Trek Bicycle Claims Their WaveCel Bike Helmet Minimizes Concussion Risks

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: Would you wear the WaveCel pudgy helmet that Trek has announced back in March. I'm Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy, Florida bicycle injury and accident lawyer.

Trek has introduced this new WaveCel technology helmet, which was actually put on the market in March, and they've really made some bold claims about what it does in terms of concussion prevention, and it really is the challenger for MIPS. So I want to look at what they claim, can they prove it, and what are we to take away in terms of what do we do, what helmet do we look to to try to mitigate the chance of having a concussion after a bike crash.

Basically what Trek has done, and this is the new helmet, actually I got this helmet at David's World over in Melbourne, I was there for a deposition earlier this week and went in their store. They had five different varieties of this helmet on sale. I got the Specter, which was about a $130 helmet, $150 helmet rather. So this is I love the color, it fits in with what I talk about in terms of visibility. The interesting part about the helmet is the internal dynamics, and we're going to talk about that. This is the WaveCel that you see there.

So bear in mind that a standard helmet that you would find from any retailer, Walmart what have you, has that EPS foam, and they're basically all EPS foam with a hard shell cover. So all of the statistics that we're going to talk about are measuring themselves against a standard EPS foam helmet. And remember the EPS foam helmet meets the criteria of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, really from the 70's or 80's. The technology for that has not changed in 30 years. So these two helmets going back to back now, the MIPS helmet which I talked about for the last 2 or 3 years, and now the WaveCel, I was sure that the new kids on the block in terms of an aggressive reduction in concussion likelihood with a crash. And remember that in testing these helmets, the Consumer Product Safety division came up with the testing for the foam helmet, and it was really from one direction only. They put they helmet on a dummy, they dropped the dummy on an anvil, and they're measuring direct linear force, okay?
But the reality is in the world where we work and live in terms of riding a bicycle, when someone falls to the ground, for whatever reason, it isn't just a direct linear. We have rotational forces, we're moving, tumbling, coming in at different angles, depending on what happens when you come off the bike. So the real danger for us is more in the rotational energy rather than the direct impact linear energy, as I understand it.

So bear in mind, just to kind of go back and talk about concussions for a minute, remember that a concussion occurs when your head is moving, your head stops because it hits something, the inertia of the foreword motion of your brain moves the brain foreword within the skull cavity, and it's the crashing of the brain tissue against the skull which causes the concussion. It's the damage to the neurons and other structure of the brain. And many times you have the forward momentum and then the brain moves in a reverse momentum you can have a double crush injury. So really these helmets are designed to try to minimize that rotational energy, okay.

So if you look inside this helmet, that waffle wavy structure that you see there beneath the liner, is the technology that has been developed. Katie's got an image of it there. This is designed really to do three things. The helmet first material flexes so it gives some flex. All of this is designed to absorb energy, the energy of motion and momentum. So the helmet flexes and then the cells crumble, pretty much like the bumper on your automobile that's designed to absorb energy from a rear end collision, and then the helmet is designed the structure is designed to redirect the energy away from the head, okay? So its got those three properties.

Now these helmets still incorporate the EPS liner that's, so you have the hard outer shell, you have the EPS liner, and then you have the WaveCel technology on top of that, and then the inner liner that we put against our head. Let me read my notes down here a minute. So, this technology was not developed by Trek directly. They worked with a company called Legacy Biomechanics Laboratory in Portland Oregon. There's a biomechanical engineer and another person out there that they worked with. They had been working independently on helmet technology for some time before they approached Trek. This whole process, from what I read, took about 11 years, and that included four years of kind of product integration into the Trek mold, with how they wanted to present the helmet. And of course they talk about their testing.

So how does this helmet compare with a MIPS helmet? I didn't bring my MIPS helmet in, but remember the MIPS has a moveable inner liner. It's called a slip friction liner, so that when the helmet stops, your head moves in the helmet but independently of the helmet, so it allows the head to move somewhat to mitigate the rotational forces. The MIPS is really designed to mitigate rotational forces. The liner of the helmet, you know the EPS mitigates the direct linear impact forces. And MIPS was quite successful. The data shows that they had a, according to the testing that they used, you have about a 34% chance of having a concussion with a MIPS helmet, with the standard EPS helmet, the foam helmet, your at about 60%. So it's a real substantial reduction. But the horse race involves the claim that Trek is making that that opportunity for a concussion has been reduced to 1.2%, according to Trek's research. So they claim a 48 times less likely to get a concussion with this new WaveCel technology.

