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.
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
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
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.
"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
"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
"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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
and the Philippines.
| Helmet Exchange in Lima, Peru|
| Kali KRW program in Philippines |
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.
KRW - YEAR ONEKali Road Warrior Season Opener - Outerbike Spring 2017Kali Road Warrior at OuterbikeKali Road Warrior at CES Finals - Kamikaze Bike Games Kali Road Warrior at Oregon 24Kali Road Warrior at CDC Round Three, Yacult BurnKali Road Warrior at CES Round Five, Ashland Mountain ChallengeKali Road Warrior - Stop Off in PeruKali Road Warrior - Evergreen MTB FestivalKali Road Warrior PNW
To find out more about what’s inside a Kali, check out their tech overview.