Hard to believe, but the 2013 AMA Supercross season is already upon us, and with it comes the inevitable crashes in which helmets meet dirt and concussions occur. One team, though, the GEICO Honda 250SX squad, has taken a step to reduce that unfortunate possibility by opting to wear a special new helmet that incorporates a proprietary kinetic-energy management system.
Built by 6D, a new company in Brea, California, the AT-1 helmet—which will be worn by Eli Tomac, Wil Hahn, Justin Bogle, Zach Bell and Zach Osborne—looks much like a standard motocross lid, with a hard shell for penetration protection and a visor designed to sheer off under stress to prevent the head and neck from getting torqued.
Under the carbon-fiber/fiberglass/Kevlar shell, however, it’s a different beast. Whereas most helmets have a single energy-absorbing liner made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), the AT-1 has two. And between each liner is a “very specific programmed array” of 27 hourglass-shaped elastomeric dampers that serve as a “free-motion” suspension for the rider’s head while creating a small 6mm air gap. The dampers, which have a rapidly increasing spring rate under compression, also allow the split liner to shear omni-directionally within the helmet to provide improved performance against oblique impacts and reduce rotational brain injuries caused by angular acceleration.
Just as important, 6D says this Omni Directional System protects the brain over a broader range of impact energy than traditional helmets, which typically must have a stiff shell and a stiff EPS liner to pass the tough DOT and Snell drop tests. Although multi-density EPS liners help traditional helmets, tests show that the AT-1, with ODS, is much more effective at absorbing low-threshold impact energy, the primary cause of concussion in riders.
We’ll share more information about the innovative new AT-1 in an upcoming issue, but for now, let it be known that the folks behind 6D, Bob Weber and Robert Reisinger, are well-respected, long-time members of the motorcycle community. What’s more, these possibly revolutionary helmets, which weigh about the same as a traditional motocross helmet, and are both DOT- and ECE-certified, will be made available to the public in February, priced at around $750, which makes them perhaps the most expensive MX lids ever.
Pricey, sure, but we look forward to testing an AT-1 here at Cycle World soon. We’ll rely on the numerous charts and tests available at www.6dhelmets.com to learn just how effective these new helmets may be in preventing concussions…