What are 6D Helmets?
6D helmets are the newest and safest helmets on the market for motocross. For those of you who are not familiar with 6D, the founders have been working on helmets for over 8 years and launched their first helmet 6 years ago. They started with the ATR -1 helmet and now have the ATR-1 & ATR-2.
At their inception, 6D set out to attain a simple, but challenging, goal; to design a helmet that reduces energy transfer to the brain over a much broader range of energy demands. They wanted their helmets to provide class-leading protection throughout the range of low, mid and high-velocity impacts. What they came up with was 6D’s patented Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS) technology. They claim this to be a fully active in-helmet suspension and kinetic energy management system, and lab testing results seem to show that they’ve landed on something good. The cornerstone to this tech is their Elastomeric Isolation Dampers. Inner and outer EPS shells are bridged by these hourglass shaped dampers. This allows them to isolate impact energy from your brain, and to compensate for rotational or oblique forces. The dampers’ shape also provides a progressive spring rate to reduce low and mid-threshold accelerations. This leaves the EPS to handle to handle the high-velocity impacts with the added help of dampers providing more time for deceleration of your head. The name ‘6D Helmets’ came directly from the ‘six degrees of freedom’ of omni-directional suspension
The Thinking Behind 6D Helmet Technology
The goal with the design of helmets has been to ‘not crack the egg.’ By making the helmet out of a fairly hard, but crush-able EPS foam shell. Recent medical research shows that concussions can occur from low-threshold impacts, primarily ones that cause angular acceleration of the brain. Since the EPS foam of most helmets is designed to protect from high speed impacts, it means that it is not as functional for low speed impacts because the impact does not meet the crushing threshold for the foam. Some brands are working with to improve this with dual density foams, but foam alone does not account for angular acceleration.
There are a few differing technologies being developed to solve for this and 6D’s approach appears to be the most impressive. By combining 2 suspended shells of dual density foam with their hourglass dampers, they create a progressive spring rate of compression that reacts omni-directionally. I’m not an engineer, so I can’t state for fact that 6D wins, but initial independent lab testing by Dynamic Research shows impressive results. Plus, I think it’s great that there is growing competition by helmet brands to claim the safest helmet.