Bell Helmets Discusses Hayden Gillim’s MotoAmerica Crash at Pittsburgh

Bell Helmets has released a video discussing the aftermath of Superbike/Superstock privateer racer Hayden Gillim’s shocking crash during the 2017 MotoAmerica season’s stop at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.

Gillim entered a corner with too much speed and ran off track, losing control of his 2018 Suzuki GSX-R1000, which sent him and his machine tumbling with what looked to be severe consequences. Gillim only came to rest once he made impact with a tire wall, a wall that his now destroyed bike managed to completely flip over while shedding countless parts.

When the red flags flew, Gillim could be seen on camera moving but obviously in need of medical assistance. This undeniably violent crash underscored a truth in motorcycling: helmets save lives.

Having watched this race live in August, I was convinced that Gillim would be in need of medical treatment – whether that be for trauma or concussion was unknown, the crash looked horrendous and appeared to warrant it.

Miraculously, he was found to be completely unharmed after undergoing a full examination, following MotoAmerica’s new concussion protocols. A CT scan revealed no discernible sign of head trauma, despite the several hard impacts that his Bell Race Star FLEX took in the wreck. Outside of bruising, he was cleared to leave the hospital in a few short hours.

Bell has released footage of the video and the aftermath of the helmet to highlight their FLEX technology, a series of liners designed specifically to reduce rotational-force that a rider’s brain experiences during a crash. The EPS liner deals with the main impact forces, while the FLEX system specifically protects against brain injuries, helping alleviate injuries like concussions.

Bell's Hayden Gillim

FLEX technology works in a fashion to that of MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), which is employed in the Bell Race Star MIPS and a wide variety of other helmets within the motorcycle industry and otherwise. Technologies such as FLEX or MIPS rely upon slip-planes to allow for a small amount of movement on the head of the wearer. During an impact, the helmet’s MIPS or FLEX system shifts positions, thus relieving rotational-energies from the brain. In recent years, these types of technologies have been growing in popularity. FLEX is a proprietary solution developed by Bell and MIPS is a licensed technology.

The Bell staff took Hayden Gillim’s helmet back to their Spring Valley, Calif., facility where it was cut in half and examined, giving an in-depth illustration of how FLEX technology can aide riders during accidents and offer a higher degree of protection, beyond basic impact protection.

In the video, engineers examine and explain how Gillim’s Bell Race Star FLEX performed during the accident, showing exactly where and what each liner’s function is. This crash looked tremendously painful and while Hayden Gillim was left sore and bruised, he did not suffer from any sort of discernible traumatic brain injury, once again highlighting the importance of using quality helmets.