Kali Avatar II Carbon Helmet - Reviewed

Dec 4, 2013
by Richard Cunningham  

We tested 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.

Kali Avatar II carbon fiber DH Helmet 2013

bigquotesIn 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:
• 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


Construction

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).

Warranty: Kali Protectives offers a lifetime warranty on defects in manufacturing and materials and a 25-percent discount from MSRP for crash replacement.

Safety: 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

Kali Avatar II carbon fiber DH Helmet 2013 Breakaway visor and camera mount accessories

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)



Ride Report

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.

Kali Avatar II carbon fiber DH Helmet 2013 carry bag spare cheek pads camera mounts and spare visor

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.



Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesKali 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



93 Comments

  • + 62
 I'm sure its a great helmet and that, but kali lids are all just so damn ugly
  • - 10
flag joehollindrake (Dec 4, 2013 at 1:31) (Below Threshold)
 The shape isnt too bad, pretty standard DH lid. Its just the graphics that suck.
  • + 28
 I like it IMO. But hey, what do I know? I just ride bikes...
  • - 5
flag Thunderbiker (Dec 4, 2013 at 2:41) (Below Threshold)
 Yep, ugly. Dam ugly!
  • + 0
 yeah, this helmet looks like it doesn't even cost half of what it actually does. i'm sure it will be a good helmet and all, but if i pay 400 for a helmet it better look the business as well as protect my head. but hey, to each his own! wouldn't mind to try one out though, to see if they're really that good
  • - 8
flag PA37 (Dec 4, 2013 at 5:29) (Below Threshold)
 Ugliest helmet ever!!
  • - 11
flag rafa95 (Dec 4, 2013 at 6:06) (Below Threshold)
 It's just me or this looks like a THE Industries mixed with a Fox Rampage (not the new carbon ones)?
It's just freaking ugly anyway!
  • + 2
 +10…If it fit well I would absolutely dish out the $400 but the graphics are enough to turn me off buying one. I hope Kali reads these comments and makes some changes.
  • + 5
 I switched over to Kali from Troy Lee for a number of reasons. I have this exact helmet and it is light as hell, and comfortable even with glasses. I also love the xc helmet and knee pads - affordable comfortable and durable. With Troy Lee, the D2 was great, and slimmer than everything else; whereas the D3 cuts into your ears when you put it on, its heavy, and you can't wear it with glasses.
  • - 4
flag gnarbar (Dec 4, 2013 at 8:46) (Below Threshold)
 witty and insightful comments from Pinkkids who don't even ride. fail.
  • + 2
 Looking for another? I have one barely used that didn't fit me right.
  • + 5
 @gnarbar - I dont understand how you can state "from Pinkkids who don't even ride"?
First of all, everybody above looks like they ride to me. Secondly it's just an opinion, that by the looks of thinks, most agree on.
  • + 8
 I'm not seeing how it is ugly... Someone care to expand a bit? It looks pretty simple, definitely slimmer looking, aka not something you could wear with Uggs and pretend to be on the moon with...
  • + 3
 I'm not entirely sure why I'm not a fan. Maybe down to that big rounded back and with the little tiny, odd shaped peak. Just the whole shape of it doesn't look right. Just my opinion but I think helmets like the d3 all just look way more aggressively shaped and they just look like more thought's gone into designing the shell.

