When MIPS first debuted, its interior liner was big, and it added quite a bit of weight. Over the past few years, that yellow liner has slimmed down or even disappeared behind padding or inside the EPS foam shell.

In that same time, several helmet brands have introduced their own versions of rotational impact protection. Leatt has their Turbines, Kali has their LDL inserts and the much more affordable cushioning layer on their Pace helmet, and POC debuted their SPIN system. And Specialized recently filed for a patent on a pad-based slip system to accomplish the same thing.

POC Spin anti-rotation gel pads reduce rotational impact forces to your brain to make a safer bicycle helmet
POC helped launch MIPS into the cycling world, then switched to their own SPIN gel pad system. Now, they’re working with MIPS again.

All of those were similar in that they used a soft, squishy elastomer or gel in various shapes to allow the helmet to twist around your head slightly during an impact.

The idea, in case you’ve ignored all of the marketing hype, is that helmets are good at perpendicular, linear impacts, but most crashes involve your head grazing the ground and sliding, which can yank the helmet (and your head) in a rotational plane. Which can hurt your brain. Which is bad. MIPS and its competitors aimed to reduce the speed and suddenness of that rotation. And that’s the whole goal of any bicycle helmet, to slow the impact and reduce the forces that make it to your brain.

Will MIPS get a new design in the future?

MIPS’ pad contact slip system concept was shown at Eurobike 2017, along with other concepts that never made it into production (link below).

The iterations of MIPS we’ve seen have all been just that; iterations on the same concept of a sliding liner between you and your helmet’s outer shell.

Now, POC and MIPS have announced a partnership to develop new rotational-impact protection designs, which should make their way to POC’s 2021 helmets. It’s not the first time MIPS has explored different methods, but it is the first to specify actual products and a timeline for introduction. From the press release:

“In addition, POC and MIPS engineers will work together with the best of their ideas and innovations to develop new rotational impact solutions which will feature in a number of POC helmets to be released in 2021. These will follow on from the (kids’) POCito Crane in 2020, with an objective to enhance comfort, ventilation and rotational impact protection. As part of the new partnership SPIN, POC’s silicone pad technology system, will be phased out and replaced by MIPS solutions in the majority of its helmets in the future.

“Ensuring that rotational impact protection, one essential ingredient in a helmet, benefits from focused time and resource is an important consideration. By working with a leader in the field the collaboration also supports POC’s desire to focus on other safety innovations through its Whole helmet concept™ which focusses on developing enhanced safety as a system, where every material and innovation in a helmet works seamlessly together to protect before, during and after an accident.”

The “whole helmet” concept leads us to believe there’ll be much more integration of design (like MIPS Spherical) as opposed to a liner retrofitted to existing helmet shells. Which begs the question not just whether it’ll be better, but what that’ll do to the price. Early MIPS helmets added a healthy premium to the price, but that quickly dropped to about a $30-40 upcharge. And many MIPS helmets now sit under $100 retail, with some competing systems able to bring those down to $60.

You can read the full press release here.

8 COMMENTS

  1. MIPS is s***t… the real problem is, you always hit your head really hard to the ground, this impact has to be reduced and not a shell thats rotating… same at the knee pads, there is a soft D3o foam that really helps, the only problem there it needs a plastic shell on top.

    • All Mips helmets still have the polystyrene expanded foam that crushes on impact, but with the added slip absorbing feature. What’s wrong with that?

      • MIPS doesnt help really. For an example 6D helmets have a double inner shell for absorbing impacts. MIPS doesnt do anything at that. For the future i doesn’t see the actually MIPS system. but yeah, just my 3cent’s

    • I take it you don’t believe rotational acceleration has any bearing on brain injury. I don’t think the science is fully definitive, but it has been leading in the this direction for at least a few years. In which case, I’ll take the MIPS, thank you.
      BTW, during that brief moment of touch down, the force between the helmet and surface very quickly goes sky high – thus the ability of the surface, at the moment, to impart a spin to the helmet, and by extension, your brain.

      • I had a lot of worse crashes and impacts on my head. With Mips, without mips and with some other helmets with a different system.
        Truly the rotationaly impact plays a role, but how heavy you impact to the ground, thats the real problem. I had two crashes one with mips and one with an other system. I can tell you that in this case mips doesnt really helped me. Its like a car crash somwhere you need to slown down the energy from the impact.

        • Have you heard about how small sample sizes aren’t sufficient to represent the behavior of a population? Likewise, your one crash with a MIPS helmet isn’t representative of anything. The list of unknowns about the crash is such that you can’t actually draw any conclusions about how MIPS functioned in your crash. You might think you can draw conclusions, but objectively you can’t.

          You might want to review Virginia Tech’s Helmet Lab test results. The way MIPS helmets dominate the top of those results seems to suggest that MIPS does in fact do something beneficial..

  2. For those not a believer in added “slip” and rotational protection, google, “axonal shear & brain injury” also know that delta T is the single largest factor in reducing brain Injuries, that is to say that, the longer the “T” or time over which forces are applied, the less devastating the force will be. Seat belts prolong the time forces are applied, as do air bags, as do crumple zones. ANYTHING that elongates the collision will help, so if your brain spins for 1/1000th of a second in a MIPS system or an elastomer system and foam before it comes to a rest, this is great. Axonal shear injuries of the brain are more common with whipping torque forces on the brain and can lead to much less predictable injuries that may not make the same time dependent recoveries we see with a fall in a bathroom for example. Invest in protection that softens (increases the time a blow takes AND helps with angular or spinning decelerations of the brain)
    Star Stevenson MSPT
    Director Of Physical Therapy
    Spring Lake Village

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