This Is Your Brain - Composite Fusion and Helmet Shells

Nov 2, 2016
by Kali Protectives  
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Press Release

This Is Your Brain - article image

Helmets are designed to deform during a crash. How much is dependent upon the crash and the intended helmet design. It is impossible for a helmet designer to know the speed, the angle, the surface, and all other factors involved in any individual crash, so designers are left to try to cover as many situations as possible to ensure that you have the best protection over the widest range of impact scenarios. Essentially, helmet design is a ‘greater good’ effort for your brain based on the designer and the manufacturing technology available.

The major safety components of your helmet are the outer shell and the inner foam liner. The outer shell has several purposes. It protects the inner foam liner (the part of your helmet that dissipates the majority of energy upon impact) from penetrating and abrasive forces. It spreads the load of an impact over a greater area utilizing more of the energy absorbing foam, and it dissipates energy on its own depending on the rigidity.

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So how hard should your helmet shell be? Tough and strong like an armored vehicle? Not so much. A helmet shell needs to have some ‘give’. That means that upon impact it must deform in the most efficient way possible. If there is no deformation the energy transfers past the inner liner to your head and consequently to your brain. When the shell is too hard the only deformation of the inner liner is that of the rider’s head being forced into the liner – the opposite of what should happen. The impact needs to deform from where the energy is applied, at the point if impact, the outside of the shell – the furthest point away from your brain.

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When the outer shell deforms correctly, the impact energy is transferred to the inner liner. This starts the process of dissipating energy more quickly and efficiently. What does that mean to the rider wearing the helmet? It means forces resulting from an impact are slowed before they are applied to your brain.

Think about cars and crumple zones. The old school way of thinking was that we wanted a BIG car, one that is built like a brick shit house and able to withstand huge forces. These days, car manufacturers know that the vehicle needs to ‘give’ – to crumple, so the car takes the impact forces instead of everybody inside the car. Take a look at vehicle crash ratings. We know that energy does not just ‘go away’, it has to be acted upon by an alternate force. When a car’s crumple zone absorbs impact energy from a crash, the chance of survival is increased.

How do we know this works in helmets? We built the same model Kali helmet using traditional construction methods (foam and shell made separately then glued together) and then again with Composite Fusion, Kali's proprietary in-molding process. The helmets built with Composite Fusion reduced linear impacts by as much as 20-25% - same helmet model, same geometry, and same impact locations. Then we tried Composite Fusion with a thicker shell and found that the impact did not break the shell down quick enough to offer anywhere near as significant a reduction of linear deceleration.

We cannot change the amount of energy resulting from a crash, but we can manage that energy more efficiently. Thinner helmet shells allow for far better impact energy management. Composite Fusion allows us to refine how outer shells are made, particularly when it comes to making them thinner. The shell and foam are fused together which adds rigidity and support from the inner liner without having to add thickness, weight, and rigidity to the exterior shell. That starts the energy dissipation faster and handles it more efficiently.

Impact energy management - traditional construction vs Composite Fusion

Composite Fusion helmets provide better overall impact energy management, increased dynamic range and are smaller, lighter and stronger. Lighter and stronger means a helmet with less mass attached to your head. In a crash, less mass attached to your head reduces the linear and rotational impact forces acting on your brain. A better-engineered helmet shell means a more efficient and overall better performing helmet.

MENTIONS: @KaliProtectives

Must Read This Week


  • + 62
 Planning on replacing my Bell Super with the Kali Interceptor once it releases. I really like what Kali is doing as a company. It seems like everyone just throws in Mips and calls it a day. However, with Kali it seems like they're still innovating and doing something different.
  • + 17
 Hadn't even heard of the interceptor but after looking it up I'll be doing the same.
  • + 4
 I got my hands on an interceptor and it is a great helmet - seriously regret keeping my crappy old dirt jump helmet for so many years but I'm pretty confident that in a spill I'll be safe with my interceptor
  • + 3
 Any idea when Interceptor is going to be released?
  • + 6
 Kali has been great to me. I was initially skeptical because of their lower prices and short history compared to Bell or Giro or others. However, they make great helmets and I have now had three of them. I have crashed hard in two of their full faces. The first one saved my head (no concussion) but cracked, and I sent it back to Kali and bought another. They have very responsive customer service as well. The only negative thing is that I haven't heard back form them since I sent them my cracked helmet last year, but to be fair, I never followed up either.
  • + 4

You have to register the serial number beforehand and then send in an email for an rma number.

