Bell Flex Liner
While BRG Sports (owner of Bell, Giro, and Blackburn) is an investor in MIPS, that hasn’t prevented Bell from developing its own technologies. While currently only available in their powersport helmets, the new Flex Liner utilizes a progressive layering system to absorb a wide range of impacts, improve fit, and reduce rotational forces. The system uses three liners. Each is comprised of a different material and density. Working in conjunction, they act a progressive system that can help reduce sub-concussive impacts, yet still meet the stringent SNELL standard.
The two layers closest to the head are segmented, a technology borrowed from their BMX line. This allows the helmet to adapt to your head for improved fit. Another advantage is that the inner liners can also rotate relative to the middle and outer liner, which can help reduce rotational forces. Like the 6D ODS system, potential downsides to this technology are weight, size, and price. Bell’s newest helmet to use this system will be their ProStar road racing helmet, which will use five different shell sizes and a premium carbon shell material to help mitigate both the weight and size issues.
Leatt Turbine 360/Kali Protectives Bumper Fit 2.0
Leatt’s Turbine 360 and Kali’s Bumper Fit 2.0 technology are different interpretations of the same concept and material. Both brands have strategically inserted pods of a substance called Armourgel throughout the interior of their helmets. This material deforms at a lower speed than a traditional EPS liner, so it is can help with the absorption of low speed or sub-concussive impacts. The material can also move laterally to help reduce rotational forces. In addition to the use of Armourgel, these two brands are the only manufacturers of in molded full face helmets on the market.
While most companies construct the shell and liner separately, then combine them, the shell and liner of the Kali and Leatt helmets are one piece. Kali claims that this technology offers a myriad of benefits, including a reduction in the transfer of energy, a thinner shell, and reduced weight and volume. Both brands believe a reduction in shell size and volume offers a significant reduction in the amount of rotational forces transferred during an impact. Learn more at www.leatt.com and www.kaliprotectives.com.
Unless you’ve been following the dialogue surrounding concussions in the NFL closely, you’ve probably never heard of a small Seattle startup called Vicis. This company is working on reinventing the football helmet and their technology may have profound effects on two wheeled sports in the future. Their Zero1 prototype helmets uses a softshell that is paired with an impact absorbent core layer that consists of filaments. Like the ODS system, during an impact, these structures can deform and buckle multi-directionally to respond to an impact in any location or angle (think linear and rotational).
These filaments rest on a liner, which is selected based upon optimal fit. That liner is then padded with a special memory foam that further conforms to the user’s head and will also provided additional protection. There are obviously enormous differences between the demands of football and cycling, but the technology Vicis is developing is incredibly exciting. Unfortunately, it won’t be cheap. Retail for their first helmet is $1500. Learn more at vicis.co.
If you’re curious about other topics or technologies, let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to address them in future articles. And If you want to learn more about helmet safety standards, materials, or technology, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute is a great resource.