A Swedish lab put 27 cycling helmets, including 23 currently available in the UK, through their paces. Their testing showed that the helmets that offer protection against rotational injuries are the safest helmets on the market right now. This anti-rotational technology includes things such as WaveCel by Bontrager and MIPS.
Eight of the 27 helmets tested by the lab earned a 4* rating, the highest available score. Four of these helmets are available in the UK right now. The Research Institutes of Sweden performed the testing.
The study from Sweden follows a similar study in the United States, which was done at Virginia Tech last year. The Swedish study didn’t go into as much depth as the American study, but the results for both studies were similar.
The key takeaway from both studies is that systems designed to dissipate rotational forces on a helmet during accidents transmit less force to the wearer’s head and hold up better during testing. To put it simply, the helmets absorb more force and take more of the brunt of the damage to protect riders.
The overall winner of the entire study – and the safest helmet – was the Hövding 3 helmet. It’s no surprise that the helmet came in the top when you consider it has an integrated airbag. It’s hard to find a bike helmet with an airbag built-in as it would be difficult to find a way to pull it off.
The Swedish test was put together by the Folksam insurance company, with funding coming from the British Road Safety Trust.
The helmets were put through five different tests in all. The tests included a shock-absorption test (the helmets were dropped from 1.5m and tested on two impact points for damage caused by the drop) and three oblique angle tests. The oblique angle tests involved dropping the helmets against an angled anvil with sandpaper attached. The goal of the test is to simulate the friction of a rider coming into contact with tarmac in an accident.
The data from the tests was run through computer simulations that calculated the translational and rotational accelerations.
The helmets were scored based on the median average test results of all of the helmets. The results from the oblique tests were given particular importance because these are the kinds of accidents that tend to cause brain injuries.
The Hövding 3 achieved the highest score and was 76% better than the overall average across all 27 helmets. Of the helmets available in the UK, the Scott Vivo Plus MIPS was the best in class, with a performance of 22% above average.
It’s worth noting that the 27 helmets in the study are a small sample size compared to the overall number of helmets on the UK market. There was also very little crossover in the helmets tested by both Swedish Labs and Virginia Tech, meaning that – together – the two studies covered a wide variety of helmets.
If you want to get the safest helmet you can for your bike riding adventures, keep an eye out for helmets with anti-rotational technology.