Kali's New Multiple Impact Helmet - Interbike 2016

Sep 21, 2016
by Mike Levy  
Interbike 2016


Kali's new MacDuff dirt/street half shell helmet, which borrows its name from the balls-out and usually brakeless Matt MacDuff, is claimed to be able to withstand up to ten impacts before needing to be replaced thanks to some clever science and the use of new materials, all of which are hidden underneath a redesigned matte black shell.

The production version of the helmet will be available in January of 2017, and is said to weigh less than other dirt/street lids despite its multiple impact abilities, all while also sporting a thinner profile. Expect a retail price of around $100 USD.

Kali MacDuff Details

• Designed for multiple impacts
• Casidion acrylic foam instead of EPS
• Up to ten impacts
• New shell design
• Colors: matte black only
• Weight: TBA
• Availability: January 2017
• MSRP: $100 USD (approx)
www.kaliprotectives.com / @KaliProtectives

All that white stuff? It's not your standard EPS foam, but rather self-healing acrylic foam that incorporates carbon Nano-tubes. Hashtag science.

Kali isn't the first to offer a multiple impact bicycle helmet, and they're fairly common in the snow sports world, but it is something that most bicycle helmet companies have shied away from over the years, likely because it's a term that can be hard to quantify. In fact, there is no real multiple impact testing standard for bicycle helmets, a fact that makes touting such an ability a tricky thing. Kali's founder and lead engineer, Brad Waldron, believes that he has the answer, however: Casidion. While it sounds like a far away planet, it's actually a self-healing acrylic foam incorporating carbon Nano-tubes and replacing the EPS foam we're all used to seeing in traditionally constructed helmets. Kali is calling the result Nano Core.

Waldron says that Nano Core is the result of a partnership between Kali and Italian materials manufacturer Alia Mentis that sees the Casidion foam in-molded with the MacDuff's shell.

EPS foam, the stuff that's used to make the large majority of helmets on the market, is usually one-hit wonder kind of thing. The foam is crushed, it has done its job and, hopefully, your head is still in working order. The issue is that the EPS foam is mostly hidden underneath thin outer shells, especially when it comes to a lot normal mountain bike helmets, and this outer shell simply springs back to life but the EPS foam under it is crushed and effectively expired. But we can't see that, which is the problem.

Nano Core, on the other hand, is said to be able to handle up to ten impacts, Waldron explained, all while rebounding nearly back to its original shape after each hit. But since there is no multiple impact test for bicycle helmets, Waldron has had to compare his findings to testing standards from the snow industry where a multiple impact helmet is required to withstand three strikes in the same spot at 4.8 meters per second without sustaining a certain amount of measurable damage. That's a simplified description of the test, of course, but you get the idea.

And the new MacDuff? Waldron described testing it with ten or more strikes in the same spot at 6.2 meters per second, with it easily passing.

The MacDuff's thinner shell and Nano Core construction give it a smaller profile compared to most dirt/street helmets.

The Casidion foam is attached to the MacDuff's shell by way of Kali's Composite Fusion technology, which refers to how the foam is bonded to the helmet's shell. This is said to allow for a thinner shell and therefore a smaller overall size that projects less leverage onto a rider's head and neck in the event of a crash. In other words, while a massive looking helmet appears to be safer, Waldron is convinced that the opposite can be true because of the added leverage it provides when it hits the ground.

The MacDuff's ABS and polycarbonate blended shell is also all-new, and rather than be super rigid, it's been designed to be more flexible and elastic. This is said to allow for a much more forgiving outer layer that lets the Nano Core innards perform as designed. Waldron stressed that a smaller helmet with a more flexible outer shell, when designed in conjunction with the proper foam, is safer than a much more rigid helmet that features standard EPS foam, although this isn't a view shared by those who run the tests.

The relatively plain looks match most dirt jump helmets, but it's what's on the inside tht counts.

