The Specialized Ambush helmet has been around for a few years, but a significant update last season added a unique SL version of the MIPS rotational impact protection system and an optional ANGi 'safety beacon’ feature. The result is a really safe lid that still weighs less and vents better than most other options. Shape and fit systems won’t work for everyone though.
The Ambush is a relatively deep half-shell mountain bike helmet dropping down low on the temple and at the back of the head for more protection than an XC or marathon helmet, but not as much as a 3/4 shell or convertible lid with the chin guard off. There’s are small lips top and bottom for MTB goggle strap security and the 15-click ratchet for the peak that takes it from eye line to high rise to give plenty of ‘resting goggle’ room underneath. Extra Aramid (the fibre behind Kevlar) reinforces the EPS multi-density foam material and means Specialized can use 14 decently sized front, top and side vents, including two broad brow vents. These push plenty of air through the deep internal channelling over your head while six deep vertical exhaust vents suck the hot air out. That keeps it impressively cool for an enhanced-protection helmet and at just over 300g for a medium, it’s light too.
The padding is secured with small flexible T bars that are unique to the ‘SL’ version of the widely used MIPS g-force reduction system. The small ANGi impact detection unit sits on the back edge of the helmet and connects to the Specialized Ride app on your smartphone or Wahoo bike computers.
The straps are attached to the lower edge of the hardshell so they’re less likely to get in the way and the flat Y junction pieces keep straps flat close to your skin to stop flap and noise. While the chin strap is adjustable, the height of the Y pieces isn’t which may cause some ear or jawline irritation for some users. The internal cradle isn’t height-adjustable either and shell sizing is very large, so if you tighten it up there’s a lot of helmet overhang at the rear so we’d definitely try before you buy if possible.
If you get the fit right, the low weight and high airflow make the Ambush feel more like an XC/Trail lid than most enduro lids and it’s a great helmet to wear for long periods or hard/hot rides. The peak adjustability is useful for keeping the weather out of your eyes or working with goggles. The ANGi system is easy to set up, and you can use the ‘Ride’ app as a recording app or to adjust the alert countdown to give you time to cancel the text to your designated responders in case you trigger it accidentally (it takes more than just a careless helmet drop anyway) or the crash isn’t serious.
While we’ve never had to use ANGi for real, it certainly adds peace of mind for you and others if you ride alone a lot. Because it’s impact triggered and immediate, it’s going to help a lot more in an emergency than other ‘beacon’ systems which will only let people know where you are when you’ve potentially been lying there post-crash for a long time. Specialized has also cancelled the previous subscription charge from year two and beyond of ANGi use and you can buy the pods to fit on any helmet for £40. If you’re not sold on MIPS then the Ambush is also available in a Comp version without it, although you still get ANGi.
The fit might be a bit overhung or strap challenged for some but if the Specialized Ambush works with your head shape, then it’s a really well-ventilated and lightweight lid for its increased protection category. Having MIPS to potentially reduce the impact of an accident and ANGi to shout for help if MIPS doesn’t do enough is a real reassurance for solo riders too.
Tech spec: Specialized Ambush MIPS ANGi helmet
- Price: £130
- Sizes: S, M, L
- Weight: 304g (medium)
- Colours: Red/black, White, Ion yellow, Sage green