For many years, motocross helmets, like other motorcycle helmets, were aimed at absorbing the force of impact. But the new MIPS technology is going to change this forever.
As has happened in many safety elements related to the world of motor and two wheels, the helmet is a relatively modern invention, at least in relation to the appearance of the first motorcycles. It is true that the first vehicles were not particularly fast and neither were they too complicated to handle, but the truth is that as the motorcycles gained in speed and complexity, so did the accidents. Something that forced users to change their cool glasses and caps for real protections.
But from the first helmets that emerged until today there have been hardly any changes in the original approach of these products. An approach that MIPS technology hopes to change in the near future, to give more safety to motorists. So maybe next time you have to find the best helmet motocros s to replace your old protector maybe you can already enjoy its benefits.
A little history
Although it was nothing more than a bicycle with a carbon-activated steam engine, the first motorcycle as such dates from nothing less than 1867. However, the first motorcycle helmets would begin to be used in the 30s by the British army after the death of the mythical Lawrence of Arabia. A death that, in case of wearing one of these helmets, could perhaps have been avoided.
However, those helmets were no more than bumps made of leather and cork whose protection could be improved. The proof came with the space race and the design of the astronauts’ helmets. Something that would be based on the American firm Bell to manufacture the first full-face helmet, whose protection improved the usual bump-type helmets until then. Materials derived from space exploration were also used to create more advanced products.
Today the technology of materials has advanced remarkably. Just take a look at the market to find helmets made of resin but also more complex materials such as fiberglass or carbon. These new materials have the ability to better absorb impacts and prevent their transfer to the rider’s head, achieving better formation and dispersion of it. However, the main problem almost 100 years after helmets are still designed to absorb forces.
The risk of internal injuries
The force-absorbing approach is intended to protect the head, especially the skull, from direct blows to the ground, stones and other obstacles in the event of a fall. Something important both when it comes to motocross helmets and conventional helmets. This classic approach aims to reduce that amount of force, so that the rider does not break his head, literally speaking.
However, there is a parallel problem that arises from this approach and that is common to various sports such as cycling, skiing or boxing. Taking the latter sport as an example, when a boxer falls to the canvas after landing a direct hit, it is generally not due to the force of it but rather due to the impact of the brain against the skull caused by the force of the blow. Let’s think that the brain is not totally fixed in the skull and that any blow, or even something as silly as suddenly getting out of bed, can move the brain and cause dizziness. If this is accompanied by a strong deceleration, such as that which occurs in a motorcycle accident, we can understand that internal injuries go beyond the blow against the skull.
As if that were not enough, two more problems arise. On the one hand, we are faced with an acceleration that is not only linear, but can also be angular or rotational, depending on the shape of the impact and the displacement it generates. On the other hand, it is possible that after the blow the affected person does not show symptoms of the damage until it is too late, as has happened with many boxers or American football players.
To try to solve these problems, the Swedish firm MIPS has launched a system with the same name, which responds to the acronym in English for a multidirectional impact protection system. Behind this system are two Swedish neurosurgeons who, concerned about the number of traffic accidents and their consequences, decided to seek a medical but also technical solution to alleviate these problems.
As a result of these studies, they verified how current helmet tests only measure linear impacts and in straight falls, which leaves out of verification the angular damages that we have commented previously. These angular damages can cause serious injuries if not properly avoided, so knowing the way the human brain reacted in these cases was essential. A work for which various dynamic studies of the behavior of the brain were used as well as real tests with cadavers and studies using X-rays.
From all this work came the first product of the brand, launched in 2007 and launched for the equestrian sector. A product that would have a very good reception, although not enough for the company to make the leap into the world of motorcycles. Luckily, the company decided to change the approach and instead of offering complete helmets, it now offers a system that can be integrated into any helmet and that allows mobile protection against this type of shock.
The protection device seems, at first glance, a kind of bump with a structure very similar to that of the human brain or head, which fits almost any helmet on the market. This structure has a behavior similar to that of the brain fluid that covers the brain and gives the helmet a movement of about 10 to 15 millimeters. Enough to partially compensate for the aforementioned angular effects and to aid in greater power dissipation. Something that is an extra security for all types of riders, but especially for motocross fans, due to the greater risk to which they are exposed.
As we have mentioned, MIPS technology is currently sold in an integrated way in all types of helmets on the market, so if you take a look at current motocross helmets it is easy to find models with MIPS. An integrated technology manufactured to give you greater safety when driving.
Regarding the cost of this extra, the truth is that it is noticeable, but not so much because of the price of the technology but because, for now, it is only present in premium range helmets, so its original cost was already higher. than the typical traditional helmet. Anyway, it is possible to find helmets with MIPS technology at prices starting at 150 or 200 euros. Considering that they come from first-rate brands and the high protection they offer, the truth is that it is an investment that is worth it.