What is MIPS Helmet Technology and Does It Work?

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What Does MIPS Stand For?

MIPS is an acronym for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System.  It was developed in 2001 in Sweden as a way to improve helmet design to reduce brain injuries from the impacts to the head that can occur during a crash.  There’s an inner liner in the helmet that can rotate a few millimeters in any directon to absorb and reduce the impact on the brain during a crash.

MIPS technology has expanded to just about every kind of helmet protection used in sports and is a major factor in reducing brain injuries.

Let Me Tell You About My Bicycle Crash

It happened on September 30, 2019.  I ride a lot, and was only a couple of miles short of 2000 for the year when my accident happened.

I always wear a helmet when I ride, but up until my crash my main criteria for purchasing a helmet was as follows:

  • How it looks
  • What kind of airflow does it allow
  • What colors are available
  • How much does it cost?
  • And, How it looks (very important, its better to look cool than look like an idiot.)  I know I listed it twice, on purpose.

Notice there’s no mention of how much protection does it offer?  I figured that all bicycle helmets were pretty much alike.  There was a plastic outer shell, and a styrofoam liner.  At least to me it looked like plastic and it looked like styrofoam.  Then there was the adjustment and the straps.

On the day that I crashed I was wearing a helmet that I bought at Walmart for around $30.  It was a flat dark gray with silver accents.  It had a lot of air holes.  It was comfortable and I didn’t look like an idiot wearing it.  Check, check, check for all the items on my list.

Back to what happened.  I ride a road bike, not a mountain bike.  I was on a city street about 4 miles from home, riding with my friend Jim.  We were going about 17 miles per hour at the time.

Suddenly a very large black cat ran out into the road ahead of us.  Jet black, in fact Halloween black.  The cat ran halfway into the road and stopped.  It looked right at me.  I looked right at it. I started to slow.

I thought that since the cat saw me, it was going to turn around and go back the way it came.  Either

that, or it was going to stay where it was and let me go by.  Those thoughts caused me to let off on the brakes and continue on.

Neither thing happened.  Just as I got about even with the cat, it ran right in front of my front tire.  I think I hit it.  About all I remember, though, is the bike going one way and me going the other.

I don’t remember hitting the street. The first thing I remember is waking up to the far-off sound of sirens. I was sitting up in the street, and my friend Jim was holding the back of my head where I had a cut that was bleeding.

I asked Jim how long I’d been out, and he said for four or five minutes.

The ambulance arrived.  The paramedics evaluated me and decided that I had a concussion, among some minor scrapes and bruises.  I got to ride to the hospital in the shiny van with lots of lights on it.

I had to spend the night in the hospital.  I got a cat scan (ironic name), which revealed a small bleed between the hemispheres of my brain.  The next day I got another cat scan that showed slight improvement, so I got to go home.

I had to wait 30 days for a final cat scan that cleared me to ride again.

I am very thankful that I was wearing a helmet.  It was broken in the back where my head hit the pavement, but that’s way better than my bare skull bouncing off the street.  If I had been riding without a helmet, I’m sure that I’d have been much more seriously injured and may not have survived.

I Hadn’t Heard Of The MIPS System Until After My Crash.

I had to get a new helmet, and I started looking for one that offered better protection.  I can’t say that I revised my purchase criteria much.  I take that back, now at the top of my list is what protection the helmet offers.

The system that stands out most is the MIPS system.  Several brands of helmet now have the system available.  The main difference, besides the advanced protection, between a MIPS helmet and a regular helmet is the price.  A MIPS equipped helmet costs at least double what a regular helmet costs.  I think the cost is worth it.

I got one.  It was a no brainer (sorry about the play on words)!

Here’s a You Tube video explaining how MIPS works.  Thanks to Giro and Art’s Cyclery for explaining things.

If you think about it, a helmet isn’t so much to protect your head as it is to protect your brain inside your head.

If you ride, and if you can afford it, I recommend you invest in a helmet with MIPS technology.  Don’t wait until you have a crash where your head bounces off something hard before you do.

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I’m Grant.

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