The Brutal Mechanics of a Bike Crash Will Convince You To Wear A Helmet

Bike wrecks happen fast. In two milliseconds—that's one-hundred-times quicker than a blink of an eye—a regular ride can turn into a disastrous noggin-buster. If you ever doubted the importance of strapping on a helmet before you roll out, cycle giants Giro explain what happens to your head and the mechanics of a crash.


Collisions can be made up or two types of forces—linear and rotational—but more often than not are a crushing combo of both. Skulls are our natural main brain protection, but even these are buffered by a thin cover of cerebrospinal fluid and then a scalp on top of that, which creates a kind of "sliding layer."

Take a look:

Giro's been working to incorporate a unique kind of technology called the Multidirectional Impact Protection System—aka MIPS—into its road, mountain, and urban helmet collections that not only mimics that sliding layer, but also builds in more moving parts to the hard outer shell's interior. Having The Dome, an in-house lab where prototypes and testing can be done on-site, helped streamline the process.

The rotational element is the most challenging to account for. The team studied slo-mo vid of boxing matches and the punches that caused the most trauma—"the knockout hits"—were ones with a bit of spin.

Here's more about their techniques and crash test dummies:

The ultimate goal is to limit the friction and transfer as little energy to the brain as possible at the moment of the big bang. And that's why, you always wear a helmet. [Laughing Squid]



Broken Machine

The worst injuries I've had on bikes are where I haven't slid, but stuck to the ground like velcro. Split helmets which bruised my shaved head in attractive racing stripes, broken ribs, and just recently, a torn deltoid. I must ride a lot with my tongue out, as with every bad accident, I've had a swollen or lacerated tongue.

Breaking out the full squish bike for some chair-lift runs in a few weeks - if the shoulder heals.