A few years ago the Geico Honda team arrived at Anaheim with a new helmet sponsor. Nothing new there since different products appear every year however several of the team riders crashed and hit their heads pretty hard. By my judgement (and having seen it dozens of times before) they should have been out cold but all passed the medics concussion tests afterwards. An unfortunate and at the same time fortunate way to enter the market. Here is 6D’s Helmets Bob Weber talking about their unique helmet and the technology behind it…
Q: Why make a new helmet? Did 6D see a gap in the market?
A: Not so much a gap in the market, but more of a need to bring a better solution to the athlete. The sport has progressed so far in the last 15 years or so and the helmet hasn’t. The technology in traditional helmet design is outdated and needed to be improved; and we didn’t see anything being done about it out there.
Q: Some Motocross safety products make some bold claims about their efficacy yet cannot back up their statements. Having the helmet tested (at a high cost) by a third party must have been a priority to establish the legitimacy of the product?
A: Correct. Before we could do anything we had to prove our technology delivered what we designed it to do. And that was to mitigate the energy transfer to the brain from a crash impact and reduce angular acceleration forces. We believed solid monolithic EPS liners did not effectively offer this type of protection, or bridge the range of energy demands necessary to protect the brain while at the same time protecting the skull and whole-head form from injury. Before we could source investment capital, or for that matter a manufacturer to start development, we had to have proof the concept was effective.
Q: There is lots of data and information on the site but if you had to break it down into sentence would it be accurate to say the 6D is two helmets in one?
A: No, not really. It’s still one unified helmet that must work with all of its parts in unison. I guess the best way to describe our helmet is to say that it answers that old cliché you always hear from the helmet industry better than anything else. “If you tell me what kind of crash you are going to have, then we could build you the perfect helmet.” The 6D works better over a much broader range of energy demands than a traditional helmet design.
Q: Why does a 6D helmet cost what it does?
A: There are many parts to this answer. It makes me want to ask why many other helmets cost so much in comparison? Think about it. The 6D ATR-1 has three separate molds for the internal EPS assembly. Now multiply that by 4 for the four shell sizes. Now think about the tooling required to in-mold 54 support cups into the EPS material during the manufacturing process. Now do the math again for 4 sets of tooling times 2 because there are 2 sets required for each set of EPS tooling. Now think about the slow-down in manufacturing the EPS. We get about 1/3 of the yield of parts because all of the work that has to be managed each time they shoot (open and close) the mold. Time on the machines costs money. Now add the 27 dampers that have to be bonded by hand to each in-molded cup on the inside EPS, then subsequently bonded to each in-molded cup on the outside EPS. Then bond and add the top cap EPS and now you have a finished EPS assembly which still needs more hand work. To make a long story short, there are way more parts, complexity to assembly and manufacturing process, tooling costs, and production line slow-downs when compared to a regular helmet. Even if it has duel density liners or Mips technology. The rest of the costs I would assume are pretty similar.
Q: Will you ever license out the 6D technology or keep it in-house and grow your own product range?
A: 6D’s proprietary ODS (Omni-Directional Suspension) technology is currently only available in 6D products. There are markets with interest that we would consider licensing the technology, but for sure that is further down the road.
Q: For a parent or a rider making an informed opinion on buying a helmet, why would a 6D be a good investment?
A: The brain does not heal well from severe injury, and we now know based on the mounds of recent medical research that concussive impacts are bad, and multiple concussive impacts are even worse. Also, you only have one brain… The 6D manages impact energy in a superior manner and over a broader range than traditional helmet designs as supported by every bit of our laboratory testing. Based on real-world crashes that have happened by now with athletes in the 6D helmet, we seem to have a consistent translation of improvement on humans that have experienced severe crashes in the 6D. The science, theory, and results all point to a very good solution for the athlete. 6D’s ODS technology adds time to the equation of an impact, as well as uncouples the inner liner from the outer liner and shell directly. This free-motion 6 degrees of freedom is translating to a more effective helmet design.
Q: A huge regret I have is using an inferior helmet when I first started riding dirt bikes. This helmet gave me my first concussion and of course we all know after your first you are more susceptible to more. As a kid my criteria for wanting the helmet to begin with was that it looked cool. We also see people dropping a large sum on a new bike and saying to the sales clerk that they have spent too much so throw the cheapest helmet they have into the basket for them. I think we as dirt bike riders have extremely bad buying habits when it comes to helmets. Are spray job and price point really criteria for purchase? I don’t think so.
A: I would agree with you. The intelligent choice is to educate yourself about brain injury, helmet technology, and testing standards. There is a lot of information out there and really it’s too much for the average person to be expected to know our care to know. That is why there are safety standards in most countries that are designed to protect the buyer. The harsh reality here is the standards are not keeping up with the science so you’re back to educating yourself. Our goal is ODS will influence the standards to require a rotational energy management solution in all helmets in the future. Time will tell, but I wouldn’t hold your breath!
Q: What do you get in the box when you buy one of your helmets?
A: A unique and quality helmet that we believe is superior to anything offered to the market today. There is a quality helmet bag or sock (depending on the model), an owners-manual, a sticker sheet and a warranty card.
Q: What are the merits of the various safety ratings like DOT, SNELL and ECE? There is a certain brand of helmet that I see riders knocked out with almost every crash yet I hear the argument “Its a good helmet, it has a xxxxxxx safety rating”.
A: This is a huge question. And in the interest in time here those are three of the 4 major standards around the world, the other being the Australian standard which our helmet passes as well. Snell is the only one of the bunch that is voluntary and it’s also the only one with a marketing push behind it. The ECE test velocity is nearly identical to Snell, and both are higher than DOT. The DOT has the same penetration test as Snell, but the ECE test has no penetration test. None of these standards are perfect based on what we know today, however we believe a combined DOT and ECE standard ensure the best overall protection for off-road motorcycling. In our opinion there is a problem with the Snell standard in that it requires two hits in the same location, both at high impact velocity. This single requirement in our opinion makes the helmet too stiff for the off-road motorcyclist and for that reason we pass on this voluntary U.S. standard.
6D Helmets official site / http://www.6dhelmets.com