Spoiler alert: Taylor Mackenzie helps Ruroc develop trackday helmet

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Gloucestershire helmet manufacturer Ruroc have set their sights on the race circuit, developing a track-focused helmet based on their Atlas 4.0 that’s both lighter and more aerodynamic than before.

The Atlas 4.0 Track aims to maintain a sporty bias without completely sacrificing road-going comfort – meeting both ECE 22.06 and ACU Gold standards.

The carbon fibre shell is now 15% lighter than its road-centric sibling and the overall weight, including the linings and fasteners, has been reduced. This has been achieved, not by reducing materials, but by extensive testing in the lab as Ruroc Head of Design and Engineering, Tom Savage, explains: “We go through and analyse what’s making that composite heavier.  

Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Track in use

“We’ve done various different samples of different penetration tests and how that [composite] performs against a sharp penetrating anvil – similar to what’s on the DOT test – and find out how that penetrates into the shell.”

He added: “We’ll look at how that performs against different criteria until we reach an equilibrium. Then you can start working backwards on the weight to find out where you need to be.”

The process begins with 2D drawings, then moves to data analysis via 3D virtual reality (VR) technology which Ruroc say allows them to test half a dozen versions in the time it would take to produce one using conventional CAD.

Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Track design concept

“Building 3D data in VR, we could do four to six iterations in the time it would usually take us to do one in traditional CAD processes,” said Jason Esson, Industrial Designer at Ruroc. “We could then create these parts, 3D print them, stick it onto helmets, and test it – whether that’s in the wind tunnel or on the track.”

Lighter weight, however, does not improve the aerodynamics, so during the 18-month R&D process the ability to cut through the wind was another major focus.

“We could’ve just changed a strap and called it a ‘track helmet’, but we really wanted to improve every aspect that we could and one of those things was aero,” Esson continued.

Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Track tested by Taylor Mackenzie

“There was a lot of time spent in the wind tunnel – starting off with base figures and working out where we sit and where our competitors sit and what can we do to get to what they are achieving. A lot of it is just analysing and looking at different combinations. 

“The two main aero parts are the top visor seal, plus the spoiler and side vents. Traditionally they were vents, but now they have been capped off.” 

The results have been confirmed in real world testing with former British Superstock Champion, Taylor Mackenzie who completed hundreds of high-speed laps at Pembrey in Wales.

Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Track spoiler

“Riding thousands of laps, at high speed, in a helmet you become very aware of the good points and bad points,” Mackenzie said. “I was proud to be involved throughout multiple stages, from high speed testing to refine the aero performance parts, to being hooked up to acoustic and thermal testing equipment.”

The Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Track is available now in a range of colours starting for £550.

The Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Track in detail

  • Keeping a cool head: When testing with Mackenzie at Pembrey, the team completed a thermal analysis of the helmet. This involved rigging him up with a balaclava fitted with thermal couples before opening and closing the vents and riding round to measure the results. The same test was also carried out at Bruntingthorpe proving ground. 
  • Sleek design: A new top visor seal, side vents and rear spoiler allow the Atlas Track to cut through the air. “We were able to develop lots of different spoilers, side vents, and external seal combinations and create something almost like a football league of performance to find the winning combination,” designer Jason Esson said. “We also explored very extreme options but felt it didn’t fit within what we believe is our visual language.”
  • Rheon the key: Energy-absorbing Rheon material is used to boost safety but Ruroc have had to balance the amount used with the desire to save weight. In the end they say they have a lighter design while also managing to increase protection against the rotational forces responsible for many brain injuries.

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