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RBR Reader’s Real-Life MIPS Helmet Test
Back in May we did a roundup review of 5 MIPS road helmets. As we wrote in the review: “Modern (non-MIPS) bike helmets are wonderful pieces of technology in terms of their impact resistance. They are designed – and tested – to help prevent skull fractures and other major blunt-force trauma. They are not, however, designed to mitigate the forces that can cause a concussion.
“A Swedish company called Multi-directional Impact Protection System — MIPS — patented the slip plane concept (what it calls a low-friction layer), using two layers in the helmet (the MIPS “liner”) to help mitigate the rotational force of an impact, which can result in a concussion or other brain injury.”
Regarding the actual testing of those MIPS helmets, we wrote: “Short of wanting to test the helmets to their true capacity, none of us on the RBR Review Crew volunteered to crash, so we did the next best thing: We came up with a set of criteria to evaluate the helmets against one another using a standard helmet as the baseline.”
Well, last Friday I received an email from RBR Premium Member and frequent correspondent Seth Shaw to the effect that he had, two days prior, tested his MIPS helmet “to its true capacity” in a crash involving a deep road rut, an endo, and a guardrail! Thankfully, Seth came away relatively unscathed, and he quickly thought to himself: Hey, I should write about this for RBR! [Editorial comment: What great readers and friends we have who are willing to share their worst days on the bike for the benefit of all of us! And Seth is absolutely representative of all the roadies I know in his concern for his bike after the crash! Read, and watch, on.]
So, what follows is Seth’s first-hand account of his crash, complete with a Fly6 video of the crash. (Seth is the guy who alerted me to the Fly6 over a year ago; he’s obviously a safety-minded rider.) As with all such reports, this is not a scientific account, by any means. But like any of us who’ve ever crashed and been grateful that there was a helmet between our heads and the road (or guardrail post, etc.), Seth’s position is one of thankfulness.
Red Is NOT My Color
By Seth Shaw
On Wednesday, as I’m fitting my brand new Bell helmet with MIPS onto my noggin, I was reminded of the last time I wore a spiffy new red non-MIPS helmet 6 years ago: I crashed. The helmet saved me from a bad injury but I had a nice headache and perhaps a mild concussion. That couldn’t happen again. No way.
Herewith my fabulous adventure 2 days ago (thanks Fly6!): http://bit.ly/1UINnEW
Tangled Up and Blue
Going about 21mph, a 2-inch wide, 2-feet long, 4-inch deep rut grabbed my wheels, propelling me over the handlebars. I hit my helmeted head on the guardrail post and got hung up on the rusted cables supporting the posts after almost going all the way through them into the embankment.
I never lost consciousness and, astounding for a 69-year-old guy, suffered no really serious injury.
Even though I was in some state of shock with the cuts, bruises — the usual road rash — and contusions, with back pain, I remained absolutely lucid. Arguably, I’m living proof that MIPS works. One of my first thoughts was that I just channeled Geraint Thomas‘s TdF crash (fortunately I found my $500 prescription glasses.)
No More Non-MIPS for Me
My helmet might suggest otherwise, but I suffered no head trauma. I started wearing MIPS helmets 16 months ago, the red one becoming a short-lived 3rd member of my repertoire. On occasion I’ll grab another non-MIPS lid as a slave to fashion to match my kit. Never again!
It seems nuts to me that everyone doesn’t wear one for the few extra dollars it costs, even if you have some doubts about the technology. Geez, you’re protecting the most important part of your body. The red Bell helmet was $70, so in this case it didn’t cost any more than a non-MIPS lid; in fact, it cost far less than many helmets without the technology. (I’m not speaking to those who don’t wear head gear. If you lid-less folks think the same freakish accident couldn’t happen to you, you’re delusional.)
My bike, at first glance, suffered no damage, but on further inspection the right shifter ain’t workin’ right. It’s a Di2, and I’m seeing for the first and, I hope, only time, a downside to electronic gear. I hope it’s the cable harness. My rear wheel rims need some cuts to be filed but both it and the front remain true and neither tubeless tire flatted. Something to be said for 28- and 32-spoke wheels?
I’m happy to report I did a 31-mile ride today (two days after the crash) on my backup bike and it was great to be back in the saddle. No pain. I was thinking how fortunate I was.
Freak Accident, Could Have Been Much Worse
I went back to the scene of the crime and the crack was filled by the road crew thankfully, but I’m telling you it could have happened to anyone. There are a multitude of like-sized cracks on this particular road, the difference here was its depth. At 4 inches, nothing would escape its grasp. Freak accident, but it could have been so much worse.
Indeed, I wrote my story with RBR in mind. It’s all about the MIPS helmet. I’ll take on anyone who questions its effectiveness not because I believe it saved me from a concussion. Rather it’s the incremental cost of MIPS, which is quickly approaching zero. No one argues that there’s added harm from it, therefore there’s no reason not to wear one no matter how much doubt one has.
At least that’s the way I see it.
