What is an MIPS helmet?

Experience next-level safety with an MIPS helmet, featuring cutting-edge slip-plane technology to minimise rotational forces during impacts and elevate protection for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts.

What is an MIPS technology?

Image of a helmet with mips technology

What is an MIPS helmet? MIPS helmet technology is a critical evolution in cycling safety. It aims to provide additional protection for the head during impacts.

MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System and functions by allowing the helmet to slide relative to the head during an angled collision.

This movement mimics the brain’s protection system and reduces the rotational force transferred to the brain, which can cause severe injuries.

Understanding the need for MIPS comes down to recognising the forces you’re exposed to when cycling. While traditional helmets are designed to absorb direct impacts, they are not as effective against the rotational force commonly encountered during falls.

MIPS-equipped helmets feature a low-friction layer that permits a controlled amount of movement. This offers an extra safety measure by potentially reducing the likelihood of concussion and other brain injuries.

Key Takeaways

  • MIPS helmets contain a low-friction layer to reduce rotational motion during an impact.
  • The technology enhances traditional helmets, addressing both linear and rotational forces.
  • Investing in an MIPS helmet can offer better protection, particularly for frequent cyclists and those undertaking high-risk activities.

Understanding What is an MIPS helmet?

What is an MIPS helmet?

MIPS technology in bicycle helmets is a critical safety feature designed to offer additional protection in the event of a crash. This technology explicitly targets rotational forces that can cause significant brain injuries.

Origins and Development of MIPS

MIPS, or Multi-directional Impact Protection System, was developed by Swedish neurosurgeon Hans von Holst and biomechanical engineer Peter Halldin.

Their goal was to improve helmet design based on a deeper understanding of how brain injuries occur during cycling accidents. Realising that many helmets lacked adequate protection against rotational motion, their research at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm led to the creation of MIPS in 2001.

Since its development, the technology has been incorporated into helmets in various activities beyond cycling, such as equestrian sports, snow sports, and motorcycling.

Multi-Directional Impact Protection System Explained

When you wear a helmet equipped with MIPS technology, you get added protection due to the low-friction layer between the helmet’s outer shell and the inner liner.

This layer allows the helmet to slide relative to the head during an angled impact, which is often how cyclists fall. By mimicking the brain’s protection system, which allows it to move slightly within the skull, MIPS aims to reduce harmful rotational energy transferred to the brain.

Understanding the significance of rotational forces is essential because they are a common cause of traumatic brain injuries.

Conventional helmets are designed to absorb direct impacts, yet they don’t necessarily address the rotational movements that can occur during a fall.

With MIPS, your helmet is better equipped to deal with a broader range of impact scenarios, potentially reducing the risk of concussions and other related injuries.

While MIPS’s protective capabilities enhance helmet safety, they do not substitute for proper helmet fit and usage. It’s crucial to ensure that your MIPS-equipped helmet fits correctly, as a poorly fitting helmet can significantly compromise your protection.

Critical Benefits of MIPS in Helmets

When selecting a helmet for cycling, safety is paramount. MIPS helmets add a layer of protection against specific kinds of impacts, enhancing traditional helmet structures to safeguard your head better.

Angled Impact Protection

The MIPS layer is critical in addressing angled impacts, which are common during falls. This protection aligns with most cycling accidents’ reality, helping dissipate better forces that could otherwise contribute to severe injuries.

Reduction of Rotational Forces

MIPS technology significantly diminishes rotational forces on the brain. The low-friction layer inside the helmet enables a relative motion between the helmet and head, minimising strain resulting from rotational motion during impact.

Decrease in Risk of Brain Damage

Brain injuries, such as concussions and diffuse axonal injuries, often arise from rotational forces. MIPS helmets are specifically engineered to lessen the risk of such injuries by allowing the helmet to move slightly relative to the head upon impact, thus reducing the potential for brain trauma.

MIPS Integration in Helmet Design

MIPS technology enhances the safety of helmets by adding a low-friction layer that allows for rotational movement during an impact. This system protects against rotational forces that can lead to brain injuries.

Helmet Safety Standards

Your helmet choice should comply with established safety standards. The standard EN 1078 in Europe indicates that the helmet has passed rigorous cycling, skateboarding, and roller skating tests.

MIPS-equipped helmets fulfil these standards while offering additional protection against rotational motions that can cause brain injuries. Ensuring that any helmet you consider meets or possibly exceeds these base safety requirements is essential.

In-Mold Construction Technique

The in-mould construction technique is integral to integrating the MIPS system within the helmet design. The outer shell and the EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam liner are fused during this process, creating a lighter and more robust helmet.

The MIPS low-friction layer is incorporated between the EPS foam and the padding against your head. This placement is crucial as it allows the helmet to slide relative to the head, aiming to reduce the transfer of rotational forces to the brain during oblique impacts.

