Kali Road Warrior

Over the four days of Sea Otter last year, the Kali team outfitted more than 1000 riders with brand new helmets in exchange for their old ones - for free. They called it a Helmet Exchange and it allowed riders to trade in their old and broken helmets for a brand new Kali. What was originally a marketing initiative designed to make a splash at the first industry event of the season, became an eye-opening call to action that highlighted one of the most important issues in cycling - helmet safety.

Kali Road Warrior
Kali Road Warrior

Initiated by Kali's Julian Coffey, the Sea Otter helmet exchange quickly evolved from a one-time event into a full blown race support program. Kali brought Cedar Kyes into the mix as the first Kali Road Warrior (KRW) and he hasn't looked back. Armed to the teeth with good vibes and fresh lids, the KRW did the Pacific West Coast circuit, traveling between Washington and California to scheduled events throughout 2016, saving people's races all the way. Any race or event that the Road Warrior was at, registered racers/attendees had the opportunity to exchange their damaged helmet at no charge. For 2017, the KRW will be at it again, this time offering the same level of rider support via a demo fleet that features all the new Kali helmets.

"We learned a lot very quickly. It became evident as the helmets started piling up that many riders do not replace their helmets after they crash. The majority of the helmets we collected were legitimate daily drivers, and the state of them indicated that they had sustained more than just a single impact. What passed as a ridable helmet was mind boggling, so we decided to closely inspect every single helmet we received from Sea Otter. That was even more alarming - so much so that we decided that Cedar should take the helmet exchange on the road." - Julian Coffey

Kali Road Warrior

The Kali crew rented a U-Haul trailer and carted off the old helmets for inspection back at the lab. They also inspected the helmets Cedar received over the year via the KRW. Brad Waldron, lead developer, and owner of Kali collected post impact data by inspecting the exterior of the helmets for damage and then slicing them up with the bandsaw to check out the interior as well.

"It's imperative that a rider has a safe helmet. More specifically it should be an in-molded helmet where the shell and the foam are fused together acting in concert to better dissipate impact energy. What we learned from inspecting exchanged helmets, is that what riders currently consider to be a safe helmet is potentially even more dangerous. Parents, in particular, have a serious challenge, as it's hard to justify buying a decent helmet your kid is going to grow out of quickly. We want to support all riders as much as possible, and this is why we have created the Kali Road Warrior as well as our Lifetime Crash Replacement." - Brad Waldron

Kali Road Warrior

As the Road Warrior hit the road, Kali also launched their Lifetime Crash Replacement (LCR) warranty. Based on the fact that people continue to ride in crashed helmets, the LCR is designed to encourage people to invest in proper helmet safety technology, and educate them on its importance. If someone buys a Kali, they can register the helmet with proof of purchase and in the event of a crash, they can send it in for a free replacement.

Kali Road Warrior

"Some pretty old helmets here, the shell has actually helped spread the impact. I often see young kids with helmets with no shell, that’s not good at all. Parents - suck it up and get them a new in-molded helmet! Do you see the strapping tape under the shell? That tape actually helps the helmet pass the impact test, it keeps the helmet together on the 3rd and 4th test hits." - Brad Waldron

Kali Road Warrior
"This looks like a manufacturing issue. When plastic is injected it is forced through small injection holes and it meets in the middle. Often it comes from several directions and when the melted plastic meets in the middle the leading edge is often cooler than the rest of the plastic. It does not fuse together as well as you might want and it creates a weak line." - Brad Waldron

Kali Road Warrior

"A direct impact with a tree created lots of surface damage here, which indicates certain internal damage. The pop-out visor worked as it should, and the helmet did its job. This is a perfect candidate for our LCR warranty!" - Brad Waldron

Meet the Road Warrior

How did you get involved with the Kali Road Warrior program?