Simple Carbon Care Tips
‘Shut Up, Legs’ and a Core Pronouncement
“Shut up, legs” is an important tip from former pro and master of the pithy soundbite Jens Voigt that almost any roadie can use at one time or another.
Reflecting on his career, Voigt had more words of wisdom:
“I’d also say that I would have pushed myself harder to do more core muscle training and stretching — I did next to none of that.
“I’m lucky that my body’s built for cycling; I’m pretty strong — I wouldn’t say indestructible — but I think I could have got more results or performance out of myself.
“Bobby Julich was really good at this; I would just sit there reading a book or playing my Gameboy while he was on a sit-ball doing his core exercises.
“Nobody cared about or even knew what core muscles were when I was starting out. But if you don’t stretch and work on this, then you definitely put yourself at a disadvantage.”
Coach John Hughes is working on his next eArticle right now that will feature tips from Voigt and other pros to help you become a stronger rider! Coach Hughes’ new article will feature over 20 useful tips from the pros and show you how to use them to help your riding, and your longevity. Look for it within the next few weeks.
Why I Still Restrict Meat, Eggs and Milk
How Can I Train More Consistently?
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New Prototype ‘Augmented Reality’ Helmet
Technology marches on. In the form an “augmented reality” helmet prototype that “pushes” environmental information onto the “heads-up” display of the helmet face shield.
After a recent trip to New York City with my family, I noticed many of city’s new bike lanes, and the mix riders using them, including a handful of commuter types, bike-for-transportation types and, in the neighborhood where I stayed, delivery bike riders. (And I saw scads of roadies on the streets running through Central Park.)
Despite the new bike lanes, riding on the streets of New York is still no picnic. Auto and pedestrian traffic is ever present, with hazards of all types at the ready. And urban cycling is much the same in cities like London and Paris.
Which is where the British “think tank”-type group Future Cities Catapult comes in. The group “forecasts” possible future technologies to meet the needs of growing cities and their inhabitants. In this case, the helmet prototype was cooked up ostensibly to “make cycling safer.”
However, it seems to me the idea is a bit at cross-purposes with reality. The design team explains that the purpose is to get the rider to keep a heads-up posture and not be forced to look down at their smart phone for environmental data like upcoming turns or (and this is cool, and real – as Garmin already has a radar product), blind-spot monitoring.
Here’s how the designers explain it:
“This prototype explores how technology might support a learning process based on imageability, such that the device and its interface essentially disappears over time, and the rider pays attention to the city around them,” explains the team. “On a bike, we particularly need cyclists to develop a heads-up stance, looking at the environment around them, rather than down at a phone.”
Pardon me for being old-fashioned, but aren’t they admitting that the heads-up display is a distraction in and of itself? I always thought “the rider pays attention to the city around them” is the best and safest approach, all by itself.
I love the idea of technology helping make cycling safer, but whether your eyes are focusing on the data on your handlebar-mounted computer or phone, or they’re focusing on the data projected on your visor, they’re NOT focused on the environment around you. More data can also mean more distraction. That’s a fine line tech developers need to keep in mind.
Rider or Not? Partner ‘Riding Guilt’ vs. ‘Compatibility’
Last week’s Question of the Week, a suggestion from Tech guru Jim Langley (who, like me, has a non-riding wife), asked:
If your partner is NOT a cyclist, do you feel guilty when you’re out riding?
Turns out, there’s a fair amount of “riding guilt” out there. 10% answered: “Yes, and I ride a lot less than I would like to because of it.” Another 15% chimed in: “Yes, and so much that I sometimes cut rides short.”
Another 6% weighed in with: “Yes, but I am not going to stop riding where and how I want.” (I love the chutzpah of this group, but that simply won’t work for many of us, I’m guessing!)
Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority (48%) chose: “No. They have their things they do and I have mine.”
Another 12% said, “Not at all.”
After this question was posed, I heard from a couple of readers who wanted to flip the issue around and ask about those readers whose partners DO ride. So here’s this week’s question:
If Your Partner Does Ride, How ‘Riding Compatible’ Are They with You?
Trunk It Golf Gear Organizer Perfect for Cycling
Today’s QT is a perfect follow-on to last week’s from Premium Member Rick Burneson about keeping extra gear in your car just in case you (inevitably) forget something.
Premium Member Ed Downey wrote:
To go with the Quick Tip from today. I have been using a “Trunk It Golf Gear Organizer” [Google it for online offers] to store my shoes, helmet, small set of tools, and other items. This is the perfect size and keeps everything neat and organized. I have one trunk-it for my mountain bike gear, one for my road bike gear, and one for my triathlon bike gear.
It has been a handy device to securely transport and organize everything you need for a ride.
If you have an idea for a QT, fire away. We’re always looking for good info we can share with fellow roadies. We would love to hear from you with any suggestions you have. Contact us by clicking Quick Tips Ideas.
—John Marsh & The RBR Team
John Marsh is the former editor and publisher of RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com. A rider of "less than podium" talent, he brought our readers consistently useful, informative, entertaining info that helps make them better road cyclists. That's what we're all about here—always have been, always will be. Click to read John's full bio.