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Discussion Starter #21 (Edited)
I hope you've enjoyed my first novel, entitled Principles of Concussion Risk Reduction in MTB Helmets, According to Some Guy. (I skipped the chapter explaining why fullfaces aren't the answer, maybe I'll include it in the 2nd ed.)

Now let's chat about actual helmets. Here, alphabetically, are 11 helmets I think most riders might look at if they were looking for the best helmet for reducing concussion risk:

  • 6D ATB-1T Evo
  • Bell Sixer
  • Bell Super Air MIPS
  • Bontrager $300 Blaze Wavecel
  • Bontrager Rally MIPS
  • Fox Flux MIPS
  • Giro Tyrant
  • Kali Interceptor
  • Leatt DBX 2.0
  • POC Tectal Race Spin
  • Specialized Ambush ANGi MIPS
  • Troy Lee A2 MIPS

None are perfect. Here's a quick look at what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of each, focusing on concussion prevention:

6D ATB-1T Evo
Good: very promising tech for rotation and softness with no dead spots; 4 stars from VT; breakaway visor
Bad: quite heavy, quite large; no breakaway accessory mount; useless crash replacement policy

Bell Sixer

Good: plain MIPS with what looks like no dead spots; variable density foam of some sort; integrated accessory mount that I assume is breakaway; not big or heavy; crash replacement but it's only a discount not free
Bad: only variable-density foam for softness

Bell Super Air MIPS

Good: very promising tech for rotation, promising tech for softness (inner shell is EPP), very good coverage (probably dead spots on rear half of rim); reportedly good ventilation; breakaway accessory mount, limited crash replacement policy
Bad: somewhat heavy

Bontrager Blaze Wavecel, which costs $300
Good: very promising tech for rotation and softness with very good coverage (but dead spots around rim); 5 stars from VT; excellent breakaway accessory mount and visor; one year free crash replacement
Bad: absurdly expensive; somewhat heavy and large; reportedly middling ventilation; can't strap a 2-cell light battery on the back; still mad at Trek about Lance and boost

Bontrager Rally MIPS

Good: current top-rated VT 5 star helmet; excellent breakaway accessory mount; one year free crash replacement; well-reviewed
Bad: plain MIPS so zero softness (disqualifying)

Fox Flux MIPS
Good: MIPS plus dual-density foam
Bad: pointy, not VT tested

Giro Tyrant
Too ugly to consider, sorry.

Kali Interceptor
Good: somewhat promising design for rotation and softness with fair coverage; dual density foam; not heavy or big; breakaway accessory mount and visor; lifetime free crash replacement
Bad: fares unexpectedly badly in VT tests; fit issues

Leatt DBX 2.0
Good: promising design for rotation and softness with decent coverage; not heavy or big; breakaway visor
Bad: no breakaway accessory mount, no crash replacement

POC Race Tectal Spin
Good: promising design for rotation and softness but poor rear/side coverage; VT 5 stars; not heavy or big; well-reviewed
Bad: no breakaway accessory mount; no crash replacement; apparently discontinued

Specialized Ambush ANGi MIPS

Good: MIPS SL might be better than MIPS for rotation, but poor rear/side coverage; multi-density foam; 5 stars from VT; not big or heavy; especially well-reviewed
Bad: coverage; iffy on softness; lame crash replacement; no breakaway accessory mount; ANGi isn't something I want; expensive; Specialized is evil

Troy Lee A2 MIPS
Good: MIPS plus dual-density foam (EPS + EPP, see #29 below); 5 stars from VT; not heavy; limited crash replacement policy ("Troy Lee Designs may assist with the replacement of your helmet involved in a crash by offering a discount off of a new Troy Lee Designs helmet of your choice"; also see #31 below)
Bad: no breakaway accessory mount

Bottom line
To me, on balance the best of the bunch are the 6D, the Super Air, and the Wavecel Blaze. The POC and the Leatt are contenders too, especially if you prioritize weight and/or don't carry a light.

But those conclusions flow directly from my conclusions about what is effective and what isn't, everything I explained earlier. Different conclusions about what works will produce different answers about which helmets are most promising, naturally.
 

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have you tested all these yourself ?

the answer is no ?

few choices can be made from 3rd hand information, as I know many comments about particular wavecel helmets are contrary to my experiences with them.


ugh, here are the capital letters you so surely desire.