I have a maraka xc helmet that had no one bad impact but it was getting old, had a few small impacts and the foam was destoyed. They warrantied it no questions asked. Cost me $8 to send it to them and $12 for shipping on the replacement helmet. Got a brand new updated helmet for $20. I'm super stoked about it.

I ended up buying my 5 year old their kids helmet and it's the nicest kids helmet ive seen. It cost $30, his previous giro was $40

I'm buying an interceptor when they're available to replace my older a1
  • + 14
 @trialsracer: Hey! Send us an email and we'll get you sorted out. Please quote your PB user name as a reference.
  • + 7
 @JulianCoffey: I had my visor clip break on my brand new shiva (no crash- just broke) and they sent me 3 new clips and a full their product!!!! that's it that's all!!!!!!!
  • + 5
 Completely agree. A lot of the helmets (even the MIPS ones) have protection against the big potentially fatal head knocks - but don't do much to protect against concussion which in the long term can be very serious. Kali are doing a good job at trying to address both.
  • + 10
 @Bird-Man: We just launched a Lifetime Crash Replacement policy as well which is pretty sweet. Register, send us the helmet with proof of purchase, we replace the helmet - you pay for the shipping. Register here if you haven't already:
  • + 5
 @KaliProtectives: Holy shit. That's an awesome program. Is the replacement helmet the same model that was crashed? Does the replacement helmet qualify for a crash replacement as well?
  • + 9
 @topherdagopher: We will try and replace with the same model if we have it in stock, or the closest comparable model if we don't. It's a lifetime deal, so the replacement qualifies for replacement, which qualifies for replacement - we could go on Wink
  • + 9
 @KaliProtectives: wow, that's crazy awesome to stuck behind your product like that. I crash a lot so... This sounds like it's for me.
  • + 1
 @KaliProtectives: where can I find the serial number for the registration????
  • + 3
 @Bird-Man: expect an email from warranty@kaliprotectives, we'll get you sorted out!
  • + 31
 Much of what is written seems to make sense, but with that fake graph and claims of "as much as 20-25%", it is really just marketing fluff. Back it up with some data please.
Puns? I'm all out of yolks.
  • + 1
 The marketing wank is indeed strong here. I hope they don't shell out too much of it.
  • + 1
 Th-th-th-thaaat's albumen folks.
  • - 4
flag Darius92 (Nov 2, 2016 at 11:40) (Below Threshold)
 Yea that graph is total bs. Its breaking the first law of thermodynamics lol
  • + 20
 The graph is only meant to convey the basic concept that helmet shell thickness plays a huge role in impact energy dissipation. We'll happily upload the actual data.
  • + 1
 @KaliProtectives: Sorry, I should say that my intentions weren't to slander your product. I'm currently a student studying for the DAT and its making me a literal dickhead. I'm always stoked to see new products and innovations!
  • + 1
 @KaliProtectives: I would love to see the real graphs. I have an issue with the one published. Saying impact energy is measured in Gs is not accurate. It's measured in joules. Sorry to be picky, but I get annoyed when scientific terminology is used fast and loose. Really this is a force/ time graph and you are assuming that both curves are acting on an equal mass, thus equating deceleration to force, which is fine in this context. Here is my issue. I think the area under under each curve should be the same, as this is proportional to change in momentum, which should be the same for both impacts. You claim your product reduces the peak force acting on the mass being decelerated (the whole point of your product), therefore the lower forces must act for a longer duration. Your simplified graph does not convey this.
  • + 1
 @KaliProtectives: Would you guys do snow helmets as well at any point?
  • + 1
 @Paulos: That's the long version of what i meant. But having thought more about it, our predictions of the area under the curve being the same in both plots is also incorrect. The more elastic kali helmets probably dissipate more of the energy of the impact as heat, reducing the area under curve and making it seem as though energy was destroyed. However, not to the extent shown in the graph...not sure if it would even be noticeable.
  • + 14
 @KaliProtectives why don't you make the impact test numbers from the testing you do available to the public so we can see how much better your helmets are than the others in the market?
  • + 6
 Eggxactly... Leatt does
  • + 17
 Why can't the industry start printing the data you get from the impact tests you do to pass the ASTM, CPSC, EN tests? This way we could see which helmets are best in different impact tests rather than just looking at buzz word technology and fancy colorways.

No disrespect to all the websites and mags out there but when they review most just say "obviously we never crashed it but it fit well and looks cool". I've seen some tests on European web mags which do this but the manufacturer should supply this.

