Friday, 9 June 2017

Sneak peek: Ruroc Atlas

Ever since since the very public failure of the Skully AR-1 project and the subsequent revelation of the company founders' misuse of capital obtained from crowdfunding, I've been very wary of Kickstarter and similar projects, whether bike-related or not. While the guys behind these projects might make you starry-eyed with promises of an all-singing, all-dancing product, chances for many of these products actually making it to the production stage are usually at the "slim to none" end of the probability scale.

Which is why, when the crowdfunding drive for the Atlas helmet project from Ruroc came to my attention, I greeted it with my habitual scepticism. Yes, sure, the helmet looks the dog's whatsits, and the glowing product description made me think "hmm, not bad", but at the same time I reckoned that this was yet another bit of bike gear that would never actually make it to the shops. After a bit of ferreting around on the internet I discovered that the Ruroc company already markets a helmet designed for snowboarding, freestyle skiing and downhill mountain-biking - all of which are sports that I'm not really very clued up on. And if I had paid more attention, I would have recognised their "extreme sport" lid as the one used by the works Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP™ team for its pit crew.

Now don't ask me why an apparently established company would want - or need - to resort to crowdfunding to develop and produce a new product; if I knew the answer to that one I'd probably be a successful entrepreneur wallowing in loadsamoney instead of an impoverished blogger! But enough musings on the pros and cons of crowdfunding and on the arcana of business strategy. Let's have a look at this Atlas helmet; it's a much more interesting subject.

The Atlas helmet will be a convertible helmet; in other words, by fitting or removing certain elements you will be able to switch from an offroad-style helmet, with peak and helmet-specific goggles, to a road helmet equipped with a flip-up face shield. And just for the hell of it (why do things the easy way when you can do 'em the hard way), Ruroc aim to produce two versions of this helmet, one of which - the Atlas Origin - will also have a removable chin bar, effectively turning the lid into an open-face "jet" helmet. Nonetheless, this particular version of the Atlas will only have the American DOT approval. A bit of a shame for urban riders and those who enjoy having their snout in the breeze once in a while. The outer shell of the helmet will be made out of "M-Forge", which is claimed to be stronger and lighter than carbon fibre, and will have air vents in the chin bar and on the crown of the helmet. From what we have been able to ascertain, these air vents cannot be closed, so this might be a drawback in cool temperatures. As for the chinstrap, it will have neither the classic double-D buckle, nor the ever more popular micrometric buckle. Instead, Ruroc have developed what they call the "magnetic fidlock" buckle, which is, as its name suggests, is magnetic in nature - although I'm not clear as to how the thing actually works. I'm waiting to eventually get my hands on an Atlas to find out more about this revolutionary new buckle system. Ruroc have also developed a proprietary intercom system in collaboration with Shockwave; this unit fits seamlessly - and all but invisibly - into the rear of the helmet.

The Ruroc Atlas helmet is now available on pre-order and you can choose between a road-oriented version, which comes with the flip-up faceshield, and an offroad-oriented version, which comes with Ruroc's specific goggles and a removable peak. However, the peak and goggles can be fitted to the road-biased lid, and the peak and goggles can be removed from the offroad-styled helmet and replaced with the "road" helmet's faceshield.

For more information about the Ruroc Atlas helmet, visit their website.

All photographs courtesy of Ruroc.

UPDATE: The guys at Ruroc have informed us that the Atlas Origin (the version with the removable chin bar) will be ECE 22.05 compliant as well as DOT compliant. That makes me very happy because I love riding with my snout in the breeze, particularly in urban surroundings during the summer. The information concerning the Atlas's bespoke integrated intercom system was inexact - unlike what we originally reported, it was fully designed in-house. Finally, Ruroc informed us that they did not develop the magnetic chinstrap buckle, it was in fact developed by German company Fidlock.
By the way, no need to go looking on Kickstarter for Ruroc's pre-order campaign; apparently many people were concerned that they would be "another Skully company" (dixit Ruroc), so in order to reassure potential customers the Gloucester- and Utah-based company, which has been manufacturing high-end snow sports helmets for ten years, transferred their campaign to their own website.

We are hoping to get our hands on an Atlas as soon as possible to put it through its paces - watch this space! - Editor

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