Added a comment about product review Tested: 2015 Specialized Ambush Helmet 10/7/2015 8:31 AM

Sorry, might have gone full enduro there...

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Added a comment about product review Tested: 2015 Specialized Ambush Helmet 10/7/2015 8:30 AM

No "relationship". The helmet was delivered during a Specialized press camp, all the helmets had names on them so we wouldn't end up swapping head lice with each other...

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Added a new video EWS8: The Big Wheel - Finale Highlights & Season Lookback 10/7/2015 4:53 AM

​From the Southern Hemisphere to the shores of Northern Italy, the Enduro World Series has tested riders on many varied terrains and it all comes down to this. As the action unfolds, Richard Cunynghame follows proceedings to see who can take it all the way to the end of the season.

2015 Race Dates

Round 1 - GIANT Toa Enduro, Crankworx Rotorua, New Zealand - March 28
Round 2 - Chain Reaction Cycles Emerald Enduro, County Wicklow, Ireland - May24
Round 3 - Cannondale Alpine Bikes World Enduro, Tweed Valley, Scotland - May 30/31
Round 4 - Samoens Enduro World Series driven by Urge Bike Products, France - July 18/19
Round 5 - Yeti Cycles Big Mountain Enduro presented by Shimano, Crested Butte, USA - July 31/ August 1/2
Round 6 - SRAM Canadian Open Enduro presented by Specialized, Crankworx Whistler, Canada - August 9
Round 7 - Specialized Opel Enduro Festival Zona Zero, Zona Zero Ainsa Sobrabe, Spain - September 25-27
Round 8 - Superenduro powered by SRAM, Finale Ligure, Italy - October 3/4

Video provided by the Enduro World Series

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Added a comment to kanioni's bike check 10/7/2015 1:26 AM

Bike of the Day October 7, 2015!

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Added a comment about photo Riding into the abyss 10/6/2015 12:48 PM

Daily Shot October 6, 2015!

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Added a new video Phil Atwill | Home To Roost Ep 7 10/6/2015 11:59 AM

​If it's rowdy you want, Phil Atwill's got the goods. And stay tuned to the very end, as the Dirt Orange shredder has a few special tricks up his sleeve too!

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Added a comment to Puncu's bike check 10/6/2015 1:09 AM

Bike of the Day October 6, 2015!

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iceman2058 added a feature story Vital MTB Weekly Photo Comp - Presented by Lizard Skins 10/5/2015 11:51 PM

The Vital MTB Photo Comp is a weekly photo competition, with prizes awarded to the picture that receives the most votes, as well as a randomly selected member who voted for the winning shot. This week the 2 winners will each receivea pair of DSP grips as well as the Monitor 3.0 gloves...more

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Added a comment about photo Konstantinos Poulopoulos Riding in and out of the abyss 1 10/5/2015 2:12 PM

Daily Shot October 5, 2015!

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Added a product review for Specialized Ambush Open Face Helmet 10/5/2015 1:40 PM

Tested: 2015 Specialized Ambush Helmet


The Good:

The Bad:


Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

Specialized has been making helmets for a long time, but they have been slow to develop an extended coverage half-shell which has become the go-to helmet type of choice for most aggressive trail riders and/or enduro racers over the last couple of years. They took their time to get it right, and when we first laid eyes on the new Ambush lid, our first thought was that it was time well spent. Read our review to find out what some trail time would reveal.

Specialized Ambush Highlights

  • Aramid-Reinforced Skeleton provides internal EPS support.
  • “Energy Optimized” Multi-Density EPS construction helps to manage impact energy.
  • “Mindset 360” fit system provides a secure, customizable fit with 360-degree tension adjustment, five height positions, and an integrated dial for easy, on-the-fly adjustments.
  • Micro indexing visor allows for a wide range of fast, secure on-trail adjustments, as well as convenient goggle stowage.
  • “4th Dimension Cooling System” with massive vents, internal cross-channels, and aligned exhaust ports increases airflow to keep you cool.
  • Low profile in-molded shell with smooth, snag-free exterior shape.
  • Extended coverage for added protection and durability.
  • Lightweight, quick-drying liner features a “Gutter Action Brow” that channels moisture away from eyes.
  • “Tri-Fix” web splitter for improved comfort and ease of strap adjustments.
  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Colors: Green, Grey, White/Grey, White/Red, Orange, Cyan
  • Weight: 311-grams (size M, verified)
  • MSRP: $180.00 USD

Initial Impressions

Pulling the Ambush out of the box, the first aspect to make an impression was the weight, or rather the lack thereof. At just over 300 grams (weighed and verified), the Ambush is among the lightest helmets in the class. Second, it was immediately clear that Specialized sought to build a well-ventilated helmet. The Ambush features 20 large vents, many of which connect together internally to form what Specialized calls the “4th Dimension Cooling System”. That sounds decidedly space-age and probably a bit over the top, but as we were going to be testing this helmet over summer, we were eager to see if it would translate to a real-life benefit as well as something cool to print on the box.