The crew at Kali Protectives had this amazing idea and they approached me because I had worked with them before as a sales rep and they knew that I loved being out on the road and engaging with people at events and on the trails. The connection between Kali and myself has always been strong and they make me feel like part of the family. It was a perfect fit and the Kali Road Warrior Program was born!

Kali Road Warrior

Tell us a little about the program and your role with it?

In an effort to support events and racers of all levels, Kali Protectives launched the KRW as a race/event support program. In 2017, when the Road Warrior attends a scheduled event, registered racers/participants will have the opportunity to demo a new Kali helmet for the event. If they like it, they can check in at their LBS and receive a pretty decent discount toward a new one, however, only race/event participants will be eligible. Whether the rider has a damaged helmet or just wants to try something new, Kali is on hand to ensure riders can compete or participate without worrying about the safety of their helmet.

Last year was the inaugural year of the program, what were some of the highlights for you?

It was a great honor for me to attend each and every event as the official Kali Road Warrior throughout the 2016 season. The pure gratitude and appreciation from participants and their families was a wonderful thing. When you're providing such important support, it's easy to feel like a hero.

Kali Road Warrior

How many helmets do you estimate you replaced last year?

At last count, the KRW Program replaced approximately 150 damaged and unsafe helmets in 2016.

bigquotesI continue to be surprised at every event I go to. What people consider safe to ride, even seasoned racers, has me shaking my head.Cedar Kyes

Being involved with this safety aspect of our sport, were you surprised by how many people were wearing unsafe helmets to ride?

I continue to be surprised at every event I go to. What people consider safe to ride, even seasoned racers, has me shaking my head. Sometimes the damage to the helmet is obvious, and sometimes it might just be an older helmet that is clearly past being useful.

Kali Road Warrior

Is there an education component to your role when talking to riders about helmet safety?

Absolutely there is an education component. I think people are generally aware that their helmets are an important part of keeping them safe to race and ride. However, I don't think the information about helmet safety technology has been very well conveyed to the general public. There seem to be a lot of misconceptions out there. There are certain marketing strategies and hype out there that people are just eating up without actually understanding what technologies are (or are not) being used in their helmets. A great example would be how many people think a larger helmet offers more protection when in fact the opposite is true.

Do you find that in general people are better educated now about protecting their heads or are people still somewhat unaware of the things like the importance of replacing your helmet after crashes or time?

This definitely varies from event to event. In general, racers are mostly aware of the importance of replacing their helmet after a crash but maybe not as aware, or financially willing to replace their helmet after time or a series of smaller hits. At other events which are more demo oriented and open to the general public, it's a mixed bag of awareness and misinformation. I have seen some ridiculous helmets out there that should have been recycled years ago and I have helped countless people to properly fit their helmets as well. It also never ceases to amaze me that people will spend $50 to fill up their gas tank without flinching but the thought of spending $50 on a new helmet makes them cringe. You cannot put a price tag on your brain!

Kali Road Warrior

What are the plans for this year with the Kali Road Warrior Program?

We have a full schedule of events up and down the West Coast. We are event sponsors for several important Race Series' including Cascadia Dirt Cup, California Enduro Series, and NW Cup. We are also attending more public Demo Events like Outerbike and Evergreen MTB Festival. The program has changed from 2016 to 2017 in that we no longer give away helmets, but demo them instead. We want people to be able to ride and experience the latest and greatest Kali has to offer.

bigquotesMy main message is - protect your head so you can live to ride another day.Cedar Kyes

On average how many people do you talk to at each stop and what is your main message?

I talk to everyone that passes by the KRW tent and everyone that I meet along the way - at the coffee shop, at the gas station, in the grocery store, out for dinner or drinks, out on the trails, and in the bike shops. The outreach is pretty great! People are genuinely interested in the KRW Program and they are very open to engaging in conversation about helmet safety and technology. My main message is - protect your head so you can live to ride another day.

Are there plans to expand the program?

