6D ATS-1 street motorcycle helmet review

6D ATS-1 motorcycle helmet: the safest helmet around?

You’ve gotta respect anyone who’s willing to put the time, effort and commitment into making motorsport safer. Which is exactly what 6D helmets have tried to so since founding the company just outside LA in 2011.

They first brought out a range of motocross helmets, and now, in the shape of the ATS-1, 6D has brought their innovative helmet tech to street helmets. This technology allows the helmet shell to rotate independently of the head to reduce rotational impact on the brain and brain stem, hopefully reducing potential damage during an accident.

6D-ATS-1-full-face-helmet-in-white-black-front-view
Front view of the ATS-1 in white/black. Note, all helmets supplied with clear visors.

Read more about the system and the science behind it in the safety section below. But along with Bell Helmets and their MIPS tech (as seen in the Bell Star range) and Leatt with their 360 Turbine tech, 6D are putting considerable resource into making safer helmets for road and off-road riders.

The first result for road pilots is the ATS-1, designed to be the safest street helmet in the world. So check out the article below where you’ll find the most comprehensive review of the 6D ATS-1 full face street helmet – including what owners and reviewers think of the helmet in action.

Looking to buy a 6D helmet?

6D helmets are only just starting to hit Europe, so we recommend you buy from the US for now - though it'll cost you a bit more in shipping (check out our recommended retailer links to find out more info) and US helmets won't be ECE certified so they're not strictly legal for use on European roads.

Revzilla are based in Philadelphia and are highly rated for outstanding service and a decent range of 6D helmets, while Riders Domain are in Oregon and have great ratings on Bizratesurveys. Please click either link to drop onto their 6D helmets pages or see here for more info on our recommended retailers.

It’s been understood for years that head injuries from a motorcycle accident don’t just happen because of the initial impact. Secondary rotational forces acting on a helmet when you hit the road can spin the helmet, which rotates the head too.

6D-ATS-1-full-face-carbon-fibre-helmet-gloss-side-view
Sweet looking 6D ATS-1 in plain carbon with clear gloss lacquer

The problem with that is it can cause further injuries, not just to the neck, but internally on the brain and brain stem too. That’s because the brain effectively ‘floats’ inside a rough, irregularly shaped skull. Meaning if the head rotates suddenly, that can cause the brain to impact on the inside of the skull, causing damage.

Not only that; shearing and twisting forces on the stem of the brain can cause damage too.

Read more in our definitive guide to helmet safety.

Which is why different helmet makers over the years have taken steps to reduce rotation.

Lazer tried it with a moveable outer layer on the shell of the helmet. And Bell has a rotating multi-layered shock absorbing liner on their Flex helmets.

But 6D’s seems to be the most sophisticated system around. It uses two layers of shock-absorbing lining, separated by a bunch of flexible rubberized fixings (see graphic below) that allow the two layers to move independently of each other. Which means if the helmet hits a surface and rotates, your head will have some protection against the rotation being passed on.

Which will hopefully mean less rotation being transmitted through to your skull and less/no damage to your delicate grey matter.

At least that’s the theory.

6D calls the technology ODS or Omni Directional Suspension. And while the ATS-1 is both ECE and DOT certified, I guess the only flaw here is that it’s difficult to actually know for sure how well it works out on the street. Many riders swear by 6D’s system but until you can do controlled and independent testing, (or find two riders to have identical accidents to see who gets damaged and who doesn’t!) it’s a bit of an unknown.

6D elastomeric isolation damper
These are 6D’s ‘Elastomeric Isolation Dampers’

ECE 22.05 will have tested the helmet during certification (DOT doesn’t conduct testing, rather it’s up to the makers to prove it conforms if asked to), but neither of the independent helmet testers – that’s SHARP in the UK – has tested a 6D helmet at the time of writing.

It’d be great if SHARP would test one because they give graded results that we can compare to other manufacturers (Snell’s is a pass or fail as is the ECE test).

Anyhow, moving on…

The 6D ATS-1 also has that double shock absorbing liner to absorb impacts, and the flexible grommets that allow for rotation protection (which 6D likes to call Elastomeric Isolation Dampers) also absorb impacts directly by compressing too. According to 6D’s research, this lining outperforms any other helmet they had independently tested – though from the graphing on their website it looks like it was only tested against five other helmets and at one impact speed.

6D-ATS-1-White-Carbon-motorcycle-helmet-rear-view
Rear view of that white/black ATS-1

Still, the results do look promising and I can’t remember seeing any other helmet maker publish independently-tested comparative results like 6D has – so thumbs-up there.

OK, that’s enough about impact protection for now. Other stuff that’s great for safety:

The 6D ATS-1 is made in three shell sizes. They use aerospace grade 3K carbon fibre on the shell (3K refers to the top, visible style of the weave). There’s also a Pinlock Max Vision anti-fog insert in the box which will obviously help with keeping visibility clear. It’s got EQRS and there’s a padded chin guard too. All those features are great for safety.

