6D to Introduce Street Helmet, the ATS-1 Carbon Street

6D Helmets came to the market just a few years ago with their revolutionary enduro and motocross helmets. Using what they describe as Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS), the little shock absorbers sit in between two EPS layers which reduces the rotational acceleration that occurs during a crash which transfers energy to your brain. Now road riders can join in too with the release of the 6D ATS-1 Carbon Street helmet.

In addition to the big safety improvements such a system offers, 6D have gone to great lengths to make the helmet as easy to live with as possible. Due to the small gap between the EPS layers, air flow and cooling is greatly improved. There are four intake ports which can be opened or closed that channel air into the helmet where it snakes through 15 channels and out through five exhaust ports. The face shield also gets some special treatment, with 10 ratchet positions for ventilation, a pinlock insert and it’s also treated for anti-scratch inside and out.

As is expected for any modern helmet, the interior liners are removable for washing but also the rear neckroll can be removed during warmer months, greatly improving airflow and cooling. There’s also recesses inside to fit speakers for Bluetooth and also glasses.

All of this obviously comes at a price, with the cost in the US at $895. The 6D ATS-1 is certified to exceed US DOT FMVSS 218 (United States), ECE 22.05 (47 Countries World-Wide), AS 1698 (Australia) and ACU (United Kingdom) standards.

The Icon Airframe Pro Is the Lightest Mass Produced Helmet Money can Buy

At least that’s the claim from Icon who have quickly moved up the charts in recent years in providing good quality gear at extremely reasonable prices. The Icon Airmada and Icon Alliance were both brilliant helmets when released a few years ago and continue to be great choices given their price. But now Icon is really trying to throw the cat amongst the pigeons, targeting the high level offerings from AGV, Shoei and Arai with their Icon Airframe Pro.

The Icon Airframe Pro is the successor to the original Airframe helmet which was released six years ago. It’s a complete rework of the lid and Icon claims that not only is it the best helmet they’ve ever made but the best helmet available – period. That’s a big statement to make, especially when prices start at $375 which is around half the price of top offerings from brands like Shoei and Arai. So what makes it special?

First of all is the versatility of the helmet when it comes to different head shapes. Internally, the traditional three-piece liner has been upgraded to a five-piece liner, providing a greater amount of fitment combinations for each unique head shape. Crown, lateral, fore and aft padding components allow for a possibility of 27 fitment combinations in a single shell, double that of the Icon Airframe’s competitors.

Comfort is also a key selling point. There’s 9 intake vents and 7 exhaust vents – the intake vents have been repositioned to drastically reduce noise levels. The neck roll has also been redesigned to prevent the helmet from hitting your race suit hump when tucked.

The helmet looks pretty damn aggressive and it’s obviously designed for sportsbike riders or at least aggressive riding on the street. The shell is hand made and it only weighs 3.6 pounds. But the Airframe Carbon Pro model that goes for $600 comes in at 3 pounds (1.45kg) – that makes it arguably the lightest helmet you can buy off the shelf today.

It’ meets DOT (US), ECE 22-05 (EU), SAI AS1698:2006 (Australian) & PSC (Japan) Helmet Safety Standards and comes in four sizes. The review from Revzilla is very positive and given the prices, the Icon Airframe Pro is going to be another big seller from Icon.

 

5 Of The Best 5 Star Rated Helmets

If you’ve read our article from last week you’ll know that an expensive helmet doesn’t automatically make it a good helmet. But are all 5 star rated helmets created equal? In this article we look at what we think are the five best 5 star rated helmets, both budget and premium. Money might not buy you extra safety in the case of some helmets, but it can buy you comfort, quality and features.

Nitro Aikido – From $139.95

Given its rock bottom price the Nitro Aikido is one helmet that just can’t be ignored. If you want good head protection at the cheapest price then the Nitro Aikido is the helmet for you. And despite the cheap price, the majority of rider feedback is that it’s a decent all around helmet.

Positives:

  • Value for money
  • Comfortable
  • Aerodynamic. Minimal drag when turning the head at higher speeds
  • Misting/Fogging clears up quickly when at speed
  • Removable liner

Negatives:

  • Noisy – earplugs are a must
  • With vents open there is a fair bit of turbulence inside the helmet
  • Average to poor vision. The eye slot is shortened on the ends, cutting off peripheral vision and requiring the rider to turn their head more than other helmets.
  • Pinlock compatible but does not include a Pinlock insert

Nitro Aikido Five Best 5 Star Rated Helmets

Caberg Vox – From $125

Caberg is a helmet manufacturer you’ve probably never heard of which is a real shame – they have six helmets rated at 5 stars by SHARP and the most expensive is only £145 ($226). The Caberg Vox can actually be purchased at some online retailers for only $125 which actually makes it cheaper than the Nitro Aikido.

Positives:

  • Possibly the cheapest 5 star helmet you can buy
  • Built in sun visor
  • Removable liners

Negatives:

  • Average ventilation
  • Sun visor is prone to fogging
  • Average noise

Caberg Box Five Best 5 Star Rated Helmets

Shoei Qwest – From $366.99

Even though most helmets all look the same, Shoei somehow just manages to make their lids look that much better.  And while the Shoei Qwest is one of Shoei’s cheaper helmets, it still pretty much has all the features you’d want.

Positives:

  • Very lightweight
  • Very quiet

Negatives:

  • Some fogging of the visor when stationary
  • Venting not as good as the Shark Race R Pro or AGV Corsa

Shoei Qwest Five Best 5 Star Rated Helmets

Shark Race R – From $599.95

The top of the line helmet from Shark, it combines lightweight materials, race track aerodynamics and minimal wind noise in a highly attractive package. Shark might not have the same brand credentials as Arai or Shoei, but they make helmets just as good.

Positives

  • Minimal wind noise
  • Excellent ventilation
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Almost as good as the AGV Corsa, but $200 cheaper

Negatives

  • Slight fogging in humid conditions
  • Padding tight around the cheeks

Shark Race R Pro Five Best 5 Star Rated Helmets

AGV Corsa – From $799.95

The most expensive helmet featured here at a RRP of $799.95, which means for the price you could buy around 6 Caberg Vox’s. But that’s the same as saying you could buy a dozen Toyota Camry’s for the same price as a Porsche 911. You get what you pay for and while the AGV Corsa has the same 5 star safety rating as the other helmets here, it’s leaps and bounds ahead in quality and other features compared to some of them.

Positives:

  • Excellent ventilation
  • Lightweight
  • Anti-lift rear spoiler (that dislodges in a crash)
  • Expanded eyeport for improved visability

Negatives:

  • Price
  • Better suited to the track than the street

AGV Corsa Five Best 5 Star Rated Helmets

 

Is An Expensive Helmet a Safe Helmet? A Look at Helmet Safety Ratings and Price

“If you have a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet. If your head is worth more, buy a Bell.” That was the famous ad that Bell ran in the 1970’s and it’s still often quoted today when people talk about motorcycle gear, especially motorcycle helmets. It sounds right – who puts their faith in something cheap over an expensive item, especially when it comes to safety? But how true is that today? Is that $700 Shoei really what you need to keep your head safe or can you get away spending only $150? We’ve collated as much data as we can and analysed the correlation between helmet prices and their safety and the results are pretty surprising.

We took our data from the UK Government organisation SHARP, the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme. It provides by far and away the most comprehensive motorcycle helmet safety testing data available freely online. It’s obviously UK centric though, so we’ve stripped out the helmets that aren’t readily available internationally. We also removed all models that appear to be discontinued and finally only included brands that had at least three helmets rated once the above criteria was met.

Below we have charted those remaining helmets, and you can them see by each helmet listed individually and by a brand as a whole. Hover your mouse over the individual circles to see the helmet name, its rating and its price. Note that the prices on the Y-Axis are in Pounds Sterling (£).

Now let’s do some analysis.

If we put a trend line through the graph like below, you can see that the trend is that the higher the helmet rating the higher the price, but only marginally. In fact the most expensive helmet in our data, the Arai RX-7 GP only receives a 4 star rating from SHARP, but costs £589, or around $1,000. Compare that to either the G-Mac Pilot or the Viper RS-33, both of which are the equally cheapest helmets in our data and cost only £40 or around $65. Like the Arai, they also receive a 4 star rating.

Helmet Safety and Price All Helmets

To demonstrate it even more starkly, the Schuberth S1 Pro is listed at £450 and only received a 2 star safety rating from SHARP. It received ‘Poor’ results for both left and right side impact tests and yet it is more expensive than all the 5 star rated helmets except three.

The cheapest 5 star helmet you can buy is the Nitro Aikido which costs £70 or around $120 on Amazon. The Nitro Aikido was first released back in 2011 and is still produced today. They’re a good example of why you shouldn’t take brands on face value either. If you’d previously heard about the Aikido and it’s great value for money, you may have assumed that the rest of the Nitro range was as good.  And while the Aikido is damn good for the price, it’s the company’s only 5 star helmet – they even have a few 2 star rated helmets for sale. In fact,  the safety of Nitro’s helmets almost increases as the price decreases:

Helmet Safety and Price Nitro Helmets

On the flipside, the most expensive helmet money can buy if you want a 5 star rated helmet is the AGV Corsa.  The AGV Corsa is listed at £550, or around $750 at Revzilla.  But if safety is your only concern and you really want to wear the same brand Rossi wears, you can save yourself $450 and buy the AGV Stealth. Again, this shows that helmet price doesn’t necessarily correlate with helmet safety.

Helmet Safety and Price AGV Helmets

Of the major brands by far and away the most disappointing is Schuberth. Not only is the average price of their helmets the most expensive of all the brands featured here, they also have no helmets with a safety rating of 5.  But they do have two helmets with a safety rating of 2. If there’s any example of expensive helmets not equalling safety then Schuberth is it.

Helmet Safety and Price Schuberth Helmets

So how much is your head worth? Well, if you’re short on funds, about £70 for a Nitro Aikido. But while a helmet like the Nitro Aikido provides the same amount of safety as the AGV Corsa or Shark Race R Pro which cost up to seven times more, does it make it necessarily a good helmet?

Of course not, and safety and price are just two of many factors you should consider. But don’t be fooled by the price (or brand) of a helmet. Never is the phrase ‘Buyer Beware’ more important than when it comes to protecting your head. If someone had asked you before reading this article if you thought a $700 Schuberth S1 Pro was safer than a $120 Nitro Aikido, I’m sure you would have gone for the former.

In part two of this story which will be published later in the week, we’ll take a look at the best five helmets that are rated 5 stars, including comfort, noise levels and price.

Shark Speed-R Review

The Shark Speed-R isn’t exactly new, having been available for over a year now, but seeing as it’s my current lid of choice and I’ve been using it for around nine months, now is as good a time as any to provide a long term review of it.

For those who are unaware, Shark is a French company who have been designing and manufacturing helmets for 25 years.  While they don’t have the profile of Arai or Shoei, they’re probably one of the more innovative helmet companies around at the moment. Check out their astronaut like Vantime‘urban helmet’ or the crossover Vancore.  Now, I’m not saying those helmets are good, or even practical, but at least they’re different.

What is good about most Shark helmets, including the Speed-R Range is the bang for your buck safety.  Every single Shark helmet, bar one, scores 4 or 5 stars under the Sharp Test program.  Compare that to brands like Arai, Schuberth and Shoei, which can sometimes cost twice as much, yet have helmets rated 2 or 3 stars.

While looks are subjective (except in the case of Rob Pattison, he’s damn ugly), I think the Speed-R is a great looking lid.  It’s got a ‘double blade’ spoiler at the back of the helmet which supposedly creates a Venturi effect, allowing air below and above it to limit fogging (marketing speak).  The available helmet graphics are great too – not too gaudy, with options of solid colors or fairly tasteful designs that don’t scream ‘I’m a wanker.’

A must have in a helmet for me a flip down sun visor, which the Speed-R has.  Unusually though, the mechanism to bring the visor up or down is located on the top of the helmet, rather than on the side near the visor hinge.  There’s also two air vents, one on the top and one at the front.  I can’t say I can really tell the difference when these are open or closed, but air flow overall is excellent – the temperature seems to stay fairly cool in the summer months and not too cold in winter, either.  A removable chin curtain is included with the helmet for those colder days which is a nice touch.

Shark Speed R

So far so positive, any negatives?  Yes, a few.  Firstly, it’s not exactly a quiet helmet.  It’s not the loudest I’ve worn, but it’s up there.  Wearing earplugs solves this problem (which you should do regardless of the helmet), but it’s definitely noticeable.  The helmet is fairly aerodynamic, so my theory on the noise is that Shark has included space on the side of the riders head for both a Shark Tooth (Shark’s Bluetooth solution) and eye glasses – that bit of space is an empty pocket of air that allows turbulence to get in, creating noise.

The other issue is actually more annoying.  The visor, when fully shut, is held in place by what I can best describe as a small pin and the only way to reopen the visor is with sheer brute force.  The only leverage you have is a small piece of plastic protruding from the visor, but with gloves on, it’s incredibly difficult to do.  Textile gloves are OK, but with leather or winter glove and it’s near impossible.  Many times I’ve been stopped at traffic lights and look like I’m having a mild seizure attempting to wrestle the thing open.  Over time, it has loosened slightly, but it could be a deal breaker (many customer reviews have also noted this problem).

Overall though, for the price, the Shark Speed-R is an excellent helmet.  It’s comfortable, it’s safe and it looks good – if only it was a bit quieter.

Available from $399 at Motorcycle Superstore.com.