6D's New Trail Helmet - Interbike 2015

Sep 15, 2015
by Mike Levy  
6D at Interbike 2015


6D ATB-1A Helmet

6D is a name that many Supercross fans will recognize, with Eli Tomac (yes, of that Tomac family) choosing to run their helmets, among others, but the company also jumped into the cycling world last year with their ATB-1 Carbon full face. Now they're incorporating that same clever dual-shell, Omni-Directional Suspension technology into a trail helmet, the ATB-1A, that should be available by February of 2016. The new lid's name stands for "Advanced Technology Bike" and the "A" is for all-mountain. The company isn't quite ready to quote any exact weight or price figures, and the helmet you see pictured here is the very first rideable prototype that's been manufactured with EPS foam, which they only just received last Friday - all of the others have been non-rideable, 3D printed models.


6D at Interbike 2015
6D's new ATB-1A features the company's ODS technology that they say makes it a safer helmet.
6D at Interbike 2015
There's extended coverage for the back of your head, and it should play nice with goggles.


The ODS system requires some explaining, but let's first go over the basics. Being a trail / all-mountain helmet, the ATB-1A features more protection that extends lower down at the back of the head when you compare it to a traditional cross-country lid, and it will be goggle-friendly as well. Compared to the paper thin coverings you see on lighter weight helmets, 6D have used a thicker polycarbonate shell, with them putting more of an emphasis on durability than what the scale says. There's eighteen vents in that shell, and a traditional retention system at the back of the helmet can be adjusted with a single ratcheting dial.


6D at Interbike 2015
You can clearly see the inner and outer shells in this photo that are connected by rubber dampers and able to move independently of one another.
6D at Interbike 2015
This cutaway shows the in-moulded web that the rubber dampers are fitted to.


It isn't just straight-on impacts that present a danger to riders, as angular acceleration - think impacts from a shallower angle - also factor in when talking about serious head injuries. This is where the ODS system comes into play due to its claimed ability to better isolate the head by separating the helmet's inner and outer EPS shells with a number of very strategically placed rubber dampers, a design that basically creates a sort of in-helmet suspension by allowing the inner and outer EPS foam shells to move independently of one another. 6D says that the result is a system that can not only better deal with straight-on impacts, but is also able to better manage those low-angle collisions by allowing the two shells to shear in relation to each other.

6D explained that the specific hourglass shape of the rubber dampers, which are actually different than what's used in their full face, produce a ''rapidly escalating spring rate under compressive load'' that further helps the rider's cause, meaning that it isn't just a matter of putting any old bumpers in between the two shells. The new trail helmet also makes use of an in-moulded support web that connects each of the small dampers, and that this design is something that would be relatively easy to configure for use in a road helmet, making it a no-brainer to see where they might be taking the ODS technology in the future.


6D
  This demo uses the rubber dampers from 6D's full face, which are slightly different in shape, but it shows how the two shells are able to sheer in any direction.


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63 Comments

  • + 81
 This seems like a way better engineered version of what MIPS is supposed to do.
  • + 0
 it looks like a hockey helmet.
  • + 7
 @vernonjeff Hah!! HECC-approved!! =)
  • - 7
flag jasdo (Sep 15, 2015 at 22:09) (Below Threshold)
 Rotational force reduction could also be made from making the outside of helmets smooth to reduce the amount it catches on the ground on impact, but then we'd all be wearing skate-looking helmets and fashion is more important than your brain, right?
  • + 12
 It would be awesome to see an independent organization test the limits of the 6D and MIPS designs in the lab. Until then, big props to 6D for continuing to push the envelope in helmet safety design!
  • + 5
 why did @vernonjeff get downvoted so much? he is right, ccm and bauer (messier project) have been doing similar for at least a couple of years.
  • + 4
 @jasdo, yes, we could all wear skate looking helmets, but how hot do you think your head's gonna get on the average ride? Most mtb (and road for that matter) helmets tend to be designed with an eye to keeping your head cool, i.e. more vents etc.
  • + 1
 @Kiwiplague i wear my POC ski helmet for bmx and trail rides all summer and while it gets a tiny bit hotter than a xc lid it's actually not too bad at all.
  • + 4
 I was being a bit sarcastic, but the point is that in a conventional helmet there are two potential 'sliding' interfaces: 1. hair/scalp -- liner, and 2. helmet outer surface -- ground. MIPS and ODS add a third sliding interface. But why not try to also optimize the other two? There are probably some vent designs and surface materials that worsen the potential sliding between the ground and helmet outer surface.

