One of the most important pieces of equipment when riding a bike is your helmet. Hopefully, you will never have to use it to its full potential, but it’s good to have it there in case of an accident. Helmet technology in the past few decades has come a long way, and it’s much better than it has ever been.
When searching for a helmet, there’s a lot to think about, and we often get asked about a system that many helmets use called MIPS. This is a fantastic system that not only increases comfort but safety, too. In this article, we are going to discuss:
- What Is MIPS
- Advantages Of The MIPS System?
- Is It Worth Investing In A MIPS Helmet?
- Alternatives To The MIPS System
What Is MIPS?
MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. MIPS was invented in 1995 when a Ph.D. student was researching the biometrics of head and neck injuries. It’s a special layer that sits inside the helmet and has the ability to add an extra layer of active protection.
It works by mimicking the natural mechanisms which the brain does when protecting the head. It heavily reduces brain injuries and can make a very big difference in the event of an accident. It not only adds protection, but it can also add comfort and a better helmet feel.
It’s important to understand MIPS is not a brand of helmet, but it is a system that helmet brands can use to improve the safety of their products. Hence, you will see MIPS helmets from over 100 different helmet manufacturers.
It’s seen on all types of cycling helmets, from road, mountain, time trial, and even commuting helmets. The technology is also on many other styles of helmets, such as horse riding helmets.
Advantages Of The MIPS System?
The MIPS system is a very unique design and works in a very special way. Here’s what the MIPS system has the capability to do in an accident.
Slip Plane Technology
First, we have the slip plane technology. This is an extra layer between your head and the helmet. When impact comes to the helmet, especially at an angle, it has the ability to slip 10 to 15 degrees in all directions.
This slip-plane means that instead of the helmet taking the impact and cracking and then the leftover force hitting the skull, it has the ability to slip across heavily, reducing the impact and pushing that force elsewhere.
This slip-plane is what happens in the body naturally. The skull is the helmet shell, the Cerebrospinal fluid is the MIPS system, and the brain is your head. That’s how it mimics the body’s natural defense process.
Rotational Force Reduction
The next big advantage of MIPS is the fact it has rotational force reduction. When an accident occurs at an angle, the rotational force can be terrible on the brain. Imagine a helmet without any internal movement.
What would happen is the helmet would hit the floor at an angle and then carry on that rotation inside the head between the skull and the brain. This internal impact is a big problem when it comes to brain injury.
The MIPS system, because of the sliding plane technology, can take the force of a rotational impact and heavily reduce it. This means the impact is much less inside the skull, giving the Cerebrospinal fluid a better chance of containing the force and protecting the brain.
Low Friction Interface
Finally, we have the low-friction interface. Across the slip plane we spoke about earlier, there’s a 10 to 15-degree movement. Across this place, the MIPS system offers low friction. It means it can move much more freely.
This low friction interface separates the helmet from the head and lets it move freely, not just to help comfort but allow the impact force to be transferred away. If you had high friction between the helmet and the head, it would cause problems on impact sending it to your head.
Is It Worth Investing In A MIPS Helmet?
Years ago, getting a helmet with MIPS was very expensive. They were the top-end $100+ helmets, and it was new technology that many people didn’t really understand. In modern times, MIPS helmets are as cheap as $40, and the technology has trickled down.
I believe the MIPS system is 100% worth investing money into. Not only will it help reduce problems in an accident, but it will also make riding more comfortable, and the satisfaction that you have done everything you can to protect your head in an emergency.
In internal and external testing, the MIPS system offers a whopping 18% to 76% extra protection for the skull, which is incredible.
Alternatives To The MIPS System
It’s important to mention that there are alternatives to the MIPS system. Here’s some you might be interested in using instead:
- LSP (Low-Friction Layer)
- In-Molded Composite (IMC)
- SPIN (Shearing Pad Inside)
- Fluid Inside
- Rotational Energy System (RES)
These all work on similar principles as the MIPS system and can enhance the safety you get from your helmet.
A Final Note
MIPS is an incredible system, and when it comes to safety, it can be a great tool for protecting your head. As you can tell from this article, we highly recommend it and feel it’s ideal for any cyclist.
Here are some of the MIPS certified helmets we reviewed:
- BELL Super 3R MIPS Helmet Review
- Bell Sixer MIPS Helmet Review
- Lazer Z1 Mips Helmet Review
- Specialized S-Works Prevail 2 Helmet Review
- Scott Stego Plus Enduro Helmet Review
- MIPS HELMET REVIEWS & MIPS HELMET ROUNDUP
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.