For over a decade, Virginia Tech’s independent helmet testing lab has offered unbiased protection ratings to help consumers determine which helmets best reduce concussion risks. The lab uses real-world testing protocols to determine how well a helmet can protect against the risk of traumatic brain injuries in the event of a crash, and testing is 100% independent of any funding or influence from helmet manufacturers.
The program began by studying the impacts that Virginia Tech’s football players experienced on the field. And the data collected over the years has changed the way the world understands concussions and what causes them. The lab has analyzed over 60,000 hits on the field and cross-referenced each hit with video and medical info to develop detailed models of the exact kinds of impacts that will result in a traumatic brain injury. Once researchers knew the conditions that caused a concussion, they could determine the helmets that best protect against that risk.
Utilizing its extensive impact data, Virginia Tech’s helmet lab created a rating system for bicycle helmets as well. The STAR Rating system aims to provide an objective, impartial evaluation of how well a helmet protects against a concussion. It measures real-world forces, linear and rotational, that are experienced in a bike crash and how the helmet reduces those forces to help prevent concussion and brain injury. It's a straightforward, non-biased assessment of helmet protection that consumers can choose to utilize when purchasing their next helmet.
All bicycle helmets sold in the U.S. must pass the Consumer Product Safety Commission standards for head protection. These regulations require a helmet to protect against skull fracture and brain injury caused by direct impacts of a certain threshold. And while the Virginia Tech rating system is not a replacement for the CPSC standards, they are meant to help identify the most protective helmets on the market.
Concussions and their association with long-term brain injuries are better understood thanks to decades of in-depth studies on sports like collegiate and professional football. These studies helped identify that concussion can occur when both direct AND rotational forces act on the brain. Traumatic brain injuries are not always easy to see or notice right away, but these kinds of injuries are much more common than the catastrophic scenarios that CPSC standards address.
Using protocols and tests that mimic real-world bicycle crashes, the Virginia Tech lab can help distinguish the different levels of impact protection offered by different helmets. By testing both direct and rotational impact, the Virginia Tech rating provides a deeper look at overall protection when the wheels wash out from under us, and we hit the pavement or trail.
Lazer offers a wide range of helmets that boast Virginia Tech's 5-star rating. With a variety of models to choose from, riders are sure to find the type and style of helmet to fit their riding needs.
Learn more about Virginia Tech's independent testing facility here: https://helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicycle-helmet-ratings.html