What's sad is that despite rotational forces being well known for many years to worsen concussion/TBI, neither EN 1078 nor CPSC 1203 stipulate a test for rotational force reduction. Those standards are for blunt impact force attenuation. So MIPS and ODS are great ideas and I'm sure they help when implemented correctly, but the companies have to come up with in house tests for whether they work. Regulatory bodies need to catch up with the science and ensure MTB helmets both increase survival from an impact AND reduce risk of concussion.
  • + 2
 @jasdo optimizing the hair/scalp - liner interface to be prone to sliding seems to be counterproductive to the goal of having the helmet stay put on your head during bumpy rides, so we can probably ignore that interface.

the outer surface necessarily has vents for cooling, since it's for use during an aerobic activity that generates a ton of heat. You might be able to get away with a ski helmet in some climates (@riish) but you're going to get heat stroke trying to go that route in AZ, TX, or the south. Heck even PA in the summer is hot as balls. Anyway, vents are going to have the propensity to catch on things no matter how smooth the outer is. May as well create a new interface that avoids those inherent problems, like MIPS and 6D have done.
  • + 2
 @TucsonDon, I agree with the limitations. I ride in the summer in 95+ temps and I need vents. What I am saying is I don't think all helmet surfaces provide the same level of safety, but I don't know exactly what would be the safest.

It took too long to get standards for impact testing, now we are waiting for rotational force reduction test standards. 11% of MTB patients presenting to Whistler Health Clinic in summer of 2009 had TBI in this study: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22656660
  • + 1
 Good points all around, but I think Jasdo is right on about exterior helmet design: prior to the newfound emphasis on safety (Mips) & aerodynamics (roadie windtunnels) that has emerged over the last 2-3 seasons, helmets have been marketed almost exclusively on design aesthetics, venting, & weight.
There were a few safety advocates out there decrying all the snag-prone trailing points, fins, & "cool looking" appendages designers slapped on top, but until wind tunnel tests proved they were counterproductive BS (note their complete absence on class-leading designs like Giro Synthe), the industry was more than happy to sell fashion, function be damned.
The new safety impetus that Mips, 6D, Kali, etc. have brought to the MTB market is a welcome step towards functional progression in our helmets, but if you combine these insights about aero & safety design across the industry as a whole, it's evident that Jasdo is 100% on-point about current MTB helmet designs:
Exhibit A: look at the PB product announcement for the new 100% Aircraft helmet: it's 100% old-school industry playbook: all-in on styling & sexy mesh inserts that promise (drumroll...) better venting! The comments show that this is still what consumers want ("Sweet, I'm ditchin' my current, funtional helmet cuz this one's prettier!"). Aero doesn't sell in the MTB world at present, so we're still being sold aircraft-carriers for our heads with large decks, shelves, ridges, etc. that are going to snag on impact.
Punchline? The helmet design world has only just begun this new evolutionary push towards greater funtional safety, and they're not yet thinking it 100% through inside-to-outside, top-to-bottom. Yes I want to look & feel cool when I ride, but having just suffered a concussion, I'm going to keep voting w/ my dollars for helmet designs that subordinate aesthetic design to functional safety.
  • + 2
 Wasn't that why the use of helmet cams was prohibited during certain races? Can't remember whether it was the UCI or BC though.

When I was still kayaking there was quite a debate around the use of visors for white water kayaking, the main point being that they could snag river floor objects where a smooth and round helmet would have slid along.

That 6D helmet is by far the best looking open face helmet I've ever seen by the way.
  • + 21
 How much more enormous is my head going to look with two layers of foam?
  • + 8
 Barry Bonds big
  • + 12
 Clearly you've hit your head too hard already. It's about having the most protection not about how big your head looks
  • + 9
 Safety is one thing but no one wants to look like Dark Helmet. This could be the male equivalent to women being concerned that their jeans make their ass look fat. -fellow big head
  • + 1
 prob still smaller than a DOT moto helmet
  • + 3
 @dynamatt have fun wearing a full face on xc climbs, cause, you know... safety.
  • + 2
 Yeah. "Does this helmet make my head look fat?"