Typically, we rate helmet’s safety as 3 stars as default when they haven’t been independently tested. But we do modify that when there are other factors that come into play. Since 6D has published safety data and because there’s a whole bunch of other safety features incorporated into the ATS-1, we’re happy to push that up in 6D’s case.

Helmet Noise

(more about helmet noise)

There’s a lot to the 6D ATS-1. There’s that double-layer shock absorbing liner; a chin curtain and tight neck roll – and all the vents are closeable and really seem to work in blocking out air. Which should make for a really quiet helmet.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite what happens in practice because, overall, owners seem to think it’s about average for noise.

6D-ATS-1-crash-helmet-in-fluo-yellow-black-side-view
Not a fan of carbon weave? Wanna be seen? Then grab a fluo-yellow version…

Like we always say, helmet noise is very subjective and it’s rare that you get loads of people agreeing that a helmet’s overwhelmingly noisy or quiet. And that’s certainly the case for the 6D ATS-1 with opinions ranging from ‘sounds like the end of the world’s coming’ to ‘head wrapped in cotton wool inside a vacuum’.

So, taking a wide range of opinions of owners into account (i.e. the people who know first-hand), it seems the 6D ATS-1 as about average for noise suppression.

The guys at 6D have taken ventilation very seriously in the ATS-1 (you can tell they’re from LA!) because there’s chin vents, brow vents and crown vents going on along with a massive 5 rear exhaust vents.

All those front vents are closable and word is that they’re easy to find/operate in gloves. Owners also reckon that closing them off really does keep things air-free – especially because that chin curtain is very effective at keeping out air from below.

But open them up, and everything seems to get very windy indeed! A few owners put that down to the fact that there’s a gap between the two shock absorbing liners meaning air has extra ducting inside the helmet to help keep your head cool.

Plus those generous vents – including that brow vent that lets air in around the forehead – seem to work well. Meaning owners universally praise the ATS-1 for great venting.

6D ATS 1 full face carbon fibre helmet matt top view
Top down view showing exhaust vents

Visor

(more about visors)

The visor too seems to have been well thought out and well designed.

The 6D ATS-1 has a nice large visor that makes for great peripheral as well as vertical vision. In fact, while it’s not being punted as a sports helmet, quite a few folks have taken theirs on the track and reckon it works really well, giving great forward vision even when you’re tucked in and barrelling down a straight.

That visor has good optical qualities too and most owners say the quick-release system works a treat (though it might get a bit fiddly if you swap it for a tinted visor because it helps if you can see through the visor when swapping it!).

The visor works on a ratchet and has a visor lock on the left that also works to keep the visor in a ‘cracked open’ position if you want some extra ventilation riding through the city or stop it from slamming shut at speed.

And 6D includes a Pinlock Max Vision antifog in the box to keep things clear if you suffer from misting.

Looks like 6D has covered pretty well every angle when it comes to the visor on the ATS-1.

There have been a couple of comments from owners about the internals not being quite as soft as some of the higher-end competitors like Shoei and Arai (i.e. helmets that are as pricey as the ATS-1).

6D-ATS-1-helmet-inside-view
Inside the ATS-1. EQRS straps in red

Having said that, the vast majority of owners find it a really comfortable helmet – providing the internal shape’s right for your head shape in the first place. 6D say it’s a medium oval helmet but word is it’s slightly narrower than your typical medium oval.

Look out for a squeeze around the ears as a couple of owners say they found the internal speaker pockets pressed into their ears.

If you do find the fit not quite spot on (helmets need to fit just right to maximise safety), you can tailor the fit slightly by going a step up or down on the cheek pads that you can get from 6D. And of course, make sure you buy from a retailer who’ll give you a no-quibble replacement if it doesn’t fit (see our recommended retailer links below – they’re all no hassle returns or better).

Fitment sizes sound about bang on – so measure your head according to our fitting guide and order the correct size.

Because the ATS-1 has that double shock absorbing lining, it makes for a larger than normal helmet overall. Meaning if you’re of slighter frame, it might look a bit bigger than other helmets when you’re wearing it – though you can probably get away with it if you’ve a bigger frame.

It also means it’s a slightly weightier helmet, even though it’s a carbon fibre helmet.

The average weight for a carbon helmet is about 3lbs (1.36Kg) whereas the 6D ATS-1 is about 3.9lbs (1.78Kg). But even though it looks a lot on paper, most owners don’t seem to worry about the weight and often feel it’s nice and light when they’re riding in it.

6D ATS 1 crash helmet in fluo yellow black front viewOne final point on comfort is that a couple of riders said it’s really tight when you’re trying to get it on/off. Whether that’s the case for you or a deal-breaker is something you’ll have to find out for yourself I guess.

But remember, if you order online with a view to trying it for size, make sure you keep it box-fresh and don’t ride in it, otherwise it’ll probably get rejected when you try and return it. That goes for pretty well all stores.

Looks & Graphics

6D is a smaller company than many other premium helmet makers. Which may or may not account for the fact that the ATS-1 is available in fewer graphic options (or it could be that they just don’t want to cover up that glorious 4K carbon weave?!?).

