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Interview: Brandon Semenuk Signs With Team MIPS

Dec 10, 2020
by Sarah Moore  
Photos by Toby Cowley

Three-time FMB World Tour gold medalist, three-time Red Bull Rampage winner, and five-time Red Bull Joyride winner Brandon Semenuk has announced today that he is joining Team MIPS.

Semenuk is the second athlete to join Team MIPS; the first being accomplished X Games Swedish freeskier Henrik Harlaut, who was announced alongside Team MIPS’ founding in September 2020.

bigquotesTeam MIPS is a global force of helmet safety advocacy led by athletes from across the world, spanning a diverse range of backgrounds and professional sports including cycling, skiing, motorcycle/motocross and more. The core mission of Team MIPS is to raise head protection awareness and lead the world towards using safer helmets. Its athletes, above all, will draw upon their own experiences to encourage all people, regardless of age, skill level, or preferred sport, to make the right decision when purchasing a helmet. Many of the athletes have either experienced a head injury personally or have worked in close proximity to those who have.Team MIPS


bigquotesMountain biking is my biggest passion, having longevity in the sport matters to me most, that’s why I understand the importance of having the best equipment. I feel that MIPS is leading the way with added safety in helmets and making it available to action sports athletes around the world. I’ve known many people, many of my close friends, who have experienced brain trauma from sport. That’s why I've always chosen a MIPS helmet and that’s why I’m so excited to join the team and help spread such an important message.Brandon Semenuk

We asked Semenuk a couple of questions about what this partnership means to him, his own history with head injuries, and whether he has any advice for fellow riders.

In recent years, we've learned a lot about head injuries. At Crankworx Rotorua in 2015, you had a hard time seeing out of your left eye but you still dropped in to attempt a second run. What thoughts were going through your mind in the moments leading up to your second run? How did you finally make the decision not to do a full second run?

Brandon Semenuk: Yes, head injuries are not black and white, still so much to learn, but with lots of new information becoming available and more testing happening we can start to approach these injuries better (before or after they happen...). My choice at Rotorua was not easy and highly driven by a fight or flight mindset. After deciding to continue it was obvious when the first tricks didn't go as planned that I should end the run there to minimize risk. I took 5-6 weeks off after that event and got base line tested so I had a reference for the next time I might hit my head

What have you learned since that experience?

Brandon Semenuk: In the last several years I've been fortunate to work with concussion specialists and be involved with the development of new Troy Lee Designs helmets. I'm by no means an expert on the subject, but by seeing test results and talking to professionals it has given me the opportunity to make an informed decision on my injuries and the equipment I use.

Have there been other times throughout your career where you've had to make difficult calls like that?

Brandon Semenuk: Yes, a handful of times. This is a position any action sports athlete trying to compete at the top level will experience in their career. Rotorua was the furthest extreme, where I was only given 15-20 minutes to assess my health and make the call. In hindsight it was a bad idea, but these are the risk vs reward moments we need to make as athletes. I won my first Rampage after getting a concussion in my first run attempt. That win obviously propelled my career forward, so it's hard to know where to draw the line. Better technology in our safety equipment will hopefully reduce the chances of us having to make those difficult decisions.

Do you have any side effects from concussions that you live with daily?

Brandon Semenuk: Luckily, no. I've always done my best to take time after a concussion to heal and feel 100%. I've had short term side effects and it's a scary feeling..

Why did you decide to join Team MIPS and what can we expect from this partnership?

Brandon Semenuk: I've always been an advocate of helmets and I chose MIPS from the early beginnings because rotational impacts are very common in mountain biking, so when they reached out about building this all-star team and wanting to work closer with the athletes, it seemed like a great opportunity to collaborate on some ideas and through that hopefully create more awareness that people have options when choosing a helmet.

What advice do you have for your fellow riders?

Brandon Semenuk: Send it! And keep doing what you love! We are lucky to live in an era with such good equipment and it continues to get better. For people looking to develop their skills it's that added confidence to keep pushing. Whether you're a professional or weekend warrior, risk will always be a factor, so play smart and listen to your body if you want to keep the wheels turning.


