New Levels of Protection
Kali’s most popular enduro-style half-shell just got a whole lot better, thanks to the addition of a Low Density Layer (LDL), which consists of Armourgel padding that's placed in strategic locations to reduce both rotational impact and low-G linear forces. Kali Protectives introduced the Maya a handful of years ago, and it was well received in spite of a few rough details, like a flexible visor that often was a shade different than the color of the helmet. Fans (I’m one) were willing to overlook those minor issues in exchange for the Maya’s excellent ventilation, low weight and slim profile. It’s the most comfortable helmet in my collection – and the most trusted.
Kali’s new Maya 2.0 shares the original's shell design with more appealing graphics, a restyled visor and redesigned internals. It's a notch above its predecessor in all respects and it still weighs in at only 360 grams (12.7 ounces). New Mayas come in five tasteful colorways and in sizes from X-small through X-large in three head forms. MSRP is $100 USD and Kali offers a generous lifetime crash replacement policy
Maya 2.0 Details:
• Construction: in-molded polycarbonate shell & dual-density EPS Composite Fusion liner
• Armourgel Low Density Layer
• Adjustments: Dual-closure ratchet system & locking chin-strap sliders
• Comfort: 12 vents, anti-microbial screened pad-liner
• Sizes: X-small, small, medium, large & X-large (3 head forms)
• Five colorways
• Weight: 360g/12.7oz
• Certifications: EN 1078, CPSC
• MSRP: $100 USD
• Contact: Kali Protectives
Kali’s dual-density Composite Fusion liner, with its interlocking triangular spikes, has been both acclaimed and copied by a number of their competitors in both mountain bike and moto. Another oft duplicated Kali innovation is that the shell and liner are molded together in one process so there is no delay between impact and energy dissipation. Composite Fusion’s additional benefit was that it could be made thinner and pass impact certification tests that conventional EPS liners could not. The importance of a thinner shell is that it's claimed to significantly reduce rotational impact forces. Because it sits closer to the head, there is less moment (leverage) generated between the impact zone and the skull, so less rotational energy is transferred to the brain. The Maya's smoothed shape and lack of angular features are also intended to reduce rotational trauma. That, however, is helmet 101 for Kali.
Kali founder Brad Waldron
belongs to a group of vanguard helmet designers who maintain that existing helmet impact standards are largely designed to ward off near-death impacts that compute to G-forces that could only be attained at highway speeds. He says that cyclists, even off-road moto riders, suffer most of their concussions and brain trauma at much lower velocities and G-forces. Helmet liners, he believes, need to be much softer before they can react to those low-G linear and rotational impacts.
Kali’s Low Density Layer
(LDL) solution appears simple, but it took a significant chunk of time to develop. A number of specially shaped slow-memory foam cushions are bonded inside the Maya 2.0’s EPS liner. The profiles, damping quality and durometer of the cushions play two roles. The first is to cup the skull with a soft, shock-absorbing matrix which significantly arrests the velocity of low-speed impacts before the head contacts the liner. Their second function is the more familiar role of allowing the helmet to rotate momentarily around the skull when the rider suffers a glancing blow.
Marketing spiel? I don’t think so. I’ve sat down with Waldron a few times and dove into the tech. He eats and sleeps protective head strategies. He knows the science, has explored the rabbit holes, and most often is well ahead of the game. Like most good engineers, however, his faults are that he’s too honest, too practical, and has bad marketing skills. Three more reasons to like him.
Less weighty, but still important aspects of the Maya 2.0 are its bonded polycarbonate underliner, which rounds off the edge of the helmet shell and makes it much easier to keep clean. The chin straps use flip-up locking slider buckles that simplify the task of adjusting the helmet to fit your head.
The love/hate relationship with Kali over its dual-ratcheting head-band adjustment continues. Male skulls have a bump (forensics use this feature to sex skeletons) that protrudes right where the ratchet dials sit on almost every other helmet. I admit that I have to fuss more to use Kali’s closure, but I also find it significantly more comfortable.
Kali uses a new machine-washable padded liner made from a microbial fiber. Its forward section is mesh to ward off stinging insects, the liner is slotted to allow Kali’s new inserts to poke through. Most of them do. I assume that the ports are there only to showcase the green octopus-sucker panels, because it is doubtful that the flexible liner could hinder their purpose.
Kali advertises three EPS liners, across five helmet sizes – one more than many helmet makers use. That’s good news for both comfort and protection. Kali has a chart that suggests head measurements for each size, which I have included here. I have a slightly oval head and use a small/medium from most helmet brands. The new sm/med Maya is an absolutely perfect fit.
Maya 2.0 Size Chart
Finally, I like the visor (“peak” in the Queen’s territories). It’s better ventilated and still long enough to keep the late afternoon sun out of my eyes, and it appears to made from a tougher material - still flexible enough to help reduce rotational forces in the event of a spill. The tension dials are still cheap-but-functional plastic items, and to end on a better note, the visor’s angular adjustment tab is designed to ratchet to ensure it will stay in position.Ride Impressions
Kali’s new Maya is more comfortable to wear than its predecessor, perhaps due to the new padding and more secure feel that the LDL inserts add to the pie. Ventilation is excellent, but what impressed me most was that the brow does not concentrate sweat where it is sure to rain on your glasses or goggles come summer. And, as mentioned earlier, if you have a slightly oval head shape, Kali’s EPS liner will be a perfect fit.
MIPS-type helmets tend to wander up and down on my forehead a little when I’m hammering down technical sections. I attribute that bother to the nature of the helmet’s slippery plastic bonnet. Kali’s rotational inserts behave exactly the opposite, resting against my head where they help to keep the helmet precisely where I intended it to be.
I need to set the rear band adjustment to the highest position with some helmets (the Troy Lee Designs A2, for example) in order to keep them from wandering down into my field of view. Kali profiles the rear of the Maya in a way that provides some extra clearance for vertical head movement. The dual ratchet closure also generates some extra wiggle room there. Again, it stays put.
On the subject of that dual ratcheting closure, theoretically, I should be able to operate it with one
hand. I’ve practiced the technique with the helmet on the table and had great success, but I still fumble with it on the go. It’s a negative I can easily live with, but if you’re a type-A fusser who constantly fiddles with your shoe’s Boa tension, the Velcro tabs on your gloves, and your helmet band’s dial, you'll probably have issues with Kali’s adjustment strategy. Pinkbike’s Take: