6D ATB-2T Helmet Review


Review by Dario DiGiulio
Studio photos by Sourpatch

Helmets are undoubtedly the most critical and ubiquitous accessory in cycling. Despite their mission-critical performance, many of us take their performance for granted, making buying decisions based on looks and brand, rather than safety, longevity, and fit. This is understandable, given the historical lack of hard evidence in helmet technology, but that dynamic is quickly changing. With more rigorous testing standards and a broader understanding of what keeps us safe, companies can now design for better, more consistent protection. 6D has aimed to do exactly this with their new ATB-2T helmet, and as far as I see it, they’ve hit their mark.

6D ATB-2T Helmet Review


6D is a company founded on the sole principle of designing the best brain protection gear for action sports, and they have a strong history of making good on that objective. Their newest offering, the ATB-2T, is a 3/4 lid that improves on the creature comforts of its predecessor (the ATB-1T), while implementing even better impact protection than their prior models. 6D continues to use their patented Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS) system, designed to reduce low, mid, and high-velocity impacts for both linear and angular accelerations. This is achieved by the use of a multi-layer design: On the outside are the traditional EPS liner wrapped in a Polycarbonate shell; and within this is an EPP multi-impact liner featuring damping towers and elastomeric isolation dampers. This allows the EPP and EPS liners to move independently of each other, translating less angular acceleration to the head in every direction. 6D has designed the ODS system to start working at the concussive low-threshold energy impacts that many other systems don’t, while still outperforming other systems at higher velocities. Earning a 5-star rating from Virginia Tech’s impartial helmet study, there’s proof in the pudding, which should add to the peace of mind that a good helmet can provide.

Ventilation has improved significantly over the prior model thanks to more intake and exhaust ports with a larger size, including a new brow vent. Stink is mitigated with a silver-based Ionic+ liner, a fabric that comes from the biomedical field and should prove to be more long-lasting than traditional athletic fabric treatments. They didn’t miss any small details either, with well-integrated glasses retention, clean and easy harness adjustment, and a slick Fidlock buckle. A 3-position adjustable peak will satisfy those in sunny climates or stowers of goggles on the climbs, and there are three shell sizes on offer to fit 53-63cm head sizes. The 6D ATB-2T is available in 7 colors to match your kit, with a retail price of $229.95.

6D ATB-2T Helmet Review


When it comes to testing safety gear, the secret hope is that you’ll never really need to find out how well it works. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I found out just how well the 6D ATB-2T performed in the heat of battle. On my second ride with the helmet, I had one of those falls you simply don’t see coming, where you’re just suddenly on the ground wondering how you got there. Upon self-assessment, I found that the helmet had made contact with the ground, though I had absolutely no accompanying pain or injury. This is of course just one small anecdote, but even little spills like that can cause serious brain injuries that add up over a lifetime, and many of us know far too well just how bad one small concussion can be. Aside from my bruised ego, I was able to get back onto the bike and confidently resume testing of the 6D lid after a quick once-over inside.

I hope not to push the limits of the safety features in the helmet too much more, but the other features have certainly gotten a good stress test over the past few weeks. Helmet comfort can be a tricky thing to relate to others as we all have our own special head shape, with lumps and bumps that can make them fit drastically different for many people within the same size range. To alleviate that, 6D includes a pack of high-density foam pads that you can use to dial in the fit, spacing the liner out to better conform to your dome. On my first couple rides, I had some uncomfortable hot spots that seemed like a dealbreaker, but after adding some spacers to the right points things were feeling great. This is a neat touch that I thoroughly appreciated to ensure the lid was going to be usable for me in the long term. I found the webbing junction underneath the ear pretty awkward to adjust, but luckily that’s the kind of thing you only have to tweak once or twice for the life of the helmet, so not too big a deal. The Fidlock buckle is a nice touch, magnets always make me feel like I’m living in the future.

6D ATB-2T Helmet Review

Because of that complex dual-layer ODS protection tech, the weight of the ATB-2T is higher than most in the class at 475g for the M/L tested. The solid fit on the head helps to minimize how much it impacts the head, but it’s still notable. Ventilation in helmets is rarely enough to compete with the amount of sweat I’m able to generate on any given ride, and the ATB-2T is no exception. The airflow is good enough to keep the head feeling cool, assuming you don’t have a lot of hair under the shell, but ultimately, I find a waterfall of sweat coming down my face anytime I’m putting in a solid effort. As someone who perspires a lot while riding, this is just a given, but I’m always hopeful that more companies will adopt the simple sweat-channeling feature of TLD’s A3. If you’re not regularly turning yourself inside out on rides, or simply don’t sweat all that much, you should be a-okay, but otherwise the ventilation proves to be about the same as the rest of the field.

One last note on fit, and the unfortunate reality that is helmet aesthetics – this is a bulky brain bucket. Not as bulbous as some, but definitely not a sleek and stylish accessory. I think 6D has done a pretty solid job of keeping the looks subtle and clean, but the form factor is simply a bit thicker than the average, due in large part to the superior safety technology it contains. This is a tradeoff I’ll happily make, as having a fully functioning brain is a hell of a lot nicer than trying to look cool in what is decidedly a dorky piece of headgear. Part of me wishes more helmet companies were willing to make the sacrifice in favor of safety, but I do think that’s a trend we’ll see as data starts to have more sway on the market.

The Wolf’s Last Word

When it comes time to purchase a new helmet (which you’re probably overdue for, most people tend to keep wearing helmets well past their lifespan), there are plentiful options for you to choose from. Amongst those options are pieces like 6D’s ATB-2T, which offer a true improvement on the safety technologies of old and do their best to keep you healthy in what is decidedly a dangerous sport. By no means is this the cheapest helmet on the market, but in my opinion a helmet is the thing to splurge on, as it’s the only piece of safety equipment most of us wear on every ride. The number of times I’ve seen someone on trail with a $150 aftermarket stem that offers absolutely no performance gains and a helmet that does the bare minimum is pretty laughable – priorities eh?

Price: $229.95
Weight: 474 grams (M/L)
Website: 6Dhelmets.com

We Dig

top-tier safety technology
tunable fit
long-lasting hardware and liner

We Don’t

bulkier and heavier than most
fussy strap adjustment
sweat waterfall


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