the first edition of Kali''s Avatar II Carbon full-face helmet when it debuted in late 2012 with positive results. Now, with enduro in full swing and the fact that at many events racers must use a full-face helmet on timed stages, Kali's well-ventilated, 780-gram carbon DH helmet earns a second look. Its noticeably slimmer profile and significant weight advantage over its closest competitors makes it arguably one of, if not the most, comfortable certified DH helmets to wear for extended periods. Kali upgraded the Avatar II with a handful of accessories this year, including a, breakaway camera/headlamp attachment that slips into the visor's replaceable mount. Kali's Avatar II comes in two carbon shell sizes, molded with X-small, small, medium, large and X-large liners, in black and gray (reviewed)
or in red and black graphics for $399 USD.
|In the brain protection business, microseconds are like hours, because the helmet must dissipate a substantial impact event in a distance that measures less than two or three centimeters.|Three views of the Avatar II Carbon helmet showing the small,
yet effective rear vents; a look of the visor and screened
forward vents; and the mesh air channels built into the padding.
Avatar II Features:Safety:
• Carbon shell
• In-molded, Composite Fusion Plus™ shell/liner connection
• Low-density EPS foam for best impact absorption
• Integrated airflow system
• Washable, adjustable, anti-microbial fit pads
• Breakaway visor
• Integrated, breakaway camera/headlamp mount
• Safety compliance: EN 1078 or CPSC, ASTM F2040 and ASTM F2032
• Claimed weight: 780 grams
• MSRP: $399 USD
Kali Protectives is currently the only helmet maker who can in-mold a closed-cell polystyrene foam liner into a hard-shell full-face helmet. The advantage of molding the liner directly to the shell, says Kali designer and owner Brad Waldron, is that there is only one impact. There is no space for the head to pick up speed between the liner and the helmet, and thus the impact is being slowed continuously from the moment the helmet receives a blow, from the shell inwards towards the rider's head. When there is a space - even a tiny one - between the liner and the hard shell, the effect is that the head is subject to two impact events. In the brain protection business, microseconds are like hours, because the helmet must dissipate a substantial impact event in a distance that measures less than two or three centimeters. Composite Fusion Plus:
Kali's Avatar II full-face helmet has a carbon fiber shell molded to an innovative, multi-density foam liner, called 'Composite Fusion Plus,'
that uses an engineered layer of cone-shaped 'spikes' that are molded into a second layer of foam. The tapered spikes are designed to spread energy of an impact sideways throughout the liner. Slim Profile
: The second benefit from co-molding the shell with the liner is that the overall size of the helmet can be made visibly smaller without sacrificing protection. Venting channels can be enlarged slightly as well. Kali includes all of those technologies into the Avatar II Carbon.Breakaway Visor:
Kali adds a breakaway visor to further reduce the possibility of neck injuries due to hooking the visor, and now has adapted the replaceable visor mount to accept most popular POV cameras and many helmet-mount lamps. There is a replacement visor included with the kit. Light weight:
Using in-molding techniques, a dual-density shell, consistent materials like Contego EPS foam, and a top carbon manufacturer, allow Kali to minimize the Avatar's weight. Compare its 780 grams to the TLD D3 Carbon at 1080 grams and Bell's new Full 9 at 1050 grams (medium size)
Kali Protectives offers a lifetime warranty on defects in manufacturing and materials and a 25-percent discount from MSRP for crash replacement.
Avatars pass ATSM DH helmet standards as well as European EN 1078 and CPSC standards. Ventilation:
The Avatar uses a number of small screened vents in the front of the helmet that channel air through three mesh areas in the padding. The Avatar is never going to feel like an XC lid - it can get a bit hot in the summertime, but it passes more air than most full-face helmets and it manages to be very comfortable the majority of the time
The underside of the Avatar visor reveals the breakaway insert and its two release latches. Two kits of camera mounting hardware are included for GoPro and a number of other makers that adapt to a universal bayonet mount on the helmet insert (right)
Building upon our riding impressions at the beginning of the season, the Avatar's long-term results are impressive. We bashed up the first lid pretty hard on more than a few occasions, but we only destroyed one visor - two actually, but the second was a tree-branch hit. The fit is snug with the cheek pads in place, but the helmet feels as if it isn't there, because it moves easily with the head and stays steady when pounding through rocks and chatter. The D-ring retention system is pretty much the same as every other moto or DH full-face - if it works, no need to fix it.
We spent a number of long summer days pushing big bikes in order to session the meaty bits of some Southern California DH trails, which encouraged us to take the Kali full face to try some more remote trails which could only be accessed by fire roads. It was pedaling on those longer rides, lightly padded up and riding 160-millimeter AM bikes, which planted the suggestion that the Avatar II would be a good bet for enduro racing. It feels light on the head, it doesn't take much forward speed to get the air flowing through - and for those times when the heat was really pounding on the climbs, its stays put and doesn't pendulum like a bowling ball when strapped to a hydration pack. Call it luck or good hygiene, but neither of the Kali test helmets got smelly through the 2013 season. If they did, at least the cheek pads could have been removed and machine washed.
We used a variety of Smith and Scott goggles, but did not try the oversized ski-type Oakleys, which have given test riders problems with other helmets. In all cases, the upper goggle frames did not seem to contact the brow of the helmet, nor did the peripheral view of the goggles exceed that of the Kali's window area. The only technical problems we encountered was that when we first attempted to remove the breakaway insert from the visor to install a head lamp, the clear coat paint on the visor had glued the release tang in place. A screwdriver, some destruction and a small dose of anger was needed to free the insert, after which the accessory part snapped right into place. We chose the handlebar-type mount to adapt a compact bar-mount LED lamp to the visor with great success.
What you get for $399: Kali ships the Avatar II Carbon helmet with a ventilated, zip-up carry bag, A soft stuff sack, a thicker pair of cheek pads for proper fitting, a replacement visor and two kits of camera/headlamp mounting hardware.
|Kali Protectives has been gaining a loyal following among both DH and trail riders and the Avatar II Carbon shows us why. Kali's impact dispersing strategy is as good as it gets. Its weight, or lack thereof, puts it in a class of its own. The Avatar is easy on the head in every way - and those are words rarely spoken about full face helmets during the heat of battle. If you plan on spending a lot of time in a full face next season, DH, enduro, freeride, or fun, try on a Kali Avatar Carbon II. It is moto inspired, and a true mountain bike helmet in every sense. - RC|