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MIPS? What is this helmet technology and do I need it?

MIPS is a new buzzword in bicycle helmet design. We bring you a guide to the new Multi-directional Impact Protection System.

What is MIPS technology?

MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, which is a leading slip-plane technology inside the helmet designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts. MIPS has been developed by leading brain surgeons and scientists to reduce the rotational forces on the brain caused by angled impacts to the head.

MIPS uses a slip-plane system that moves inside the helmet, mimicking the brain’s own protection system. This layer is designed to rotate inside the helmet with the intent to potentially slow or reduce the amount of energy transferred to or from the head. Science tells us that if we can reduce the strains associated with rotational acceleration, we might reduce the risk and severity of brain injury.

A MIPS-equipped helmet looks almost identical to a non-MIPS-equipped helmet except for when you look inside, you will see a thin yellow liner beneath the pads. From the outside, the only indicator that the helmet is any different to one without MIPS is that some brands have a small yellow MIPS logo on there. You won’t even feel a difference when wearing a MIPS-equipped helmet.

MIPS History

In 1997 Swedish neurosurgeon Hans von Holst began to study helmet construction. He partnered with Peter Halldin, researcher at the Royal Institute of Technology, with a goal to contribute to the evolution of helmet technology. As a result, the company, MIPS AB was founded in 2001 by Hans, Peter and 3 other specialists in the biomechanical field from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden.

The company has extensive technological and medical expertise focused on head injuries. They also conduct studies involving injury prediction and the simulation of head and neck injuries using advanced data methods. MIPS AB has extensive and profound knowledge concerning head and neck injuries, a result of 30 years’ experience in the area.

Do I need it?

Accident stats tell us that the most common injuries occur where an angled impact causes rotation of the head and brain. Although you cannot ever guarantee the outcome of a crash, you can take steps to reduce the potential damage – and this is exactly why MIPS is worth investing in. In the event of a crash where rotational forces could cause damage to the brain due to twisting, MIPS could be the difference between serious injury and walking away from a crash with the minimal possible damage done. Whilst you can never guarantee no injury, you can ensure you reduce as much energy transfer as possible.

Is MIPs for everyone?

Yes, of course. MIPS is relevant for all ages and abilities. There are MIPS helmets for kids, men, women and across road, urban and mountain biking.

Does MIPS cost more?

There is an upcharge for MIPS in the helmets but MIPS is not a retro compatible addition to helmets. Each MIPS system has to be specifically tailored to each helmet it is fitted in.

Companies have invested heavily in helmet technology and MIPS. Take a look at how they are evolving this new technology in their gear. Brands such as Giro have spent years collaborating with the designers behind MIPS. Using the MIPS research and development and Giro’s own extensive trials, the brand believe that helmets equipped with this technology may provide an additional measure of protection in some impacts.

Is MIPS the future of cycle helmets? MIPS equipped helmets can provide more protection in certain impacts, so why would anyone not want a potential added level of safety and protection when out riding their bikes?

Will it become standard?: It could be that all future safety standards for cycling helmets incorporate some sort of rotational impact energy management test. Both Giro and Bell believe that MIPS is the right partner for their rotational impact protection system in their helmets.

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