro-notches in the visor’s center that allow the visor to adjust via a series of micro-clicks for best position. Most often, this range of adjustability is only seen on downhill helmets.

Though the visor is not detachable, it can be adjusted to sit high enough to be out of the way or to allow a set of goggles to rest when not in use.

FIT
The Specialized Ambush’s Mindset 360 fit system is simple and fast to adjust. Out of the box, the tester had only to tighten the chin strap and adjust the rear tension dial for a secure and customized fit. These two points of adjustment allowed for quick one-handed adjustments while riding.

The Tri-Fix web splitter’s factory setting, while not adjustable, fit our tester very well. 

WEIGHT
The Specialized Ambush, despite its most generous head coverage, is the lightest helmet in the test at 293 grams. Ounce-trimming measures come from the thinner webbing of the straps and the minimalist padding.

How We Tested It

The Specialized Ambush was tested for two weeks on asphalt, gravel, singletrack in and around Minnesota on days with temperatures ranging from the low forties to the mid-seventies and on distances that ranged from six miles to fifty-six.

For more reviews beyond this Spring 2016 test, check out other bike helmet tests and bike shoe tests, along with other related cycling gear tests

The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.

About the Author

Marie Malinowski

Marie Malinowski

Marie Malinowski is a Minneapolis-based mountain biker, bike commuter, backpacker, and trail runner who covers our cycling accessories categories.


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MSRP
LOW PRICE
$180.00
N/A
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

RATINGS

Comfort
5
Ventilation
8
Features
7
Fit
5
Weight
9
GEAR INSTITUTE RATING
84

Weight

10.3 oz

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