So the question is, what is the data that support them? How did they design the test to achieve that data? I've pulled a number of articles in preparing for our talk, and their test, if you look at the test results, they do support those numbers. The question is how did they structure the test in order to get the numbers? From what I had read, MIPS has said that they have been unable to verify the data that Trek has announced, although MIPS I think is still working on it. They're not saying they can't verify it, but they have not been so far. MIPS also has made a claim, in the material that I've read, that Trek used a different dummy, with different physical characteristics having to do with neck strength and what have you, as compared to the MIPS dummy. MIPS contends that they used a dummy that is more used in the industry in order to allow people to have an apples to apples comparison. MIPS is arguing that Trek used a different dummy, and because of the different properties of the dummy, remember they put the helmet on the dummy, they impact the force of the dummy on the anvil, and they're measuring the rotational forces and linear forces involved in that impact, and you get much less rotational forces using test that Trek did than you did with the MIPS helmet.

So I think the jury is out in the terms of the people who have reviewed this and have written online about it, and published articles on it. It is amazing to me, when I was, quite frankly when I went into the bike shop and bought my helmet, the sales person said you got a 1% chance of having a concussion using this helmet. I think that is a really big statement, and something that would transform our world if it could be mitigated to that extend. And I hope that they're right.

The one thing that um... I think that we're going to see more information about this in the coming months, and I've got a resource for you here in just a minute I think that will kind of take us to a neutral third party, kind of give us something as a benchmark that we can use our own evaluation of in terms of choosing the helmet you think is best for you.

I just wanted to tell you that if you like what we're doing, if you like this program, I'd ask you to share it with a friend. As you know, those of you who know me, I'm an active cyclist. I've been a lawyer for many years. I do nothing but injury work. I represent cyclists and other injured people throughout Florida. If you have a question about a bike crash or some other injury, just call us your business on our website. You can check us out at We have a proven history of results for people. Check out our reviews. I'd love to talk to you, and I'll give you straight information about any issue or question you have.

So, I want to, so taking this information so what do we do as your walking into a bike shop, you want to get new helmet, what do you do? Do you go with MIPS, do you go with the WaveCel? Those are the two big guerrillas in the concussion mitigation market right now, but I think other people are coming out with other products soon. Remember that Virginia Tech University has its helmet lab, and they do testing of helmets independently, so its not related to the industry, and interestingly enough the top three helmets that they have currently, two of them are Trek WaveCel helmets and the third is a Trek MIPS helmet. And that is the, I think the MIPS helmet is called the Ballista MIPS. And according to the data that I looked at, the difference between one two and three is really, really slight. So the bottom line is that the top three helmets on the Virginia Tech website, two are WaveCel one is MIPS, but they all were pretty close in terms of what they did in Virginia Tech testing to mitigate concussion injury. So what I would suggest, and Kati is going to run or has run here a link to the bike helmet testing at Virginia Tech and if you follow that link, that link you'll get to it.

Here's my thought. I think everybody has to make their won decision about what they're going to do, the risk that you and I want to personally undertake when we're riding a bike. We want to go out and have fun. We enjoy it, it adds value to our life. It's a great great sport. We want to be prepared for the unexpected, and that can be as simple as hitting something that is in the road that you don't anticipate but anything can cause you to go down. The most common injury we see in our practice, quite frankly, are concussions from cycling crashes. I think we all need to be particularly mindful of why we need to mitigate the chance of having a concussion and seriously look into what decision your going to make about getting a good helmet. I now have several MIPS helmets, I have the WaveCel helmet. I'm going to watch carefully as the data unfolds. I would suggest you go to the Virginia Tech site, check out the helmets. You know they recommend that you replace your helmet every 5 years. If you leave your helmet out in the sunlight, if it is injured in a crash, its like a child seat- you get rid of it and you get a new one.

So I hope this has been helpful. Again if you like what your hearing, if you think we've added value to your life, share it with a friend. We'd appreciate it, and I think they will too. I'm Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy, be safe out there. Bye.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.