Not long ago we were able to meet 6D Helmets' Co-Founder, Bob Weber during a media day at Cahuilla Creek MX park just outside Temecula, California hosted by InsideLine.
We were able to discuss a little history, the details behind their revolutionary technology & what makes it different, advice on finding the right helmet, and what might be next for 6D all in Bob's own words.
Co-Founder Bob Weber Explaining 6D's Patented ODS System
ThumperTalk: How did 6D come about? What year?
Bob Weber: I believed I had an idea worth developing to improve the capability of the helmet and better protect the human brain when subjected to oblique angle impacts in 2011. At that point, I contacted a good friend and engineer Robert Reisinger to help develop the technology. This process took us nearly 2 years. After prototype testing in an independent laboratory in Los Angeles, we were certain that we had a winning technology and could benefit the market with an improved helmet. It wasn’t so much a hole in the market we saw, but a massive development in how the helmet could be improved from an energy management and safety aspect. We sold our first helmets in 2013.
ATR-2 'Circuit' from the 2019 Spring Collection
ThumperTalk: Since the launch of 6D Helmets in 2013 there's been A LOT of helmet technology thrown into the market. So much so, it can be confusing for the consumer. What should a consumer look for (in technology) when purchasing a new helmet?
Bob Weber: Today, helmets are much improved over the traditional designs of only a few years ago. So educating oneself on the various technologies out there should be the number one objective of the consumer. Riders, team managers, and parents should do their homework and learn about the different technologies available from the various brands out there, and how they differentiate from each other before they purchase. Head protection is about safety first, and should out-weigh any particular brand loyalty, cool graphic, or specific helmet design.
ThumperTalk: Explain how Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS) works? And how is it so different to the standard style of helmets with EPS?
Bob Weber: Simply put, the inner liner (much like an inner helmet) is uncoupled from the wearer’s head and can compress and shear within itself under impact conditions. This capability can dramatically reduce energy transfers to the brain from impacts at all velocities, and all impact angles.
6D’s ODS technology:
- Uncouples the outer surface of the helmet from the wearer’s head
- Dramatically improves low-threshold energy mitigation for both linear and angular accelerations
- Has less constraints based on the shape of the human head
- Is more tunable at the manufacturing level (defined by testing)
- Provides active suspension of the inner liner (6-Degrees of Freedom)
Cutaway helmet showing the proprietary systems
ThumperTalk: Since 6D came on the scene in 2013, it has started a kind of 'arms race' among helmet manufacturers for “new technology”. What are some certifications and testing standards that the consumer should be looking for when shopping for a quality helmet?
Bob Weber: Actually, there are no standards currently established to help guide the consumer when exploring angular acceleration force and low-threshold energy compliance. This will take time and in general, the governing bodies are slow to respond. The FIM has instituted a new standard for closed course road racing in Europe that was adopted in June of this year. They also have an off-road standard in development, but currently there is no date established for homologation requirements.
At 6D, we’ve been testing for these dynamics longer than anyone. We started in 2011 developing the ATR-1 and established a testing protocol that we conduct on top of the US DOT and European ECE standards. Our method establishes testing starting with low-velocity impacts, measuring both linear and angular acceleration performance, and then climbs at controlled velocities all the way up to the maximum certification velocities set by the regulating bodies. 6D helmets are certified to the US DOT, European ECE 22.05, ASTM F3103 and UK ACU standards. Also, worth mentioning here, 6D does not make different helmets for different markets because of standards.
"We make one helmet, which exceeds the required standards in the US and all global markets, and sell that helmet everywhere"- Bob Weber
ThumperTalk: How do you know when it is time to replace your helmet? What are some things to look for or best practices can you share?
Bob Weber: Your helmet is a consumable device. It is designed to crush and yield when subject to impact force of some level of significance. After any moderate to severe crash you should inspect your helmet for damage, stress, or cracks in both the EPS material inside, and the shell surface. It is a good idea to have your dealer assist if you are unfamiliar with this process as damaged EPS is sometimes difficult to identify. Also, if you are competing on a regular basis, 2 to 4 times a month for 8 or 12 months out of the year, you are going to wear out a helmet and it should probably be replaced. Liners get played out, EPS compresses, and parts may be damaged by roost, crash, or poor handling and service. If there is none of that going on, your helmet may provide you 5 years or more of great service.
ThumperTalk: What's next for 6D?
Bob Weber: We are preparing to launch our new ATS-1R street helmet in July. We’ve put a lot of work into this helmet updating the technology and improving fit and features for the rider. The ‘1R is getting “Advanced ODS” similar to what is in the new ATR-2, but without the multi-impact capability. It’s also lighter, has improved shield fit and function, and better fit when putting on and off. Especially for people with larger heads where we were pretty tight before. We also have a couple of cycling helmets in development and pretty exciting project going with a multi-impact helmet for another market. Watch for a 6D and FXR collaboration this fall as well. These helmets should be available in August from FXR.
**ThumperTalk would like to thank Bob & 6D Helmets for sitting down with us and talking helmets