MIPS EBike Helmet Technology: A Guide for Baby Boomers
Why buy a MIPS Ebike helmet
If you are a baby boomer who enjoys ebiking, you might wonder if you need a new helmet or can use your old one. After all, helmets are designed to protect your head from impact. Well, not all impacts are created equal. Most impacts during cycling are not straight-on but oblique, meaning they involve an angle and cause rotational forces on the brain. These forces can lead to concussion and serious traumatic brain injuries, even if the helmet prevents skull fractures and bleeding.
That’s where MIPS comes in. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System and is a safety technology that over 120 brands incorporate into their helmets1. MIPS is a thin layer of material inside the helmet that allows it to move independently from the head in all directions, mimicking the brain’s protective structure2. By reducing the rotational forces on the brain, MIPS aims to lower the risk of brain injuries from oblique impacts.
In this essay, we will explain what MIPS is, how it works, the history of the technology, and why it is worth getting a helmet with MIPS if you are a baby boomer who loves ebiking. My wife and I use Bontrager helmets with our Gazelle Ebikes, though many brands now support MIPS technology.
What is MIPS, and how does it work?
MIPS is based on the idea that human brains are much better at handling linear (straight-on) impacts than oblique ones that create rotational strain2. In sports such as cycling, skiing, and horseback riding – where helmets are widely used – most impacts create rotational forces on the brain, leading to sometimes severe injuries, even when the athlete is wearing a helmet2.
MIPS mimics the way a head protects against rotational impacts. Between your skull and brain is a layer of cerebrospinal fluid, which allows your brain to slide inside your head, protecting it from rotational forces caused by oblique impacts1. While most helmets are designed to deal with linear forces, MIPS says its systems account for this rotational forces1.
MIPS comprises a thin layer of material incorporated into the inside of a helmet, commonly referred to as a slip plane or a slip liner2. It is independent of the helmet shell but anchored at key points. Its design allows it to move independently of the helmet in all directions (hence multi-directional), allowing the helmet to rotate independently from the head2.
When you fall at an angle and hit your head, the MIPS layer slides inside the helmet, reducing the transfer of rotational motion onto your brain1. This can lower the risk of brain injuries from oblique impacts.
What is the history of MIPS technology?
MIPS technology was developed by Swedish neurosurgeon Hans von Holst and researcher Peter Halldin at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology in the 1990s2. Their experiences inspired them with head injuries and their observation that most helmets did not account for rotational forces on the brain2.
They teamed up with Svein Kleiven, who helped pioneer the finite element (FE) model of the human brain to assess head injuries2. The FE model is also used in car crash analysis and sports studies like the NFL2. Through years of research and testing, they discovered that putting two low friction layers inside a helmet could create relative motion between the helmet and head that could reduce rotational injuries on the brain2.
They founded MIPS AB in 2001 and started licensing their technology to helmet manufacturers in 20072. Since then, MIPS has become widespread in many cycling helmets, but also in equestrian helmets, construction helmets, and motorbike helmets1. In 2020, around 729 helmets with MIPS were on the market, and 7.3 million units were sold1.
Why should baby boomers buy a new helmet with MIPS?
If you are a baby boomer who enjoys ebiking, you might think your old helmet is good enough to protect your head. After all, you have been using it for years, which has never failed you. However, there are several reasons why you should consider buying a new helmet with MIPS technology.
First, helmets have a limited lifespan and should be replaced every five years or after a significant impact3. This is because the materials that make up the helmet, such as the EPS foam and the shell, degrade over time and lose their effectiveness3. Exposure to sunlight, heat, sweat, chemicals and dirt can also affect the helmet’s performance3. If you have been using your helmet for more than five years or if it has any cracks, dents or signs of wear and tear, it is time to get a new one.
Second, helmets have improved greatly in design, comfort, ventilation, and aerodynamics over the years3. Newer helmets are lighter, breathable, adjustable, and more stylish than older ones3. They also offer better features such as visors, integrated lights, cameras, and speakers3. If you want to enjoy your ebiking experience to the fullest, you might want to upgrade to a newer helmet that suits your needs and preferences.
Third, and most importantly, helmets with MIPS technology offer better protection for your brain than helmets without it1 2 4. As we explained earlier, MIPS reduces the rotational forces on the brain from oblique impacts, which can cause concussion and serious traumatic brain injuries1 2 4. These injuries can have long-term consequences such as cognitive impairment, memory loss, depression, and dementia4.
As a baby boomer, you are more vulnerable to these consequences than younger people. This is because your brain is less resilient and more prone to degeneration as you age4. Moreover, you might have other health conditions or medications that can affect your brain function and recovery4. Therefore, you must protect your brain as much as possible when ebiking.
A helmet with MIPS technology can give you an extra layer of protection for your brain that a helmet without it cannot. According to MIPS, its systems can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by up to 34 percent compared to helmets without MIPS1. That’s a significant difference that could save your life or prevent permanent damage to your brain.
MIPS is a safety technology that reduces the rotational forces on the brain from oblique impacts by allowing the helmet to move independently from the head in all directions. It was developed by Swedish scientists who observed that most helmets did not account for these forces that can cause concussions and serious traumatic brain injuries. MIPS is now widely used in many cycling and other types of helmets.
If you are a baby boomer who loves ebiking, you should consider buying a new helmet with MIPS technology. It will offer better protection for your brain than your old helmet without it and provide better comfort, ventilation, and features than older helmets. Protecting your brain is vital for your health and well-being as you age; a helmet with MIPS can help you.