H
T
F
U
 

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Discussion Starter #23

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Wild unproven keyboard-warrior theory: a non-MIPS helmet with a terrific crash-replacement policy is safer than a MIPS helmet with a "sorry dude buy a new one" replacement policy. Scandalous, I know. But we all know damn well that nobody replaces a month-old $150+ helmet after a crash unless the helmet broke so badly that they aren't able to find enough pieces to duct-tape it back together. Unless you're an orthodontist, good crash replacement policies (Kali's is the hands-down best, Bontrager has a decent one too) are a real helmet safety feature.
I think that's untrue. I've had a DH helmet that took one decent hit when it was a month old, barely a mark on it but I tossed it. There is probably merit in replacing a helmet every second year, or even annually if you ride often. Sure it costs, and when I was in my twenties and a student I wouldn't.

I don't really get crash replacement policies either. If I smash my helmet and ruin it, but I'm ok, I expect to get a cheap one from the original manufacturer? It did it's job, are the retail prices inflated to cover this?

As for the concussion debate, I think something is better than nothing, if you slam your head hard enough or awkwardly to be concussed, would a different type have mattered? As long as it doesn't result in permanent damage (not to minimize consussion) then most helmets do a good job.
 

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Single-shell designsIn Kali helmets, the squishy strips are spread around the inside with many gaps. (Photo here.) I own the Kali Interceptor, and, when it comes down to it, I don't have a ton of faith that the LDL will be in the right spot in a crash, and that's why I'm replacing it now.
My anecdotal evidence supports this. Knocked myself out in my worst dirt crash this past summer wearing my interceptor. Point of impact was right about where visor connects to shell I area where no LDL strips live. Pretty certain it wouldn't have mattered, but a spot without the tech was what I happened to fall onto. Kali was awesome about the crash replacement process. The interceptor also has dual layer foam, which may or may not have helped me out. According to the RNs, NPs and Athletic Trainers I work with, there's no such thing as a "mild" concussion, but I still felt lucky based on how little of the worse symptoms I experienced.
Likely going to go back to TLD for this season, but will try on a wavecell helmet before buying. I understand the argument about testing methods, but I'm not giving up mtb, and want to do everything I can to help avoid future concussions. I'll be using the VT results as a helpful guide in what to try on. Also looking for rabbits feet, 4 leaf clovers and winning powerball tickets...
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Likely going to go back to TLD for this season, but will try on a wavecell helmet before buying. I understand the argument about testing methods, but I'm not giving up mtb, and want to do everything I can to help avoid future concussions. I'll be using the VT results as a helpful guide in what to try on. Also looking for rabbits feet, 4 leaf clovers and winning powerball tickets...
To me, this is a sound approach. Not quite the same conclusions I've reached, but no less valid. Anyway, here's to avoiding the next one.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
I don't really get crash replacement policies either. If I smash my helmet and ruin it, but I'm ok, I expect to get a cheap one from the original manufacturer?
No, not a cheap one--a free one. From Kali (lifetime) or Bontrager (one year), that is.

As for the concussion debate, I think something is better than nothing, if you slam your head hard enough or awkwardly to be concussed, would a different type have mattered? As long as it doesn't result in permanent damage (not to minimize consussion) then most helmets do a good job.
Well, a lot of riders see it the same way you do. I believe this view is simple ignorance, and the cause of many, many unnecessarily damaged brains. For your sake I hope I'm wrong.
 

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Incorrect on your 'bad'. TLD does have a crash replacement policy, check their site for details. As for 'no breakaway' acc mount, it does not have one, meaning you will have to adhere a light/camera anyway, and it would break away in a crash-i'd also not ever recommend attaching crap to your helmet, ever, but people do it.
Also, clarifying your "dual density" it is worth noting, its not just dual density EPS that a few brands do, A2 and the Stage use a combo of EPP (low speed energy management) and EPS (High speed energy management) which is a patent pending system only found in TLD helmets and proven to test better than nearly every helmet at managing LOW speed and HIGH speed.

TLD a2 and the a1, combined make TLD the only brand to have 2 helmets in the top 5 of the Virginia Tech safety ratings for MTB helmets.


il

Troy Lee A2 MIPS
Good: MIPS plus dual-density foam; 5 stars from VT; not heavy
Bad: no breakaway accessory mount; no crash replacement
 

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Discussion Starter #30 (Edited)
As for 'no breakaway' acc mount, it does not have one, meaning you will have to adhere a light/camera anyway, and it would break away in a crash-i'd also not ever recommend attaching crap to your helmet, ever, but people do it.
To me, night riding with a light on the helmet is common enough that a helmet that doesn't offer a safer way to do it is a less-safe design. But individual riders who never mount a light needn't care, of course.

