Riders are going faster and bigger than ever on mid-travel bikes that are also more capable than ever, all of which can sometimes make for heavy crashes when things don't go as planned. And while a broken bone or deep gash is certainly unpleasant, a head injury is scary in an entirely different kind of way.
6D is aiming to lessen the chances of that happening by taking their dual-shell, Omni-Directional Suspension design that they've used in their motocross helmets and scaling it down to work for mountain bikers. They debuted their ATB-1 Carbon full face back in 2014, and now they're offering the $269.95 USD ATB-1T helmet that employs the same ODS technology in a package that's intended for trail riders and enduro racers who might not want the coverage of downhill lid but are still looking for any sort of advantage when it comes to avoiding a concussion.
The new helmet's name stands for "Advanced Technology Bike" and the "T" is for trail, although the lid's intentions are pretty obvious thanks to the extra coverage at the sides and back of the rider's head. It's also not as vented as a more cross-country oriented helmet, with fifteen openings that let air enter and exit and a far less airy appearance, although 6D does claim that air moves well between the helmet's inner and outer EPS shells.
Continuing with that same all-mountain theme, the helmet's polycarbonate shell is thicker than what you'd find on a lighter duty lid, something that no doubt adds some grams but also helps the ATB-1T to brush off daily abuse easier, and the front of the shell is shaped to mate well with goggles.
• Intended use: trail riding
• Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS)
• Thick polycarbonate shell
• Replaceable inner EPS shell
• Fidlock magnetic buckle
• Goggle compatible
• Exceeds CPSC 16 CFR 1203 and EN 1078 standards
• Fifteen vents
• Sizes: XS/S (51-55cm), M/L (55-59cm), L/XL (59-63cm)
• Weight: 501 grams (actual, M/L)
• MSRP: $269.95 USD
Flipping the ATB-1T upside down reveals a basic but effective adjustable retention system that supplies four centimeters of range in each of the three shell sizes that 6D offers, as well as being height-adjustable in four increments. A single dial provides the action, and although the detents are a bit softer than I'd prefer, it is easy to tinker with while on the move.
The chin strap is interesting in that rather than use a standard buckle, 6D has gone with a clasp from the German company, Fidlock. It uses a magnetic insert that encourages the two halves to slide together, and it's so well thought out that you can even manage close it with just one hand. What is Omni-Directional Suspension?
In very simple terms, ODS is basically two separate helmet shells, one inside the other, that are joined by twenty-seven rubber dampers that allow the outer shell to move independently of the inner shell. 6D says that the design allows for three-dimensional displacement of the inner shell upon an impact, which ''uncouples the impact force at the outer shell from the riders head.'' In other words, 6D is saying that you're less likely to suffer a head injury when wearing one of their helmets compared to a more traditional design.
It isn't just straight-on impacts that present a danger to riders, as angular acceleration - think impacts from a shallow angle like when you're sliding along the ground or have a low-side crash - can play a major role when it comes to head injuries. These type of impacts are when the ODS system comes into play by allowing the two helmet shells to shear in relation to each other, an action the 6D says, ''increases ‘Time-to-Peak’ values by roughly double.'' In plain-speak, this means that it lessens the severity of the impact.
The rubber dampers also supply progressive absorption for more direct, high-velocity impacts, and 6D explained that the specific hourglass shape of their 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 to protect the rider's head. Want to know more? 6D has a number of videos on their website that do a good job of explaining how the ODS system works.
The helmet's inner EPS shell is actually made with softer density foam to be more compliant and forgiving against the rider's head, and 6D is even exploring the option of offering replacement inner shells in the event that a helmet has done its job and is compromised but can be still be saved from being a total write-off.
''We won’t know how entirely plausible this is until we start seeing real world, crashed helmets back in for inspection,'' says 6D's Dominick Vandenberg before going on to explain that it's already a service that they offer to their motocross customers. ''We have the ability to rebuild helmets and put in an all new inner EPS assembly to get the customer back up and running for a fraction of the cost of replacing a brand new helmet.'' And while Vandenberg didn't have an exact price for a new inner EPS replacement at this point in time, the $269.95 ATB-1T is expensive compared to its less complicated and more traditional competition so I can certainly see riders appreciating a reasonable repair cost.
