Specialized Ambush 2 Helmet Review

Review by Drew Rohde

Boasting the highest, 5-star rating from Virginia Tech’s independent testing, the new Specialized Ambush 2 helmet could be one of the safest offerings in the mountain bike helmet market. Specialized started from scratch when designing the new Ambush 2 helmet. With an incredibly light weight for an aggressive trail-duty lid, plenty of safety features and a stylish appearance, it’s a helmet we were excited to try on. We actually drove all the way to Santa Cruz, California to meet with the head of Specialized’s helmet department, Alex Jerome as well as their main marketing legend Allan Cooke for some shreducation on the new helmet. They led me into some of the steepest, dustiest and fastest trails Santa Cruz has on tap and lobbed technical jargon at me in between laps, some of which I may still remember. So here it goes.

Starting on the inside and moving out, the new Specialized Ambush 2 helmet is ANGI-ready and features the newer MIPS SL solution. MIPS SL tech is designed to help minimize rotational impacts while eliminating some of the criticisms of their other designs, namely the movement, thickness and noise. It also allows for great airflow as the tech integrates nicely with the padding. From there Specialized used dual-density EPS foam to offer protection from low and high-speed hits.

Specialized Ambush 2 Helmet Review

Between the interior and outer shell is a web of air channels. Specialized used Computational Fluid Dynamic design to maximize the volume of internal channeling. Goals were to not only have a large amount of intake vents, like their brow cooling vent, but to also allow heat to escape out the back and off the top of the rider’s head. Things which they seem to have achieved in our testing thus far. We’ll have to wait until summer temps ramp up to really quantify these claims.

Although the fairly large visor is fixed in position, the field of view and helmet can be adjusted via the Occipital Base Adjustment system. The helmet did not fit me very well out of the box, but within two minutes of sliding the system around I was able to get the Ambush 2 helmet to feel locked-in and comfortable. It still remains one of the more comfortable helmets in the garage.

One of the neatest features is the glasses storage system. Specialized designed hidden, angled rubber flaps that help guide and retain glasses into the above-brow storage area. It’s easy to push glasses in, even on the move and I kept my darkly-tinted glasses in the helmet for the entire ride as it was just too dark in the woods. Not a single rattle or bit of movement from my casual, lifestyle glasses over a multi-hour shred session.

Specialized Ambush 2 Helmet Review

After just a couple of minutes spent adjusting the helmet’s internal system and straps I was done. I’ve not gone back and needed to make any further tweaks or adjustments to the helmet at all. It’s a rather intuitive and easy to set up helmet and should be comfortable for many head shapes out there.

Further adding to the comfort of the helmet is the 368gram weight, which feels almost scary light. Granted, I’ve been a full face convert as of late, spending more time riding in pedal-friendly full-face helmets that weigh closer to 1,000 grams, but still, this helmet is light. The Ambush 2 offers a lot of coverage, instilling more confidence for those unfortunate moments when your head does come to an abrupt stop. Knowing the helmet has been independently tested by a leader in helmet safety also adds to the peace of mind as we sped down trails that could easily entertain a DH bike.

The Wolf’s Last Word

Although I’ve mostly migrated towards pedal-friendly full-face helmets for most of my riding, there are days where a traditional open-face mountain bike helmet will do. While I would like to see an adjustable visor for those low-light situations, I don’t think there are many helmets available that are more comfortable, lighter or give me the safety I want, the way the Specialized Ambush 2 does. It checks off almost every box for me when it comes to a trail to enduro-ready helmet. The weight, ventilation, comfort, safety and glasses retention system all stand out as reasons why I plan to wear this helmet any day I’m not wearing a full-face.

Price: $180
Weight: 368g
Website: Specialized.com

Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.

We Dig

Virginia Tech Safety Score
Glasses Retention
Low Weight

We Don’t

Would like adjustable visor


Want to win some free schwag? Leave a comment and vote up the most thoughtful comments and each month we’ll pick a winner. The person with the smartest and most helpful replies will earn some sweet new gear. Join the Pack and get the latest news and read the latest reviews on the top mountain and electric mountain bikes.