I really wasn’t expecting any helmet manufacturers to send me anymore helmets to test after that last buyers guide I did, but to my surprise I got an email from Triple Eight asking if I wanted to check out their new dual certified Gotham Helmet that utilizes MIPS technology. Before we get into just what MIPS Technology is, I want to mention that this review is a little bit different than ones I’ve done before. The Gotham helmet is aimed more at the bicycle commuter market than at BMX. Sure, you can absolutely wear it at the trails, but it has a bit of a different shape than what you’re probably accustomed to. While it may not be necessarily aimed at BMX, it did give me an opportunity to hands or (or should I say heads on) with a helmet utilizing an emerging technology aimed at advancing a helmet’s effectiveness in reducing traumatic brain injuries even further.
What is MIPS Technology? Don’t worry, I asked myself the exact same thing! MIPS is a technology developed by scientist and brain surgeons to help reduce rotational forces on the brain caused by angled impacts to the head. It does this by mimicking the way the brain naturally protects itself. Cerebrospinal fluid between the brain and the skull creates a low friction cushion that allows the brain to slide within the skull ever so slightly during impacts. This allows some of the energy from the impact to be dissipated prior to reaching the brain. MIPS Technology imitates that by creating a low friction layer between the helmet shell and the liner. The idea is that a helmet with MIPS is able to slide relative to the wearer’s head when subjected to an angled impact, thus allowing some of that impact energy to be dissipated in a similar way to what the cerebrospinal fluid between the brain and the skull does. You can see how it works in the video below.
Some naysayers argue that your hair creates its own natural low friction layer between your head and your helmet, essentially doing the same thing as MIPS. I’m not a scientist nor a brain surgeon. MIPS technology has been in development and testing since 2001 and has the data to show that it does indeed do what it claims to. It was also developed by designing angled impact testing that is more akin to real world impacts than the traditional drop style test that most helmets are subjected to in laboratories.
Now that you know what MIPS Technology is all about, we can move onto the actually helmet review. Like I said earlier, the Gotham is aimed more at the bicycle commuter market. It has a little bit of a different cut than your traditional skate-style helmet. The most noticeable thing is the subtle brim on the front. It also has a reflective adjustable dial in the back that allows you to really customize the fit and helps you be seen by cars. Between that and the assorted Sweatsaver™ pads they give you, you can really tailor the helmet to comfortably fit your head. I’ve been wearing it for the last couple of months to run errands around the city, and I actually forgot I had it on one time and ended up being “that guy” in the store walking around with a helmet.
You can see the MIPS Technology when you look on the inside of the helmet, but other than seeing it in there you don’t notice it at all. It adds hardly, if any extra bulk to the helmet. As far as fit goes, I doubt you would be able to tell the difference between a helmet with MIPS and one without it.
I only have two real complaints about the Gotham. The first is that I think they should have added some more vents. There are two very small vents in the front, six larger ones on the top in the the shape of the Triple Eight logo, and three more small vents in the back. Grooves in the EPS liner are supposed to help channel air in and out of the helmet, but I think they would be a lot more effective with either more or larger vents. My head has definitely gotten a little toasty on some of these warmer days we’ve had recently.
The second complaint I have is that there’s a clear film-like layer over the entire shell of the helmet that chips and bubbles up very easily. At first I thought it may have been something that I was supposed to peel off, but that’s not the case. It will only chip off in little tiny flakes if you try to peel it. It’s a shame because even though the helmet is relatively new, it’s starting to look like I’ve already had a few run-ins with it on.
I’m pretty good about wearing a helmet at the trails but wearing a helmet when I’m out on the grocery getter is a new thing to me. It’s actually been kind of nice wearing one lately with how crazy fools drive around here. Will I wear it at the trails? Probably not unless I lose my other helmet, but I am going to continue wearing it on my big bike adventures. It’s nice having that extra bit of reassurance when I’m pedaling around.
Triple Eight offers the Gotham in both regular and MIPS versions. The regular one retails for $59.99 and the MIPS version will set you back $89.99. Both meet ASTM skate and U.S. CPSC bike safety standards and are available at Triple Eight dealers worldwide in a variety of colors and sizes to fit heads from small to XL.
I asked Triple Eight if they had any plans of making a MIPS version of their Brainsaver helmet. They said that though there are no immediate plans to do so, it’s not out of the question. I’m all for anything that helps reduce traumatic brain injuries. I really hope that Triple Eight and other helmet manufacturers consider putting MIPS into their traditional skate-style helmets.