March 16th, 2018.

Innovations in helmet technology - MIPS and FLEX – are new protective layers that allow a degree of rotational movement upon impact. Both aim to reduce the incidence of serious brain injury.

As a general rule, motorcycle helmets all serve the same purpose. The conventional motorcycle helmet has two principal protective components; a thin, hard, outer shell typically made from polycarbonate plastic, fibreglass, or composite materials, and a soft, thick, inner liner usually made of expanded polystyrene (EPS). Conventional wisdom has it that the single most important component with regard to safety in a crash is the foam lining, and that the more foam used, the better the impact resistance, until now.

MIPS - Multi-directional Impact Protection System - is a plastic liner that sits under the helmet’s EPS foam liner. On impact, the EPS protects the skull in a modified way: rather than compressing around the head to slow down the force (and clamping hair and skin in the process), it will compress around the MIPS liner, which is able to rotate slightly. This rotation — side-to-side and forward-to-back — to mimic the natural reflex of the cerebral spinal fluid surrounding the brain, will occur while the head is held securely within the ‘slip plane’.

FLEX is a three-layered impact liner system designed to manage energy at three different speeds of impact: low, mid and high. Again, its key focus is brain protection.

The difference with Flex is that it replaces the traditional thick single layer expanded polystyrene (EPS) with a thinner layer of EPS, and has a thin, soft and flexible liner made from expanded polyolefin (EPO) and, closer to the head, a medium-density expanded polypropylene (EPP) liner. In the event of an accident, the EPO layer compresses first, at a minimum rate three metres per second; the EPP compresses at around five metres per second, and the EPS at just under eight metres per second.

For more on this subject, turn to pages 20 to 23 of the March issue of Motorcycle Trader (available now) or visit