MIPS vs Non-MIPS Bike Helmets: Which is Safer? 

MIPS bike helmets
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Did you know that, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), head injuries are quite common in bicycle accidents? 

In fact, they occur in 70-80% of all fatal crashes involving bicycles, and a staggering one-third of non-fatal bicycle injuries affect the head. 

This highlights the importance of wearing a helmet while cycling. However, not all helmets provide the same level of protection. 

That’s where MIPS technology comes in. But does MIPS truly make a difference? 

In this article, we’ll compare MIPS and non-MIPS bike helmets to determine which offers better protection against head injuries during cycling accidents. 

What is MIPS and what does it do?

MIPS, short for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, is a technology found in cycling helmets, and its purpose is to provide an extra layer of safety during a fall. 

MIPS is a modern innovation aimed at improving helmet safety by reducing rotational forces that can lead to brain injuries in accidents. 

Bike helmets with MIPS technology are designed to reduce the rotational forces that reach the brain during a fall, especially angled impacts common in real-world cycling accidents.

The MIPS system consists of a low-friction layer between the helmet’s outer shell and inner padding. This layer lets the helmet shift slightly during an impact, and therefore redirect rotational forces. 

This slight movement potentially decreases the risk and severity of certain brain injuries caused by rotational motion during cycling accidents. It essentially adds an extra level of safety beyond what traditional helmet designs offer.

How does a MIPS helmet work?

A MIPS helmet works by including a low-friction layer between the outer shell and inner padding. This layer permits a small amount of movement between the helmet and the head upon impact.

During a crash, particularly one with rotational or angular forces, the MIPS layer lets the helmet slide slightly relative to the head. This sliding motion helps to redirect the rotational forces that could otherwise affect the brain directly. And by doing this, it lowers the risk and severity of brain injuries like concussions.

Rotational motion often leads to concussions and more severe brain injuries. And MIPS addresses the fact that many accidents involve both straight-on and rotational forces. 

By allowing slight movement in response to these forces, MIPS technology adds an extra layer of protection beyond what regular helmets provide.

Are MIPS helmets safer than Non-MIPS helmets? 

MIPS helmets are designed to provide better protection, especially against impacts involving rotational forces. Studies suggest that MIPS-equipped helmets may decrease the likelihood and severity of brain injuries like concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) compared to non-MIPS helmets in specific situations.

However, it’s important to know that the effectiveness of a helmet, whether equipped with MIPS or not, depends on several factors. These include the unique circumstances of an accident, the helmet’s fit, and maintenance. 

While MIPS provides an additional defense against rotational forces, it doesn’t guarantee complete injury prevention. Other factors like helmet fit, impact speed and angle, and overall build-quality of the helmet also influence its effectiveness during a crash.

Therefore, while MIPS technology improves safety by reducing the risk of certain brain injuries, the exact extent to which MIPS technology makes helmets safer compared to non-MIPS helmets may vary and isn’t always easily measurable.

What are the benefits of MIPS in a bike helmet?

Bike helmets with MIPS have an extra layer of protection to potentially reduce the risk of brain injury in cycling accidents. Here are some of the common benefits of MIPS helmets:

  • Protection from rotational forces: MIPS reduces rotational forces during angled impacts, which is common in cycling accidents.
  • Better Brain Protection: By reducing the impact of rotational forces, MIPS potentially reduces brain injury risks like concussions or TBIs.
  • Improved Safety Performance: Bike helmets with MIPS show better safety results in testing compared to those without it, and this can boost the confidence of a cyclist.
  • Comfort and Fit: MIPS integration doesn’t compromise the comfort or fit of a helmet, so cyclists can stay protected without sacrificing comfort.
  • Wide Availability: Many helmet manufacturers offer MIPS across different price ranges and styles, so you have many options to choose from.

Is MIPS really worth it?

Yes, MIPS technology is certainly worth it in cycling helmets. Regular helmets protect against direct impacts, while MIPS provides extra defense against rotational forces, potentially lowering the risk of brain injuries like concussions. 

If you’re a cyclist who enjoys cycling in accident-prone areas, you should seriously consider MIPS for the extra protection it offers. 

Studies show MIPS helmets perform better in reducing certain brain injuries compared to those without the technology. So, if safety matters to you, and you’re willing to spend more for added protection, MIPS is worth considering. 

MIPS helmets often cost a little more than regular helmets, although you can still find great bike helmets with MIPS under $50.

Does MIPS make bike helmets bigger?

MIPS technology adds a layer to the helmet, but it doesn’t usually make it much bigger. The MIPS layer in helmets is designed to blend into the helmet’s overall size and shape. 

MIPS usually involves a thin, light layer inside the helmet that allows slight movement upon impact, to reduce rotational forces. Helmet manufacturers ensure MIPS doesn’t affect the helmet’s fit, comfort, or aerodynamics. 

Also, MIPS helmets are usually similar in size and shape to non-MIPS ones in the same range. And any differences in weight or feel between MIPS and non-MIPS versions of a helmet are usually minimal and not noticeable to the wearer. 

Generally, the enhanced protection against rotational forces outweighs any slight increase in size or weight of a bike helmet.

How long do MIPS helmets last?

Like standard helmets, MIPS helmets typically last 3 to 5 years. However, this can vary based on usage, storage, and exposure to the elements. 

It’s advisable to replace your helmet every few years due to wear and tear and potential material degradation. 

After a significant impact, even without visible damage, a helmet  (MIPS or not) should be replaced immediately, because the system may no longer work effectively.

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