Author Info:
sarahmoore avatar

Member since Mar 30, 2011
1,447 articles

  • 135 7
 I appreciate that everyone I see out on the trails has some kind of protection. What is really surprising to me is how few BMX riders and skateboarders actually wear helmets. I think that the pros need to consider who looks up to them and lead by example. Sponsors should really make a push in those two sports as well.
  • 37 5
 BMX is improving...slowly...
  • 36 7
 It's easy to dismiss the arguments BMX riders use to ditch helmets until you look at the arguments MTB riders have used to dismiss neck braces. We're all vulnerable to fashion influence.


Protection adoption is, at its heart, a fashion industry. People want to look like their heroes. There's no other explanation for this year's wave of glove-free edits, or the haters in Remi Morton's sound of speed edit where he dared to pick a neck brace over kneepads.

Happy to see Brandon doing hero right and influencing towards brain safety.
  • 9 0
 Luckily a few years ago when there was actually a BMX contest scene here in SoCal, they required we wear certified helmets in order to ride in the contest. Those Protec skate helmets were not allowed by any means. As far as I know that was the only attempt I ever saw for more safety in the BMX world and it's been years since I have seen anything about a contest and all the pros with helmet sponsorships don't even use them. I don't think anything will change no matter how many top name pros suffer traumatic brain injuries.
  • 12 88
flag EnduroFan84 FL (Dec 10, 2020 at 13:37) (Below Threshold)
  • 3 25
flag Gilmarques (Dec 10, 2020 at 13:38) (Below Threshold)
 Cause otherwise it'd become a sport, not a lifestyle I wear a helmet myself all the time, but I can understand those guys who just don't want to
  • 15 1
 @Mtmw: I’m not sure most mountain bikers dismiss the neck brace for fashion. For me, I’ve never been able to find a neck brace / helmet combo where my helmet chin piece was not getting caught on the neck brace when rotating my head. Could be that I have a shorter neck, but for me it felt more dangerous to wear the brace since it was so much of a distraction.
  • 3 0
 @steezysam: Not fast enough.
  • 7 1
 But wearing a helmet while you bmx or skate doesn't look cool, unfortunately those sports have high degrees of steeze/flow/afterbang, what you look like and what can you throw down? Andy Anderson is breaking the mold, he's a sponsored athlete and he always skates with a helmet, bmx is still catching up.

LOL can you imagine a bunch of bro dudes sending A-line raw dogging it? Hmm
  • 3 0
 I watched WSL live event at Pipeline (Hawaii) the other day. Some surfers were wearing helmets. I think that was really cool to see!
  • 10 2
 @Mtmw: Thank for pointing out the fashion part. The negative images we have in MTB culture of over-protected noobs and old guys makes me think twice about strapping the chin bar on my helmet or putting on my knee pads at times when I should just be listening to my instincts about the trail ahead. I hate that
  • 4 0
 I couldn't agree more...with young twin boys of my own now who are really into mountain biking and skateboarding and skiing, it is hard to have them watch videos of pros not wearing helmets because our youth is looking up to them and want to emulate them...depressing really....
  • 3 0
 @retrogressionage: Watched a Nyjah Huston vid with my 7 year old. Full bloody head slam has put the kid off skateboarding entirely, never mind helmetless riding. Maybe there needs to be more blood in vids with no helmets.
  • 4 0
 @BenPea: i remember watching brandon begin almost kill himself trying to half cab el toro as a teen and thinking it was the coolest thing ever so that can still go both ways
  • 4 0
 I am very very surprised that Red Bull does not mandate helmets on their riders. You would think, at a minimum, they would want to protect their investment. A red Bull flat bill or beanie looks pretty bad snaking the pavement
  • 7 0
 @retrogressionage: I can comment to as I am/was a biker who only wore a helmet when out with the boys ‘sending it’........
I rode home from the pub (not pissed just a few beers in) then woke up in the local hospital....... Major bleeds on the brain, headaches for the next 3 years and strange twitches that I can’t control......
Put your ruddy helmet on!!!!!
  • 3 25
flag DaFreerider44 (Dec 10, 2020 at 17:01) (Below Threshold)
 As a skateboarder, I've never worn a helmet and I've only seen guys riding really big stuff wear them. You don't really need one for standard street riding as you aren't really risking your head. I generally roll out when I fall and have never gotten a concussion from skateboarding.
  • 1 0
 @EnduroFan84: You obviously don’t ride hard son????
  • 1 1
 @EnduroFan84: mojo 3 shows ur riding like a pussy !!!!! Ahhahahahh
  • 1 0
Never say never....
  • 1 0
 Horse riders be like.... here hold my Akubra
  • 8 0
 Weird. Used to we talked about those with no helmets simply thinning the herd. Then we started protecting everybody to lower insurance premiums and save small children from a life of drinking out of straws. Now, we're engaged in a passionate battle over rotational force dispersement patent sponsorships. I need to go watch Ski Patrol again....take a break from this stoic life.
  • 17 1
 @DaFreerider44: My wife worked for years at the rehabilitation center for traumatic brain injury in one of the larger hospitals here in Norway. Some of the worst injuries she ever saw was caused by falls from the patients own height - meaning you fall from standing up, basically. Your cavalier attitude to not wearing a helmet while skating is frankly just stupid. It only takes one fall or knock and it kan straight up ruin your life and the life of those around you. Not to mention accumulated brain damage from smaller concussions down the line. Brain injuries are no joke. I don't really care IF YOU don't want to wear one, but gtf out of here with that "you don't really need a helmet" bullshit.
  • 1 0
 @endurogan: Brandon was 2 degrees off from a GO fund me.
  • 2 0
 @Mtmw: thanks for that link on neck braces.
  • 66 2
 I see Semenuk, I click.
  • 49 0
 and that is exactly why sponsors pay him
  • 51 2
 I recently crash tested my MIPS TLD A1. Full speed head first over the bars, happened so fast my hands never left the bars. By far my most violent crash in 30 years of riding. I broke/cracked the helmet in several places. No concussion, no headache. Before the crash I figured, eh the MIPS cant hurt, but now I'm a solid believer in MIPS (or other products like it). Helmets are one area to never skimp on quality.
  • 14 0
 Glad to hear you're OK and your helmet did its job. But what do you feel MIPS did as opposed to the shell, foam, overall design of the helmet? I ask this in all seriousness
  • 17 0
 @VtVolk: fair question. Hopefully it did as designed to reduce rotation. In all honesty my perception is anecdotal at best. For what its worth the helmet shell and foam showed damage on both the R & L sides towards the upper half. Shell had scrapes, foam "arms" all cracked on both sides, and the MIPS had an arm that was cracked/torn.

