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Types of Mountain Bike Helmets


Protective Materials in Mountain Bike Helmets

Mountain bike helmets come in a variety of styles and protective materials. These different styles and protective materials for mountain bike helmets also require different safety standards and certifications or non at all, depending on what the helmet will ultimately be used for in mountain biking and the mountain bike protective gear manufacturer.

EPS (Expanded Polystyrene). Low-profile and light in weight, EPS foam liners are the industry standard for action sports. EPS liners are not multi-impact, but they do meet CE/CPSC standards.

SXP from Pro Tec

SXP (Surface Activated Expanded Polypropylene). Patented multi-impact material that is ideal for aggressive riding style. Multi-impact SXP liners have built-in rebound control. Once the liners have been compressed, multi-impact SXP memory kicks in and the liner rebounds, maintaining its impact-absorbing qualities. Multi-impact SXP are the only lightweight multi-impact helmets to be CE/CPSC-certified and still deliver the style and fit that customers deserve.


SEPP (Super Expanded Polypropylene) / EPP (Expanded Polypropylene). The difference between the materials is that SEPP and EPP, unlike EPS do not deform permanently on impact and is therefore suitable to absorb repetitive shocks. Meaning, essentially that an EPS liner will break, distributing the force from the impact throughout the helmet. The EPP and SEPP are similar in that they will also break when the maximum force of impact occurs, but SEPP and EPP have higher stress limits when it comes to breakage and flex.

Zipmold from Bern Unlimited

The Bern Zip-Mold is what other companies will often call an in-mold helmet. The Bern Zip-Mold is similar in build to an EPS helmet except the outer shell and inner shell are combined into one during the manufacturing process. This allows for a better strength to weight ratio and gives the helmet a lower profile without losing its protective qualities.

Multiple Impact and Single Impact Mountain Bike Helmets

Mountain bike helmets are able to take a beating. They are designed to protect your head and will do so if worn properly, see the section on The Proper Fit of a Mountain Bike Helmet in AllSportProtection's Advice Center. Single impact mountain bike helmets are the most common and realistic as to their ability to thoroughly protect. Multiple impact mountain bike helmets are a relatively new design that feature harder and more scientifically advanced protective materials.

Multiple Impact Mountain Bike Helmets
Although this sounds like the best idea, a mountain bike helmet that can withstand multiple impacts without being replaced, it's not very realistic. Yes there are helmets that do go the extra mile such as POC's SEPP (super expanded polypropylene) liners featured in the POC Receptor + mountain bike helmet or Pro Tec's SXP liner featured in the Pro Tec B2, but after any hard impact to the head you should check for cracks or abrasions in the shell and liner, any sign of damage means it's time to replace the helmet no matter what.

Single Impact Mountain Bike Helmets
Mountain bike safety standards require that a mountain bike helmet protect a rider from a single impact only. Usually a hard foam liner that crushes to absorb the force of an impact. Since the foam is crushed at the point of impact the helmet will no longer have as much protection in the area of that impact. The protection lost depends on the force of the impact in general, how hard you hit, the area damaged within the helmet, etc. Helmet manufacturers recommend that you replace your helmet after any significant impact. A significant impact is basically any impact that cracks the shell or you can see that the foam has been crushed. If you feel you have had a significant impact and there is no damage it is really your call. Mountain bike helmets are meant to take a crash, and be used so expect to use them again if you do crash, just be aware that it is your call as to the replacing of your mountain bike helmet.

Mountain Bike Helmet Construction

Mountain bike helmets are constructed with a variety of liners, EPS, SXP, SEPP, Hard Hat, soft foam, etc. The difference is in the manufacturing technique and mountain bike helmet design.

In Mold Mountain Bike Helmet Construction

The in mold mountain bike helmet manufacturing technique is where the interior liner of the helmet is made along with, connected to, literally blown in to the hard outer shell while it is still in the manufacturing mold.

In Mold mountain bike helmets are lighter, stronger and include a wider variety of venting options when compared to traditional mountain bike helmet designs. In mold was originally limited to the higher end mountain bike helmets but now, due to its popularity and protective features in mountain bike helmets, in mold construction is frequently seen in many mid range to high end mountain bike helmets.

Traditional Mountain Bike Helmet Construction

Traditional mountain bike helmets are not made with in mold construction and have their own foam liners taped or glued in to the exterior hard shell after the shell liner are manufactured.

Mountain bike helmets made in the traditional technique are usually heavier, may not be as strong and typically have fewer vents.

Need help with AllSportProtection's top-rated selection of mountain bike protective gear?

Call and chat with one of our service pros at 800-766-7269. They can help you figure out which piece of mountain bike protective gear will suit you best.

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