Over the last year, you may have seen and/or heard the term MIPS floating about the industry, specifically regarding ICON’s MIPS Airflite Stealth Helmet. With a price tag of $320, ICON’s first helmet to include the MIPS Brain Protection System (BPS) looks to offer an additional, yet primary level of protection for your noggin.
The MIPS or Multi-Directional Impact Protection System is the product of 25 plus years of research at the Royal Institute of Technology, in Stockholm Sweden. The brainchild, literally, of Peter Halldin, Hans von Holst, and Svein Kleiven, MIPS was birthed from studies of real-life accidents of head trauma, with helmets, to understand the reaction of the human brain to various engagements of rotational motion at an angled impact. It was discovered that while the brain is protected by its natural cerebrospinal fluid, strain or damage from an angled impact can be severe. From this data, the Finite Element Model (FE Model) of the human brain was created. Using the FE Model, they were able to simulate varying degrees of head trauma and the effect that trauma would have on the human brain, without risking damage to an actual brain. Through computer simulations, the team at MIPS researched the damage and potential damage then analyzed the data. From that data, they developed an advanced method of protection for the brain.
The MIPS BPS was engineered to mimic the brain’s natural cerebrospinal fluid in a low friction layer of protection between the head and the helmet. Think about it like this, if your scalp is your brain and your helmet represents your skull, then the MIPS BPS is designed to perform as the cerebrospinal fluid between the two. The goal was to increase cerebral stability by providing 10 to 15mm of movement between the head and the helmet, in any direction, when the head comes to a sudden stop as a result of an impact.
Realistically, when a rider crashes, if their head comes into contact with the ground or any other object, it will most likely be at an angle. It is less likely that the point of impact will be a direct 45 or 90 degree. Understanding this, MIPS does their helmet drop testing at a 45-degree angle, testing with and without the MIPS BPS to ensure that you achieve the level of strain reduction to get approved by the rigorous MIPS testing standard, using nine accelerometers inside a Hybrid III crash test dummy head and FE Model. The industry standard is to drop the helmet in a straight vertical. The MIPS method of testing mimics real-world crashes.
MIPS BPS received its patent in 1998 and has since been implemented in 103 helmet brands and 583 helmet models across industries that include sports, ski, safety, and of course moto. The MIPS BPS made its moto world debut in 2016 with Bell Helmets and is now partnered with a selection of credible helmet brands that install MIPS in their manufacturing process, which include Troy Lee Designs, Kabuto, Z1R, Thor and ICON Motosports. It is important to note that all moto helmets that are equipped with the MIPS BPS are also SNELL certified.
Do you need the MIPS BPS? If you value your noggin, the answer is yes. Giving yourself the best chance of surviving a crash with the least amount of injury should always be a paramount consideration. If your gear can be better, safer, improved… As a responsible motorcyclist, it is your duty to decrease the rate of mortality. The MIPS BPS is a nonintrusive, lightweight layer of protection that tips the survival odds in your favor. As more manufacturers become aware of the benefits of the MIPS BPS, they will become more of the normal regime of moto-safety systems.