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A New Spin on Helmet Protection

Helmet manufacturer 6D has produced a new concept in Trail Helmet protection, ODS (Omni-directional suspension) safety that gives you more than the MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) now offered on selected road bike helmets.   Although now geared for trail (mountain bikes and dirt cycling), it's important to be aware of the technology because it may be the wave of the future for all cycling helmets. This article is based on several review and it should be pointed out that, as of this date, there are yet to be independent studies from U.S Consumer Product Safety Lab or Consumer Reports. Bearing this in mind, let's have a look at the technology and what the manufacturer has to say about safety.

The Technology:
Our understanding of the helmet impact has evolved over the years from ideas of direct impact in cycling crashes (used extensively and exclusively by U.S Consumer Product Safety Lab) to an understanding of rotational impact (another likely source of head trauma) incorporated into the new MIPS helmets. Now 6D manufacturing comes to cycling from a motorcycle background and is bringing its technology to mountain bikes. In an impact, energy transfer happens extremely fast, on the order of just a few milliseconds after initial impact. The peak forces created can put a rider at risk of a serious brain injury, even if the helmet protects skull integrity. The goal of the 6D helmet is to spread the energy transfer of a crash over as long a period as possible to reduce the severity of those peaks.

The key difference between the MIPS and ODS is that MIPS addresses rotational energy only; impact forces are handled solely by the EPS foam. 6D's ODS system handles rotational energy and linear impact energy. The 6D helmet has two inner movable liners separated by elastomers. One for rotation as in the MIPS and another with the elastomers for both compression and twist of a direct impact.

D6 Trail Helmet
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The complexity of the helmet result in a larger size and weight than the usual road or MTB helmet.

Studies haven't been independently evaluated them, but tests were performed at Dynamic Research, a third-party California lab with extensive helmet testing capabilities.

Pros
  • Added safety for both rotational and direct helmet impact.
  • Decreased risk of severe brain injury in a crash.
Cons
  • Increased helmet weight, 30 percent heavier than comparable MIPS helmets.
  • Increase in helmet size. The increased weight and size are due to the increased complexity of the helmet.
  • Higher cost (around $270)
Assessment Although not ready for the road bike market, the increase in safety for off road cycling greatly out the larger size and weight. As to the cost, one can spend much more just on a pair of cycling shoes. If ODS truly is a superior system, the benefits would make modest size, weight, and cost drawbacks fade considerably. Let's watch for what the road bike industry has in store for us.

References:
  1. 6D’s Trail Helmet Puts a New Spin on Protection  from bicycling.com by Joe Lindsey April 18, 2016
  2. 6D Advanced Impact Defense  6D's Web Site
  3. 6D's New Trail Helmet - Interbike 2015  Review from Pinkbike.com Sep 15, 2015 by Mike Levy
  4. Interbike 2015: 6D ATB-1A trail helmet with damper technology  MTBR review by Francis Cebedo, September 21, 2015
  5. The 6D ATB-1T is two helmets in one, literally  from BikeRadar.com By Josh Patterson April 18, 2016
6D says that its testing shows the ODS liner can help spread out impact forces over as much as twice as long a time span as some of its competitors' - lessening the G force delivered to the skull and therefore, the chances brain damage with or without skull fracture. A close look shows the inner liner for rotational impact separated from the outer liner by mushroom shaped dampers shown below.

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