MotoGP's lid revolution: Mips safety gurus bring new levels of protection to racers

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Swedish helmet safety pioneers, Mips, are stepping into the MotoGP world championship to protect riders from the forces of rotational impacts generated in crashes.

Improvements in rider safety are nothing new in grand prix racing, but this system – which has already been seen in road kit – will be the first of its kind in the series and will appear on a new model from Japanese firm Kabuto.

“Anyone that travels with velocity always carries a risk of having an impact and angled impacts are quite common in MotoGP,” Mips CEO Max Strandwitz told MCN at the EICMA show in Milan. “We are happy that they have started using it for their riders.”

The Kabuto F17 Racing Mips will be worn by a select number of riders in the 2023 season and features new comfort padding designed to cushion the head during a crash and allow for 10-15mm of sliding movement in all directions.

This is particularly important in rotational impacts, helping to redirect the forces acting on a rider’s head and reduce the chances of brain injury.

In addition, the F17 Racing has been designed to reduce aerodynamic load on the rider thanks to subtle ribs in the outer shell and bow shaped vents on top, which are also claimed to boost stability at speed.

Kabuto F17 helmet all sides

Unlike existing Mips systems which are integrated into a helmet’s EPS (that’s the polystyrene layer), the F17 uses tech called Integra TX.

This sees a 0.1mm low-friction layer inserted into the padding – allowing it to slide against the inner wall of the helmet for controlled movement and energy transfer.

When a rider hits the ground at an angle, they are often introduced to something called a tangential force, which effectively forces their head to get stuck into their helmet.

Your brain floats in a liquid sack within your skull, but the force transfer causes it to move aggressively and risk injury.

The Integra TX will allow the head to move independently of the helmet, to help reduce the aggressiveness of the energy transfer to the brain.

“We have had Kabuto as a customer since 2017/18 and we have done a lot of projects together and we have looked into many areas,” Strandwitz continued.

Kabuto F17 helmet left side

“They have their own test rigs and we have been discussing how we can do this in the right way. I think it’s a very nice padding with really high-end materials, so you also improve the comfort and feeling of the whole helmet, too.”

Alongside comfort, the tech will allow the overall helmet size to remain the same, while only adding minimal weight. A similar system can also be found in Tour de France cycle helmets and weighs just 19-20 grams.

Although developed with Kabuto, the Mips boss confirmed that the safety system wasn’t exclusive to their helmets and that more products would follow suit further down the line.

Anyone owning the existing F17 will be unable to retrofit this removeable liner, due to the different mounting points required.