PARK CITY, Utah (VN) — Kali Protectives is a relatively new brand in the cycling helmet market, but the Morgan Hill-based company is helping to pioneer the push for safer helmets. Kali’s newest product incorporates a material that is capable of withstanding over 10 impacts — a new feature in the helmet world. The new material is still in its prototype phase, but is expected to make its way into the company’s helmets soon.
Kali is also launching a new mountain helmet, the Maya.
The new material, which Kali calls Nano Technology, has been in development for over a year with Kali and a team of Italian chemists. Kali has been testing the material in a couple of different helmets and has been seeing the best results in a carbon-shelled moto helmet.
“We’ve impacted Nano technology in a carbon shelled moto helmet, and over 16 impacts the amount of g-forces through the helmet have not changed,” said Kali founder Brad Waldron.
Unlike the EPS foam used in most helmets, a rigid material, Nano is a powder that’s been chemically hardened into the shell. Half shell and full-face helmets are the best application of Nano technology because the powder makes it harder to work with in helmets with lots of vents.
Dirt jumpers and downhill riders tend to beat up their helmets more than anyone else. Even in one crash, a helmet can sustain multiple impacts, on any type of ride. So the technology is most appealing for the gravity-fed crowd.
Nano technology is not yet being used in a Kali helmet, though. We expect an announcement of a Nano-equipped BMX helmet soon.
Kali got its start in motocross, and then moved into the mountain bike market. It may be a surprise to some that it’s taken them this long to pin the hippest of buzzwords, “endure,” to one of the company’s helmets. The new Maya fills that hole, designed around aggressive trail riding, and hits a good price point at $100. That low price doesn’t mean a lack of features, though — the Maya includes video and light mounts and exceeds all safety standards.
The Maya’s big visor is a bit ostentatious at first glance, though once on your head it doesn’t seem to be. Vertical adjustability of the visor is good, even while on the trail, and on the final production model the visor will sit lower and look less like a beak.
“The visor is meant to be a bit more moto style,” Waldron said. “We’ve got a lot of moto background in our company.”
The Maya sports Kali’s patented Composite Fusion Plus technology, which is used in some of Kali’s road offerings. The Maya also sports the lowest density foam ever used in a Kali helmet, at just 35 grams per liter. Kali is constantly working toward lower and lower density foams, but this is a new benchmark. Lower density foam used close to the head helps to dissipate energy better and cushion the blow, hopefully lowering your chance of injury.
Maya: First Impressions
We were able to sneak out for a short ride between rain storms with the new Maya. For a small-medium helmet, it barely fit our tester who always rides in large helmets from Giro, Poc, Smith, Specialized, etc. The size up might look a bit oversized for out tester’s slender face, but it might be a better fit.
Still, with temperatures in the high 60s and plenty of humidity in the air, we felt we could give the Maya a proper test, even on a short ride. The visor, which looked so large before we put the helmet on, didn’t block our view, and when the drizzles began again we found the longer visor actually blocked a bit of the rain. Depending on the angle at which you hold your head when you ride, you may not find the same advantage, and you may not be willing to sacrifice your look, regardless of functionality.
The ventilation didn’t blow us away. The helmet was hot, which explains why Kali refers to it as an enduro helmet; it’s better for going downhill than suffering uphill. Cross-country riders may want to go with Kali’s Maraka. In our short ride, we would compare the Maya to the Giro Feature.
We hope to spend some more time in the Maya over the summer, testing out the video mount, goggle compatibility, and breathability. It’s expected to be formally released next winter. The model we used was close to production, but not quite the final product.
Logan VonBokel spoke with Kali Protectives at Lifeboat Event’s Press Camp in Park City. Press Camp provided travel and lodging for media attending the event.