If you’re looking to buy a new cycling helmet you will find that more and more models are incorporating the MIPS system. This extra safety feature has quickly become an industry standard, and it can be applied to all cycling helmets, both cheap and expensive. But what is MIPS? And what does it do?

What does MIPS stand for?

MIPS stands for “multi-directional impact protection system”. Every helmet that includes this system carries a striking yellow sticker. Literally speaking, MIPS is an extra layer in the helmet designed to further protect your head (skull and brains) against the force of impacts.

How does MIPS work?

A cycling helmet that carries the yellow sticker will include a more advanced system than traditional helmets: rather than just clamping your helmet to your head, MIPS is a sort of mini-helmet within a helmet. It gives an extra layer that provides around 10 to 15 millimetres slack between helmet and head.

That doesn’t sound like much, but it does ensure that more of the force of an impact is absorbed by the helmet itself. This protects the brain in particular, as certain head injuries are caused by the sloshing (for want of a better word) of the brain against the inside of the skull during an impact.

The system was developed by Swedish scientists professor Peter Halldin of the University of Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology and neurosurgeon (and MIPS co-founder) Hans von Holst. They joined forces to investigate how to reduce the severity of head injuries from sports, bicycles and motorcycling accidents.

In a nutshell, the scientists replicated the brain’s own shock absorption system and built it into the helmet’s construction. This is also why it is universally applicable to all brands and manufacturers. While a normal helmet essentially protects the skull from impact, MIPS aims to reduce the shock of the impact to the brain.

 

An increasing number of helmet manufacturers are offering MIPS versions of their helmets alongside the traditional models. They are a little more expensive, but as far as we are concerned you can’t put a price on increased safety. Looking for a new helmet? Keep that yellow dot in the back of your mind.