In all seriousness, I love a safe helmet. Just that my head already casts a huge shadow. Frown
  • + 4
 @zzzogas413 let's not get carried away. My point was that I'd take a little bit larger helmet for the sake of protecting my brain on hits. And I'm excited there are brands out there pushing to improve upon what is already out on the market. I had bike related brain surgery when I was 16 so I take helmets and head trauma very seriously. But, this is pinkbike, I shouldn't get too serious
  • + 8
 Isn't one of the big features of the rubber dampers to also help slow down lower speed impacts that the normal EPS foam doesn't compress for? That seemed like one of the really interesting things about their full-face.
  • + 5
 absolutely and you can tell, after switching on my dirt bike i took a few good hits to the head that were felt a noticeable amount less. they really are incredible compared to my fox and troy lee stuff from the past. you won't believe it until you crash the first time wearing one. i payed double for my 6d over my troy lee and it was worth every penny!
  • + 7
 Amen CalgaryTrev! I finally bought a 6D for my downhill set up a little over a month ago (most expensive helmet for me ever) and it's been one of the best purchases I've made in a long time. I've had a bunch of concussions before from snowboarding and MX racing and every time I would hit my head (even in my opinion ever so gently...) I would get a nasty, mean a** headache. After about a month of wearing the 6D, I took a full speed head plant at mammoth overshooting a jump and although my neck was all jacked up, no headache :-) I couldn't believe it! I mangled the helmet up pretty good, but I walked away with no sign of brain aggravation. I also switched over to the a Mips setup for my trail helmet and love that for the same reason. But I'll prob be switching over to this one next time I replace the Bell Mips.
On a side note, for the 6D downhill helmet, the cheek pads condense A LOT from when you first buy it. I had to actually order thicker ones from the company after about a weeks worth of riding in it because they condensed down so much the helmet would start to move around pretty bad when terrain would get rough. Mine came with 40mm and I had to go up to 50mm to compensate for the "shrinkage".
  • + 2
 Got 6d's when they first came out for motocross, everything you said about concussions is true. These are the best helmets period.
  • + 2
 Just incase you guys weren't aware of this. Every time your helmet impacts the ground hard enough to cause concussion,(or as you said you jacked your neck up and were surprised you didn't have a concussion) you should retire that helmet immediately afterwards. Helmets are only designed to absorb one big hit like that, the next time around it will not work as well and could cost you big.
  • - 2
 except for POC which are rated for multiple crashes
  • + 2
 Really...learn something new everyday. I wonder how they accomplish that
  • + 1
 I'm not sure, that's just what I was told my our POC dealer when i bought my ski helmet. Something to do with how they absorb and dissipate force through the foam I'd imagine.
www.outdoorgearlab.com/Downhill-Helmet-Reviews/POC-Cortex-Flow

They mention it here as well, that it's rated for more than one crash due to the foam type.
  • + 4
 Doesn't the larger helmet size (to accommodate the dual shell system) increases the lever arm for rotational forces? I wonder how this plays into the rotational forces on your head.
  • + 2
 Agreed, this technology needs more research. That isn't to say it is bad. Just that all the factors are not yet well understood and that there are likely trade-offs yet to be optimized. There is surprisingly little real data on recent helmet technologies.
  • + 3
 A few years ago, I (very) briefly worked with Robert Reisinger (the man behind 6D and the good ol' Mountain Cycle bikes).
To this day, I still regret I did not have the time to go through with it. They are very friendly people with good business ethics, they strongly believe in their products, which they really develop in house and they have a real passion for our sport(s).

Wish them all the best with the expansion of their product range.
  • + 7
 1A=A1
  • + 30
 Illuminati confirmed.
  • + 1
 I have a moto helmet. Owed the other two high end helmets before a 6d(arai shoei). NEVER will I wear anything else until other companies make strides like this. The difference in crashing is incredible and I highly recommend the extra change for your brain.
  • + 1
 I've been waiting for them to bring this to market - figured they would. 'Recently hit my head and retired my TLD A1 - very curious to see how this helmet plays out, and how pricey it is. The moto version of this is about $750; I expect this to be pushing $300 (but chill out, I have no idea).
  • + 2
 I have an idea, more pricey then any other current offering. I'd think that $300 price guess is closer than we would all like. 6D's seem great but Z. Bell seemed to still rattle the upstairs with it.
  • + 6
 But I do want to applaud them for going against the typical helmet formula, like they did with the moto helmet world, and bring something new to market that COULD *possibly* be safer. Cheers to them.
  • + 1
 KGAmoto: I Agree with that.
  • + 4
 How many kidneys' does it cost?
  • + 5
 I like this
  • + 2
 6D kept Zach Bell alive after two gnarly crashes in one night. youtu.be/Y-jMz-hDgz0
  • + 3
 It would be rad with a hockey cage. Full faceSmile
  • + 1
 I've ridden these on my dirt bike since they came out, truly a break through in helmet tech and I'm sure this will be more of the same! way to go 6d!
  • + 4
 Bought a motocross 6D for my son when they first came out, now he has the down hill one for mt. Biking. Best helmet period!
  • + 3
 MIPS aint got poop on that. I like it
  • + 4
 I want.
  • + 1
 when will it be standard to integrate in all helmets a light / camera mounting?
  • + 1
 Looks as if once you put it on you might be mistaken for an Imperial Stormtrooper
  • + 2
 Technology and looks working together well their.
  • + 2
 Love my full face 6d so I will definitely be snagging one of these.
  • + 0
 They couldn't think of a better name? Stealing another brands model name is classless.
  • + 0
 It looks huge! Maybe display it on a mannequin that it actually fits properly would be a good start...
  • + 1
 Or on an actual person, letting us know what size is being modeled.
  • + 1
 Well that looks stupidly expensive....
  • + 1
 6D is the mutts nutts
  • - 1
 So, it's like MIPS a little bit?
  • + 0
 Odious technology. Hmmmm
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