Continuing our inspection of the Ambush revealed a helmet that appeared to have been very well put together, and also an innovative approach to fit adjustment. Of course, the marketing guys went to town when naming it, but more importantly, the “Mindset 360” system also actually offers something new: the classic fit dial has been integrated in the helmet shell, and the internal harness adjusts itself around the whole head. The result is first of all a system that should give a snug and easy to adjust fit, but also make more room to extend the helmet’s rear coverage, since interference with the dial is no longer an issue. Interestingly, each size can now also cover a broader range (our Medium sample is recommended for heads sized 54-60cm, a range that would typically require 2 sizes to cover).

Concluding the initial overview of the Ambush, the visor features an indexed adjustment system that offers enough range to be pushed back to accommodate your goggles between runs, as well as the “Tri-Flex” strap splitter that is meant to provide plenty of space between the straps for the ears and be very simple to adjust. Notably absent from the roll call are MIPS and any kind of POV camera mount. Some people believe that if you have hair, you probably don’t really need MIPS, but you should of course make up their own mind on that. As for the ubiquitous POV mount, there is a pretty big flat area on the top of the helmet that will accept the classic stick-on mounts, but at $180 USD MSRP it would not be a big ask to have an integrated solution.

On The Trail

Getting the Ambush to fit couldn’t be easier. Pop it on your head, and twist the adjustment dial until the helmet is snug. Adjust the chin strap length and you’re good to go (no need to worry about the how long the straps around the ears should be, since they are set at one length thanks to the “Tri-Fix” system). The height/position of the helmet on the head can also be adjust by sliding the top part of the internal harness in or out, with 5 positions to choose from here. Those with weird headshapes (or ponytails!) will be stoked to know that the range of this adjustment is such that you don’t have to worry about your headshape or hair pushing the helmet too far down in your face, a common issue with certain other helmets out there. In terms of aesthetics, looks are subjective and the dreaded mushroom look is always a menace to be taken seriously when it comes to mountain bike half shells, but we think the Ambush is one of the better looking options out there.

The initial impression of lightness carries over to the trail. The helmet makes itself forgotten in a hurry, snug but never uncomfortable, secure but never constricting. The pads are relatively thin, which doesn’t give you that near full-face feeling of some other extended half-shells, but that also means the Ambush breathes a lot better. You can feel the shape of the forehead pad when you first put the helmet on, but this never translated into a pressure point for us. We’ve had plenty of long days in the saddle to test this aspect, and the Ambush was never anything but comfortable.

A helmet is not usually worn by itself, and Specialized did a great job of making sure the Ambush will play nice with eyewear of different kinds. The shape of the helmet just around the ear provides enough room for the temples of your sunglasses, while the rear of the helmet features an area specifically designed to secure your goggles if you decide to go full enduro. As previously mentioned, the visor has a wide range of adjustability designed into it in order to let you push your googles up onto the front of the helmet out of the way for the climbs. Note that if you use particularly tall goggles, they may well push the helmet up/back on the head (depends on the shape of your head/face). We got better results with a slightly lower profile goggle.

In terms of safety, the Ambush features an internal aramid skeleton and a multi-density EPS liner, and it is CPSC, SNELL, and CE 1078:2012 certified. We’ve thankfully managed to avoid taking any serious hits to the head while using the Ambush, so our first-hand experience falls short on this particular point. Objectively speaking however, the helmet fits securely and it really wraps around the rear part of the skull, leaving us no reason to feel anything less than well-protected with the Ambush.

So what with all that ventilation? We received the Ambush at the start of a very hot summer, and it very quickly became our first choice when going out riding. It is quite simply one of the absolutely most well-ventilated helmet we have tested so far in this category. No, the “Gutter Action Brow” thing doesn’t actually work when your face turns into the Niagara Falls, but we have yet to come across an actual working solution to this particular problem anyway. For the rest, there’s plenty of airflow and the thin pads help your head to not feel like it’s sat in the pressure cooker waiting to boil.

