Does MIPS helmet technology really work?

RoadBikeReview talks to MIPS CEO Johan Thiel to find out

Helmets Interviews
Cycling helmet makers Bell and Giro are among the sport's most ardent MIPS adapters.

Cycling helmet makers Bell and Giro are among the sport’s most ardent MIPS adapters (click to enlarge).

RBR: How many brands are using MIPS and who have been your biggest partners thus far?
JT: Right now we have 44 brands signed up across all our segments, though not all of them are in the market just yet. You will see some new companies offering MIPS next year. Next year, we will also have new technology coming out that will go beyond what you’ve seen thus far. Volume wise, Bell and Giro are our biggest partners. POC and Lazer are also up there. All told there are 19 brands at Interbike that we have partnerships with.

RBR: How big is MIPS and how many units do you currently have out in the real world?
JT: We currently have 14 people at our headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, with another four in China. We are also recruiting more people this fall, so by next year we’ll be up to at least 16 in Sweden. As for units in the market, we are at about 400,000 right now. But that number is headed higher all the time.

RBR: What regions of the world have shown the greatest interest in MIPS and which sports are you primary outlets?
JT: When we first launched interest was greatest in Europe, but we are now seeing rapid growth in the U.S., which is catching up quickly. Volume wise cycling is No. 1 at about 70 percent. That’s a big change from when we first started and it was 70 percent snow, but it makes sense as the overall bike market is so much larger.

Bell's line of aggressive MTB helmets seem a perfect application for the safety enhancing device.

Bell’s line of aggressive MTB helmets seem a perfect application for the safety enhancing device (click to enlarge).

RBR: How does a company get access to use of MIPS product?
JT: It obviously starts with reaching some basic business agreements. Then we connect with the design and development department. Usually when we start working with a new client, we start out with retrofitting so they can get existing product out to market. The next step is to integrate the design process with MIPS from the beginning. By interacting with the design and development people we can help them think about integrating MIPS from the beginning. That is something we’ll see a lot more of next year where MIPS is part of design from the beginning.

RBR: So how do you see this integration changing the finished product?
JT: We are still figuring that out, but you’ll certainly see more integration and better function.

What do you think? Are MIPS-equipped helmets worth the extra expense, or is this just a shrewd marketing scheme?

To learn more, visit www.mipshelmet.com

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.


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  • DrSmile says:

    What’s next in this “scientific” series, are you going to ask Michael Jordan if Air Jordans are a good sneaker? ” No we can not prove that absolutely it was MIPS that made the difference.” Well then stop talking!

  • DrFrown says:

    At least get Mr. MIPS to comment on the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute paper that was critical of his product — and a legitimate criticism it would seem. The MIPS helmets I’ve handled are also noticeably heavier despite having less liner and the “void”, what’s up with that? A bigger “lever” on my head while I’m impacting some immovable object? I think not.

  • charlie says:

    When you think about slip planes, hair is one, skin-over-skull is a second one, and the non-sticky EPS liner would slip even without hair or skin. The folks at http://helmets.org/mips.htm gave that some thought, and don’t find MIPS compelling. But I bought one (following a TBI). As they say, “couldn’t hurt.”

    • Redzing says:

      These are all excellent points. Nothing can actually “prevent” concussions aside from avoiding the head-slam in the first place. MIPS technology is bogus . . . although I also had a tbi recently, I can’t see myself shelling money out for this false sense of security.

  • Redzing says:

    The best tactic, regardless of helmet, is to avoid hitting the tarmac and slamming your head. I received a monstrous concussion this Spring in a wreck during a training ride, that took 9 months to recover from (and I’m still not 100%). I firmly believe that my helmet saved my life, but NO helmet can prevent concussion. Remember, it’s the g forces of impact and the brain sloshing around in the skull. MIPs technology can’t prevent that at all. The best helmet in the world can’t prevent concussions. This is why people get concussions from whiplash–even when they don’t hit their heads. I’m going to stick with my older Bell models . . .and try not to hit my head again.

  • Jason says:

    The video seems to show the most benefit of the MIPS system in relieving impact pressure / twisting to the neck more than a benefit to the skull.

    As another post indicated, the impact still would seem to shake the brain inside the skull. The helmet protects the skull from fracture. But the twisting motion of landing on the pavement and rolling or tumbling on one’s head affects the neck. And who wants to survive with a broken neck. Hmmmm. This is interesting.

    • Dan says:

      Incorrect. Rotational injuries are the most serious type of brain injury. So it is both neck and brain at risk from rotational forces.

  • Alec Cropper says:

    I spent a night in Hospital A & E department was wearing a non MIPS mountain bike helmet, yes the helmet prevented laceration injuries to head and face but received a blow to the right temple causing concussion from polystyrene in the Helmet is too dense to put in into perspective near my home there are major road widening works with a bridge being demolished there is a 52 ton pedestrian and cyclist bridge mounted on Polystyrene to reduce weight. If a bridge can be placed on polystyrene what will it do to your head when you hit the ground hard coming off your bicycle in my case it was 24 hours being monitored for a head injury.

  • teddy says:

    If it is only a $20 difference to the consumer, then why not make MIPS compulsory for every helmet? Why produce a very safe helmet and a safe helmet? Why not just incorporate MIPS into all? Something smells of gimmick here……

    • thomas m stade says:

      The MIPS will never stop a concussion, just do to the fact that the helmet still compresses the brain into the helmet, and that alone, makes this helmet no better than the rest. There is a helmet on the horizon that will mitigate all concussive forces to less than 10 G’s and its coming soon!

  • Greg Borchert says:

    I’ve had two bad bike crashes in the past eight years, and in both cases my helmet saved my head and perhaps my life. I ended up with a concussion from one of them, but the helmet took the brunt of the injury. I bought a MIPS helmet (Smith Optics Overtake MIPS) last summer. I can’t imagine riding without the safest technology available.

  • Yan Lyansky says:

    I understand MIPS is billed as a better & safer helmet design. Last season I bought a Smith Forefront MIPS helmet. This helmet is unable to sit properly on my head, it constantly floats around in an uncontrolable manner. It has gotten worse as I used the helmet more….it is so bad now that I see it as a distraction while riding. Making my new MIPS helmet unsafe, quite ironic!

    I don’t think this is ready for prime time.

    Thanks,
    Yan

    Designer Downtube Folding Bikes

  • alex says:

    i just recently had a TBI, got struck from behind by a car. my helmet did not have mips technology but i’m glad I always where it regardless when i’m riding. my next helmet will more than likely have this new technology. at least i will have the peace of mind that should i get hit again i will hopefully made another recovery. i won’t let an extra $20.00 prevent me from making a decision on my brain, like others have posted.

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