All of the above adds up to 501 grams for an ATB-1T in the M/L size reviewed here. For comparison's sake, a Giro Montaro with MIPS comes in at 375 grams, a Troy Lee Designs A1 weighs 344 grams, Lazer's Revolution weighs 424 grams without its odd ear guards, and a much more cross-country focused Giro Xar tips the scales at 338 grams. True, all three of those are traditional helmets that don't feature a dual-shell design, but those numbers give you an idea of the weight penalty that comes with the ODS system.
Sorry to let everyone down, but I didn't test how effective the ATB-1T's dual-shell ODS system actually is. In fact, I do my best to avoid smashing my head while wearing any helmet, even if it doesn't always look like that's the case, so we'll have to trust 6D when it comes to exactly how beneficial their Omni-Directional Suspension is. Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that the design is extremely advantageous in protecting a rider's head, but I'd rather take their word for it than perform any real-world testing on myself.
The first thing you're probably going to notice when you put the ATB-1T on is how deep the helmet feels and how much coverage it offers, especially at the sides and back of the head. The coverage feels more in line with Lazer's Revolution helmet than it does with other trail-focused lids, which is a good thing for anyone who's looking for maximum protection. The general shape of the shell also feels quite comfortable, without any hard spots or pressure points that arise, even when using a hand to push the shell down onto your head.
Not surprisingly, goggles work well with the ATB-1T, but I did find that the arms of my glasses made contact with the bottom of the helmet shell close to my ears. This pushed the glasses down on top of my ears, which didn't feel great after awhile, but it's also a fitment note that others might not find to be an issue. I'd recommend bringing the glasses that you use while riding with you when trying on the 6D helmet.
The height of the ATB-1T's four-position retention band can be adjusted to sit quite low on the back of the head, lower than the setup Giro uses, and low enough that it actually tilted the helmet forward when I moved my head to look upwards. It pays to take a minute to make sure this is set up correctly, which turned out to be a bit higher for the shape of my head, to keep this from happening. I also found that the adjustment dial, which doesn't have very defined detents, tended to back off by a few clicks after snugging it up rather than holding its position. This let the helmet move around on my head a bit while riding. Even so, it proved to be comfortable once everything was adjusted correctly.
There's no getting around the fact that the ODS design requires more material, both EPS foam for the two-shell design and the twenty-seven rubber dampers, which means that it's noticeably heavier than an A1 or Montaro, and not just in your hands but especially when it's on your head. This will be amplified if you're going from a standard cross-country helmet to the ATB-1T, and I'd say that the extra heft feels a bit like you've attached a riding light to your normal helmet. I found this to be noticeable even after weeks of wearing the ATB-1T, and particularly when on the kind of trails that rattle you around - strap a extra quarter of a pound to your head and then give it a shake to see what I mean.
Is the extra heft worth the protection? That's going to depend on what you're looking for in a helmet, but I can certainly see riders who have had to deal with one or more concussions in the past easily justifying the increased weight. And who could blame them?
Also, the ATB-1T doesn't breath quite as freely as a more traditional lid, something that was noticeable even in the cooler temps in southwestern British Columbia right now. Then again, it seems like those who prefer trail helmets with additional coverage are fine with a bit of extra warmth. Pinkbike’s Take:
|The sheer size and weight of the ATB-1T are hard to ignore, as is its $269.95 USD price tag, but those three points of contention will probably seem awfully insignificant if the 6D helmet works as advertised. Does the ATB-1T get a free pass just because it's possibly safer than a traditional helmet? I believe that it does if you've already dealt with a head injury and know how serious they can be, or if you'd rather just be safe than sorry, but it still won't be for everyone. - Mike Levy|
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