Things That Could Be Improved

The Ambush features awesome ventilation, but the absence of any kind of internal netting means that stuff can also get in through all those vents. It’s not a major point, but when you make that many vents the question of adding a little netting to keep flora and fauna out becomes legitimate. Personally, we’ll take our chances with the bugs if it’s the price of keeping cool.

Other than that, we’d point to the price as one aspect we think can be improved upon. Sure, it’s always easy to complain about price, but looking at what else is available in the market, the Ambush sits close to the top. The lack of a POV camera mount in the spec list becomes harder to look past as the price increases too. Having said that, if we judge the Ambush purely on performance and comfort, it’s worth every cent.

Long Term Durability

We’ve been using the Ambush for just about 3 months now, and it seems to be holding up very well to life on the trails and in the trunk. The finish is very resistant to scratching, and the interior of the helmet is still fairly fresh, despite having to cope with ridiculous amounts of sweating and no maintenance so far. We see no reason why you wouldn’t get multiple seasons of use out of the Ambush, especially since Specialized include a spare set of pads in the box. The EPS liner is not designed for multiple impacts however, so if you do take a serious hit to the helmet it will need to be retired.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Specialized took its sweet time coming up with the Ambush, but after 3 months on the trail we certainly feel it was worth the wait. The Ambush is light, comfortable, and breathes exceptionally well for a helmet in this category. The extended coverage adds protection, while the innovative adjustment system is easy to use and provides a very secure fit. Some will undoubtedly feel that the pricetag is a bit steep, especially given the lack of MIPS or a POV camera mount, but if we judge the Ambush purely on function, it’s an awesome performer and should definitely find its way onto your helmet shopping short list.

More information at

About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

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Liked a comment on the item e*thirteen TRS Race Tires 10/5/2015 8:56 AM

seriously, first proflex stops using elastamers and now this

Added a new video Red Bull Foxhunt 2015 Highlights 10/5/2015 6:46 AM

Check the body check! Gee Atherton takes no prisoners as he muscles his way through a field of 400 riders, launched from a mountain top in Northern Ireland. It's the 2015 Red Bull Foxhunt and it's pretty wild.

From Red Bull:

​Outstanding riding conditions and a fast track made for one of the most amazing ‘mass start’ downhill races in Europe, as a pack of over 400 red-backed riders (‘the hounds’) tore down the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland, in a bid to outfox two-time Downhill World Champion Gee Atherton (‘the fox’).

Colin Ross from Lisburn, Co Down, was first past the post after a three-and-a-half-mile hair-raising sprint down windswept moorland and treacherous forest trail. Riders from Russia, Poland, France, Denmark and Spain joined a record pack of Irish and British male and female riders. Second place went to James McFerran and Dave Eagan scooped third position. Gee ultimately came down 14 seconds behind the winner, in 32nd place.

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Added a new video Kyle Norbraten & The Coastal Crew Part Ways 10/5/2015 12:28 AM

​The Coastal Crew has always been fuelled by like-minded individuals, motivated by the same goals and in search of the next cool thing to share with the world of MTB. After years of creating trails, web videos, feature films and now the Coast Gravity Park our relationships have gone through a lot of change.

We are disappointed to announce Kyle Norbraten made a choice to no longer be a part of The Coastal Crew or Coast Gravity Park. Kyle’s direction has shifted from that of the CC & CGP ultimately leading to a situation that doesn’t allow us to work together in a healthy manner. We wish Norbz all the best in all his future endeavours.

The Coastal Crew will continue to work closely with long time sponsors Specialized, SRAM, Smith Optics & Chromag. Throughout the winter and beyond we will be creating captivating content and develop some of the world's best trails at Coast Gravity Park.

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Added a comment about photo IMG-20150914-WA0065 10/4/2015 11:33 AM

Daily Shot October 4, 2015!

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Added a news story Graves and Moseley Win in Finale, Rude and Moseley 2015 Overall Champs 10/4/2015 7:26 AM

Richie Rude keeping it real on Day 1 - photo Duncan Philpott.

The word legendary gets thrown around a lot, but how else would you describe what just went down in Finale Ligure, Italy, for the 8th and final round of the 2015 Enduro World Series? 3 legends on the podium as Jared Graves took the race win from Barel and Vouilloz, with...more

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Added a comment about photo South Crew on road ep4 - Tignes Bike Park 10/3/2015 1:18 PM

Daily Shot October 3, 2015!

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Started new thread 2015 Red Bull Rampage Build 10/3/2015 12:41 PM

If there is one single event that gets us all more excited than anything else, it's got to be Rampage. The world's best big terrain riders will once again gather in the desert outside Virgin, Utah, to battle it out for the biggest crown in freeride.

... more »

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