Incorrect on your 'bad'. TLD does have a crash replacement policy, check their site for details.
Can you give a link or explain? All I see is your warranty page, which says it "covers the product only in the case of manufacture defect. It does not cover products damaged due to normal wear and tear, negligence, improper care, natural breaking or fading of colors and materials over time and/or exposure," which doesn't sound anything like crash replacement to me.

Also, clarifying your "dual density" it is worth noting, its not just dual density EPS that a few brands do, A2 and the Stage use a combo of EPP (low speed energy management) and EPS (High speed energy management) which is a patent pending system only found in TLD helmets and proven to test better than nearly every helmet at managing LOW speed and HIGH speed.

TLD a2 and the a1, combined make TLD the only brand to have 2 helmets in the top 5 of the Virginia Tech safety ratings for MTB helmets.
Thanks for clarifying that. I'm absolutely impressed with how seriously you guys are taking concussion safety now, and that's speaking as someone who (as you may recall) was critical in years past.

EDIT: I agree with Stikman that the use of EPP (vs a softer EPS) is worth emphasizing. I hope someone who knows what they're talking about clarifies this, but my impression is that EPP is softer (and thus better at absorbing linear impacts) than EPS, even lower-density EPS like that used by Kali and others.

The A2 and the A1 look similar, both have MIPS, and their VT scores are similar, but in my book the A2's use of dual density EPS/EPP foam is a compelling reason to pick the A2 over the A1.
 

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Troy has been taking concussion safety very seriously from the moment he got into the helmet business 25+ years ago. Lab testing, real world crash scenarios, data from the variety of sports and brands we are involved in (F1, Indy Car, Motocross, MTB, etc) have all helped Troy push the boundaries of safety. I work for the man, he is relentless in improvements, because these athletes are his friends, his family and his customers-he takes it very personal.

Thanks for clarifying that. I'm absolutely impressed with how seriously you guys are taking concussion safety now, and that's speaking as someone who (as you may recall) was critical in years past.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Riders with prior concussions
When you break a bone, it heals and a couple months later it's good as new. Concussions are different. Once you've had a concussion, your brain will likely never be good as new. Yes, the symptoms will probably go away (for some that takes days, for others it takes months, regardless of the perceived "severity" of your concussion). But your brain will likely always be more fragile, more concussion-prone. Crashes that wouldn't have given you a concussion before will give you one now.

Let me try to explain what I mean (keep in mind I'm just a layman with no medical expertise). Consider brain impacts (linear or rotational) on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 big enough to break your skull and 1 an everyday bump on the head. Before my concussion, let's say it would take a 7 to give me a concussion. Now, more than 5 years after my initial concussion, maybe it takes a just a 4 or 5.

All these years later, I'd never bang my head in frustration anymore, or shake my head rapidly. I'm way more cautious about bumping my head on a cabinet door or while rough-housing with my kid.

And, for me, for months after my initial concussion, just a 1 or a 2 was enough to sink back down in concussion symptoms. Any little knock, even getting startled by a bug, and I felt nauseous and couldn't scroll on a screen for days. So it kept happening, over and over. That was horrifying, honestly.

Okay, so what's all this got to do with helmet choice? Well, the gloomy part is that no helmet will protect your post-concussion brain from concussions as effectively. That crash that gives you a 6 impact is going to concuss you and there's no helmet in the world that'll stop it. Bummer.

But I believe helmet choice still matters for riders who've already had concussions, and still matters a lot. A safer helmet may not protect you from a big impact anymore, but it can still protect you from a smaller one. If a helmet can turn 5s into 3s and 3s into 1s, it's reducing your concussion risk.

If I'm right about all that, then activation threshold matters. If it takes a relatively big hit for a helmet's concussion-reducing effect to kick in, that's bad for the post-concussion rider who benefits the most from protection from less-severe impacts.

If you try to squish a Kali LDL pad with your fingers, it feels pretty stiff; a Leatt Turbine disc feels squishier. Try to squish Wavecel, it's rigid; squish a 6D helmet with ODS and you can feel it move easily.

So, until there's data to the contrary, my armchair advice to riders who've had concussions is to favor helmets with linear-force concussion tech they can feel working, like 6D's and Leatt's. And be especially critical of helmets with tech like original MIPS that reduces only rotational forces, not linear ones.

Riders who've never had a concussion
The best time to buy a safer helmet is before you've had a concussion. Waiting until after your concussion to take concussion risk seriously is irrational.
 

