Folksam, a Swedish insurance company, just released the results of its annual helmet safety test and there are some interesting findings.
To start, according to the study, the best MIPS helmets offer up to 36% better safety than the average non-MIPS helmet. Folksam’s test methodology is similar to the testing done at Virginia Tech which focuses on measuring rotational forces as those forces are most closely tied to concussion risk.
Folksam tested a small number of helmets and of the group only three adult helmets and two children’s helmets received a Good Choice award. Of the 12 adult helmets tested, the Giro Aether MIPS, Specialized Propero III Angi MIPS, and Tec Nice MIPS all received the Good Choice award. The Good Choice award reflects a rating of 4.
What’s really interesting here, is that Bontrager’s Charge WaveCel scored a two, below a couple of non-MIPS helmets. In comparison, Virginia Tech’s tests give the Charge WaveCel helmet a 5/5 safety score. That said, Folksam’s test does agree with Virginia Tech’s in that the WaveCel technology does not appear to provide the safety improvements that Trek/Bontrager claimed.
Five physical tests were conducted, two shock absorption tests with straight perpendicular
impact and three oblique impact tests (Table 2). Computer simulations were made to evaluate
The helmeted head was dropped against a 45° inclined anvil with friction similar to asphalt
(grinding paper Bosch quality 40). The impact speed was 6.25m/s. The Hybrid III dummy
head was used without an attached neck. Two helmets were tested in each test configuration
to minimize variations. The test set-up used in the present study corresponds to a proposal
from the CEN Working Group’s 11 “Rotational test methods” (Willinger et al. 2014). The test
was performed by Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE).
A couple takeaways. Helmet testing needs a lot of standardization and validation work. American (and elsewhere) helmet safety standards are horribly outdated given modern science concerning concussion risk. Over-the-top marketing without the results to backup your claims is a risky game.