First company that does it with good results should sell a load more helmets, everyone thinks Kali or POC are the safest, prove it Kali and beat the score of the other manufacturers.

Releasing the basic 'g' numbers for front, side and top impacts would be an amazing start for the consumer. Imaging being able to look at a helmet and think, nope not buying that one as it passes on 33% more force than the other one in a crash. I've never seen any trail helmet manufcturer release data, only Leatt for the latest full face 6.0. How is this good for the consumer???

Print the results = We get safer helmets, which every biker wants
  • + 6
 I honestly don't think that would be that useful, it would only be data for one impact force and wouldn't really show anything. High performance on cpsc standards doesn't mean high performance in every situation. Even worse would be if they plotted a whole range of impact scenarios, you would need to asses whether you thought your falls were 'typical'
  • + 6
 @j12j: Yes it would help. I've been saying it for years. Two helmets can both pass the current useless certs, but that doesn't mean they are equal.

It could easily be done just like cars, 3 or 4 standard impacts and give out the numbers, let us decide.

It would also drive innovation, it's be pretty harder for a company to justify a $200 helmet over a $80 if the $80 helmet had better numbers.(Yes I know other factors like weight and venting play a role)

It would be great if the industry as a whole helped fund an independent research group like IIHS.

Just think, Specialized could float most of it if they cut out one or two lawsuits.
  • + 4
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: playing devils advocate. What if the standard industry testing is not a good replication of actual crash situations? In that case if you release the testing numbers helmet companies will be inclined to build helmets that score the highest, which would then result in worse protection. They went through this with motorcycle helmets and a private industry testing format. As usual many of the manufacturers didn't agree with some of the testing criteria.
  • + 6
 @friendlyfoe: No testing will simulate the exact crash you have on a Saturday pissing around with your mates as every crash is different, speed, material hit, angle/weather/slip of the helmet, force your body exerts through the helmet etc. etc. A standard test should simulate a 'average' or 'regular' impact, maybe it's within 10% of what your next crash is going be. It's still worth knowing how a helmet does. A test that is somewhere close to reality is better than not testing at all, that tells you nothing.

I for one want to know how well a helmet did on a test. To pass some tests you only have to be below 250g, 250g!!!!! That's a huge impact which I hope my head never goes through as I'll be lucky to be alive, and if I was I'd probably struggle to function and might eat food through a straw.

If the test pass rate is say 250g, but the Kali helmet passes and only gives 145, then great. If a Giro gets 170, I'd buy the Kali. Why can't we know this?
  • + 13
 @dtm1: Leatt licenses Kali’s Composite Fusion technology and we are proud to work with them. The data they have published is super relevant, however the next step is to compare that data with other manufacturers.
  • + 14
 @bainbridge: here is a data sheet from an open face impact test:

The problem is making a real comparison to other manufacturers, and even more importantly, how do we agree on testing standards? Test labs, test administrators, lab techs and the tests themselves all vary significantly.

Someone needs to spend the money and the time to do an independent and comprehensive test for all helmets on the market - a massive undertaking. We're happy to submit any of our helmets to anyone who chooses to take this on.
  • + 3
 @KaliProtectives: That's cool that they use your technology. From what I can see Leatt only publish the results for certain full face helmets which is a shame.

As you said the '"next step is to compare that data with other manufacturers",
when can we see this this? Do you plan to release the data on your helmets too?
  • + 3
 @KaliProtectives: Not that I understand this data... but way to be open and present it. And I thought there was a decent standard to testing these? I understand that right now those results are basically does it pass CPSC or not. I have to imagine there is data that goes with getting the approval or not. And I would also imagine the test facilities for that kind of thing are pretty controlled so I don't feel like it should be such an undertaking (unless of course these tests aren't really standard).

Way to be innovative though in such an important, yet overlooked, part of action sports.
  • + 8
 @KaliProtectives: I salute you for showing that data! That really is great. Sorry I was in the middle of replying before your comment showed up.

OK so we have data, but different test standards, testing companies etc. So how hard can it be to start something meaningful on Pinkbike?
Here is a plan, I'm calling on you guys @KaliProtectives @BellBikeHelmets @GiroSportDesign @troyleedesigns @LeattUSA
- Decide what tests should be carried out, top, side, back
- Decide weight, height, shape, anvil type.
- Agree to release results with helmets
- Release results in the same measurement system, basically metric, 'G'
- Agree to get around legal BS, disclaimer saying this is intended as specific testing info only, etc. etc. etc. so you can release the info without any court cases coming back.

