You may remember this ATS-1 helmet from the pages of Motorcyclist magazine, or here on the website. We covered the history and technology in depth here (see A New Twist On Motorcycle Helmet Safety From 6D) mostly to praise 6D Helmets' revolutionary design. As a quick recap—instead of using a single EPS layer between the shell and padded liner the ATS-1 has two layers of EPS, connected with little rubbery, hourglass-shaped dampers that flex and squish in the event of a head impact. 6D cites years of research proving the system protects the human brain more efficiently than standard systems, especially during low-speed head impacts. I am inclined to believe them, though thankfully my testing of the ATS-1 did not include smacking my dome on anything.

Beauty shot of the 6D carbon helmet
The 6D ATS-1 is a handsome lid, as long as you like exposed carbon. Note the red strap running under the cheek pad—it pulls the padding out in case of emergency, a nice feature.Photo: Spenser Robert

I wore the helmet on a cold and wet street ride in Spain, on a sunny and 170mph day at a racetrack in California, and commuting to and from the office. First of all, it’s a little bigger than a typical lid—Honda’s NC700X, for example, has a storage compartment just big enough for a full-face helmet. It swallows Shoei’s RF1200 no problem, but the ATS-1 doesn’t quite fit. That’s arguably no big deal if you don’t own an NC700, but the point is that it’s a little bigger than a usual lid. The only other oddity that I noticed is that the chin strap is quite long—not really good or bad, just a little strange. Likely the kind of thing that will get sorted out as the helmet gets refined.

6D ATS-1 helmet eyeport
The eyeport on the ATS-1 is a good size, and works well both on the street and track. That little lump in the bottom edge of the visor gives the 6D a distinct look.Photo: Spenser Robert

The visor mechanism has a lever that either cracks it open slightly or locks it shut (a la Scorpion helmets, in case you’re familiar). Overall the visor feels a little thin and cheap—then again, it’s easy to swap and didn’t show a hint of fog on that damp Spanish day. I didn’t find myself using the lock/crack-open feature, in part because the visor never fogged or popped open, in any of the environments in which I tested. That’s a good thing.

6D helmet visor
Rocking the visor latch clockwise cracks the face shield open, counter clockwise locks it shut. I haven’t needed either function, but nice to know they’re available.Photo: Spenser Robert

Padding inside is plush, though the liner is a little coarse compared to other helmets in this category. Fit is snug around the cheeks in the form of a race-designed helmet—think Arai Corsair X or Shoei X-Fourteen. In fact I brought both of those helmets to a day of track testing, and swapped between the Corsair, X-Fourteen, and ATS-1 all day. This 6D was noticeably quieter than the Corsair (no surprise with the Arai’s sideplates), more comparable to the X-Fourteen. Venting is also good on the ATS-1—a fringe benefit of the, “Omni-Directional-Suspension” system is excellent venting, since the space surrounding the rubber dampers flows air. I rate the venting comparable to the X-Fourteen, which is fairly high praise.

6D ATS-1 helmet vents
Opening the two holes just above the visor of the ATS-1 flows air across your brow, while the scoop on top pushes ventilation across the top of your head. There’s also a chin vent, visible in other photos.Photo: Spenser Robert

There aren’t many downsides, but the few are notable. First, the price of $849. That falls in with the Corsair X and X-Fourteen, but not as far as fit and finish goes—it’s just not as polished or refined as the Arai or Shoei. If it were, it would probably be $1,200. Lastly, the paint schemes are tame. Matte carbon, gloss carbon (shown here), or a white/black/exposed-carbon combination. I imagine as the 6D continues to grow, and sponsor world-famous racers, the graphics available will become more varied and exciting.

6D, Shoei, Arai helmets
In addition to my experience with street helmets from Shoei, Arai, Scorpion, AGV, Lazer, HJC, Nolan, LS2, Bell, Schuberth among others, I brought the Shoei X-Fourteen and Arai Corsair-X to my track day. Test all three lids back to back at more than 150mph showed that the 6D ATS-1 holds its own in this company and in this environment.Photo: Spenser Robert

I’m as big a fan of wild graphics as the next person, but I think the plain carbon is a good look. Plus, the technology is undeniably cool. If you don’t believe in the design that 6D is selling, then help yourself to the other high-end options. I think the innovation is real, and I hope that 6D becomes a household name in helmets.

6D ATS-1 Carbon-Fiber Helmet
Price: $849
Grade: A
Verdict: You give up a bit of fit and finish, but you gain a major potential upgrade in protection for your head, especially low-speed impacts. It's damned cool, one-of-a-kind technology.
Contact: 6dhelmets.com

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During a cold and wet morning of riding in Spain the 6D was a fine companion for my dome piece. I watched other riders struggle with foggy visors, but the ATS-1’s shield was fog free all day.Photo: Triumph
6D ATS-1 liner
Up close, the ATS-1’s liner is a little coarse and unrefined compared to some other helmets, but it’s plenty comfy.Photo: Spenser Robert
6D ATS-1 with Shoei and Arai
The 6D ATS-1 posed with perhaps its two most comparable competitors: the Shoei X-Fourteen and the Arai Corsair-XPhoto: Spenser Robert