Every bike helmet, regardless of the price, is required to pass the same set of tests. That means that the $30 lid you bought from Wal-Mart is just as “safe” as your cocky neighbors $400 dollar crown of dork-dom that matches his kit perfectly.
According to some brands though, those helmets don’t go far enough. Helmets are traditionally tested by dropping them vertically onto a flat surface. The problem with this theory is that there are usually multiple directions in most crashes. To exaggerate it, think of your head spinning like a curve ball—traditional helmets do little to slow down the rotational velocity of your head. Even though the outside of your head is protected from blunt trauma, the inertia your brain carries can still leave you concussed.
Some brands have become aware of this and started incorporating the MIPS, Multi-directional Impact Protection System, into their helmets. The technology consists of a low friction layer that sits in between the outer shell of the helmet and the liner. This layer simulates the layer of fluid that exists between your brain and your skull, adding in one extra step to reducing the forces of oblique impacts.
POC was an early adapter of Mips, using it in some of their gravity-oriented cycling helmets, and more recently across its spectrum of helmets. The Trabec Race MIPS represents a new evolution in lightweight helmets that offer more protection than average. The added protection comes without a weight gain as well—The Trabec Race Mips weighs a svelte 350 grams—adding only 10 grams to the non-race version. It also comes with all the same easy to adjust fit features, and the same massive venting to keep your head cool.
Other companies have embraced MIPS as well. Scott even makes an affordable helmet equipped with MIPS. It makes sense, the bike path is often as dangerous as roads, when cluttered with casual cyclists who aren't paying attention.
So the next time you’re looking for a way to cover your cranium, remember, all helmets have to pass the same tests, but that extra yellow layer might add a little more security with your investment.