The thin yellow layer between the shell and the styrofoam could save lives, but it doesn’t fit into road and racing helmets. 60 brands equip MIPS 320 models for motocross helmets, bicycle helmets, ski, horse riding, skate helmets, and even combat helmets for police and soldiers … but only two models for urban driving.
When information about the Swedish Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) first appeared, the question immediately arose, what if this is a dummy? After all, if it is so effective at preventing injury, why isn’t it used on the track? MIPS, with the help of its then-CEO, Johan Theil, shared the details with us.
What is MIPS?
The human skull is not close to the brain: the brain is surrounded by 10-15 millimeters of fluid (called cerebrospinal fluid), which allows it to avoid hitting the skull bone in an unexpected shake, for example, from falling when walking. The capabilities of this buffer are good, but they are not enough to compensate for the more intense shocks that can occur during sports or other activities associated with high speeds, therefore MIPS, being inside the helmet, simulates the work of the cerebrospinal fluid – it absorbs the energy of the shake, transferring it to heating due to viscous friction of layers of material.
MIPS, being inside the helmet, simulates the work of the cerebrospinal fluid
From the explanation of the company:
The new construction with a layer of reduced friction between the shell and the filler reduces rotational loads on the head by up to 50% compared to conventional helmets.
Simply put, when the head is in a MIPS helmet, it will not stop as abruptly as in a regular helmet., and thus the shaking effect of a sudden stop will be reduced.
MIPS increases the chances of reducing injury.
In 1996, despite all the trials, regulations and requirements that resulted in the use of highly specialized materials in helmets to protect riders from collision injuries, Swedish neurosurgeon and emeritus teacher Dr.Hans von Holst continued to treat motorcyclists and athletes. observe brain injuries sustained while wearing helmets during impacts. His bewilderment and frustration with protective equipment led to a positive result: in collaboration with the expert in biomechanics Peter Halladin, he founded a new line of research called Neuronics.
The team came to understand that the helmets perfectly work out (absorb and redistribute) direct axial loads (in other words, radial) on the upper part of the head, effectively protecting the skull from fractures. However, most often, when falling, the head in a helmet experiences not only straight, but also rotational loads – both as a result of an impact at an angle and when rolling as a result of a fall. When the head suddenly stops at the end of a rotation, our brain’s inertia continues to move in the skull, which leads to concussions and ruptures, causing long-term, possibly irreversible disruptions in its work. MIPS increases the chances of reducing injury.
MIPS increases the chances of reducing injury.
But is protection unnecessary when driving on the road?
MIPS wondered what the matter was: one hypothesis was that road cyclists are less concerned about safety, or perhaps they feel a sense of invulnerability in the face of a hypothetical (rather than imminent) threat of an accident – a strange assumption, given the statistics on motorcycle accidents. Another version says that manufacturers believe that motorcyclists are not willing to pay more for better protection, provided that many of them have a long accident-free experience. However, a 2009 survey found that more than 50% of the 1,300 respondents surveyed were willing to pay 50% more for the added safety of their protective gear.
Due to the passiveness of the vehicle manufacturers, MIPS tried to produce helmets on its own, but it did not work out. The plastic covering the neck cracked in the cold, and a major recall campaign nearly buried the business. The forced decision was to work in collaboration with equipment manufacturers to achieve the best results.
We want to save as many lives as we can
These were the closing words in Mr. Theil’s interview, which became the MIPS slogan, their purpose and meaning. MIPS is not a regulatory body like SNELL, DOT or ECE, but the data and technology they generate are available to the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), which are reviewing their safety standards and studying the effects of rotational loads and accelerations, and as this body represents 113 national motorcycle federations, their opinion is very authoritative in the motorcycle environment and can affect both demand and supply. (Recall that earlier this year, FIM raised safety standards, but unfortunately “The new standards do not mandate the use of advanced technologies such as MIPS or EPS.”)
Beauty or brains?
And finally, a life story.
Many years ago I had an argument with a friend of mine whose beautiful friend became seriously ill – she was diagnosed with developing dementia (dementia). I asked a friend what she would choose – to keep her beauty, but partially lose her mind, or lose some of her attractiveness, but keep her mental skills in order. And my beautiful, successful, reasonable, sophisticated acquaintance assured me that she would undoubtedly prefer to keep her appearance.
The motorcycle helmet industry agrees with this madam, or if anything, they think we motorcyclists take her approach and don’t care too much about our sanity. For years, equipment manufacturers have had access to technology that could improve the protection of our gray matter, but they never gave us a chance to buy it.
MIPS wants us to be able to drive and not be afraid that an accident will make us disabled, dependent on others and unable to care for ourselves. MIPS does not want us to lose our freedom, which is what attracts us to riding a motorcycle in the first place. They don’t want us to be forced to live out our days locked in a broken shell. Hopefully, motorcycle helmet makers, driven by regulatory directives and consumer demand, will embrace new and advanced safety technologies so we can choose how much we want to protect what we value most.
Okay, there is still one manufacturer and a couple of models: BELL. They have a pair of MIPS road helmets in their lineup, and they’ve done a great job explaining how MIPS absorbs rotational energy.
Recall the company BELL produces a rather budgetary snowmobile helmet with MIPS technology – Bell MX-9 Adventure Snow Electric (We wrote about it earlier Snowmobile helmets with heated glass). Also note that Leatt engineers have developed their own system to mitigate the rotational forces that can be generated during an accident. This technology was named 360 Turbine. (How Leatt Helmets Are Made)