Dealernews: These little conical rubber mounts remind us of the base of an earthquake-proofed building. Did the idea come from this?
Weber: Robert brought this to the table as we started studying the best way to do it. He's done a lot of work with some of the early patents on mountain bike suspension, and he's done a lot of work with elastomers and suspension over his career. The challenge was the very complex task of creating the air gap of 7 millimeters between the two parts of the EPS while keeping all the dampers aligned.
We had to have two helmets for every prototype I wanted to make, because I needed to make the inside EPS out of the matching outside EPS. I was actually using carving materials initially to very carefully mill out the inside of the helmet shell to get to the right dimension and then match the radius of that to the inside piece.
We've covered all of this in our patent because it was very complicated, but ultimately what we came to is the only way to do this with the quality level required. There's 54 cups that have to be perfectly offset and angularly aligned. The tooling was our biggest challenge.
Dealernews: How’s the initial response been to the release of the 6D?
Weber: I really didn’t know what to expect, but based on the response since we launched we've had very high interest including inquiries from equestrian, hockey, football, skate, bicycling… basically everywhere there's a helmet, we've had people asking, “Are you going to make that helmet?” I can't tell you the emails we've had just since we launch. It is unbelievable. The strategic plan is that the motorcycling category is first, then cycling. After that, we go in to get the other segments such as skiing and skate.
I was also concerned about the price. This helmet will sell somewhere in the mid-$700s. Here's a brand-new helmet in the marketplace and nobody's ever heard of the brand, but now it’s the most expensive helmet out there. I was worried about that but it doesn't seem to bear out in the feedback I'm getting. The general message is “Thank you, we need something like this -- price isn’t the issue.”
I think our early adapter is the guy that’s racing week in and week out. When you look at the costs to go racing for a year, another couple hundred dollars for the helmet is really a non-issue. We’ve been taking deposits for pre-orders and I can’t believe how many we’ve received. It’s a big measure of faith to write a check for $400 for something you haven’t touched and won’t be available for 2-3 months.
Dealernews: How dealers get on board? Will you be selling direct?
Weber: Yes, this will be direct to dealers. I understand it can be more expensive for somebody to put six helmets in inventory, but it’s a financial commitment that I want them to be able to recoup and have a fair margin to be able to make money with. If you have a local racer that you are supporting and want to give a discount, they can do that and they can still have the margin to operate in the black. But you can close a sale and know it is helmet that has a unique value compared to anything else in the marketplace.