MIPS and Helmet Varieties

MIPS helmets come in various designs, each tailored for specific sports and activities, offering increased protection from rotational forces during impacts.

Cycling Helmets

When selecting a cycling helmet, MIPS technology is integrated into brands like Giro, Bell, and Specialized helmets.

These helmets are tested by institutions like Virginia Tech, ensuring they meet high safety standards. MIPS-equipped cycling helmets are designed to reduce rotational motion transmitted to the brain in the event of oblique impacts, which are common in road and gravel riding.

  • Road Bike Helmets: Often lightweight and aerodynamic.
  • Mountain Bike Helmets: Enhanced rear head coverage for rough terrain rides.

Action Sport Helmets

Action sports helmets, including those used for skateboarding and BMX riding, also benefit from MIPS technology.

Brands like POC and Bell offer helmets tailored for these high-impact activities. The MIPS system adds safety by allowing the helmet to slip slightly relative to the head upon impact.

  • Skate Helmets: Typically round, smooth outer shell designs.
  • BMX Helmets: Full-face protection options available.

Selecting an MIPS Helmet

When choosing a MIPS helmet, prioritise a snug fit and comfort and consider how ventilation and weight contribute to your overall riding experience.

Fit and Comfort

Your MIPS helmet must fit properly to effectively reduce rotational forces on your brain during angled impacts. Measure your head’s circumference to determine the appropriate size.

Look for a helmet with adjustable chin straps and a secure buckle system to ensure the helmet stays in place. The interior padding should feel comfortable against your head, with no pressure points or excessive tightness that could cause discomfort during longer rides.

Ventilation and Weight

Proper ventilation is crucial to keeping your head cool while cycling. A MIPS helmet with ample airflow will enhance comfort, especially on warm days or during strenuous riding. The helmet’s weight is also a significant factor.

A lightweight MIPS helmet can reduce neck fatigue and create a more pleasant riding experience without compromising safety.

While the MIPS layer adds a negligible amount of weight, manufacturers such as Giro, Lazer, and Bell have worked to design helmets that balance protection with the rider’s need for a lightweight and ventilated helmet.

Pros and Cons: MIPS helmets  and Standard Helmets

MIPS Technology: The MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) is integrated into helmets to add protection against rotational forces. It mimics the brain’s protective fluid. A low-friction layer enables 10-15 mm movement in all directions, reducing rotational motion transferred to the brain during impact.

Pros:

  • Provides protection from certain types of impacts, particularly oblique (angular) collisions.
  • It can reduce the risk of brain injuries.
  • It was widely adopted across helmet brands and types, including road bike and mountain bike helmets.

Cons:

  • It can be more expensive than helmets without MIPS.
  • Some argue that high-quality non-MIPS helmets can offer comparable protection.
  • The added layer can affect ventilation and warmth.

Standard Helmets

Helmet Design: Standard helmets are designed to absorb impact, mainly through a hard outer shell and a crushable foam liner.

Pros:

  • Typically less expensive than MIPS-equipped options.
  • Sufficient for protecting against linear impacts.
  • It can offer better ventilation without the MIPS liner.

Cons:

  • Lacks the specific system to mitigate rotational forces.
  • In the event of oblique impacts, it may not reduce the risk of brain injuries to the same extent as helmets with MIPS.

When selecting a helmet, consider the type of cycling you’re engaged in, the fit and comfort, and whether the additional features of MIPS align with your safety priorities.

The best helmet fits well, meets safety standards, and is worn consistently. Whether you opt for a MIPS helmet or a standard one, always ensure it’s from a reputable manufacturer and has passed rigorous testing, such as those conducted by Virginia Tech. (1)

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How can one determine if a bike helmet is equipped with MIPS technology?

To determine if a bike helmet is equipped with MIPS technology, look for the yellow MIPS logo on the helmet, typically found on the outer shell or inside. A helmet may also have a slight yellow dot or label indicating the presence of the MIPS layer.

Why might someone choose an MIPS bike helmet for children?

Why might someone choose an MIPS bike helmet for children?

In what ways does MIPS technology enhance head protection in a crash?

MIPS technology enhances head protection in a crash by allowing the helmet to slide relative to the head. This movement mimics the brain’s protective structure and helps to absorb and redirect harmful rotational forces away from the brain.

Can MIPS bike helmets come with integrated lighting systems?

MIPS bike helmets can be designed with integrated lighting systems. The addition of lights does not interfere with the MIPS system as long as the helmet construction complies with safety standards and the incorporation of lights is appropriately engineered.

Is the investment in an MIPS bike helmet justified compared to non-MIPS options?

Many consider the investment in an MIPS bike helmet justified due to the added safety features and enhanced protection against rotational forces on the brain.