Ron  Betist
Ron Betist

An interview with the CEO of Mips, Max Strandwitz. All about the safety of motorcycle helmets

4 maart 2022

Recently I had the pleasure to spend some time with the Mips CEO Max Strandwitz. We have mentioned Mips (Multi Directional Impact Protection System) before, but let us refresh your memory.

As far as I am concerned the system deserves far more attention in the press than it has been given in the past years. It is understandable but at the same time unfortunate that users focus on the outside of the helmet rather than on the part that should our utmost attention.

Let us tell you all about Mips and the safety of motorcycle helmets

According to the Mips website this is why we should all be aware of how to protect our heads: “A rotational management system that can lower the energies transferred to the head during an impact or crash. The system consists of a low friction layer (LFL) that is less than 1mm thick and placed on the inside of the helmet underneath the padding.

The LFL is tailor-made for every helmet and size and is created to move 10-15mm in any direction during an impact. The Mips® safety system is held in place by 3 elastomers that keep the LFL positioned correctly in the helmet. The LFL is injection molded to fit into each specific helmet. The minimalistic design is neatly implemented to not interfere with any fit system.”

The relevance of Mips explained

It is logical that 99.99% of the time a crash happens during a forward motion. Injury statistics show that when you fall and hit your head, it’s most common to fall at an angle, compared to a linear fall.

Our human brain is an amazing piece of work. However, we all realise this is a very delicate instrument, to be handled with great care. Falling at an angle creates rotational motion and science has shown that our brains are very sensitive to rotational forces. In an angled impact, these forces may transfer to your brain, which can cause severe injuries.

Most helmet manufacturers make their helmets go through rigorous testing before going to market. However, most of the impact testing is done in a linear way. Helmets are made to resist the impact following a straight line. Which makes sense, but does not represent the actual situation in an accident.

As we have established above, 99,99% of accidents occur while moving. Softening not only the blow, but also assisting the brain tissue to keep up with the sudden change in movement.

This is exactly what Mips does.

View from the top

The Mips system is already integrated in over 140 brands and in close to 900 different helmets. You will find in helmets used for cycling, snow, Equestrian, climbing, safety, team sports (such as ice hockey) and motorcycling. Mips is a system which is widely used by more than 20 different motorcycle helmet manufacturers, but has a large footprint in off-road motorsports.

Interestingly enough Mips has very low awareness with the ‘regular’ consumer. There are not even a handful of manufacturers that offer helmets including Mips for ‘street’ motorcycling.

Among them are Bell and BMW.

‘Yes this is a fact.” Says Max Strandwitz, the CEO of Mips. But we have added Icon to our roster in the second half of 2021. Their Icon Stealth model now also comes with additional Mips protection.”

Continuing: “For many manufacturers of helmets for street use optimizing safety by integrating the Mips system does not seem to be highest on their priority list.

The introduction of the ‘ECE 22.06’ level in 2020 was a great step forward. From 2024 onwards it will be illegal to sell ‘ECE 22.05’ approved helmets.

One of the major changes is that the minimizing rotational acceleration of the brain is now part of the tests before a helmet will receive an ‘ECE 22.06’ label.

This is a substantial acknowledgement of the importance of Mips.”

On track with Mips

Strandwitz adds: “For us it is also meaningful that the FIM regulations for racing on the track will become stricter in the next two to three years. Added Mips protection will play an important role in this.

When fans see their heroes riding with Mips equipped helmets, you may expect an increase in awareness at the consumer side. Hopefully this will start to drive demand.”

Taking the initiative to get the Mips name out there, the company announced their involvement starting as a sponsor of the Honda Racing team in the MXGP championship in 2021. The Honda team can be seen battling for #1 positions with Fox Mips equipped helmets.

At this moment the awareness among consumers of our protection system is around 45% in the USA, while in Europe the meter stops at around 35%.

Mips; to the consumer

Strandwitz further explains: “We are very happy with the addition of BMW in 2020 to the labels that have Mips integrated in their helmets. We expect the brand to continue promoting their Mips helmet range during the upcoming riding season.

We have always taken the forward leadership position. We have been at it for over two decades and we will continue to advocate increasing safety by adding Mips systems to all helmets where we can see that it could make a difference.

Having said that, broadening our brand awareness amongst the significant number of riders who use their motorcycle for day to day transportation remains a key factor in our strategy.”

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