New material inside the latest Ruroc Atlas 4.0 helmet helps it exceed new standards

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Helmets are getting safer and now a UK firm are pushing the boundaries. The new ECE 22.06 standard means they have to protect against oblique strikes which can cause rotational forces – a common exacerbating factor in the severity of brain injuries in motorcycle accidents.

It is still legal to sell helmets rated to the ECE 22.05 standard but as ECE 22.06-certified helmets filter onto the market, we’ve seen various methods for mitigating damaging rotational impact forces, from built-in slip planes such as Mips and Flex, to rounded shell shapes that promote ‘glancing off’.

But the new Ruroc Atlas 4.0 features something a little different which they claim helps it exceed the new standard.

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As a relative newcomer to motorcycling, but with a history of protective headgear for snow sports, the British firm have addressed the rotational problem with the first use of super-polymer Rheon in a bike helmet.

Developed by Dr Dan Plant from Imperial College London, Rheon is a non-Newtonian polymer that originates from rheology – the study of the ‘flow’ of matter.

Not sure what a non-Newtonian substance is? Think about custard; you can push your fingers through custard easily but if you punch it, it turns solid. That’s what Rheon does.

Rheon works on a similar principle to D3O

The polymer is soft in its natural state but reacts to hard, high-velocity impacts by solidifying. D3O body armour works on the same principle.

As well as working with the Atlas 4.0’s EPS and shell to absorb the forces from blunt impacts, Rheon also works as a shear-layer, which is essential to pass the new ECE 22.06 rotational impact criteria.

As the super-polymer solidifies, it absorbs (rather than redirects) energy that could otherwise be transmitted.

If you’ve ever seen slow-motion footage of the rear tyres on a drag car at launch, you’ll have a good picture of how Rheon works as a shear-layer; the tyres almost wrap around the hub as they control and deliver the energy.

Rheon can be moulded to specific geometries, such as hexagons. The geometries differ depending on use, but for a helmet, this can add another protective layer.

During a hard impact, air will be trapped inside the hexagonal sections and result in less movement, but also means the material can be thin and flexible when not under force, improving rider comfort.

Ruroc claim that Rheon has helped them succeed in surpassing the requirements of ECE 22.06 standard by more than 20% in all areas and has also helped make the new Atlas quieter by absorbing vibrations.

The Atlas 4.0 is due to be released on February 18, priced at £375 for plain colours and £425 for graphic options.

Rheon is said to help make the Ruroc Atlas 4.0 quieter

Ruroc Atlas 4.0 explored:

  • Composites Atlas 4.0’s composite shell uses a carbon-fibre mix unique to Ruroc and has been extensively tested and researched in the in-house lab
  • Snow joke Rheon was first used by Ruroc in their snow boarding helmets, where tests found that the application of the smart material could reduce harmful rotational forces by up to 37%
  • Extra benefits As Rheon can also effectively damp out vibration, Ruroc say it helps boost the quietness of their new Atlas 4.0
  • Semi-active suspension The Rheon is fixed to the outside of the comfort liner in six strips which behave like semi-active suspension beneath the EPS
  • A new era for clothing With a lightweight structure that can be engineered for any situation, Ruroc are planning to incorporate Rheon into their Enginehawk clothing line