Ive had other lesser impacts without the system that resulted in worse outcomes. Maybe its a better helmet/foam/design or maybe a combination of all. For me it appears worth the small $ for something that appears to have worked. I'd understand if others feel the opposite. More data would be nice.
  • 4 0
 Had a similar incident with my A1 MIPS, my head left a dent in the ground. Destroyed the helmet, but no sore head/neck, even with the backside edges of the helmet filled with dirt. Sticking with MIPS from now on.
  • 1 0
 Good to hear you okay and the helmet worked as it should. And I literally bought this helmet two days ago.
  • 1 0
 @VtVolk: Displacement of energy is MIPS in a nut shell...or head shell.
  • 1 0
 @VtVolk: I can’t speak for regular MIPS as somehow I haven’t had a big crash in my D3, but I can speak for the spherical MIPS in the new(ish) Giro half shell.
Had a big highside at speed, landed on my head. It was actually weirdly comfortable, and could genuinely feel the outer shell rotate on the slip plane and actually allow my head to slide rather than slap. It was a massive crash, and all I ended up with was whiplash for a week or so.
Mightily impressed, would (and did) buy again, and won’t buy another helmet without some form of MIPS or similar.
  • 3 0
 Thanks @samjobson & CSdirt for sharing. I’ve had my share of rough crashes and destroyed 4 or 5 helmets, but haven’t experienced the rotational type issues MIPS is designed to help with. I can’t know whether I just landed “right” or if my sweaty mullet did a similar thing as MIPS. The testing with rubbery bald mannequins has its shortcomings. Your experiences, if anecdotal, are still really interesting.
  • 16 0
 How does MIPS's business model work? Are they just a company that does lab tests and assigns their logo to products that meet some standard, or is it a technology that is licensed to helmet companies?
  • 39 0
 It's technology that is lisenced.
  • 29 0
 Think Vibram soles, 3M, Gore-Tex...
  • 1 0
 @rideitall-bmx-dh-road-unicycle: hi , just curious here, but what technology does the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing company licence to other businesses? I've never seen any, their own products are awesome quality.
  • 1 0
 @uponcripplecreek: I see their adhesives on various mounts from go pro and other companies
  • 1 0
 @uponcripplecreek: you can licence all sorts of stuff from them. Properly licence their production systems and formulas. Not just buying double sided tape off them like gopro does. At work I think we have danced with them before but have always ended up working with basf, akzo, or dupont on projects I've been involved with.
  • 1 0
 @uponcripplecreek: They license their "3M" reflective products to lots of clothing brands outside of adhesives and non-3M branded. For example product, I'm sure there have even been 3M branded collabs with cycling brands before....: houseofheat.co/adidas/adidas-nite-jogger-3m-reflective-black-ef9419-white-ee5855-navy-ee5858-release-date-info
  • 15 0
 Hope he never get to test the technology.
  • 4 0
 Hopefully.... But from my experience it can really save your brain and even your cervical spine...Never buying a helmet without MIPS or any other adequate technology for hard impacts
  • 14 0
 No sick video to go with the signing, bummer.
  • 5 0
 They probably felt that it would not be appropriate to include one of his mind blowing edits
  • 1 0
 @mi-bike: Hahaha, very good!
  • 18 9
 The first time I ever saw a MIPS helmet was when my buddy bought some fancy carbon full face future helmet to “hit that drop he was always scared of.”
We pedaled up. He donned his battle armor of knee-pads, elbow pads, gloves and future helmet.
He sends it. Comes up short, gets knuckle bucked. Front flip over the bars to tailbone slam. Armor never touched the ground. Off the bike for almost two months after.

