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MIPS invited us to Sweden to explain its in-helmet safety system in words that non-neuroscientists can understand. Luckily we have our own actual PhD neuroscientist, so we sent Barney to translate.


If you ride a mountain bike (and it’s a fair bet that the majority of people reading this article do) then it’s more than likely that you wear a helmet. If you don’t, why not? You mentalist.

After all, helmets are A Good fling. They provide a first point of defence between your noggin and the hard pointy things which want to interfere with its smooth function and undoubtedly suave and elegant looks. In the dim and distant past, perhaps, such safety-conscious thinking came at the expense of – uh – looks. I well remember my first helmet, which resembled nothing more or less than a giant mushroom smirshed around my head and ears, but these days, whether it’s a result of cultural habituation, the progress of technology, cunning marketing, or all three, helmets can look pretty durned cool. In fact, if I see a rider without a helmet they look a little odd. Underdressed, frankly. There’s an unspoken assumption that the bare-bonced rider isn’t all that serious – and certainly won’t be trying any of the death-defying features that we steely-eyed adventurers will shortly be schralping, no sir!

But take a look inside that helmet of yours. Technologically, it’s a fair bet that it’s essentially unchanged inside for the past 30-odd years – maybe more. Polystyrene. A bit of foam to make it a bit more comfy. And that’s about it.

But some of you might note a yellow layer of plastic inside. You may well be aware that it’s called the MIPS layer (which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, acronym fans) and you also may be aware that your lid cost a little more than another (possibly identical) one without that yellow bit. You may also be under the impression that it makes your helmet a little safer, somehow.This is clearly a good thing. But how, exactly does it do this? Where did the idea come from? And is it all that important anyway? Let’s go to Sweden – home of the safety conscious – to find out!

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Editorial: Longer Shortcuts Chipps encourages us to expand our mental maps and seek out the hidden byways between here and there. In between, happiness lies. UK Adventure: There Be Dragons Here! Probably… Sanny takes advantage of the long dry summer to check out a Lake District route reputed to be so wet, steep and horrible that only a fool would try it. Column: Jason Miles Jason just wants to ride a long way. However, he’s not keen on being judged for it. Classic Ride: Clwydian Hills Tom Hutton takes us on a tour of this lesser known riding spot in an eort to persuade us there’s more to Wales than trail centres and Snowdon. International Adventure: Just When It Was Going So Well Jason Miles dons his best Lycra and jumps on one of the worst bikes he’s ever ridden to take part in a local Spanish stage race. Spoiler: he doesn’t win, but by getting to hear the tale, you do. Interview: Simon Gallup - There Is No Cure Best known as the bassist from The Cure, Simon Gallup is a cycle nerd and collector of Orange Bikes. Chipps goes to check out what’s in his shed… quite a lot as it turns out. Behind The Scenes: Build It And They Will Come Antony de Heveningham takes a look at unauthorised trail-building and asks whether this is breathing life into the trail network, or threatening its very existence. Behind The Scenes: MIPS - Twisting My Melon Our resident neuroscientist Dr Barney Marsh checks out the technology behind MIPS helmets and the injury risks driving their development. Bike Test: XXC We test out three short-travel, full suspension bikes from Intense, Saracen and Yeti to see how this new crop of slack(ish) but swift bikes compares to their steeper cross country brethren. Plus much more…