The companies that do this will get a huge increase in sales guaranteed. Any company that does not join in should be shamed on PB. Something is better than nothing when it comes to information, it might not be perfect but close to reality is better than nothing.

If you release the results I'm sure @mikekazimer: @RichardCunningham: @mikelevy: will publish in the review.

Stand up and do something meaningful, improve the safety for the industry, it honestly wont take much.
  • + 1
 @KaliProtectives: Interesting that the peak forces seem lower for the 'high temperature' test. Is that typical? Why would that be?
  • + 1
 @dthomp325: The helmet will be less rigid at high temperatures, less force will be required to cause structural damage and therefore not as much force will be applied before the helmet starts to be effective.
  • + 4
 @bainbridge: to reiterate what Kali said, how do you agree on standards?

As I mentioned this has been done with motorcycle helmets, and the manufacturers did not agree with the results. Many helmets scored low because part of the test was a blow to the ear area, somewhere almost impossible to hit because your shoulder gets in the way. Yet some high end helmets weren't scoring well because they scored low in this area.

The truth is that no one agrees on a standard test that replicates real world impacts. If you release data on lab testing, manufacturers will build helmets to perform best under that specific lab test. This is not necessarily a good thing
  • + 1
 @friendlyfoe: all good points dude. For the consumer we might as well go buy a helmet from Walmart for $40 rather than a $500 TLD because they both pass the same tests.
  • + 2
 Maybe the consumer should have a vote on an option of which test should be applied?

The only way they will release the days is if the public ask for it. Ihave much more respect for both Kali and Leatt now as they will give us the results from their testing. They are willing to back up the products with figures. I applaud that.
  • + 1
 The car industry didn't want the euro ncap tests to be brought in as they knew it would cost them money and show how unsafe they were. The first generation of cars tested were all pretty bad in the tests. Now a few generations on its strange to see acar get less that 4 or 5 stars for every test. The industry improved the safety because the public could see how good or bad they were.

What would you suggest?
  • + 1
 @friendlyfoe: how about $0.50 from every helmet goes to an independent company for testing. They do a standard test agreed by afew bike companies. The results get released with the helmet.

If acompany wants to do extra tests and publish results then that is up to them.

The companies that market themselves as safety orientated companies kali, leatt, POC should all want to be part of this. Maybe the others would, maybe not. But that way iknow who I would trust.
  • + 13
 I was already thinking about kali for my new full face and next trail helmet when I need one, the fact they are one of the few manufacturers actually going away from eps liners in favour of something more advanced bodes well in my mind, your brain is the single most precious thing in the human body and no expense should be spared. Having had had multiple concussions and experiencing first hand how much it can change your personality and demeanour is very worrying in all all honesty, and ill do everything in my power to not get it again.
  • + 5
 I have had a Traumatic brain injury and am not suppose to be riding or doing any impact sports. I still do, and I've researched the various technologies and have owned 2 Kalis in the last 3 years for myself and 2 for my son who races DH. Got a new one after a header into a tree last year.....was happy that I didn't have any signs of concussion. Great helmet!
  • + 4
 Seriously kali, I would buy a kali if they weren't as ugly, and with such a poor vision opening inside. I really like the fact that they are as good as a motocross helmet, and as light as a DH helmet but please make a good paint job at least, you know we want to look cool with a helmet !
  • + 13
 i like some of their designs. i guess im just a freak
  • + 9
 @krazieghost: Not a freak just different taste. I know youre not as bad as those rare types that buy only TLDs brightest clothes
  • + 14
 Looking cool is a meager trust when considering the damages that a head injury can cause...
  • + 5
 I would like to thank Kali for doing a great job on all their helmets.2 years ago I had a bad crash and landed head first ,broke my sternum, broke T3 and broke a wrist but no head injury Thanks For the great helmet!
  • + 8
 Someone give this marketing department a raise
  • + 3
 funny the egg is natures perfect eggsample of how a thin structure can resist large amounts of compression. Try breaking an egg by squeezing it from top to bottom. the videos were quite useless. Any ways ditch the videos and give us solid facts and numbers. Kali are on the right track . the compression forces need to be disssapated before they scramble your brain. what is needed is a strain gauge on the dummy head reading how much force is reaching the persons head. how much energy is dissipated. gives us facts not cheesy videos.
  • + 3
 Love to see the innovations but like others I would like to see the data that shows their helmets will provide more protection than others on the market. I'm a bit tired of the rhetoric "your head is worth it..." to justify buying the most expensive or latest acronym to go on your head with the assumption that as cost increases your risk of brain injury decreases. I don't think this is the case unfortunately and would love to see evidence that a substantial gain in cost equates to a substantial decrease in risk. Also, I worry using an egg as a metaphor recapitulates the idea that brain injuries have to do with protecting the skull from impacts and remaining solid. Rather, the real risk is the brain sloshing around within that big solid skull of ours. An egg isn't a great model to convey that unless they broadened their metaphor to include an intact shell and a scrambled egg within. That said, I love the quest for better ways to protect our head meat. Thanks Kali and keep up the innovating.
  • + 3
 man that car crash was nasty. pretty disturbing seeing it. Hopefully the greater safety features offered by cars such as that one will help to offset the stupid and oblivious people that are driving around in them.
  • + 10
 Nope, US transportation dept recently said traffic accident deaths are on the rise for the first time in a long time and they're not sure why. Find that pretty funny since every day I'm on the road I see people looking down at phones and not driving.
  • + 1