It's kinda hard to explain but surely you can see what I'm getting at. www.pinkbike.com/photo/10389626 The D3 (as well as other helmets, I'm just taking it as an example) just looks like so much more though has gone into the design, and in my opinion looks so much sicker.
  • + 1
 Curious to those who hate the look have you looked at the other paint schemes on thier site? I agree this one isnt so great personally but the others are quite good. They don't have the tld flare but that's not a bad thing. Not everyone wants something so inyourface.
  • + 41
 90% of these comments are about the looks of the thing! Jesus, when your head is inside the thing you won't be able to see it! Function 1st, Form Last. Unless you spend more time standing in the car park saying "Yeh brah, i like ride dh, really fast" than you do actually riding dh really fast.
  • + 11
 you just stated most of the people on this site!!! funny a$$ $shit!
  • + 4
 that maybe right to some extent, but some people want their helmets to look good. you wouldn't buy a $100.000 car if it drove really nice and had a 500 hp engine, but is all rusty with paint flaking off on the outside, would you?(this was just an example, i dont even like cars) if im gonna pay $400 for a helmet(wich is a lot of money IMO), it needs to fit good, protect my head really well, have good venting and LOOK good, there is nothing wrong with that!
  • + 5
 Reviews like this on safety equipment are a joke. In this review there is atual data and the Kali Avatar failed the tests miserably: www.freeride-magazine.com/uploads/media/helmtest-0412.pdf
  • + 2
 Is there an engrish version of this article, it looks fairly detailed but I no speken ze duetch.
  • + 2
 nope but the numbers are impact numbers. The higher the number the worse the result. It all comes down to that the lightness of the Kali is also it's weakness compared to other helmets.
  • - 1
 It's kinda plain looking to me. But hell I ride what Grass Root Sponsors I can get. Last year TLD hooked us up big time so i'm rocking a D3 till it cracks! lol
  • + 2
 It also seems that the Giro Remedy and ONeal carbon helmets didn't perform well, so I suppose it's up to the rider to decide whether weight or protection is most important for them (I.e. will the helmet be used for proper DH, or for enduro)
  • + 1
 A lot of people are so concerned with what stuff looks like, posers. What it performs like is what matters.
  • + 5
 "Kali's impact dispersing strategy is as good as it gets" I wish they guys from PB would actually show us some test chart or smth. Especially PB I guess should have the ability to prefrom a damn crash simulation or smth and see what actually happens to THE RIDERS HEAD Really f****s off. Well it is nice to be riding a helmet a full season just to see how it feels but your impression is as worth what exactly?`I'm really staring to hate on these reviews because they are only an opinion like any other :/ And like Varaxis said it's just another helmet with pretty much nothing special about it but weight loss maybe. Why not approach differently? with a test chart like tabletop posted and some word based on these facts other than a feature list and how cool everything is. It feels like you're bought and do not critisize. so much disorder in my words and stuff but I'm just frustrated with the bullshit we are fed sometimes. BUY YOUR FREAKIN HELMET IN A STORE SO U CAN TRY IT ON best solution. I'm 19 and want a good helmet the freakin DOES NOT cost 400 freakin bucks. test something for a 100 that is reasonable.
  • + 0
 haters gonna hate for letting off steam.
  • + 2
 @Arteus You don't think it's OK when a PB product tester who hasn't been given the proper tools or education to actually test the product rewords copy from the product's press release and posts it as their own conclusion? Weird.
  • + 4
 Another helmet made with EPS foam. I'm not interested in a "standard" helmet that costs $400 that they say should be replaced after a single impact, especially knowing that there are ones made from alternative materials such as Koroyd, vpd 2.0 (snow), air bags, and even cardboard.
  • + 3
 A Kali Prana 2 carbon moto helmet literally saved my life on a moto trip down in mexico last may. 3 people thought I was dead. I got up (after being knocked out for a bit) and walked away with some bruised ribs, broken finger and a broken tooth. Cracked the helment really good in 2 spots. People can bitch all they want about the cost of a helmet. I never will again. You get what you pay for. That and the Avatar II carbon is one of the lightest helmets I have ever put on my fat head. Its insanely light. Its on my short list for when I get a DH bike again.
  • + 3
 I have been using this helmet for 2 seasons at Highland Mountain Bike Park. Crashed hard head first. Crumple zone technology is tops. Walked away as if I didn't go down. Light weight and great protection! Kali customer service was great in getting me into another helmet.
  • + 2
 The kali isn't the prettiest but personally i think that they win in every other category they are so comfy and insanely light and safe, defiantly worth it. The troy lee D3 just lots cool for all you guys out there kali defiantly beats it for safely.
  • + 2
 what most people missed in the review is
"Construction

