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Specialized Camber Review

An affordable helmet with high-end styling and coverage
Specialized Camber
Credit: Specialized
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $80 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Pros:  Very affordable, great coverage, stylish, comfortable, MIPS
Cons:  Fixed visor, warm, visor doesn't detach
Manufacturer:   Specialized
By Zach Wick ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 9, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 22
  • Protection - 25% 8.0
  • Comfort - 20% 8.0
  • Ventilation - 20% 8.0
  • Features - 15% 6.0
  • Weight - 10% 8.0
  • Durability - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Specialized Camber lowers the price tag on high-end enduro styling while offering standard mid-range protective features and comfort. This helmet has the look and coverage that you would expect from a much more expensive model, but under the hood, you'll find just the bare essential features required of a modern mountain bike helmet. Unlike its pricier counterpart, the Ambush 2, the Camber has a single-density EPS foam shell, a fixed non-removable visor, and no eyewear storage integration. It does however offer MIPS rotational impact protection, a highly adjustable harness system, and durable construction for an almost ridiculously low price. If you're looking for a stylish, straightforward lid for trail and all-mountain riding on a budget, this helmet is one of the best values available.

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Price $80 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Very affordable, great coverage, stylish, comfortable, MIPSGreat ventilation, seamless eyewear integration, good coverageLightweight, comfortable, affordableReasonably priced, comfortable, innovative sweat management system, MIPS, adjustable visorLightweight, inexpensive, comfortable, MIPS included
Cons Fixed visor, warm, visor doesn't detachHeavier than its predecessor, non-adjustable visorLess coverage than some other models, small visor, average ventilationModerately heavy, ventilation could be better, buckle failure in previous Consumer Reports testingFixed visor, finicky straps, below average ventilation
Bottom Line An affordable helmet with high-end styling and coverageA stylish, breathable update on a classic with great eyewear integration but a one -position visorA versatile trail helmet that will stand up to all-day adventures and won't cost you an arm and a legAn affordable, quality helmet that checks most of our boxes at a reasonable priceA good option to save some cash and stay protected on the trail
Rating Categories Specialized Camber Specialized Ambush 2 Giro Radix MIPS Bell 4Forty MIPS Smith Convoy
Protection (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Comfort (20%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Ventilation (20%)
8.0
10.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Features (15%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Weight (10%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Specs Specialized Camber Specialized Ambush 2 Giro Radix MIPS Bell 4Forty MIPS Smith Convoy
Rotational Impact Protection System? MIPS MIPS SL MIPS MIPS MIPS
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 13.8 oz, 394g 13.4 oz, 378g 12.6 oz, 360g 14.32 oz, 406g 12.5 oz, 355g
Number of vents 13 15 25 15 21
Goggle or Sunglasses Integration? No Yes No Goggle integration eyewear integration
Adjustable Visor? No No (breakaway feature) Yes Yes No
Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL S, M, L S, M, L, XL S, M, L S, M, L, XL
Certifications CPSC CPSC CPSC, CE EN1078 CPSC Bicycle for ages 5+ CPSC, CE EN1078, AS/NZS2063
Virginia Tech Helmet Safety Rating (if applicable) 5-star 5-star

Our Analysis and Test Results

When Specialized redesigned their half-shell mountain bike helmet lineup they made sure to cover all of their bases by offering the high-end, full-featured Ambush 2 alongside the mid-range, bare-essentials Camber. Typically lower-end helmets don't quite receive the same design attention as those that sit on the top shelf, but we appreciate that Specialized maintained the high-end styling across both models. Upon close inspection, a discerning eye will be able to tell that the Camber is the less-expensive model, but on the whole, it has the same sleek, aggressive styling as the Ambush 2. In our opinion, that's a pretty unique trait for a budget-friendly helmet and a big selling point of this model.

Performance Comparison


Specialized Camber mountain bike helmet - despite the low price tag, the camber has an aggressive look and...
Despite the low price tag, the Camber has an aggressive look and ample coverage.
Credit: Sarah Strobel

Protection


The Camber has the style and coverage of a helmet geared toward aggressive riding. The substantial EPS shell drops low on the back of the head and at the temples like any modern helmet worth its salt. It sits low on your head and provides a feeling of security when wearing it. Unlike most high-end helmets it doesn't offer multi-density EPS foam, but it still managed to receive a stellar five-star rating in Virginia Tech's independent helmet testing program.


These days rotational impact protection is a must-have for almost any bicycle helmet, so we're glad to see that the technology has trickled down into budget-friendly helmets like the Camber. This model doesn't feature Specialized's lightweight MIPS SL technology like the Ambush 2, but it does have the standard MIPS internal plastic liner that rotates slightly in relation to the EPS shell with the goal of reducing forces from rotational impacts.