If the MacDuff's Casidion foam and Nano Core technology are so great, why isn't Kali replacing the EPS foam in all of their helmets with it? While Nano Core offers multiple impact protection, Waldron did admit that the exposed foam is less robust when it comes to shearing strikes like you might see happen to a well-vented helmet where the foam is more exposed. It's for this reason the Kali has first used complete Nano Core construction in a dirt/street helmet with fewer vents, as well as reinforced it around the edges with thin, transparent plastic protection. They've also employed a thinner layer of Nano Core in their Shiva 2.0 and Interceptor helmets, sandwiched between EPS foam, but the company is working on a trail helmet using complete Nano Core construction.

The MacDuff is still a ways out - it won't be available until early in 2017 - but expect it to cost around $100 USD when you start to see it in bike shops. The price also includes a lifetime no-charge crash replacement.


  • 72 3
 This is going to have multiple impacts on the helmet industry.
  • 26 1
 I am struck by all the new ideas, repeatedly...
  • 9 2
 over and over I am surprised at how this industry innovates. This helmet is gonna be a smash hit success.
  • 3 0
 Maybe a multi strike on MIPS?
  • 1 3
 I couldn't really wrap my head around it while wearing this helmet.
  • 2 5
 multiple impacts . oh so they made a dirt lid \_O_/
  • 1 2
 Yet another shocking product...
  • 1 0
 I am concussed by this shocking revelation!
  • 1 0
 seems traumatic to my wallet. this new tech is a real headache to keep up with
  • 34 1
 I would love for there to be some real research done to back up all this stuff. Perhaps the approach would be to gather telemetry data at enduro events - make every participant wear some sort of sensor rig under the helmets with a bunch of thin accelerators - basically a beanie with tons of accelerometers that record what actually happens in crashes. Anyone who crashes during the event gives a short description of the crash, and the data gets downloaded afterwards (along with basic data on the rider, so you can put it all in context given their size and such). Do this for a season of all the large events, and you should have enough data to get an accurate picture of what sorts of impacts and rotational forces and such we're actually trying to protect against. Then use that data to design meaningful standardized tests that the whole industry can use to develop better helmets.
  • 8 0
 This exactly. Intel could get in on this with their Curie chips.
  • 10 3
 So you mean, you want there to be standards developed that are universally accepted by helmet makers as to how to test a helmet and qualify it for it's safe use by consumers? Like the CPSC, ASTM, and SNELL standards currently being used?

How do you think they came up with the standards in the first place?
  • 15 1
 @whilgenb: Those standards were all developed before we (a) knew quite as much about just how nasty the effects of multiple concussions can be and (b) before we had the technology to collect real-life data of the kind of events helmets are supposed to protect against in real life. Those standards were the best guess of what makes a good helmet, based on what was known at the time. As that knowledge improves, the standards can improve. And that knowledge stands to improve a lot if we saw a concerted research effort taking advantage of what we can do today (data capture technology cheap and small enough to make it practical for large scale studies in real life). In the meantime - I'm stoked that all the helmet makers are trying to do things that go beyond what we've seen to date.
  • 8 2
 @g-42: ain't no helmet gonna stop a concussion. all a helmet is for is to keep your brains on the inside.
  • 4 1

I'm sure Dave Mirra's family and friends would want the research to go further this way.
If the testing was done as you described twenty-five years ago, he and probably countless other unknown victims of repeated head impacts may still be alive today.
The idea of a multiple impact helmet is great, but making the head able to take the same number of impacts is a whole different story.
  • 2 1
 man yes such a great idea! while we do that we should also put a stork and a horse to make love and be able to create pegasus horses!
  • 16 0
 We need this in full faces too. The chances of crashing are too high to continue with a one hit wonder system of helmets. I'd rather pay extra for a helmet I can use for half a dozen big hits that $xxx.xx for a one time deal.
  • 5 0
 think they did reveal a good new full face design yesterday on here. new shiva or something
  • 1 0
 @stokedcheech420: They did. Shiva 2.0. Nice lid.
  • 7 0
 All these articles on Kali helmets are really making me want one, it seems that printing money and just doing whatever the trendy thing in helmet design is, is relatively far down their far down their list and all they really want to do is make people safer.

