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Bontrager’s New Helmet Technology Provokes Discussion Over Test Protocols

Laws & Regulations

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – The launch of Trek and Bontrager helmets featuring the licensed WaveCel technology is creating lots of discussions among helmet brands. According to Trek, “The WaveCel technology is up to 48 times more effective at preventing concussions than a regular EPS helmet.” This claim not only provokes discussions, but Swedish MIPS subjected the new WaveCel helmet technology to their tests, with results far below WaveCel’s substantial claims of injury prevention.

Bontrager’s New Helmet Technology Provokes Discussion Over Test Protocols
MIPS tested helmets with commonly used test methods in angular fall and followed the same test protocol as WaveCel. – Photo MIPS

Besides WaveCel’s effectiveness Trek/Bontrager also claims that “Adding this technology reduced the incidence of concussion to 1.2 percent. Nearly 99 out of 100 times, WaveCel can help prevent concussions.”

According to MIPS, “Such claims are impossible to make as no two crashes are the same and no two people are the same. However, rotational motion itself can be measured objectively, so that is the metric we report and address. We tested the helmets with commonly used test methods for helmets in angular fall and followed the same test protocol as WaveCel. When tested at the speed of 4.8m/s we found no difference in risk injury reduction between helmets equipped with WaveCel and those helmets just equipped with EPS foam. In the 6.2m/s impact case, there was a slight reduction, but not consistent with the communicated claims.”

We also believe that there is room for innovation in rider safety

Different test protocols

One possible reason for the very deviant results could be use of different test protocols. According to MIPS, “WaveCel used the so called HIII dummy neck in its test. The use of this neck for oblique helmet testing has been questioned and the HIII dummy neck isn’t used by us nor Virginia Tech and ‘Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme’ in their testing protocols. The HIII dummy neck was designed for automotive crash testing. It was neither developed nor validated for compressive loading as used in the Bliven study. The neck has been found to be too stiff in compression in several independent studies. For this reason, the test setup used must be questioned and we didn’t use the HIII dummy neck in the comparative test to keep the test as close to an industry standard as possible.”

Trek’s response

In response to the MIPS publication, Eric Björling Brand Director at Trek Bicycle, stated: “We believe that slip liners (WaveCel ed.) are a good technology that provide a real benefit to riders. Having partnered with MIPS for a number of years, we have brought many products featuring MIPS technology to market. We also believe that there is room for innovation in rider safety. Trek offers helmets with WaveCel, MIPS and standard technology. Consumers can decide for themselves which products fit their particular needs based on the data and information available to them.”

Lazer calls for clear helmet test methods

“As we weren’t able to create own test data yet we can only react based on the information available,” said Mike Smink, Commercial Director of Lazer Sport. “It is a fact that there is NO official standard for tests of oblique impact within any of the various helmet certifications worldwide. Based on this we can only refer to the test made by MIPS, the technology used by us throughout the Lazer helmet range, questioning the validity of the claims and the base that is to be found in several test methods that are not in relation with each other.

“It’s our mission to improve the safety of cyclist in all cycling disciplines,” adds Mike Smink. “We continuously perform studies on both linear and oblique impact. We do welcome any development that contributes to that mission, yet we also have the opinion that it has to be controlled by a clear standard that can judge on the value of specific claims. Currently Lazer is part of a working group that is developing an evaluation and potential change to current bicycle helmet test methods. The aim is to make sure that consumers can judge the safety of individual helmets and claims from any helmet supplier from an independent point of view.”


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