Yes, absolutely there are plans to expand the program. There is a Canadian Kali Road Warrior already in action and others are being scouted for different territories around the states and beyond. Lat year we went global with the KRW including helmet exchanges in Brazil, Mexico, Peru and the Philippines.

Kali Road Warrior
  Helmet Exchange in Lima, Peru
Kali Road Warrior
  Kali KRW program in Philippines
Kali Road Warrior

For 2017 the KRW will again be in the trenches at select bike events, serving up the stoke and making sure riders have a safe helmet on their heads. Whether riders have a damaged helmet or they want to try something new, Kali is on hand to ensure riders can compete without worrying about their helmet.

Kali Road Warrior - 2017 Schedule of Events

March 31- April 2 - Outerbike Spring @ Moab, UT

April 20-23 - Sea Otter Classic @ Laguna Seca, CA (not KRW event)

May 12-14 - NW Cup @ Dry Hill/Port Angeles, WA

May 19-21 - CDC @ Post Canyon/Hood River, OR

May 26-28 - NW Cup @ Ski Bowl/Mt. Hood, OR

June 10-11 - Evergreen MTB Fest @ Duthie Park/Seattle, WA

June 23-25 - CDC @ Silver Mtn/Kellogg, ID

June 30-July 1 - CES Golden Tour @ China Peak, CA

July 14-15 - NW Cup @ Silver Mtn/Kellogg, ID

July 21-23 - CDC @ Capitol Forest/Olympia, WA

Aug 4-5 - NW Cup @ Stevens Pass, WA

Aug 25-27 - CES Golden Tour @ Northstar, CA

Sept 14-17 - CES Golden Tour @ Mammoth, CA

Sept 18-22 - Interbike @ Las Vegas, NV (not KRW event)

Oct 5-8 Outerbike Fall @ Moab, UT

You can follow the Road Warrior program on Instagram at @cedarcoastagram.


Kali Road Warrior Season Opener - Outerbike Spring 2017

Kali Road Warrior at Outerbike

Kali Road Warrior at CES Finals - Kamikaze Bike Games

Kali Road Warrior at Oregon 24

Kali Road Warrior at CDC Round Three, Yacult Burn

Kali Road Warrior at CES Round Five, Ashland Mountain Challenge

Kali Road Warrior - Stop Off in Peru

Kali Road Warrior - Evergreen MTB Festival

Kali Road Warrior PNW

To find out more about what’s inside a Kali, check out their tech overview.



  • 52 1
 Their crash replacement is no B.S.
They even offered to allow me to pay the difference (retail) to upgrade my smashed Avatar Carbon 2 to the Shiva since my model was no longer in use. Not sure if that's standard but they were super cool about the whole process. Ended up going with the Avatar X as my replacement and have been very happy with all of my Kali helmets.
  • 24 0
 m.pinkbike.com/photo/13626321 I am always proud to show my face wearing Kali protective gear.
  • 27 0
 I am all for this program and really like my Kali helmet. I did an crash exchange last year and Kali were great to deal with fast and responsive with information. The only issue I think that needs some work is shipping to Canada as my shipping costs were higher than the cost of a new helmet. If you could arrange to drop the helmet off at a local dealer and exchange would be awesome and greatly improve customer satisfaction.
  • 32 1
 We're definitely working on that, thanks for the feedback! We should have revised shipping costs into Canada by the end of April.
  • 17 0
 @KaliProtectives: First off - kudos for doing this, and kudos for your crash replacement program in general. My preferred LBS stocks several other brands of helmets besides Kali; the reason both I and my 11yo son ride with Kali helmets is that these are good helmets with a very reasonable value proposition - but the goodwill you deserve for this program and your efforts to get people to protect themselves very much plays a role.

