6D ATS-1 Helmet

Editor Score: 89.25%
Aesthetics 8.5/10
Protection 10.0/10
Value 9.0/10
Comfort/Fit 8.5/10
Quality/Design 9.5/10
Weight 8.0/10
Options/Selection 7.5/10
Innovation 10.0/10
Weather Suitability 9.5/10
Desirable/Cool Factor 8.75/10
Overall Score89.25/100

Innovation, whether it be the motorcycle I’m riding or the gear I’m wearing, always piques my interest. I remember the introduction of 6D’s Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS) technology in MX helmets at the now defunct Dealer Expo show in 2013, and to now see it realized in a street-legal helmet a few years later satisfies my progressive inclinations.  

For the uninitiated, 6D’s ODS is comprised of 29 elastomeric isolation dampers situated between the dual expanded polystyrene (EPS) liners. The result is a claimed reduction in energy transfer to the brain during low-, medium-, and high-speed impacts for both angular (rotational) and linear (straight-on) varieties. We expounded on 6D’s safety technology, as well as Leatt and MIPS, in our Helmet Tech: Reducing Rotational Brain Violence article. You can also more fully research ODS technology at 6D’s website 6dhelmets.com.

6D ATS-1

The cutaway of 6D’s ATS-1 helmet provides insight into how ODS allows the second EPS liner to “float” within the helmet’s shell and first EPS liner. With ODS allowing movement in every direction, it’s easier to understand the claimed safety benefits ODS provides in addition to the traditional impact protection of the hard outer shell and the energy-absorbing EPS liner.

The tradeoff for 6D’s innovative safety benefits is a helmet that’s slightly more bulbous than a helmet without ODS technology. 6D has three shell sizes, but the Medium size ATS-1 we tested uses a Large shell. And, even though its shell is constructed of lightweight 3k carbon fiber, our scales tell us the ATS-1 weighs an average of 6.4 ounces more than competitive models of the same size (we weighed Mediums). Neither of which are deal killers in my opinion. I’ve worn the ATS-1 for consecutive days of riding with no more eagerness to remove the helmet at the end of a long day than other lids in my possession.

MO Tested: HJC IS-MAX II Modular Helmet

Fitment is always a concern, and 6D seems to have struck a sweet spot between oval craniums (which I am) and more rounded ones. After a full-day’s ride I can detect a minimal hot spot on my forehead, and a minimally worse one at the lower rear of my skull. What’s most bothersome to me is the way in which the comfort liner presses down on the top of my ears where the speaker cutouts are. Otherwise, the removable, washable comfort liner provides a comfortably snug fit, and is constructed of the latest moisture-wicking material. More innovation exists in the removable neck cuff at the back of the helmet that increases airflow on warm days when removed, and reduces airflow on cool days when installed. The ATS-1 also features emergency removable cheek pads, a removable chin curtain (that also restricts or increases airflow), and internal speaker pockets.

6D ATS-1

With and without the chin curtain and rear neck cuff. The ATS-1 proved to be a quiet lid while riding with the chin curtain and neck cuff installed. Emergency tabs on the cheek pads are nicely obvious. The chin strap, though, is about an inch longer than it needs to be. We were told 6D is working on small improvements such as a shorter chin strap and a new material for the comfort liner.

The ATS-1 comes equipped with a clear faceshield that’s pre-pinned for easy installation of the included Pinlock insert (Pinlock keeps a faceshield fog-free no matter what the weather or temperature). The faceshield’s side plates feature a quick-release system that works as described, allowing for quick and easy faceshield swaps to the optional dark smoke shield ($55). The clear faceshield exhibits quality ratcheting behavior when opening and closing, and it seals tightly to the face port. The side plates can also be adjusted to ensure a tight seal if one doesn’t already exist or if it possibly gets out of adjustment.

Fusar Smart Helmet Tech, Available Through Speedmob

Air venting is provided via four intake ports and five exhaust ports. Opening the intake ports the increase in airflow is readily felt, as well as the decreased airflow when shut. Used in conjunction with the removable chin curtain and neck cuff, and the ATS-1 moves a lot of air.

6D ATS-1

The ATS-1 moves air around the helmet in an efficient manner with no discernibly obnoxious noises, lifting or buffeting.

The 6D ATS-1 is both DOT and ECE 22-05 certified. Not acquiring a Snell approval was a conscientious decision of 6D’s chief decision maker, Bob Weber, even though Snell is perceived in the U.S. as the defacto safety standard. “Snell’s double-impact test is an unrealistic crash scenario,” says Weber. “It makes a helmet shell too stiff across a broad energy range and that’s not beneficial to the customer. In our opinion the combination of DOT and ECE certification is the best in regards to safety standards.”

The ATS-1 is available in sizes XS – XXL in Matte Carbon, Gloss Carbon, and White/Black/Carbon (pictured) for $895. The price may seem a little steep at first (have you seen the MSRP of the new AGV Pista GP R helmet?!?), but how do you put a price tag on increased safety? If 6D’s ODS technology keeps your brain from being scrambled in a crash, the helmet’s value becomes incalculable. How much is your head worth?