I like to remember my unfortunate friends legendary ass slam whenever I'm looking at safety gear. In that situation his $700 helmet was less “safe” then no helmet at all, because it caused him to ride a feature he would never even consider without it. Is that the helmets fault? Of course not. But I feel like we all get sucked down that path of thinking more easily then we would like to admit. Thinking back to my favorite trail: Would I still ride it if I somehow got to the top without realizing I forgot my helmet? I think I would. Would I go as fast? Probably not...

No matter how much foam and plastic you strap to your body, you are not “safe” while careening through the woods on a bicycle. If safety was truly priority one then you'd be riding an exercise bike in your basement. Safety equipment should really be re-labeled as Risk Mitigation Equipment. It's not keeping you safe, it's helping to potentially reduce risks that you find unacceptable.

I think that's why I'm slow to judge the BMX/DJ punks with no helmets. They know the risks of no helmet riding, but they believe the reward to be worth it. I do the same unconscious evaluation when I strap a plastic shell to my head and descend mach speed down a mountain side. Neither is safe, but the risk has been deemed worth the reward.

By no means do I mean to belittle the effectiveness of MIPS or any other safety gear. I love my helmet and welcome every advancement helmets can receive. I just want to remind everyone to be aware of their behavior in regards to safety.

Tl;dr: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
  • 9 0
 Reminds me of Football. The helmets are so good now that linesmen routinely use their heads as a battering ram, something that didn't exist when thinner helmets were in use, and is likely a large contributor to the prevalence of CTE in football. The equipment unlocked a capacity to harm yourself in a different way, and the damage was so cumulative we didn't notice until YEARS after it should have been obvious.
  • 3 4
 Too many “I’s”... Geesh.
  • 10 0
 I knew if I scrolled far enough I would find someone blaming a helmet
  • 1 1
 @KK11: hahaha
  • 3 0
 Despite having access to better safety tech, there's still no good substitute for common sense.
  • 2 0
 @RayDolor: Agree! And progression.... people think they're gonna become big hitters "overnight."
  • 1 0
 @ArmyFork: there’s a whole thing in rugby at the moment about head injuries. Almost no rugby players wear any head protection.
  • 11 0
 Semenuk: makes your head spin. Mips: stops your head spinning, nice and slowly
  • 6 0
 Speaking of helmets. Why does protec still make milk cartons that are non rated coma inducing piles of shit and give them to sponsored athletes. I ordered One on accident years ago and immediately put it in the garbage after I found out. Long live safety!
  • 5 0
 Protective gear keeps getting better and more comfortable. I remember 15 years ago the helmet that probably saved my life was a hot uncomfortable mess. Once you crash hard enough to get KOed and your helmet ends up in pieces you gain a better appreciate for the importance of a good helmet. These days there is no reason to not wear a quality helmet, they are relatively cheap, they fit great, and they offer amazing protection.