also when he was talking about big helmets, I thought about the fox Metah (whatever its called), that monster makes people look like mushrooms!
  • 6 0
 10 impacts pre helmet and life time crash replacement. The price is right but by the time you are on your third or fourth helmet you might believe that need to retrieve the nano core technology from the Kali's to save the people on the planet of casidion. And clearly you already believed you could ride like MacDuff.
  • 8 0
 Good to see them headed in the right direction....
  • 5 0
 Hopefully it has a positive impact
  • 3 0
 So hits on a smaller helmet have a lower leverage on the head. Never thought of it but it makes perfect sense. My full face is still a pretty big MX helmet (Sixsixone Flight) and I always felt that crashes with that helmet felt a bit awkward compared with similar crashes with a smaller bicycle helmet, harder on the neck. If they can make a smaller, more forgiving helmet with similar or better protection (for bicycle use) then that's great. And if you get a multi-impact helmet with lifetime crash replacement, you basically have helmets for life. That's pretty amazing.
  • 5 0
 Wonder if this Casidion foam would work well for creating surfboards with longer lives.
  • 1 0
 It'd be interesting to test. Seems like it might be hard to shape and once the fiberglass dents I don't see the foam fixing that. I'm all about alternate materials in the surf industry though. They need to focus on more eco-friendly foams and resins first and foremost.
  • 1 0
 Also, a nano foam that can self heal and resist water absorption would be awesome for fixing dings because the dry time would be minimal. You could pretty much finish your surf sesh after a minor ding without having to worry about your board taking on water.
  • 1 0
 @bikesoverbritches: I'd rather see something that will prevent dents. It's not that hard to do eco friendly boards that stay nice and strong (eg firewire).
  • 6 1
 I hate to break it to Kali, but no one ever tosses a helmet after one crash.....
  • 12 0
 I kinda think that's the point. They are trying to make a practice that is already done safe. A traditional helmet SHOULD be replaced after just one crash, however, this rarely happens and so if a helmet can be made that can withstand 10 sizable crashes, then maybe it would last long enough that you just might replace it before expiry, keeping your noggin safe.
  • 3 1
 @RLoganSx I do.....my head is worth way more to me than the £70-100 odd I spend on a replacement helmet. Saying that though, it's quite rare that I have a crash where my head contacts the ground so I guess that kind of factors into my choice to replace my helmet each time I do. Still - I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who replaces my helmet after each crash?
  • 3 0
 @arna86: same here I don't hit my head often but if I hit my dome the helmet's done, ya know? It's done its job. If you're hitting your head that often then, maybe you should refine your "crash scenario strategy". I would love to own a helmet I could smash ten times but honestly, i'd probably replace the thing after the first real bell ringer. My brains are worth at least the cost of like a pair tires ,which get replace far more often.
  • 2 0
 This "multiple impact"-thingy is quite a big game right now. I read the same ideas about testing, researching and some new ideas and all of this not only in the biking world but with Hockey and American Football too. Think in Moto are similar discussions going on... don't know as i only play hockey and go biking at the moment.
As i play a lot of hockey i wonder why there's no collaboration between the Corporations in different sports - as the helmets in hockey DO actually hit the ice - boards - whatever A LOT per game. So they should be "multiple-impact" designs... don't they? But compared to MTB helmets i don't see a single marketing campaign running only on the thesis "Multiple-Impact"... so every time i read an article in some way or another bikerelatet - I'm left behind with a taste of "that's only another bloody marketing phrase"...
I don't know man... many players in hockey or American Football have suffered from multiple-concussions a lot. What makes me wonder is the following: There are some sports which are in an drastic need of some really safe-multiple-impact-helmets... all sports which rally a monsterous amount of money-loaded leagues, corporations, brands, investment-groups, whatever. Isn't it impossible to create a special departement to research this issue? To come up with a solution that really works? With some sience-backed-up datas and testing precedures (or call them "standards")?! Why is every sport working on his own - as it seems?
  • 5 1
 They are simply trying to save money on their sponsorships. Matt must go through an insane amount of helmets!
  • 1 0
 Awesome idea! I crashed this summer while wearing a recently purchased $300 helmet. I hit my head lightly on soft ground and the helmet was visibly cracked along one side. Glad it did its job but really made me think twice when replacing it (with a less expensive model).
  • 1 0
 How the hell did EPS foam lids replace the standard 2-layer foam lids like Pro-Tec? You only ever had to replace the inner foam lining when it got gross. There was no impact limit. Are these supposed to be way safer or take bigger impacts? I have my same Pro-Tec skate helmet from elementary school I still use today (20 years and counting) only replacing liners. EPS seems like a racket to me coming from skate/bmx to mtb. Only talking this helmet type as EPS makes sense in trail helmets.
  • 3 0
 A lot of those helmets weren't/ aren't actually certified. Like the Pro-tec Bucky is actually not that safe. Bell did a video a few years back showing the difference on just that helmet...scary stuff.
  • 1 0
 As an x-boxing coach with 2 national champions under my belt, I believe I can speak to multiple impact head gear. Boxing head gear gets thousands of impacts before being retired. The boxing head gear has improved exponentially in recent years, yet concussions are still a problem. If a solution was easy, amature boxing would have implemented it. I applaud any effort in this direction. The brain is a complex organ, and different impacts incur different problems. A bicycle wreck where you hit your head twice relatively lightly, can be much worse than one hard hit, because the fluid around your brain moves to disperse impact of first hit, and your brain smacks your skull on hit number 2 with no fluid to protect your brain that time. The human brain is always effected to some degree from all impacts from all directions, weather you ever notice it or not. I have brain damage, one of my national champs had 3 surgeries after a brutal knock out, and has brain damage. I have quit coaching. No protection is as good as not geting any head impacts. God bless the folks trying.
  • 4 0
 Love my Kali Maya. Great products at great prices. Keep it up Kali!
  • 1 1
 Good on you Waldron for giving the industry a big ol' "FVCK YOU". So what if they're not using it on every helmet? When you don't need/want a full face, dirt/street lids are the best lids anyway

