MIPS on top, according to Swedish insurance company helmet safety test

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Folksam, a Swedish insurance group, has released the results of its annual helmet safety test, finding that the best MIPS-equipped helmets offer up to 36% better safety than the average helmet. Unlike the tests completed for standards certification, Folksam’s test is similar to the testing from Virginia Tech, and places importance on measuring rotational forces for a reduction in concussion.

From the relatively small testing field, three adult helmets and two children’s helmets received a “Good Choice” award.

This latest round of cycling helmet testing is Folksam’s 11th helmet test since 2012, and its seventh test to focus specifically on cycling helmets. Of the 12 adult helmets tested, the Giro Aether MIPS, Specialized Propero III Angi MIPS, and Tec Nice MIPS (a Swedish helmet company) all received the “Good Choice” award, scoring a “four” on Folsam’s scale. By comparison, the lowest performing helmets scored a one, while Bontrager’s Charge WaveCel scored a two, below a couple of non-MIPS helmets.

It’s interesting to see the Bontrager rate so low, especially given Virginia Tech’s tests give the Charge WaveCel helmet a 5/5 safety score, even though it currently sits in 15th place. Folksam’s test concurs with Virginia Tech in that the WaveCel technology seemingly does not provide the improvement in safety that Trek/Bontrager first claimed.

Abbreviated results from the 2019 Folksam bicycle helmet test. Note: chart provided by MIPS.

Seven children’s helmets were tested, with local Swedish company Tec being the only recipient of the “Good Choice” award. Both MIPS-equipped models from Abus and Bell scored lower, but still above average.

Conducted by the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), Folksam’s test included two shock absorption tests with straight perpendicular impact, both done in accordance with the European standard (EN1078 2012). Additionally, three seperate oblique impact tests were performed to test for rotational forces. The oblique impact tests were performed with two samples for each model.

“The initial objective of the helmet standards was to prevent life-threatening injuries but with the knowledge of today a helmet should preferably also prevent brain injuries resulting in long-term consequences,” states Folksam in its 2019 helmet test report. “Therefore, helmets should be designed to reduce the translational acceleration as well as rotational acceleration. A conventional helmet that meets current standards does not prevent a cyclist from sustaining a concussion in case of a head impact. Helmets need to absorb energy more effectively.”

Perhaps the key takeaway from this test is that existing European, American and Australia helmet standards are outdated given what modern science says about concussions and their long-term health risks. Given the results it’s not surprising that Folksam has become yet another voice pushing for revised standards testing which takes into account rotational force reduction.

Follow the links for Follksam’s 2019 adult helmet report, and the 2019 children’s helmet report.

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