All that said this year I saw 5 people riding without a helmet on my local trail system. I stopped every one of them and offered to give them a helmet, they all acted like I was crazy. How you can ride a multi thousand dollar bike without a helmet is a mystery to me. I keep a couple extra helmets in my truck (in part because my friends forget them) so my offer is never an empty promise.
  • 8 0
 Anyone who free rides, eventually has to test their helmet.
  • 1 0
 spot on....
  • 7 0
 Does anyone know how POC spin compares to MIPS? I currently use a POC Coron.
  • 2 0
 They don't rate full face helmets, but generally speaking, MIPS and all of its competitors (including POC spin, bontrager wavecell, giro spherical, etc) consistently take top honors of Virginia Tech's bicycle helmet ratings.

  • 3 0
 Glad to see MIPS partnering with our athletes and Brandon is always a vital resource for development-we need to listen more to his insights haha. I crashed 3 weeks ago, on a trail ride, prototype TLD trail lid, with MIPS of course. Smashed my face up good, dented front corner of helmet, smashed visor-I suffered zero concussion symptoms and I attribute that to our awesome TLD helmet, but definitely believe the way we implemented the mips system helped as well. As a bald dude, I used to find MIPS uncomfortable, but, we've tailored the LFL, the comfort liners, and now I will not wear a non mips helmet---also our athletes testimony with the impacts from MIPS equipped TLD lids has also sold me on it. Congrats Brandon, Mips and TLD haha.
  • 2 0
 So you're liking the new A3? Wink Can you give us a rough ETA?
  • 2 0
 ive got the Bell Moto helmet with the mips in it and its the best thing that's been invented for a helmet! I will not buy a helmet without it from now on! I rarely need a fullface for mtb stuff I do but when I do I just wear my Moto helmet since its carbon its light enough you don't notice it!
  • 2 0
 I think its highly relevant to point out that MIPS helmets (and comparable technology like POC's spin, Bontrager's wavecell, or Giro's spherical) absolutely dominate the ratings on Virginia Tech's independent helmet testing. MIPS takes the top 8 spots, and if you include comparable technologies, they claim the top 54 (!!) spots out of 110 helmets tested.

There are a few non-rotational impact helmets that beat out MIPS helmets, but the trend is undeniably clear: MIPS helmets are very likely safer than non-MIPS helmets. Unless the cost difference is large enough that it means you wouldn't buy a new helmet, look for a MIPS (or SPIN, wavecell, spherical, etc) for your next one. The #4 rated helmet is $50. Its worth the extra money.

  • 1 0
 Yep I've got a mips trail lid and my wee man has mip dh/ bmx one. When it's time to get him a trail one i will too. He's also got moto neck roll for bmx after a crash which broke a fox rampage. Head injurys are nothing to be taken lightly . I only wish more kids would wear moto rolls at bmx
  • 1 0
 For all those who say 'safety is a fashion' just stop and think Jackie Stewart in F1 and Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR. Physics is physics. Stuff vast amounts of energy into your skull, particularly energy vectored to induce brain rotation, and you'd better be wearing research-based protection. Sports such as football and rugby are fundamentally changing to take account of solid medical evidence on concussion, brain injury and long term conditions. Deny all that accumulating science and you may as well go and join the Flat Earth Society. The studies in skiing and cycling which are cited these days include sophisticated account of 'risk behaviour' and associated issues. The science is there, and solid. Below certain energy thresholds, well designed helmets prevent injury. Above those levels, they reduce injury. and personal experience? Moderate brain injury (amnesia, some long term impairment) after a fall at 25kph off road. Yes I was wearing a helmet, but that was before MIPs and the awareness of rotational injury. 10,000 gbp of dental work when a full face would have saved my mouth and teeth. My helmets these days? MIPs, fullface. Live and learn, learn and live....
  • 1 0
 Its a "No Brainer" that he is taking MIPS sponsorship for wearing a safety product that is already incorporated into a safety product that he is sponsored to wear. Free Money anyone?
  • 3 0
 Brandon must have hit his head to come up with edits that sick.
  • 4 1
 That’s an interesting spin
  • 1 0
 I cannot imagine two drastically different personalities MIPS could have on their team, but super awesome to see them on the same team! Two of the greats!
  • 1 0
 Check out Subaru Launch Control. Great series and awesome to see Brandon doing so well in rally. Talented bugger.
  • 2 0
 I love watching dipshits in Hall of Meat videos.
  • 1 0
 I can't believe I rode to school without a helmet for +-10 years.
  • 1 0
 Ar ar ar, joining the Harlaut team!!
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