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Riding motorcycles is inarguably dangerous. This is an unfortunate reality that each rider has to work out for themselves. Despite the clear dangers of riding motorcycles, there are some steps we can take that can keep us significantly safer while riding (or crashing). The helmet is the King of Motorcycle Safety Gear. Without a quality helmet, the rest of the gear is unimportant. However, not all helmets were created equal, which is why we should talk about M.I.P.S., the most important piece of motorcycle safety gear nobody talks about. 

What is M.I.P.S.? 

infographic showing how Mips works
How Mips Works MX | M.I.P.S.

Mips, or Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, “is a technology designed to reduce the risk of brain injury in the event of an oblique impact to the head.” Oblique impacts involve the head striking an object or surface at an angle rather than straight on. These types of impacts can cause the head to rotate upon impact, which can lead to more severe brain injury.

Mips is a safety system that comes in some motorcycle helmets. You might have seen a yellow liner inside your helmet or a yellow sticker on the back reading “M.I.P.S.” This feature is fairly common in off-road helmets, but many road helmets often still exclude the feature. 

How does Mips work? 

An imagine showing how Mips in a helmet protects the brain
How Mips protects the brain | M.I.P.S.

Despite the obscurity of the name, Mips engineers have been working on this system for 25 years. According to Mips engineers, the system draws upon the same principles as the natural construction of our skulls. Our brains have a protective layer that allows them to move in the skull a little to protect them from impact. 

The yellow liner provides a low-friction layer within the helmet. This is known rather uncreatively as the Mips Layer. This layer sits between the padding in the helmet and allows the head to move slightly within the helmet upon impact. Again, like the layer that all have naturally, the Mips layer helps to dissipate the energy from the impact, reducing the risk of injury to the brain. 

What helmets feature Mips technology?

Mips is spreading across various helmet marketplaces. Off-road motorsports have been on the Mips train for a while. Fox is a major Mips believer, offering the system across various helmets. While Mips is getting more common off-road, on-road adoption has been a bit slower, but even that is starting to change. MotoGP racer Aleix Espargaró recently announced that he was joining the Mips team in conjunction with his helmet sponsor, Kabuto. Mips is also found outside motorsport in cycling, equestrian, and more. 

Is M.I.P.S. worth it? 

Mips Academy, Straight vs Angled Impacts from Mips on Vimeo.

Mips is one of those rare things where the Mips version of a helmet will usually only cost an added $20-$50 depending on the helmet and brand, but research shows that it can be 10% better at dissipating impact on the brain than helmets without it. 

The fact is motorcycle crashes, even low-speed crashes, can have devastating results if you aren’t prepared with the right safety gear. Motorcycle safety gear can turn a serious or even fatal crash into nothing but some bumps and bruises. If death is on the table, why not take the extra time and spend the extra cash to give yourself the best chances possible in the event of a crash?