Kali’s known for their moto and full face downhill helmets. They’ve expanded into mountain bike helmets with a couple full featured helmet for aggressive riding. With their co-founder Mike Wilson being a roadie and other employees being into street riding, their lineup has expanded. The latest is the Maraka and Phenom for road and XC.
Quick rundown: Kali is a four year old company founded because founder Brad Waldron wondered why you couldn’t inmold a motorcycle helmet like you could with bicycle helmets.
With traditional Moto helmets, the ABS (or carbon or fiberglass) shell is thick, which requires a lot of impact to deform. That means the impact isn’t being absorbed by foam unless there’s a major impact.
Inmolding, which molds the shell with the EPS foam, allows for a thinner, lighter shell, which lets the impact energy move to the foam quicker, which is better able to slow the impact and dissipate the forces before they affect your brain.
With their new road and XC helmets, the challenge was to mimic the impact distribution of their full face helmets in something that had large vents and much less foam.
Their solution was to build in harder SuperVent “rings” around the vents in the front, where the foam is thinner. This harder material spreads the impact force across more of the foam. In the rear, there’s a carbon fiber exoskeleton piece to do the same. The diagram above shows (loosely) the impact spread with just a soft plastic shell versus a with their SuperVent rings.
Another aspect of the solution is a dual density foam using a cone shape interface. Called Conehead Technology, it molds a softer foam for most of the helmet with a small harder section on the top of the helmet where there aren’t external reinforcements.
Lastly, there’s the Bumper Fit System, a proprietary super soft foam (yellow) that originally started out as a way to inmold some padding into the helmets and create a better for system. It ended up lowering impact G-forces, too. It’s a bit heavier than EPS foam, so they’re only using it in a few locations.
These are in the Maraka (road/XC, left) and Phenom (road, right) helmets, and will be included on a couple more new models they’re working on. Some of the features will work their way onto a forthcoming lightweight vented kids helmet, too.
Weight came in at 259g for the Maraka with the visor, 245g without. Color options will be black/white, gold, blue and a red/white/black.
The Phenom was still preproduction and should be around 240g to 250g and come in four different colors.
Another new model is the Avana, an update to the Avita with deeper rear coverage. It’s a more all-mountain version and comes in at a respectable 360g on our scale for a size S/M.