Tested: 6D ATB-1 EVO Helmet

So what is this thing again? And how is it safer than my regular helmet?

We went into the technology in detail in our first impressions piece, and it makes for some interesting reading, so we do suggest you take a look.

Way, way more going on than a regular helmet! Two shells, which float independently of each other, with ‘dampers’ in between the layers.

Here’s the nutshell version. The 6D helmet is constructed using two shells of different densities (harder outside, softer inside) which are separated by 6D’s Omni Directional Suspension system. This suspension allows the two shells a degree of independence from each other. It’s all about reducing the transfer of energy to your head and brain at the moment of impact, in a way that a conventional helmet, even those equipped with MIPS, simply cannot match.

 6D deserve to be applauded for really re-thinking helmets to find new levels of impact protection.

The basic concepts of helmet construction haven’t really evolved in a couple of decades, and 6D deserve to be applauded for really re-thinking helmets to find new levels of impact protection.

You can clearly see the two shells here.
It’s a big helmet, no two ways around it. The orange straps on our model definitely do emphasise the helmet’s width too.

I’m self-conscious. Should I get this helmet?

Well sorry, but you’re going to get noticed wearing this one! Maybe it’s because we opted for the brightest colour in the range, but the 6D does look considerably bigger than most helmets, including the larger ‘extended coverage’ lids out there.

At various stages we were told we looked like a toadstool or that we had a pumpkin on our head. Lucky we’re thick skinned, and you should be too, knowing that your brain is being well looked after.

The 6D compared to the Giro Montaro.

When heading to more challenging or higher speed trails, the 6D was the obvious choice.

Do you feel safer in this lid? 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, yes, we did. Interestingly, we found ourselves consciously reaching for this helmet instead of our usual lid on a number of occasions, especially when we were heading to more technical trails, and particularly when we were going riding on our own.

A magnetic clasp.

How about the fit and feel?

We really like the quality feel of the magnetic clasp on the chin strap, and the fact the strap is padded too (why don’t more helmets do this?). The retention system had no problems keeping the helmet nice and secure, but without any obvious pressure points.

The padded chin strap is really comfortable.

Even though the 6D weighs around 200g more than many open-face helmets, you’re never conscious of this, and the helmet doesn’t shift around, even on the roughest trails. You’d be surprised how many helmets fail terribly in this department – we’ve used plenty that are just about covering your eyeballs by the bottom of some of the rougher trails around Flow HQ!

The adjustable visor is easily bumped out of position – the plastic screws which secure it can’t be done up very tight, or they begin to round out. It’d be good to see this revised.

The 6D doesn’t get the airflow of some of its competitors.

A little hot? 

The only compromise we noted with using this helmet over our usual lids, was airflow. With the double shells and comparatively small number of vents, there’s not as much air getting to your melon. In summer, this will definitely be a warmer lid than many others.

Does it work?

Sorry team, as much as we’re dedicated to the cause, we didn’t crash onto our melons in the name of product testing this time around. So we can’t give you an honest answer in that regard. But the theory and testing data that 6D have made available makes a lot of sense.

Anything that makes mountain biking safer, but without overly impinging on your riding, gets a big tick from us.

Would you recommend it?

Anything that makes mountain biking safer, but without overly impinging on your riding, gets a big tick from us. And the 6D ATB helmet definitely delivers in that regard, bringing you more protection with very few downsides other than a little bit less airflow.

Whether or not you like the styling, well that’s a personal choice, but we’d suggest you’ve got your priorities a bit muddled if that’s the only thing stopping you from considering this helmet!



First Look: 6D ATB-1T EVO Helmet

So what’s the deal?

Fundamentally, open-face helmets haven’t changed much since the introduction of EPS (expanded polystyrene) as the material of choice, so the 6D ATB-1T helmet is a very progressive piece of kit. This is the first open-face mountain bike helmet to use 6D’s Omni Directional Suspension (ODS) technology. Cutting past the fluff, the aim of the game here is to create a helmet that transfers less energy to your noggin in the event of a crash than any other open-face on the market, which means less risk of brain injury.

