The Specialized Ambush is the most well ventilated full coverage helmet I’ve ever tested. It’s an incredibly well thought out piece of protection that features an innovative retention system, as well as convenient eyewear storage solutions. The only thing it’s missing is advanced safety tech (think MIPS) to help reduce the risk of rotational or sub-concussive injuries.

The Ambush is a full coverage helmet from Specialized designed for all mountain use. It features 20 massive vents for sucking in air that are possible due to a Kevlar-like inner structure. This material, which Specialized calls Aramid, acts like an inner skeleton that helps reinforce the air ducts. It also allows Specialized to get away with using lower density foam in critical areas.The large vents lend a unique profile to the Ambush, which is further heightened by the visor shape. This visor is attached via two screws and rides on a ratcheting slide in the center. When slid all the way up, there’s clearance for even the largest goggles. There are also conveniently located vents to slip your sunglasses into for storage.

The straps attach directly to the exterior of the helmet. This arrangement is similar to what you’d find on most skate style lids and is becoming increasingly popular in the MTB trail segment. There are probably some safety advantages to this method, but we like it because you don’t have to untangle the straps before every ride. However, we still had some minor issues with strap tangling as pictured above.Most retention systems only tighten at the back. The retention system on the Ambush wraps around your head using a Boa style arrangement. As the dial is tightened, it exerts equal pressure around your noggin, which eliminates possible pressure points.


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