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by Dave Rome
November 25, 2019
Photography by James Huang
According to Virginia Tech’s latest cycling helmet test results, helmets equipped with MIPS are still the king of the safest crown, and now occupy the first four spots on the list. In fact, all 29 helmets to earn a five out five-star rating feature some form of rotational force dissipation device via MIPS, WaveCel or POC’s SPIN technology.
Of those 29 helmets, MIPS has its technology fitted to 24 of them. And with Bontrager having exclusive access to WaveCel, and POC to Spin, it shouldn’t be too surprising to see MIPS so dominant in the anti-concussion space it created.
The updated list sees Lazer’s Century MIPS stake the claim for the safest road helmet, with two mountain bike helmets – the Bontrager Rally MIPS and Troy Lee Designs A2 MIPS Decoy – sitting first and second overall, respectively. That first-placed helmet is interesting in that it’s made by Bontrager, but uses a simple MIPS low-friction liner instead of the company’s newer WaveCel technology.
POC’s new-and-soon-to-be-discontinued SPIN technology earns itself a five-star rating via the Tectal Race Spin mountain bike helmet. And another notable addition is Bell’s Z20 MIPS helmet, which scored a five-star rating.
It’s worth noting that the fitment of MIPS (or similar device) doesn’t automatically make a helmet superior in safety, and Virginia Tech’s testing does score a handful of MIPS-equipped helmets with four or even three-star ratings. There are also a select few helmets free of anti-rotational-force-devices that score four stars, such as the Specialized S-Works Prevail II, Smith Optics Overtake, Catlike Whisper, POC Octal, and Giro Savant.
As a consumer-funded testing center, Virginia Tech seeks to score helmets on how effectively they reduce linear acceleration and rotational velocity. Some helmet brands (none on record) have muttered that Virginia Tech’s focus on concussion reduction doesn’t give the full picture to a helmet’s safety, but it’s perhaps worth noting that none of those companies have offered up any science to dispute the independent lab’s methodology. Given that, it’s difficult to deny that Virginia Tech is serving to provide the consumer with better safety insight than what was previously available.