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The Helmet Update

Volume 36, #6, June 26, 2018

All issues index

Virginia Tech publishes helmet ratings

Virginia Tech's Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics lab has released a new STAR system for rating bicycle helmets, with 30 models rated. The ratings varied considerably, with four 5-star models and two that got only 2 stars.

The helmets were already certified to the CPSC standard using severe impacts, so the ratings are based on testing that explores their ability to perform in lower-level impacts, and their ability to handle rotational forces that are widely believed to be important in causing concussions. The full methodology is explained on the Virginia Tech site.

The four 5-star models (all of them MIPS-equipped) were: Bontrager Ballista MIPS, Louis Garneau Raid MIPS, Bell Stratus MIPS, and Specialized Chamonix MIPS.

The results give MIPS a boost after Snell's recent announcement that their own testing showed no benefit for the technology. But Tech used the type of setup favored by MIPS for rotational testing, with a very rough slanted anvil and a headform with a polyurethane skin and no scalp. And one of the MIPS helmets tested scored only three stars. Tech did not test an identical MIPS and non-MIPS model.

For more detail on the testing, we recommend this excellent article in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

We have a page up on Virginia Tech's program with more background:

We welcome this new approach to bicycle helmet testing and believe that ratings systems will be more useful to consumers as other standards remain stagnant in the face of new concerns about concussion-level impacts.

The Helmet Update - Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Randy Swart, Editor
4611 Seventh Street South
Arlington, VA 22204-1419 USA
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