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. "
  • + 2
 My current Avatar still going strong after multiple season abuse, cost less than £100 and weighs 850-ish grams. Plus Sound graphics are pimp. Is crabon tech and weight saving really worth the extra dollar when you can have four non crabon helmets instead?!?!
  • + 6
 Is it compatible with 27.5?
  • + 2
 Ok so it meets the standard, doesnt mean it exceeds it. I prefer a larger helmet (possibly a little heavier) that is going to give me more than 'acceptable' protection. That's why i wear a Kabuto IXS for normal riding and a Airoh Stelt MX helmet (900g) for the big days.
  • + 2
 By definition of meeting a standard you have exceeded the requirements. Manufacturers just say exceeds because stupid people think there's a difference.
  • - 2
 Not really, eg you get 50 in pass or fail test; where the pass mark is 50... You pass. What if you get 75? Oh yeah you pass. Exactly what I'm saying..it's got a badge of being 'safe' to a standard, that's all it tells you. I choose helmets on more than just a standard
  • + 3
 Show me the crash testing data you used to choose the safest helmet then. Oh, wait. You don't have any. You're making it up. All we know is that all helmets exceed certification requirements.
  • - 2
 I'm talking about practical knowledge you obnoxious chump. E.g how good the construction of the helmet is, whether the liner is glued into the shell or formed inside it etc. It's not Astro physics it's common sense. When you go to buy something do you purely purchase it on the badges it holds or do you look it over and compare it to other products and make your own mind up on a number of factors?
  • + 1
 well kali helmets use in-molded EPS liners and have varying foam density via their composite fusion plus liners. All tech that makes for a very safe helmet.


any other uninformed BS you'd like to make up?
  • - 1
 Mate, say what you like. Believe the marketing crap. Maybe you wanna ride more rather than just take pictures of all your crap kit/bikes.

  • + 0
 read your posts and stop contradicting yourself... it's hilarious.
  • - 2
 It really is, I'm creased up over here. Keyboard warrior.
  • + 3
 I was so pumped when I opened the box to fins all the other bonus items. THIS HELMET ROCKS, so light you forget your wearing a full face.
  • + 6
 dat thing is pretty ugly
  • + 6
 but it's carbonnnnnn don't wet yourselves kids
  • - 4
flag Benlow (Dec 4, 2013 at 0:31) (Below Threshold)
 I dont understand why anyone would buy a Kali... These are the characters that launched a comprehensive smear campaign warning of the supposed dangers of using DOT certified helmets for DH before earlier this year releasing a DOT certified DH helmet of their own. Very dodgy...
  • + 1
 giro cipher/tld d3 can't go wrong Smile
  • + 5
 I think "comprehensive smear campaign" is a severe dramatization. They agreed to interview with PB for one article. and the only standard they really said was bad is the SNELL foundation certification which Kali still refuses to have their helmets certified by.


Kali helmets have a lot more tech behind them than most other DH helmets. Stuff you see in high end moto helmets like foam molded directly into the shell rather than glued in separately, and multiple density eps liners. They are also stupidly light and still meet DH requirements. I'd definitely consider one, their new DOT approved DH helmet will be half a pound lighter than a D3
  • + 9
 Why is it ugly? it's just a standard looking helmet.
I like the visor with the sort of demon horns
  • + 1
 i'ts to round.
  • + 5
 You not enough edges to catch on when involved in a crash? Or not enough edges to catch on while cutting corners millimetres from trees? Or just too aerodynamic? LOL
  • + 3
 Looks pretty nice to me Not a big fan of all these wanna be designs Looks streamlined and comfortable
  • + 2
 What we really need are enduro courses in the US where it would actually make sense to wear a full coverage helmet instead of an XC helmet with an extra inch of ear protection.
  • + 1
 Awesome helmet. Super comfortable. I have saved several visors thanks to the break away system. I have crashed HARD, head first, with my Avatar and avatar II and walked away without injury. Unfortunately, Kali doesnt give a damn about looks, but it shows that their focus is on safety, not fashion. Good for them.
  • + 1
 i race DH and Enduros in mine.
  • + 0
 Why do people buy helmets $200-300-400 while there is a risk of damaging or destroying it at any time ? For sure, they are beautiful like the TLD helmets, but they protect like a $80-100 one... and you're not afraid of scratch it. :/
  • + 1
 Weight looks brand name... Why do you own a car with a radio? Its nice to have... If I wasn't a broke college kid I'd drop $400 on a nice carbon lid...
  • + 3
 Weight, and NOT the same protection as a cheap one. Read up on Kali's composite plus. that shit is amazing
  • + 5
 Because landing on your head is rare, but when it happens you want the best protection possible. I've only taken an impact to the head twice in 25 years of riding. Spending $400 on a helmet that will last me 3 years and I wear every day from May to October seems like a bargain.
  • + 3
 well, i used to think that way too (over the years i had many helmets 661 strike&evo, giro remedy, bell drop and bellistic), but since i got a TLD helmet for christmas last year (the cheaper d2 helmet) I could not go back, the difference in quality, especially the fit and comfort of the helmet is huge! almost all of the cheaper helmets feel really flimsy and uncomfortable in comparison.
  • + 1
 I like the TLD helmets they nice but hell people cherish them and don't wanna fall on them..I just wear a helmet to protect my skull.
  • + 2
 yeah I used to do that too, but in the end of the day it's a just a helmet albeit a very well made one. One should never want to fall on his head lol!! they do also seem to hold up way better to the "abuse" of putting it in your car or hanging it from the handlebars on the way to the trails, and the paint is strong, so there is actually no reason to be so careful with them
  • + 3
 This helmet is not pretty. It does not match my pretty bike sitting on my pretty car.
  • + 1
 Why do they insist on god awful kitchy graphics. Not as bad as TLD, but still. I got my THE helmet in part for a nice, subdued design.. I am a middle aged man, not a 13 year old hopped up on caffeinated sugary drinks.
  • + 0
 Kali fits nice, light. Replacing a 400$ helmet after a crash. No like. So its a better rated O`Neal at less than half the price. Stars and stripes design - dh feels like Evel Knevel jumping the grand canyon. Now I need a matching satin cape
  • + 3
 I think it looks ace but still prefer my tld d3 as its saved me countless times
  • + 1
 This may already exist so excuse me if I am just behind but I love the idea of a break away visor. Im so sick of breaking visors every month. The things break just from rolling around in my trunk!
  • + 1
 Invest in some epoxy and fix them, it's not that hard.
  • + 1
 Yeah, or a better product could come along (break away visor) that would eliminate the need to glue together my helmet so it looks like shit.