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Still trying to understand why you are so quick to push people into non-MIPS helmets, when the data is showing the best system to reduce rotational forces, is MIPS. Of the 29 helmets that scored five stars out of five at virginia tech labs, 24 had MIPS with Wavecel and Spin making up the rest of the spots...and kali/6d were not even in that top 30!
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Still trying to understand why you are so quick to push people into non-MIPS helmets, when the data is showing the best system to reduce rotational forces, is MIPS. Of the 29 helmets that scored five stars out of five at virginia tech labs, 24 had MIPS with Wavecel and Spin making up the rest of the spots...and kali/6d were not even in that top 30!
I'm skeptical about the validity of the Virginia Tech results because I believe they're skewed by their test methodology.

VT's tests are performed using dummy headforms with no hair, no scalp movement, and no sweat. The helmet straps were cinched tight. And the headform has no neck and torso, so that it bounces around freely when it impacts.

Critics have pointed out for years that this methodology plainly risks overstating the effectiveness of MIPS. If you eliminate five slip-plane-creating factors that exist in the real world, of course the only slip plane left (MIPS) will seem more effective. For all we know from Virginia Tech's testing, MIPS never activates in a real crash, ever, because we have necks and scalps and hair.

MIPS themselves reportedly admit that, in their own testing, just adding a neck/torso attachment negates any demonstrated benefit. Even when they use that grippy bald head and cinch down the straps, it appears MIPS doesn't do squat if the dummy's head has a neck.

(I'm no scientist, but if I'm reading MIPS's website correctly, their position is that a neck has been shown to be necessary to accurately test crashes on racetrack turf but unnecessary for testing crashes on a hard road. So if they think a neck isn't necessary for testing MTB helmets, I'd sure love to hear them explain why.)

So the VT test data appears to me inherently flawed. It might be helpful in comparing similar designs--maybe it shows MIPS works better in this helmet than that one, say--but I think it tells us little about whether MTB helmets using MIPS are more effective at reducing concussion risk than helmets using other technologies. And I believe my conclusions are consistent with the Bike Helmet Safety Institute's conclusions, Snell's testing, and MIPS's own admissions.

(I'm not suggesting that VT is acting in bad faith, only that their test methodology needs revising in order to achieve their purpose.)
 

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Discussion Starter #37
I've updated my post on specific helmets (#21 above) to add the Bell Super Air and give more detail on the TLD A2.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
6D vs. Super Air vs. Wavecel

Boiling down all the above, I believe that the three best helmets on the market in 2020 for concussion risk reduction are the 6D ATB-1T Evo, the Bell Super Air, and the Bontrager Blaze Wavecel. Here are some quick, maybe-educated guesses about choosing among them, with the big grain of salt that I haven't owned any and I haven't even held the Super Air (but I own the similar Super DH).

Concussion protection

I believe all 3 helmets provide start-of-the-art protection from linear and rotational forces, far superior to plain MIPS alone. I don't have an educated guess about which one is the overall best at reducing concussion risk, but I suspect that the 6D is the softest (ie best at reducing smaller linear forces) and so maybe the safest one for riders who've had concussions.

Ventilation
Judging from reviews, the Super Air ventilates well, the 6D is average, and the Wavecel is below-average.


Weight

They're all on the heavy side for trail helmets. The 6D appears to be heaviest of the 3, the Super Air the least heavy.

Cost (and crash replacement)

MSRP for the 6D is $180, for the Super Air $225, and for the Blaze Wavecel $300. That difference is even bigger because the 6D is older and more likely to be discounted.

But the price difference may be smaller in reality than it looks. You could think of the Wavecel as a Super Air that comes with a crash-replacement upgrade for $75, and the 6D as a Super Air with a $50 discount for waiving the crash-replacement discount and giving up the accessory mount. If you think of it that way, then the Wavecel price is less batty, and cost less of a deciding factor.

If owning a light, non-DH certified fullface appeals to you, then the Super Air becomes an especially appealing option.

My take

Kinda leaning Super Air.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
Budget options

The Leatt DBX 2.0 is the best $100-or-below MSRP helmet option I know of for reducing concussion risk. Another option to consider is Kali's Maya 2.0--I have less faith in Kali's LDL than I do in Leatt's Turbines, and I don't think the Maya ventilates as well as the DBX 2.0, but the Maya has dual-density foam and Kali's free lifetime crash replacement.

As I type this, TLD is blowing out last year's A2's for $107, a steal for an advanced helmet that's well-reviewed.
 

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Wanting a new gravel / xc helmet this year.

Cant decide between the specter wavecel or the circuit mips.

Ive heard mixed reviews on wavecels lack of airflow.


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