Specialized Camber mountain bike helmet - the fit is secure and comfortable.
The fit is secure and comfortable.
Credit: Sarah Strobel

Comfort


While it isn't the most comfortable helmet we've ever tested, the Camber scored well in this metric. The combination of the EPS shell shape and internal padding provides a fit that should be versatile enough for just about any head shape.


During testing, we passed our size-large Camber around to a variety of friends and family and didn't receive any negative feedback about pressure points or pinching. The harness offers a wide range of adjustability with the ability to fine-tune the fit, and it pulls tension evenly around the head rather than pinching at the rear. Because the Camber uses a more traditional harness system that sits lower on the back of the head than the Ambush 2, we actually found it easier to find a secure-feeling, comfortable fit with this helmet despite the lower price tag.

Specialized Camber mountain bike helmet - the yellow plastic internal mips liner has a negative impact the...
The yellow plastic internal MIPS liner has a negative impact the ventilation.
Credit: Sarah Strobel

Ventilation


The Camber is a well-ventilated helmet on the whole, but as you might expect it doesn't quite match up with the high-end models. With the carryover in styling from the Ambush 2 to the Camber, the two helmets actually have very similar ventilation designs, so we had high expectations given that the Ambush 2 is one of the airiest modest we've tested.


The Camber doesn't have quite as many exit ports in the rear, but the intake vents on the front end are almost the same. The biggest difference between the two models is the internal plastic MIPS liner in the Camber, and we found that it has a negative impact on breathability. The plastic sheet doesn't allow air to flow as freely and interface with your scalp as well as the almost nonexistent MIPS SL system in the Ambush. It also creates more solid contact between the helmet and your scalp, which means things can get sweaty and warm a bit more easily. We found that the Camber got a little bit warm over the course of long rides and on hotter days. Despite not quite living up to the expectations set by its pricier counterpart when it comes to ventilation, we found that the Camber does an admirable job of managing sweat and keeping it out of your eyes and away from your eyewear.

Specialized Camber mountain bike helmet - adjustable strap splitters are one of the few features that this...
Adjustable strap splitters are one of the few features that this helmet offers.
Credit: Sarah Strobel

Features


As you might expect from a helmet that will run you less than a hundred dollars, the Camber does not come stacked with features. With the exception of the inclusion of MIPS, this model is just about as bare-bones as you'll find in the mountain bike helmet market. The visor is substantial but its position is fixed in a relatively high position, meaning that you can't lower it to keep the sun out of your eyes or raise it to store goggles on the front of the helmet. It's a modern, stylish look, but it isn't the most useful. Additionally, the visor is not removable and will not pop off in the event of a crash like that of the Ambush 2. The Tri-Fix strap splitters do manage the harness straps well and allow for some adjustment. It's not a particularly easy adjustment to make, but once you have it set for your head shape you shouldn't have to worry about it again.


The Camber is compatible with the specialized ANGi crash detection sensor, which can send a notification to a loved one with your location in the event of a crash. The sensor does not come standard, however, and has to be purchased as an aftermarket add-on. Regardless, we count the compatibility as a check in the positive column for this model given that the ANGi sensor is a unique value add.

Specialized Camber mountain bike helmet - despite the agro styling and coverage, this helmet is relatively...
Despite the agro styling and coverage, this helmet is relatively lightweight.
Credit: Sarah Strobel


Weight


Tipping the scales at 394-grams for our size-large test helmet, the Camber is surprisingly light considering its agro styling and hefty visor. For reference, the lightest helmets we tested were right around 360 grams, while the heaviest weigh 500-grams plus. The Camber actually only comes in 16 grams heavier than the high-end Ambush 2.


Durability


For the most part, the Camber received the full Specialized treatment with a high-quality and durable construction. The in-molded polycarbonate outer shell wraps around the lower edges of the EPS, the harness and straps are firmly anchored, and the finish stands up well to scuffs and scrapes. Our biggest durability concern is the fact that the visor isn't removable. We fear that one unfortunate tumble onto the garage floor or a glancing blow from a trailside branch might break the visor and require a full helmet replacement. If unlike us you're a responsible helmet owner, however, this model should last as long as you can avoid a major impact to the shell.



Value


On the whole, the Camber is one of the best values on the market. It's a stylish, comfortable, and protective helmet that will cost you far less than some similarly rated models in our test. If visor adjustability isn't your priority and you want a great helmet on a budget, we wholeheartedly recommend this one.

Specialized Camber mountain bike helmet - with a quality construction at this price, you can't really go wrong.
With a quality construction at this price, you can't really go wrong.
Credit: Sarah Strobel

Conclusion


For a ridiculously low price, we found quite a lot to like about the new Camber. This helmet will keep you safe, comfortable, and in-style out on the trails even if it doesn't pack all of the whizbang features available today.

Specialized Camber mountain bike helmet
Credit: Sarah Strobel

Zach Wick
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