Onward to the future, though - you guys have done a lot of research. But it would be awesome if you could take it to the next level. I keep bringing this up in helmet-related threads here on PB, hoping someone in the industry will bite. How about partnering with a university and seeing if you can design a test rig that combines a bunch of accelerometers on a thin skull cap to be worn under a helmet and get that (wirelessly) hooked up to a smartphone app? You could hand those out at big events and get real-life crowdsourced data on what sorts of impacts actually happen in real life, which would then presumably be used by a bunch of eager graduate students to write research papers - and could then inform the next set of standards to which helmets could be designed and tested. The current standards are based on someone's best guess ages ago as to what a helmet should protect us from - with cheap data acquisition technology, we can do better than that!
  • 15 0
 @g-42: we remember you! Thanks for the kind words.

With regard to taking things to the next level - this is high on our priority list, however, it is not a simple task by any means. Current standards are necessary to pass to go to market with a helmet, but they don't address all aspects of impacts, particularly rotational and low-G. So yes, there is obviously a need for a new measurement.

We have a ton of data and we're working on it, but it is a massive undertaking.

Thanks for the support!
  • 11 0
 @KaliProtectives: your carbon lids are my absolute favorite in the entire world. Nothing like an ultra-light full face helmet to keep the neck working nice and smooth. I don't think most people consider how important a lightweight lid is on an extremely rough all day ride.
  • 7 0
 @properp: Thanks budday!
  • 1 0
 @g-42: The only problem with this would be law suits. "They used me as a crash test dummy! It was the wireless skull cap that made me paralyzed." I can just hear it now.
  • 1 0
 @KaliProtectives: Thanks to you and thank to @g-42, as well. I am a Bioengineering professor at Mizzou, and an avid mountain biker. I would be honored to be part of this project, as would my son who is a grad student here in the same department. Contact me (jacoby@missouri.edu) and we can begin to look for funding.

I spend most of each summer in Salida, CO, so I like riding down hills, albeit more slowly than most PBers.
I don't crash very much anymore (so it data points from the skull cap would be a long time coming from me. My son rides more aggressively, and I have replaced many helmets that look fine after banging our heads on the ground, better safe than sorry.

I have missed lots of the conversation on this, but it seems possible that manufacturers could make some key, non-destructive measurements (thickness, stress, strain) at various places in a helmet that would remove the guess work about replacing helmets. I also ride dirt bikes (with motors), and all the same issues exist.
  • 19 1
 What have we learned here?

1.) Brilliant marketing is not dead! I'm not really into Kali's stuff but there's no denying that this is a brilliant way to gain lifelong customers. Sure it's costing them thousands and thousands in free helmets, but the returns will dwarf any outlay.