The most brain friendly open-face yet?

How is that done?

What we have here with the 6D is kind of a helmet within a helmet – look closely and you’ll see there are two separate EPS shells, the outer one is firmer, the inner one is a little softer. But it’s what goes on between the two shells that really gives the 6D its brain saving edge, namely the ODS system.

Kind of like the turducken of the helmet world. Layers within layers.

ODS is a series of small flexible dampers – they look like little rubber hour-glasses or buttons – mounted to two plastic carriers that are joined to the EPS shells (take a look at the pic below for more clarity). The whole system ‘suspends’ the shells, allowing them to have degree of movement independent of each other.

Why go to all this trouble?

We don’t profess to be physiologists, neurologists or even very intelligent, but here’s what we understand. We’re still learning a lot about brain injuries, in all kinds of sports, but one of the most interesting things to emerge recently is data about the energy transfer in oblique impacts (e.g. the kinds where your head hits the ground at an angle, and slides or skims, rather than smacking straight down). What has been found, is that the angular acceleration passed to your head from an oblique impact is exactly the same whether the rider is wearing a conventional (read, traditional EPS) helmet or not. And given that angular acceleration is the primary cause of concussion, it makes sense to try and mitigate this.

6D claim that their ODS system achieves this and “dramatically reduces the transfer of angular acceleration to the head forms and the brain.”

The little red dampers, sandwiched between the two shells.

In terms of protecting you from other impacts – for instance toppling over backwards and hitting your head, or running front on into a tree – 6D claim they outperform all comers in those instances too. They say that other helmets, in order to pass high-velocity impact tests, are made too stiff and hard and therefore sacrifice absorption against low-velocity impacts. The 6D, by virtue of its dual density EPS shells and ODS, is able to offer more cushion against these low-velocity impacts, while the firmer outer shell doesn’t sacrifice protection in high-velocity impacts either. Look, we’re going to have to take their word for it here, but it makes sense to us.

The heart of the ODS system. The carriers, separated by low friction discs and with their movement controlled by the dampers, allow the two shells a degree of independence from each other.

How does this system differ to MIPS?

You’re probably familiar with the MIPS system, or you’ll have at least likely seen the little yellow label on many modern helmets. The ODS system is different to MIPS in a number of ways, but in essence, MIPS is a helmet liner that is designed to introduce a slip plane between your helmet and head, to reduce rotational forces upon impact. The 6D approach achieves the same outcomes (by virtue of the two shells being able to ‘slip’ relative to each other) as well as offering more compliance and energy absorption than a helmet without ODS.

The 6D vs the popular Giro Montaro. The extra size of the 6D is clear.

Is it bigger than a regular helmet?

All that technology has to fit somewhere, so yes, the 6D ATB is probably larger and heavier than your current helmet. Our size M/L weighs 524g. By way of comparison, a Giro Montaro with MIPS is 390g in size medium.

Size-wise, it is a big helmet. But really, when you compare it to many other three-quarter coverage trail helmets (particularly thenew Fox Meta helmet, or even the Bell Super) it’s not over-the-top big.

Does it look good?

From a styling sense, yes, we think it’s a cool looking helmet. The graphics are sharp, there’s a tonne of colour options, plenty of visor adjustability, and the retention system is easy to use. Still, it is big, and the overall size of the 6D is definitely going to turn off some riders who fear looking a bit like a mushroom, but surely your safety is more important than that. And we think you’d quickly get used to it too.

There are six colour options to choose from.

The 6D will set you back $289, which is certainly on the upper end of the helmet spectrum, but we actually think it’s a pretty sharp price given the innovation and R&D that has clearly been invested here. We’re going to ride this thing over the coming weeks, and while we can’t promise that we’re going to crash on to our heads in the name of testing, we’ll be back with a full report on the comfort, fit and ride performance soon.