yup, its endemic, I see 100s of motorists every day during my bike commute, including lorry drivers, bus drivers busy using hand held phone whilst driving -effing scary!

large numbers admitted privately to regularly breaking the law using a hand held phone, in national motoring organisation survery

no Traffic Policing prescence in London any more, sadly due to austerity cutbacks and anti-terrorism hype

motorist 100 times more likely to get parking ticket than busted for jumping red light or using phone whilst driving Frown
  • + 1
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: A big reason why I don't ride road. I'll take my chances with TBI's riding down mountains. A concussion is likely the least of our worries if we get smashed by an automobile.
  • + 2
 You can die driving a car. but you don't have to wear a helmet.
How many people die riding a bike?
  • + 0
 @Sshredder: you don't have to wear a helmet riding a bike if you don't want to. Either way it's a really stupid analogy.
  • + 1
 My point is: Why don't you wear a helmet when you drive a car?
That's my only point.
  • + 1
 @Sshredder: Does your bike have air bags and a seat belt?
  • + 1
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: Do you drive a car?
What if another car hits you?
Would a helmet not prevent head trauma. save lives ?
In all forms of racing vehicles a helmet is mandatory.
Would you be much safer driving your car with a helmet on ?
Or would you feel like a dork because your image is more important than safety.
  • + 4
 Definitely keeping my eyes out for the Interceptors arrival and reviews. Light weight, well vented and high on safety. Checks all the boxes.
  • + 1
 What? Thinner shell! obviously a money making scheme, they clearly won't last as long! The thing will crumple on impact and then I'll have to but a new one!

Just for those a bit slow on the uptake that was of course a joke.

As people have said above some valid points made but back it up useful video evidence - slow motion impact testing and results
  • + 1
 All of this reading to show me a graph of how your helmet handles impact better than other helmets? A graph!!?? I feel like I watched a shitty Canadian made science film from the 80s in school again where they would just make shitty animated graphs in the video to show something because that was a cheaper method... Lol

Like any helmet maker, if you plan to tell us your helmet is going to do a better job than anyone elses... You best be showing us some legitimate proof! Slow motion capture of your helmet being impact tested against 5 other major helmet manufacturers comparible helmets would be nice. .. actually anything but that just isn't going to cut it.

This whole thing reminds me of Spank Vibrocore... As good as carbon but at alloy cost.. yet we never saw any of this "testing" they did to find these statements to be true... Never even saw a graph...

Kali is doing some killer stuff in the world of Mountain biking but please don't be posting this propaganda poop.
  • + 4
 I have seen enough eggs today,you can stop now Kali you are making me hungry.
  • + 2
 Interesting tech. I bought a Kali full face and it was great overall. Styling and protection were great. Sizing seemed odd so I ended up with something else.
  • + 2
 what kind of egg was that start buying those those now
  • + 2
 Kali are real eggheads when it comes to manufacturing helmets...
  • + 1
 I agree, it really is cracking stuff
  • + 6
 My Kali lid has been nothing but eggcellent
  • + 3
 Indeed.. My brain would be scrambled by now if it wasn't for helmets.
  • + 3
 Alright, before they start, I have to say, these puns are egg-straordinarily bad.
  • - 3
 They shell out too much marketing wank
  • + 1
 So Kali are saying my brain is a rubber egg. It's possible.
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