2.) Mountain Bikers are f***ing idiots!!! I've crashed a fair amount in my last helmet, but other than dropping it accidentally from maybe a foot above the ground, it hasn't sustained any solid knocks or any visible damage. To think that people are actually rocking visibly cracked, compromised helmets is horrifying. At that point you might as well be comfortable and just wear your flat brim Fox hat and hope for the best!
  • 17 0
 My dad grew up in the 60's where helmets were considered lame. I always wear a helmet while riding and have been trying to convince him. During sea otter I brought my old helmet and exchanged it for a new kali and surprised my dad with it. Now a year later he still wears the helmet I gave him and can finally feel comfortable taking him out on the trails.
  • 13 0
 i'd love to see more companies do something like this, as with some lids they are bloody expensive, so it's somewhat understandable that some people will still wear a helmet they crashed with, but it'd be neat if there was a way to have a helmet which could sustain a couple of impacts, as EPS is pretty damn brittle.
  • 13 0
 Kali seems to be the only helmet company that truly cares about protecting noggins and not only looking flashy. Will definitely get one down the road!
  • 11 0
 @KaliProtectives Tell Mr Assyag that his customer care has been top notch and that I really hope he can help me get one of your helmets!
  • 12 0
 Such a rad program! Kali has really up'd their game in the past year!
  • 11 0
 Really cool program Kali, literally saving lives. I've been enjoying my interceptor, hopefully won't have to use warranty!
  • 8 0
 I had the pleasure of riding with a crazy light 800something grams Avatar for a whole park summer, and I was really happy whith it. Didn't have to use the replacement program, but it seems to be far ahead of the competition. I.E., a friend of mine had a light crash and mips of his Bell Super got partially broken, even tho though the helmet didn't even touched the ground. He called the dealer and he was told to buy another one... suck it.
  • 7 0
 It's doing stuff like this for people that truly wins brand loyalty that lasts. Just hearing about it is enough for me to seek out a Kali helmet over and above other manufacturers. Well done Kali for a great outlook. I can't help thinking people are bringing their old helmets for exchange rather than their ok ones though, or maybe I'm just too old and cynical!
  • 7 1
 @KaliProtectives Glad you are getting props for doing something right. As the dad of a 14 y.o. racer/rider with previous concussions this is what I research the most. His head has been saved by MIPS twice, I wish it would've been in your lid since I'm needing to buy another helmet. I didn't go for the other company's rep and his big smile crash replacement for $175. I couldn't argue that their convertible MIPS did its job but how many times can I hand out $200 if the helmet goes down. I'm the idiot but the options are limited for bike helmets vs moto helmets. Who doesn't crash on their bike? How hot is your full face? Thanks again for your giving and research.
  • 6 0
 Been rockin Kali gear for a few years now. I only wear elbow pads a few times a year when I'm both way out there and riding kill-yourself trails, but theirs are by far the most comfortable I've found. This project is incredibly rad, by the way.
  • 8 0
 CEDAR!!!!!!!!! dude is chil. I miss those Pabst blue ribbon beer rides. TOM M so-cal
  • 5 0
 Kali is truly concerned with rider safety. While other manufactures are pushing the same old thing, Kali lead the charge with multdensity foam and in mold fusion. The only other company to offer BOTH is Leatt, who licenses the in mold fusion from Kali. I received one of their free helmets last year at Sea Otter (an xc lid) which I use on the hot days and it works well. I am looking for a new all mountain helmet and there are only two choices in my book, the Kali Interceptor, or the Leatt All Mountain. My son has the Leatt and it looks great. I will try both at Sea Otter to see which fits my noggin better.
  • 4 1
 why is there not a push from the relevant medical authorities to push for helmet legislation in the USA? I live in the UK, as a medical practitioner I'm gutted we do not have the same laws as in Australia. The BMA are with the UK Drs... this should be a global law...
  • 2 0
 Google "effects of bike helmet laws" for a surprising answer. Unintended consequences at its finest...

