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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?