  • Skip

    Considering the only evidence we have on its safety credentials is from the manufacturer, I wouldn’t be so quick to say it’s safer.

    • Ian H

      And, you know, being ECE rated. Did you know that Moto GP riders will ONLY wear ECE rated helmets? And that Snell helmets are considered NOT STREET LEGAL in countries using ECE?

      Do the fucking math. Snell is a private company FUNDED by helmetiers like Arai and Shoei to kiss ass, not to save lives.

      • appliance5000

        ECE is the safety standard of Europe so, yes, riders in Europe will use ECE rated helmets. Not much choice. More logic than math.

  • Craig Hoffman

    This is excellent technology. While hopefully knocking your noggin is a pretty rare event for street riders, it is far more common when riding off road. The dirt helmets 6D sells are excellent lids. The only real drawback is they are spendy.

  • Gruf Rude

    For me, fit is everything in a helmet. ‘Hot spots’ mean the helmet doesn’t get worn. I don’t ride without a helmet, so I shop until I get one that fits.
    The concept of slowing the impact forces is good physics; I don’t know if the difference means anything in relation to the beginning of brain damage in a hard crash. Having ridden street bikes for 50+ years, the ‘double-impact’ scenario doesn’t seem unrealistic…

  • Old MOron

    The ECE 22-05 standard is good enough for me. But I still wonder if avoiding SNELL is really a financial consideration. How much does it cost to get your helmets certified?

    I remember Dexter Ford’s excellent article that started the reevaluation of the SNELL standard. Hasn’t it been updated since then? Is Bob Weber saying that the M2015 standard unsafe? Is it really “unconscientious” to seek SNELL certification?

    • Old MOron

      Well, I googled up Ford’s article, and I’ve been reading it again. Here’s some interesting text:

      “…according to the Hurt Report and the similar Thailand study, going faster when you fall off does not typically result in your helmet taking a harder hit.

      How can this be? Because the vast majority of head impacts occur when the rider falls off his bike and simply hits his head on the flat road surface. The biggest impact in a given crash will typically happen on that first contact, and the energy is proportional to the height from which the rider falls—not his forward speed at the time. A big highside may give a rider some extra altitude, but rarely higher than 8 feet. A high-speed crash may involve a lot of sliding along the ground, but this is not particularly challenging to a helmeted head because all modern full-face helmets do an excellent job of protecting you from abrasion.”

      And Ford notes earlier in his essay that rotational injuries are dangerous: “if your head is twisted rapidly, the brain can lag behind, causing tearing and serious internal brain injury as it drags against the skull.”

      So like T-rod, I welcome 6D’s innovation. I’m even going to look at this helmet when my Shoei Qwest is up for replacement.

      I still prefer the ECE standard because it requires certified testing, not just self reporting by the OEM.

      • Gruf Rude

        I look at all the trees, rocks, curbing, posts and poles and Armco barriers lining the curvy roads I ride on and ‘a lot of sliding’ on those roads is unlikely – you are going to fetch up against something solid shortly after the initial contact with the pavement.

        • Old MOron

          Ford sites three separate studies. They all reached similar conclusions.
          I suppose it’s possible none of the studies considered canyon strafing.
          I’ve had several crashes in the canyons, myself. Been lucky enough to not have slid into anything. But I see your point. Maybe a Snell lid for canyon duties.

  • major tom

    I’m a certified old timer meaning my brain would get scrambled way before a fit young athlete so increased stiffness would do me no good as I’d be dead long before using up the helmet crush of a Snell helmet. Two impacts in the same spot is a hold over from decades ago when Snell helmets were designed for car racers with roll bars right behind their heads. I’m actually disappointed Snell still designs for this.Surely motorcyclists must now be their biggest market? Now that I’m ranting let me state my wish for someone to please design a street helmet. You know with a bill or visor, or peak, whatever you want to call it to block the sun by providing a shade strip on the shield so i can look into the sun just like baseball hats do And make it heavily tinted so you can see street signals overhead without craning your head back. Simple really. The stupid dual purpose helmet visor, bill, peak thing is a useless appendage. What ever is it for anyway? It’s aimed up in the air! And don’t get me started on the useless drop down sun glasses things! Another layer of dusty plastic to peer through.

  • kenneth_moore

    Has the manufacurer made this tech available to their competition? If they truly have designed a major improvement in rider safety, it would seem like the right thing to do. I’m not saying they should give it away, but they should license it if asked to.

  • Old MOron

    Popular wisdom seems to be that Snell’s repeated impact scenario is unrealistic. I think Shinya Nakano would disagree. But this kind of impact does seem to be rare.

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1pu4a_bike-crash-nakano_news

  • Vickram Ramswamy

    I bought this one too in Size Medium. However I am not sure it fits as snugly as my Shoei RF. Can you confirm if you were wearing a medium in other makes too? Or were you wearing a large in other brands, but switched to medium for the 6D.

  • TheMarvelous1310

    So, are we ever gonna get that bagger shootout? You promised!

  • CDR C

    Shape. Shape. It’s between round and oval, and I’m a long oval (like, Arai Profile). If they made a long oval shape, I’d buy one.