My point is its a good idea, I realize a broken visor can be fixed
  • + 1
 Sorry, read part of your first statement as "I'm so sick of buying visors every month," which would be a huge waste.
  • + 1
 I've never been a fan of the fit of Kali helmets, Just to round on my head and loose to wear safely/comfortably. Just my 2 cents
  • + 2
 It looks fine IMO. No worse than my Remedy. Main thing is it must do what it says, which it must if it passed the tests.
  • + 2
 Maybe if it had less graphics and exposed more of the carbon it would look better.
  • + 2
 So everyone above is willing to sacrifice weight and protection simply for graphics? Sound logic,
  • + 1
 At 780g, this could be relacing my D2 carbons, was already looking at the rev1 version. This weighs nearly an xc helmet less than a D3!
  • + 1
 how do you review a helmet? do you have to jump off a big building head first?
  • + 2
 hire a decent graphics guy KALI!
  • + 1
 You know what, it's much more interesting to watch the comments than the essay itself!
  • - 1
 This helmet wont protect your face. The chin bar just squeezes right in when pressed. I can snap this helmet with my bare hands.
  • - 1
 $400?? You're shitting me right? Was expecting it to be $100- 200. I'm looking for a cheaper alternative to a D3 but I don't think I'll forgive myself if I buy anything else!
  • + 6
 it's a full carbon high end helmet, what did you expect? It's also almost a full pound lighter than a D3.
  • - 1
 @nobble, 224 gram difference, thats half a pound. I have a CE (euro standard) moto helmet that is super light, I thought it was the bees knees, until I crashed in a light DOT helmet, little tap on the head and I had a slight concussion, I have done worse in my first D3 and had no effects from the head impact. The troy guys have done their homework with D3.
  • + 3
 according to sicklines a D3 is around 1200g 780g is about 400g less, aka about a pound.
  • + 1
 I'll stick with my 661 Comp and Fly Racing Default thanks.
  • + 1
 Its just not as sexy as my new black and white Fox Rampage Pro.
  • + 1
 I like the graphics.
  • - 1
 How do you wash a molded in liner?
  • - 1
 Is that the same shell THE helmets use?
  • - 1
 Sounds like it's endure specific
  • - 3
 D3 or die. End of story
  • + 4
 since the full 9 and rampage pro came out, definitely not.
  • + 0
 The bell full 9 is awesome in every way.. D3 style is sweet, but i thought the materials felt rough, and too many hot points on my head. the Full 9 is a head-glove. I purchased the bell. im not stoked on the Kali. Looks like a 661.

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