What is MIPS Bike Helmet Technology? Is It Better?

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If you’re like me, safety is a top priority when you’re out cruising on two wheels.

And that means wearing a good-quality helmet.

You may have heard about something called MIPS technology for bike helmets.

But what exactly is it? And is it really better than a normal helmet?

In this article, I’ll give you the lowdown on MIPS so you can decide if it’s right for you.

We’ll cover what MIPS is, how it differs from standard helmets, whether it actually provides more protection, if it’s worth the extra money, how long MIPS helmets last, and which one is the best.

So buckle in and let’s dive into the world of MIPS!

What is MIPS Helmet Technology?

MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System.

It’s a special safety feature that can be built into bike helmets.

The goal of MIPS is to reduce rotational forces that can happen during certain impacts.

Let me explain what that means…

When your head hits the ground or an object in a straight-on collision, the helmet absorbs linear impact forces.

But sometimes impacts come at an angle or make your head rotate sharply.

These rotational motions put extra strain on your brain.

MIPS aims to allow minor rotation of the helmet on your head during angled impacts.

This rotation is intended to redirect some of those forces and provide extra protection for your dome.

The MIPS layer is made up of a low-friction slip plane.

This allows a small amount of sliding between the MIPS layer and the inside of the helmet.

So in a nutshell, MIPS technology helps manage rotational impact forces, on top of the usual impact absorption foam that all helmets have.

The goal is reduced risk of minor traumatic brain injuries.

What is The Difference Between MIPS And No-MIPS Helmets?

The main difference between a MIPS helmet and a standard one is the addition of the MIPS liner.

A helmet with MIPS has a layer inside that sits between your head and the helmet’s foam pads.

It’s made of a plastic material that allows sliding to occur.

Helmets without MIPS don’t have this extra layer.

They rely solely on the impact-absorbing foam and outer shell to handle collisions.

Visually, you’ll notice that MIPS helmets have a thin yellow liner inside.

You can actually feel it move a bit as you slide the helmet on.

That’s the low-friction MIPS layer in action!

Aside from the MIPS system, helmets can have a lot of other features like extra pads for adjustment and comfort, visors, detachable chin straps, etc.

But MIPS is currently the only technology that aims to address rotational motions specifically.

So if you see a helmet advertised as “MIPS” or “MIPS-equipped,” it means that slip plane liner has been added in there.

Are MIPS Helmets Better?

This is the million-dollar question!

With the extra technology comes an increased price tag.

So is the protection better with MIPS?

Based on extensive research and testing, the answer seems to be yes—MIPS does improve safety performance.

Here are some key things the data shows:

  • Up to 14% less rotational motion transferred to head in angled impacts. This is according to a study by the Royal Institute of Technology and Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden.
  • Reduced strain on brain in 45° oblique tests. Virginia Tech gave MIPS helmets top ratings for reducing concussion risks.
  • 41% lower risk of concussion compared to non-MIPS. This was the finding from a 2017 study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.
  • Real-world evidence. Insurance claim analysis by MIPS shows a protective effect for helmet-wearing cyclists.

So while more research is always welcome, the existing evidence suggests MIPS helmets provide measurable extra protection, especially against brain injuries caused by rotational forces.

It’s not a night and day difference, but the sliding action of MIPS does seem to make a statistically significant improvement in safety.

For most riders, that extra peace of mind is worth it!

Is MIPS Worth the Extra Money?

Okay, so MIPS helmets are proven to be a bit safer.

But they also cost more, usually $20-50 more than an equivalent model without MIPS.

For a lot of people, the choice comes down to whether or not the added cost is justified.

Let’s think it through…

On the plus side, your brain is pretty important!

So if you’re a frequent rider, spending a bit more for the latest impact-reducing tech is understandable.

Over the lifespan of the helmet, that extra money seems pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.

And it could end up protecting you in the event of an accident down the road.

But for more casual riders on a tight budget, the cost might be harder to swallow.

Not everyone can afford to spend $100+ on a helmet, let alone more for MIPS models.

At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice and risk assessment.

There are still plenty of good quality helmets without MIPS technology.

My advice is to get the most protective helmet you can reasonably afford.

Any helmet is better than none.

And be sure to replace it every 5-10 years as the materials degrade.

How Long Do MIPS Helmets Last?

Speaking of replacement, let’s talk about the lifespan of MIPS helmets.

How long do they last before needing to be tossed and upgraded?

Like all bike helmets, MIPS models need to be replaced every 5-10 years at most, even if no crashes have occurred.

The plastics and impact-absorbing foams slowly degrade over time.

Using your helmet a lot in the sun, rain, or snow will speed up the breakdown of materials.

But in general, aim to swap out your lid for a fresh one about once a decade.

You’ll want to replace a helmet sooner if you’ve had any significant impacts that caused cracks in the foam or shell.

And toss it immediately after a serious crash since it may be compromised.

The MIPS liner should last at least as long as the helmet itself.

It’s made of durable polymers that don’t really wear out under normal conditions.

Just don’t try to transfer the MIPS layer to a new helmet!

It’s integrated at the factory.

When you buy a replacement, make sure to get one with MIPS included if that’s still your preference.

Which MIPS Helmet is Best?

The final key question—Which specific MIPS helmet is the best one to get?

With so many models on the market from various brands, it can be tricky to choose.

But based on expert testing and reviews, the POC Omne Eternal Spin seems to come out on top as the top-performing MIPS helmet.

Here are some of the reasons why riders and reviewers consistently rate this one the best:

  • Uses the latest SPIN technology from POC, providing enhanced protection
  • Extremely lightweight yet highly protective outer shell
  • 16 integrated air vents keep your head cool and comfortable
  • Fully wrapped unibody shell for increased durability and coverage
  • Goggle clip and bright colors for increased visibility
  • Size adjustment system ensures you get a perfect tailored fit
  • Stellar sweatband wicks moisture and prevents irritation

In terms of safety certifications, it passes all the standards for bike and ski helmets.

While pricey at around $270, you get what you pay for.

This cutting-edge helmet is worth the investment for riders who want the very best protection.

Common Questions About MIPS Technology

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about MIPS helmets:

Does MIPS make Helmets Heavier?

MIPS helmets weigh about the same as non-MIPS models with similar features.

The MIPS liner is very lightweight.

Is MIPS Hotter or Less Ventilated?

MIPS helmets are designed to maintain good airflow and temperature control.

You shouldn’t notice a difference.

Can I Add MIPS to My Existing Helmet?

Unfortunately, you can’t add a MIPS layer after the fact.

It must be integrated into the foam and shell during manufacturing.

Does My Helmet Have Fake MIPS?

Some brands use slippery pads instead of a real MIPS liner to cut costs.

Check for certification or call the manufacturer to verify.

Should I Wear MIPS Helmet for All Cycling?

MIPS offers advantages for road, mountain, commuting, and recreational riding.

Use your judgment for casual short trips at low speeds.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it my friends—the complete lowdown on MIPS!

To recap, MIPS is an extra layer inside helmets designed to reduce rotational forces and brain injuries.

Research shows it does improve protection.

Ultimately, the choice comes down to your personal risk tolerance and budget.

But don’t skimp too much on safety if you can avoid it.

Protecting your brain bucket is well worth the money spent.

Ride on safely,

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Joey B. Ramsey
Passionate cyclist, father, and blogger.
I've been riding bikes since childhood and enjoy sharing my knowledge with fellow cycling enthusiasts.
My diverse bike collection allows me to write reviews and advice based on personal experience with various bikes and accessories.
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