"it is something that most bicycle helmet companies have shied away from over the years, likely because it's a term that can be hard to quantify"

Well shameless bicycle industry defender, that is absolutely NOT the reason why, you know it, I certainly know it & not everyone in this community is full on, all out retard so...
  • 3 0
 I don't even ride street/dj but that's sick.
  • 3 0
  • 2 0
 how about a helmet that has pads that don't unglue.
  • 1 1
 Might be interested in this if I didn't already have a multi-impact dirt helmet from POC (which can also be used for snowboarding in winter)
  • 2 0
 self-healing foam with carbon nanotubes... wow
  • 1 0
 Wicked stride in the right direction. And with affordable price. Thanks Kali
  • 5 3
  • 5 0
 Obviously an InterBIKE competitor. Wink
  • 6 0
 Everyone left interbike for interlake, didn't you read the post from a couple of days ago?
  • 1 0
 ah these answers both make a lot of sense. Dtich IB for IL! interlake 2017 FTW.
  • 2 0
 +5 to -5 in minutes, guess someone wanted to hide their tracks. lol
  • 1 1
 I thought it was a smart mountain bike toilet when i saw the main page photo... too bad it s just a helmet..
  • 1 1
 But when is the Enduro version coming out????
  • 1 2
 I can almost see all the ambulance chasing lawyers rubbing their hands together with glee
  • 1 0
 MacDuff'ed it
  • 7 2
 Thats just like... your opinion man
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