Source: road.cc

All about Mips (and alternatives) in helmets… What is Mips? 

If you’ve recently bought a new motorcycle, bicycle or even ski helmet, you have probably also seen a helmet with a little yellow sticker somewhere on the helmet that says “Mips“.  

But what is Mips? And what does it actually do?  

In this article: How Mips reduces injuries and the importance of a Mips helmet. 

 
A revolution in injury prevention – “Mips”  

Mips, short for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, saw the light of day in 2001, after years of research. Mips was developed by brain surgeon Hans van Holst and Peter Halldin, a researcher at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology.  
 
In 1996 Hans and Peter started researching head impacts from different angles such as the side, back and top of the head, the areas most often hit. By contrast, helmet manufacturers tested helmets only for frontal impacts.    
The result of this research was Mips: Multi-directional Impact System.  
 
The researchers found that if the helmet’s liner can move slightly relative to the helmet’s shell, this reduces the impacting movement(s) on the head in a fall.  And that greatly reduces the likelihood of, as well as the severity of, any brain trauma. 

 
How does Mips work / What does Mips do?  

Mips is a smooth layer that sits between the liner and shell of a helmet, which allows head movement in relation to the helmet itself. In the event of a crash, this allows the head to move along for 10-15 mm, which can limit possible injuries to both the neck, skull and brain.  

 
The many applications of Mips   

Mips, meaning this smooth layer inside the helmet, can be built into almost any helmet, for any application. Mips is now used in helmets for motorcycling, skiing, horse riding, cycling, mountain climbing and even in safety helmets for construction workers. This means that Mips saves lives, not only when motorcycling, but in any sport, hobby or job where wearing a helmet is at least advisable and perhaps mandatory. 

Mips technology is available in a wide range of brands, meaning you can always find a style you like, in almost any price range. Mips helmets can be recognised by the small yellow sticker on the back:   

Mips Helmet, Energy Absorption

Source: yoursaddlery.com.au

Alternatives to Mips  

Preventing head and brain injuries is something that, fortunately, is receiving increasing attention. There is ongoing research into helmet safety and how to improve it in the broadest sense. 
 
Accordingly, there are now alternatives to Mips on the market.  

  • Bontrager, a manufacturer of cycling equipment, has developed a system called WaveCel. WaveCel is a material with a wave-like structure that bends on impact, absorbing much of the energy of impact that would otherwise be exerted on the skull and brain.  
    Unfortunately, WaveCel is currently only available in cycling helmets, from the Trek and Bontrager brands.  

 

  • Rheon is a company that focuses on energy absorption and the technology they have developed and marketed is a polymer, a kind of “smart foam”. This material acts as a kind of shock absorber in your helmet, absorbing both linear and rotational impacts, while Mips only works for rotational impacts.  

Currently, one finds the Rheon technology in motorbike helmets from Ruroc, among others, as well as in some brands of American football helmets. 
 

  • Another innovation in impact absorption was presented by Koroyd. To absorb the energy of a crash, Koroyd’s system uses a structure that looks like a number of straws stacked on top of each other, as shown below: The impact system “crumples” upon impact and thus absorbs the energy. So Koroyd actually works like a so-called crumple zone as it is known in cars. 

For the time being, Koroyd’s system is mainly used in bicycle helmets (e.g. Smith) as well as construction helmets..

Koroyd, Helmet, Energy absorption, Safe Helmet

Source: leasurelakebikes.com

Read more about Koroyd on their website: About Koroyd’s Advanced Impact Technology | Koroyd

  • Japanese brand Arai, known for its high-end motorbike helmets, weighs in with another argument: making helmets as round and as smooth as possible, by applying the so-called R75 Shape concept, for the “slide-over and glance-off effect” of the energy in a crash.

This allows the helmet itself (i.e. in this case the outer shell) to slide and rotate over the road surface, so that the head (and especially the brain inside it) does not come to a sudden stop in a crash and therefore experiences less g-forces and thus reduces the likelihood and severity of possible brain damage.   


If you look at Arai’s more expensive helmets, you will indeed see that there are quite a few spoilers, ventilation sliders and ducts fitted to the helmet. However, these are attached in such a way that they pop off the helmet at the slightest impact or a fall, resulting in an exceptionally round and smooth helmet. 

Mips vs. Its alternatives 

What is particularly noteworthy here is that Mips’ technology actually complements already existing technology and therefore also existing helmets, by actually adding a slide to the inner shell of the helmet.

Unlike Mips, the other helmet safety technologies are a replacement of the polystyrene inner shell and not an addition. By the way, helmet inner shells are currently made of polystyrene (Styrofoam) in app. 99.8% of cases, so i.a. Koroyd and WaveCel are still quite exotic.. 


Interesting next blog…?! 

One of the 7 factors of helmet safety as promoted by St. CASTODIAN (see our website / hyperlink) is the age of a helmet: a normal motorbike, moped or bicycle helmet – whether used or not! – is no longer good after 7 years from production at the latest, because during this period of time the polystyrene “hardens” and no longer absorbs energy!

Now we are curious to know how long the alternative helmet inner shell materials such as Rheon, WaveCel and Koroyd can actually last before they fail due to wear and tear and exposure to oxygen, sunlight (UV) and other causes…. Perhaps interesting for a future blog?! 


Same mission… Mips and CASTODIAN  

When we visited Mips – Safety for Helmets (mipsprotection.com), we were delighted to see that Mips’ mission is very much in line with CASTODIAN’s.

Upon opening their homepage, the first text that pops up reads as follows: “Our vision, to reduce head injuries and save more lives.”

Sharing knowledge about and creating awareness of the risks of no or unsafe head protection and head safety are our main goals and it is great to see other companies embracing this too.  

Check out the research done to optimise Mips safety: Helmet-Technology | Mips (mipsprotection.com)  

ST Rutten 

CASTODIAN Foundation  

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