Styrofoam, a plastic shell, and your own head are the only things separating your brain from the curb if you have an accident. It's a standard setup that most helmet designers use, but that arguably doesn't go far enough, as concussions are still one of the most common injuries bikers suffer in an accident.
What differentiates 6D Helmets' new products are the dual layers designed to protect a rider's head from a broader range of impact than standard helmets -- in particular, low-threshold energy impacts. A standard helmet is certainly useful in high-speed collisions, but 6D's "Omni-Directional Suspension System," or ODS, aims to keep motocross bikers safer in accidents involving less than 10mph of force.
In other words, the design aims to combat slow-speed knocks that can leave riders dizzy and impact their performance, rather than simply focusing on high-speed and more dangerous collisions between a racer and their environment.
6D says the helmets have been "engineered to provide active free-motion capability within the helmet's protective liner and exceed current required helmet standards."
The California-based team, made up of former professional motocrossers Bob Weber and Robert Reisinger, says that for a 4.5mph impact, a standard helmet will pass on approximately 79g of force to a rider's head, whereas their new system will only hit with 49g of force.
The ODS system begins with a traditional EPS liner, which pads the helmet. However, the EPS liner is separated by an array of elastomeric isolation dampers that create an air gap between the two layers of styrofoam. Combined with an "hourglass shaped" array, the lining is able to produce a "rapidly escalating spring rate under compressive load." This further cushions a racer from a collision, as energy will dissipate more evenly around a rider's head.
Being a little dizzy may not seem like such a big deal, but for riders, the smallest knock bring a high cost. According to 6D, low-threshold impact energy is the main cause of concussion and second impact syndrome, a condition where brain matter swells rapidly. A second blow, whether immediately or weeks later, could be fatal.
The motocross helmet models will go on sale in February.