[Spoiler: mandatory helmet laws reduce the number of people cycling and paradoxically lead to increased rates of injury. Source - British Medical Journal.]
  • 1 0
 @pinkrobe: as you probably know we have a mandatory helmet law for kids in Alberta, but I don't know if I've ever seen anyone enforce it.
What kills me is parents riding along without helmets while their kid has got something pushed way up their forehead like a beanie. My 4-yr-old had a minor crash yesterday but the brim of his helmet stopped a forehead-asphalt contact and I was pretty happy we're always nagging them to wear the helmet correctly.
  • 1 1
 @plyawn: I'm not saying helmets are bad. Far from it - I've cracked a couple in half mountain biking and happily lived to tell the tale over pints. Kids should definitely wear helmets, at least until they're out of the house and can make bad decisions on their own. Ovadebarz was talking about mandatory helmet laws, which have some surprisingly negative effects on cycling overall. Mandatory helmet laws typically only apply to riding on the road/street, so this is kinda apples-to-oranges anyway.
  • 1 0
 if i want to just tool around or go ride over to a friends house i don't need the government to tell me how to manage every risk scenario in my life. maybe if you want to force it on minors fair enough. plenty of bullshit laws already, we don't need more
  • 5 1
 Rad deal. I met Cedar Kyes @ Kamikaze Games last year right before breaking my heel into 47 pieces. Really cool guy, great crew, I'm proud to partner with them on graphic tees. Keep it up @KaliProtectives
  • 2 0
 I'll be looking to buy a Kali helmet as my next one no questions asked, marketing or not, these guys seem to really care about safety. Plus if Rogatkin can fall off a cliff in one and then hit a canyon gap after there's gotta be something to it! The added bonus is I won't have ride around with the word 'Bell' written on my forehead anymore, might as well just write 'end' on there too lol
  • 5 1
 I'd pay to see a steamroller flatten a sea of old helmets...could be part of the show...just sayyenn
  • 6 1
 Cedar is a solid dude! Much love and appreciation from Bellingham!
  • 5 1
 How 'bout showing some East Coast luv?
  • 3 1
 This is so cool! I'm due for a new lid in both the skid lid, and full face category. Any company out there doing this with knee/shin pads????
  • 2 0
 @KaliProtectives Wonder if they would let me trade in my Smashed Fox Pro Rampage carbon MIPS for a Shiva 2?!?! Fox didn't offer me a replacement cost worth fooling with..
  • 1 0
 thats the main reason I just bought the KALI avatar X. blasted my bell full 9 and they offered me a 30% discount. i love my brain but not enough to shell out $450 every other season.
  • 4 1
 Some mountain bikers are too damn cheap for their own good, it's your head!!
  • 3 1
 its amazing the vision they have with anothers brands broken helmets. They should have tons of information with that. I will start to considere more Kali helmets great job
  • 6 3
 I thought Macduff would have been the face of a road warrior
  • 1 0
 At first I thought they had a big budget to recreate the costume and setting then my stupid self said no it's photoshop......
  • 3 1
 How do they afford to give out so many free helmets?
  • 5 6
 Helmets are cheap to produce, it just injection mold foam and a plastic cover. The expensive part is design, but you don't really lose much giving out a bunch of helmets. On top of that, they are probably able to write off a bunch of the charity helmets they give out on their taxes. If you give out a bunch of helmets, and one third of the people end up buying another or staying loyal to Kali, they will make their money back easily. Plus word of mouth is huge in MTB. If someone gets one of these helmets and convinces two people in their riding club to buy kali, money in the bank.
  • 4 0
 @ClaytonMarkin: check it out - www.pinkbike.com/photo/14499323 - no injection molding here. You are correct in that development/engineering is the most expensive part of manufacturing a helmet!
  • 2 1
 Where are the details on the Canadian Road Warrior program? Doesn't seem to be anything on the Kali website.
  • 1 0
 If you are looking for another KRW I'm your man. The work you are doing is great.
  • 2 0
 You guys wanna make a stop by mountain creek this weekend?? Lmao
  • 2 1
 skeet skeet that a boy Cedar! hit me when u in tha Hood son! Good work mang
  • 1 0
 So if u don't crash, how old is too old for a helmet?
  • 1 0
 Yeah, I'd like to know this too. Im no stranger to a lie down but very rarely is it a head shot and therefore my helmets last many years. I often wonder though if the materials degrade overtime both naturally and due to the acidic nature of sweat for example.
  • 4 0
 @dwojo: It really depends on how the helmet has been looked after. If you store your helmet in a temperate dry place, wipe it down after use, change out the pads, inspect it regularly - it can last a long time. On the other hand, if your helmet sits in the sun it will fade and possibly crack. Glue can deteriorate, delamination can occur. If it is perpetually wet, same deal - no bueno. Look after your helmet and it will look after you!
  • 1 0
 @KaliProtectives: mine is in the garage. Gets to 110 in the summer but otherwise ok. So how many years? If its not cracked or delaminated is it still good? What else should i look for?
  • 2 0
 5 years is the max for a helmet, industry experts told me this while I was selling helmets. This completely depends on what type of weather you ride in as UV rays break down the plastics a lot quicker then anything.
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