Mips' signature yellow liner is inching its way toward synonymity with added brain protection--and now appears in at least one helmet from every major mountain bike lid manufacturer--but the Swedish company that owns the technology recognizes that there can be a perception issue with what looks to be a simple piece of plastic: How can that, people wonder, prevent a brain injury in a crash?
"It performs in a timeframe we don't operate in," the company's Greg Fisher said at Eurobike on Wednesday, referring to the 2-3 milliseconds after a crash in which the Mips liner can divert rotational motion from the impact from the brain. While there are mountains of scientific data behind the dangers of concussions and the need for a solution to help reduce rotational-impact injuries, Mips can't point to much empirical evidence that its product has reduced the number of those types of brain injuries, although its neuroscientists and engineers report that Mips can result in a 10-percent reduction in brain strain in a crash.
From a purely aesthetic standpoint, it can also sometimes be challenging to get helmet designers to integrate the liner into their products, so Mips is aiming to make their job simpler and, ultimately, get more mountain bikers' brains better protected.
At Eurobike, it's showing two new iterations of its liner that it hopes will make designers' jobs easier. The first, officially called A1, but more affectionately known as the Pocket, is a series of quarter-sized plates and short strips embedded in the helmet's interior and anchored between fabric layers so they're essentially invisible. The plates move omnidirectionally due to their low-friction plastic construction and elasticity of the fabric layers, achieving the 10 to 15 millimeters of movement required to redirect rotational motion from oblique head impacts, according to Mips scientists.
A second new platform, the E2, or the Beanie, is a cap-like insert that acts as a full-headed low-friction layer for full-face helmets. It is made of two soft, multi-directional, stretch fabric layers sewn together around a thin, plastic foil, and when inserted between the padding of the helmet and the outer EPS shell, aims to provide broad coverage from rotational motion but not at the cost of comfort or sweat absorption.
Mips has also thinned its traditional liner to lower its profile inside the helmet, and better avoid common issues, such as hair getting snagged in the plastic liner.
All these updates will be seen in helmets hitting the market next spring.