Technology behind 6D helmets elevates price point, but delivers margins

Publish Date: 
Feb 14, 2013
By Bruce Steever

DEALER EXPO, Indianapolis, Ind. - 6D HELMETS sprang into the public eye at the first Anaheim Supercross round in January.

Adopted by racers such as Eli Tomac and Zach Osborne, the 6D helmet uses a new type of dual EPS liner to better protect the rider from the most common types of brain-injuring impacts encountered.

The 6D helmet, so-named for the six degrees of movement freedom, is designed to allow the inner EPS impact liner to move and absorb shocks in relation to the outer EPS liner and shell. The two EPS liners are connected using an array of rubber dampers tuned to provide the correct balance of strength and flexibility. The end result is a helmet that promises to not only protect against the high-energy impacts tested for helmet certifications, but also against low-energy hits and angular rotation – the types of impacts thought to cause much of the brain trauma seen in action sports to date.

Dealernews senior editor Bruce Steever talked with Bob Weber, president and CEO of 6D Helmets (Booth 1409), to learn more about the revolutionary Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS) helmet technology and how it came into being.


Dealernews: First off, what’s your background that brings you to try to create a better helmet?

Weber: I've been in the industry for 32 years. I’m a former motocross racer, but my most recent job was the general manager of Troy Lee Designs. I understand that helmets are just too stiff on low-threshold-type impact energy and that we needed a better solution. My goal was to try and solve that problem.

The concept came to me on my bicycle one day. I was just thinking about how we could come up with a better design, and it popped into my head. We had to see what's out there in current intellectual property, but we didn't see anything that was remotely close to what we were thinking about.

I called my friend, Robert Reisinger, who is my partner and director of engineering. Robert’s also a former professional motocross racer. He founded a company called Mountain Cycles, which was a mountain bike that was probably 15 to 20 years ahead of its time -- brilliant guy, and a good friend. I said, “Hey, I got an idea. I want to try and build a better helmet. This is how I think we want to do it; what do you think?” He was like everybody else out there and just really wasn't aware of what helmets were doing in different types of accidents.

I wanted to address angular acceleration and reduce the low-threshold energy to make them more compliant. Our sport has gotten more and more extreme. The bikes have gotten better; they’re faster and jumping higher, but our protective equipment hasn’t really gotten better.

 

How did the first 6D helmet get built?

Weber: It all started building prototype helmets in my garage. From there, we went and tested with David Thom at Collision and Injury Dynamics. David's probably the one of the most educated and knowledgeable guys about motorcycle helmets in our industry. He worked for Harry Hurt’s study back in the day and now he co-owns a lab in L.A. He encouraged me to continue and he also encouraged me that we needed to get with Terry Smith at Dynamic Research. Terry had the ability to test for angular acceleration. So from that meeting, I went back to the garage, spent some more time and actually made a real helmet.

We got busy testing the helmet against a control helmet and the results were very impressive, with significant improvement in both low threshold and angular rotation while still meeting the high-end impact demand. That's what allowed me to build a business plan around the concept and go out and find some help to capitalize the company so we can move forward. (continued)