Whatever, you get limited graphic options with the ATS-1. There’s a plain gloss and matt version; they both show off the fibre best). Or you can get hi viz yellow/black or white/black if you want a bit of paint too.

But, at the time of writing, that’s it.

You can always click through to our recommended retailers below to find the latest designs and deals though, just in case 6D has brought out some more options.

Best places to buy a 6D crash helmet?

6D's are pretty new to Europe, so here's a couple of US retailers we highly recommend. Though note, US helmets aren't strictly legal for use outside the US as they're DOT certified (not ECE).

Revzilla are based in Philadelphia and offer outstanding service (at the time of writing 9.75/10 on Reseller Ratings), 30 day refunds and decent shipping rates.

We also recommend Riders Domain in Oregon. At the time of writing, they score 9.5/10 on Bizratesurveys and offer 45 day no quibble returns.

They are both recommended retailers (click here for more information on why we recommend them as well as info on shipping costs) and if you buy from either, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you - a massive THANKS! (it's how we finance the site).

Click to visit Revzilla
Click to visit 6D helmets at Revzilla
Click to visit 6D helmets page at Riders Domain

6D ATS-1 Helmet Video

Here’s a 5 minute video taking a look at the plain carbon version of the ATS-1 and including a look at how the ODS system works.

Other stuff – fasteners, glasses, aero, build quality, warranty

The ATS-1 comes with a good ole-fashioned Double D ring fastener.

It’s got glasses grooves inside to accommodate the stems of glasses and stop them sticking into your skull.

As for aero – apparently it’s very good. That slippery shell and rear spoiler make for a helmet that’s really smooth and stable, even at high speed according to owners.

It is a very expensive helmet; and a couple of owners said the build quality isn’t quite up there with some of the very best premium helmet makers. Things like the feel of the materials aren’t quite as nice with another owner saying it felt a bit like a prototype helmet.

Having said that, 6D offer a 3 year warranty on the ATS-1 which is good – just not class leading like the 5 year warranties found on some helmets.

Overall/Summary

Helmets off to 6D for trying to be different – and better. The safety concept behind the ATS-1 is sound and widely accepted – that rotational forces on the shell of the helmet can cause devastating injury to motorcyclists during an accident.

And 6Ds solution looks very promising too – giving multi-directional rotation insulation (i.e. protection in all directions). My only question mark is that, as far as I’m aware, it hasn’t been independently tested – at least independently tested by an organisation not being funded by the manufacturer! Until it has, we’ll not know for sure if it’s the step-change improvement that 6D thinks it is.

Safety aside, 6D looks to have made a great street helmet. The downsides are that it’s expensive, larger and slightly heavier than similar helmets. But on the upside, it works really well as a helmet, it’s comfortable with a great visor system and amazing aero – and should work well on pretty much any type of ride, thanks to that wide/tall visor.

The bottom line is whether you want to pay the extra for a helmet that’s (hopefully) safer than other helmets and can live with those downsides. Many can. And if you can’t, then there’s a world of massively amazing alternatives out there – and many have proven safety pedigree too.

Take a look down to find some suggestions.

Good Alternatives to the 6D ATS-1?

If you’re looking for a good, safe, full face helmet, then there’s a ton of great helmets out there. OK, they might not have 6Ds funky ODS dampers, but all these helmets have been shown to work well at absorbing impacts in the SHARP lab.

First up, Shoei’s awesome RYD full face. Four shell sizes, Snell & SHARP 5 star rated, Pinlock, EQRS… the list of safety features goes on and on. Plus, it’s a great helmet!

And we’ve gotta mention the Bell Stars (base model as well as Race Star and Pro Star). They’re Snell certified and even the base model Bell Star has been SHARP 5 star safety tested. Plus they’re great for on the track – though the Pro Star makes the 6D look a bargain!

Or if you want to spend less than the ATS-1, take a look at AGVs Veloce S – that’s AGV’s SHARP 5 star safety rated second-in-command race helmet with EQRS, optically-correct visor, Pinlock, and comes with a 5 year warranty, all for less than the 6D.

Other full face helmets

There are lots of alternative full face crash helmets. You can check out our Top 10 full-face crash helmets list to see our best rated helmets. But we also recommend you take a look at all our full face crash helmet previews and reviews as well as our safest motorcycle helmets page where you'll only find helmets that are SHARP four or five star rated - so you'll know you're wearing the best protection out there.

Looking to buy a 6D helmet?

6D helmets are only just starting to hit Europe, so we recommend you buy from the US for now - though it'll cost you a bit more in shipping (check out our recommended retailer links to find out more info) and US helmets won't be ECE certified so they're not strictly legal for use on European roads.

Revzilla are based in Philadelphia and are highly rated for outstanding service and a decent range of 6D helmets, while Riders Domain are in Oregon and have great ratings on Bizratesurveys. Please click either link to drop onto their 6D helmets pages or see here for more info on our recommended retailers.

Crash Helmet Buying Guides

For (hopefully!) other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various guides - or have a look at our top helmet lists where we've got the top 10 rated helmets overall and best budget/safest/full face/flip-up helmets.

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