Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
The Helmet Update
Consumer Reports publishes a helmet article
Summary: Consumer Reports has updated its 2015 bicycle helmet report, adding new models and testing two MIPS models compared to non-MIPS versions. They found that MIPS reduced rotational force up to 43 percent, but drew no conclusions about what that might mean for injury. They gave Excellent impact protection ratings to 24 models, with the remaining 10 scoring Very Good. They check-rated 18 models. Of those they picked seven Best Buys, none of them MIPS models. No helmets tested were rated Do Not Buy.
The highest overall ratings went to the Scott Arx Plus, Cannondale Quick, Bell Gage MIPS, Bell Draft, Bontrager Solstice Youth, Bell Draft MIPS, Bontrager Circuit, Cannondale Teramo, and Smith forefront. The Bell Draft scored higher than its MIPS twin due to better ventilation.
Impact protection ratings
The impact ratings have been CU's biggest contribution to consumer information, and our key criterion for helmet choice. After testing 34 models in the lab, CU rated 24 of them Excellent, and the remaining 11 as Very Good.
Fit is our second key criterion, and here CU was more discriminating. They rated Excellent the Scott Arx Plus, Bell Gage MIPS, Smith Forefront, Kali City Helmet, and Bontrager Solstice Youth. Rated Poor were the Overade Plixi folder, Razor V-17 Youth, Bell Disney Frozen Tiara, Wipeout Dry Erase and Raskullz Mohawk.
Only the Cannondale Quick, Bell Draft, Specialized Chamonix and Specialized Chamonix MIPS rated Excellent for ventilation. The Smith Forefront, with a liner partially made of hollow Koroyd[tm] straws, was rated only Good. Eleven models rated Poor.
CU discussed recent concussion concerns. They had tested MIPS vs Non-MIPS models and found that MIPS reduced rotational force by 43 percent. We do not know what testing protocols they used. They concluded that "The MIPS helmets in our ratings are priced $20 to $25 more than the non-MIPS versions. Even if the extra benefit isn't definitive, a MIPS helmet might be worth the extra cost."
What We Missed
This is CU's best recent helmet article and certainly worth a look if you are researching a new helmet, although the number of helmets included is still small. Most of the models are available only in bike stores, leaving out the millions of helmets sold in discount stores. There were no Bell True Fit models tested, the only major advance in helmet fitting in the past decade. But testing is expensive, and no single lab, including the US Government, can afford to test every helmet on the market. Our own listing of helmets for this season is much more comprehensive, but has no lab test results, severely limiting its usefulness.
Here is the article in Consumer Reports. The ratings are behind the pay wall.
See this link for reviews of Consumer Reports articles in subsequent years.