Helmet Safety History
From the soft leather football helmets of the 1920s to bicycle helmets being made compulsory in
UCI races for the first time ever in 2003,
recreational helmets have come a long way in a short amount of time.
As early as the 1950s, athletes and doctors began to realize that
helmet safety requirements were needed to protect athletes.
Because of this, three main standards emerged: CPSC, which is law in the
United States, CEN which is used throughout Europe, and ISO, which is used internationally.
These three standards were developed with the goal of mitigating major head trauma.
As the science of head injuries has continued to develop, numerous helmet companies have found
ways to adhere to the current standards while developing innovative ways to address low-G and
rotational impacts with the ultimate goal of minimizing brain injuries — something researchers are
still learning more about even today. Read on to learn about some recent innovations in bike helmet technology.
Created from the combined knowledge and efforts of a Swedish engineer and a Swedish neurosurgeon,
MIPS was designed to alleviate rotational forces generated from an impact.
Research began in the mid 1990s, with the first MIPS equipped helmets going to market in the early 2000s.
The product itself is made up of a low-friction layer positioned between the head and the helmet that absorbs some of the rotational forces generated by an oblique or angular impact typically associated with a rider falling from a bike.
Basically, the MIPS liner shifts upon impact so that your brain doesn’t rattle around in your head as much.
Several major helmet brands on the market use MIPS technology.
On the sales floor, you can tell if a helmet is equipped with MIPS or not by looking for a MIPS sticker or a thin,
yellow plastic layer lining the inside of the helmet.
Released in 2017, POC’s Shearing Pad INside (SPIN) system was developed with the desire to address the same kinds of rotational
impacts that spurred the creation of MIPS, but with a totally different approach. POC’s research showed that, compared to a
direct or linear fall, the amount of force required to cause serious injury from an oblique impact is often much lower.
Even a “light” fall that generates low rotational impacts can have serious consequences on brain health.
The SPIN system reduces the impact of oblique falls by shearing the forces in any direction. This is done using several
strategically-placed pads that allow relative movement between the helmet and the head — kind of like a slippery pillow.
While these pads don’t look much different from the typical padding that lines a bike helmet, they pack a big punch when it
comes to shearing forces.
As a relatively new helmet company, 6D has made a big splash in a short amount of time, engineering a revolutionary
new impact system called Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS).
What is ODS and how is it different from what’s already on the market? This system essentially uncouples the two main layers
of the helmet and adds elastomer dampers between those layers. Picture a suspension system inside the helmet that makes the
helmet more capable of managing energy at lower demands, which is where concussions happen. You’ll find this technology in
every 6D helmet