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6D Helmets ATR-1

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Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Innovation in Practice

Rating: Vital Review

“…We needed to invent the helmet. What was happening, apparently, was that we were involved in a lot of activities that were cracking our heads. We chose not to avoid doing those activities but, instead, to come up with some sort of device to help us enjoy our head-cracking lifestyles.”

-Jerry Seinfeld

Yep, it’s sad but true, and you know as well as I do that motocross is not exactly the best activity you can do for your health. However, the reason you are reading this is because the MX bug bit you and has now infected your entire body, forcing you to abandon common sense when in relation to bodily harm. Since you probably are not going Read More »

“…We needed to invent the helmet. What was happening, apparently, was that we were involved in a lot of activities that were cracking our heads. We chose not to avoid doing those activities but, instead, to come up with some sort of device to help us enjoy our head-cracking lifestyles.”

-Jerry Seinfeld

Yep, it’s sad but true, and you know as well as I do that motocross is not exactly the best activity you can do for your health. However, the reason you are reading this is because the MX bug bit you and has now infected your entire body, forcing you to abandon common sense when in relation to bodily harm. Since you probably are not going to stop riding any time soon, you should probably protect yourself as best you can.

In the anti-head-cracking department, helmets have come along way since the early days of motocross racing. Advancements in both materials and head trauma research have helped change our understanding of what is required to properly protect the head and brain in a multitude of different impacts.

One of the companies that is helping to push the envelope in terms of technology, specifically in motocross, is 6D Helmets. Brought to market less than one year ago, 6D Helmets have taken a unique approach to helmet design and safety. As you are probably already aware, 6D came up with a liner that uses two layers EPS foam separated by a series of synthetic bumpers, collectively creating 6D’s Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS).

This approach to EPS liner design is not only new to motocross, but to helmet design in general. For a long time, motorcycle helmet safety was based around DOT standards that focus on high-speed impacts. The problem is that in motocross, most impacts occur at speeds far slower than the DOT testing standards (which are oriented towards road motorcycling). Since EPS foam is traditionally constructed to handle higher speed impacts, the increasingly common consensus is that it is also too dense to properly slow the head upon impact in a low speed crash (known as Low Threshold Energy), raising the possibility of a concussion.

The ODS is designed to not only properly cushion direct low speed impacts, but also to slow the twisting motion caused by hitting the ground at an angle (known as Angled Acceleration). Here is an excellent rendering of what an angled impact looks like and how the ODS is meant to work:

So with all of these terms, technologies, and acronyms, how does the 6D ATR-1 perform? Well, first I want to point out that I have been fortunate enough not to have put the helmet through the ultimate test (aka, smacking my head on the ground…although I have come very close), so this review is based mainly on the ATR-1’s performance while riding and racing, which is hopefully how you spend most of your time dirt bike rather than crashing.

Sizing

At the moment the ATR-1 is only available in one shell size, Medium, and fitting sizes are based around that. The Large helmet I have been using simply uses a thinner set of liners and cheek pads to make for proper fitment. I typically wear a Large helmet and the 6D fits very well with no pressure points or chipmunk cheeks.

Ventilation

In MX, proper ventilation is crucial. Whether you are racing four lap motos at Sleep Hollow MX or throwing down 30 plus two at the Nationals, the cooler (and drier) you are, the better you can perform. The ATR-1 has a series of intake vents at the front of the helmets, both allow the brow of the rubber liner and built into the shell at the forehead. Exhaust ports in back (at the top in the center and on the sides towards the bottom) help pull air through.

Ventilation ports on the brow, back, and inside for the ATR-1

While I would say that airflow is about average among today’s MX helmets, it certainly sounds like there is a lot of ventilation going on. This increased noise is caused by air moving between the two layers of EPS foam before finding the exhaust ports. The effect is a slightly hollow sound but after a couple of motos becomes almost unnoticeable.

Channels integrated into the EPS help moved air over the comfort liner and scalp to help keep your head cool.

One problem I have encountered is that once dirt and mud get into the vent system and between the two EPS layers, it does not seem to want to come out. Granted, I can only hear the dirt when moving the helmet around in my hands and not while riding.

Weight

While the shell size of the ATR-1 is certainly on the larger end of equally fitted helmets, the weight is on par with its competitors thanks to the carbon-shell construction.

The cheek pads snap in like common pads, but have a slot that allows them to be pulled straight down and out of the helmet in case of an emergency.

Fit and Finish

It is hard to believe that 6D has only existed for a few months. With the overall construction, from the ODS to the foam-lined chin bar and quick removal cheek pads, the ATR-1 has all of the bells and whistles of a refined high-end helmet. Of course, it also has the price tag to match, but that may just be the new (and accurate) price for participating in “head-cracking” activities.

Why does this get four stars and not five? The biggest reason is the price. Not solely because it is the most expensive helmet on the market, but because it is simply more money than many are comfortable spending. The ODS is something that I hope will usher in an entirely new wave of helmet design and safety, but it is also in its early stages (dirt between the layers of foam is not a huge problem, but should be dealt with). Nevertheless, this is a very good helmet and I applaud 6D for moving helmet design in a positive direction. Now, if they could only make me as fast as Eli Tomac, Zach Osborne, Wil Hahn, Zach Bell, Justin Bogle...heck, or even Jerry Robin (who just waxed the field in the first moto of the Two-Stroke class at Loretta's, by the way), and I would be grinning from ear to ear.

-Bayo Olukotun

Specifications
Product 6D Helmets ATR-1
Type
Construction
Colors
Size
Miscellaneous
Price $745
More Info
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