Kali Protectives Interceptor Open Face Helmet

Average User Rating: (Excellent) Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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First Ride: Kali Interceptor

A new super-vented, extended-coverage helmet from Kali.

Rating: Vital Review
First Ride: Kali Interceptor

No item of kit is more important than the helmet. It is the requisite piece of safety equipment, and it is also one of the most argued about items one can buy - not on the merit of function, but rather fit and appearance. The iterations of brain buckets have come a long way in recent times, with Troy Lee Designs setting the benchmark for aggressive half-shell helmets with the A1 a few years ago now, and brands like 6D reinventing the wheel with their ATB-1 T. So, anytime a new dome cover arrives on the scene, it is scrutinized heavily, compared to what has come before it. Kali Protectives has managed to carve out a strong position in the market with their deep line up of gear, holding their own against some of the more prominent giants of the industry. Pushing for good-looking functionality with an affordable price tag, many riders who’d rather spend money on food and gas for riding trips have been drawn to the consumer-oriented brand. When they suggested we take a look at one of the latest additions to their range, sporting new liner technology and equipped with rider-minded accessories, we didn't need to be asked twice.

Kali Interceptor Highlights

  • Supervents
  • Antimicrobial pads
  • Adjustable visor
  • Accessory mounting system
  • Locking sliders
  • Material
  • PC shell and underwrap
  • EPS foam
  • Retention
  • BOA ® Closure System
  • 24 Vents
  • 390g / 13.7 oz
  • S/M (52-58 cm), L/XL (58-62 cm)
  • EN 1078, CPSC Certifications

Initial Impressions

This helmet looks sharp: aesthetics are on point, the blue hue is a nice complement to the overall black shading. All of the contact points are sturdy, the straps are robust, and the clip feels solid - no cheap plastic securing the goods. A notable part of the design is that the padding is appropriately placed. At no point is the EPS foam in contact with your head. This is also due to the secondary layer of LDL, or the Bumper Fit (as Kali calls it) vinyl nitrile strips that are strategically staggered through the interior. In Kali's own words: “When we first began experimenting with materials to help reduce low-g or subconcussive impacts that are below the threshold of our current foam liners, we tested a number of materials until we found a type of vinyl nitrile we call Bumper Fit. This substance is similar to Poron or D30 and hardens on impact to help provide some low-G protection. The material also acts as a memory foam, which helps to reduce hot spots and increase comfort. We call the latest iteration of this technology LDL,or Low Density Layer. It consists of specially designed Armourgel padding that is placed throughout the interior of the helmet. It reduces rotational impact forces up to 25%, and reduced low-g linear forces up to 30%.”


Keeping the helmet’s cranial position refined is the renowned BOA System, which adjusts the snugness of the helmet around the back of the head via a rotating dial. It has a great subtle texture on the dial which makes operating it easy with either gloves or bare hands. This is helpful particularly for those with a strong thatching of hair which compresses during the ride, meaning the helmet needs tightening along the way. The ear strap closures/sliders are a nice touch, they are small and rounded which keeps them tucked away from said ears and there are no square edges for hair to catch on if your mane is on the shaggier side like mine.


For those with less hair, sunscreen will be nearly mandatory, but on the up-side, heat expulsion should be amazing.

Opening and closing the rachet-like sliders is a tad tighter/firmer than something like the TLD A-series, but I think that’s perfectly OK, as these are “set and forget” parts. They won’t be moving around during a ride creating an accidental uneven fit. The vents on this helmet are enormous. For those with less hair, sunscreen will be nearly mandatory, but on the up-side, heat expulsion should be amazing. At the back, the helmet drops down further than a classic XC helmet, providing extra protection - it’s like a safety mullet. A three-position visor gives ample sun and weather shielding out front, and it is strong and rigid, it’s not a flimsy, bouncy design flourish.

To round up the features overview, interesting extras are the accessory mounts for a light and a POV camera; handy bits for those who work late and others who like to capture the action on rides. There are five colors to choose from, and two sizes - I opted for the blue L/XL. It fits true and looks as advertised. Overall, the out of the box impressions were strong, and it was high time to put the helmet to the test where it really matters - on the trail.

On The Trail

I found the helmet fits “long”, in the sense that the sides don’t feel “locked in”. The internal plastic head cradle with the adjustable dial only comes around half way on the helmet, to about the middle of the ear. For me, this made the helmet feel flighty, but this could be chalked up to head shape and personal preference on my end as I have a large, rounder head full of dumb jokes and a manic interest in eating. Because of this, I prefer a deeper-set fit, a helmet that feels locked to my head. The padding left a little to be desired, as it didn’t quite soak up as much of the drippage as I’d have liked, and it turned out to be a little lean in the front in general. If Kali were to provide some extra bits for further comfort customization, this would certainly remedy the problem for me.

While riding, there were times it seemed to want to be a little snugger, but due to the fore/aft fit, instead of cradling my head, it ended up just squeezing my head tip to tail. I know fit is a finicky topic, and in this case, my issues should not be held against the Interceptor. Helmet fit will always be a challenge that requires some personal testing in shops, parking lots, or driveways. A fact that will be popular is that it feels rather non-existent, which will be a welcome relief to riders who often feel the weight and pressure of a sturdier helmet detract from the riding experience. Despite how the helmet “felt”, in reality, it stayed put atop my mane of curls, never budging as I headbanged up climbs, or bounced my way down descents. The Interceptor was up to the task, going up and down the hill(s).

Being that it’s still spring, and a little cooler out, I was curious if the ample venting would lead to a cold head; it did not. I still maintained a state of overheating as I always do, and thus the steam stack did its job of at least letting my excessive exertion escape up and away into the trees, and in no way adding to the retention of heat. For other MOGs (Men Of Girth), this ought to be a relief to read, and hot-weather riders will also be pleased with this effect.

Things That Could Be Improved

For riders who live in areas where hunting is a seasonally popular past time, opting for the striking red color might be a slightly better option than the blue, as the blue is notable, but doesn’t quite “pop” liked I’d hoped. If the helmet had been available in yellow or orange, I’d have chosen one of those seeing as I live in southern New Hampshire and hunting season is 30% of the riding season. The sharp lines of the helmet clash nicely with round trees, but a little flare goes a long way in thick forest.

As previously stated, the vents are huge, reminiscent of a few XC and road helmets on the market right now. This is great for riders who overheat easily or live in super hot regions, but for those of us who live in the woods, it’s a little concerning due to penetration risks with sticks and rocks. The Interceptor is specifically great for someone who wants to ride hard and fast in hot climates where the trails are a little more wide-open where tree branches hanging in the trail aren’t a constant issue and on slightly less rugged terrain where deadfall and other debris don’t litter the trail area.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Safety is the chief concern for Kali Protectives, and their take on rotational impacts is simple yet clever. The Interceptor aims to be light but safe, providing literal peace of mind while keeping the rider’s actual mind cool and comfortable. This is achieved with little green strips of vinyl nitrile, a material similar to the more commonly known orange D3O. Conceptually, the material is elastic to the touch, but it hardens under pressure. What this achieves in real-world scenarios is a 25% reduction in rotational force transmission and 30% less low-g linear force, meaning your noggin is better sheltered during smaller crashes as well as the big yard sales. What looks like little green rows of suction cups used for hanging pictures, is actually a low-tech brain army keeping harsh forces at bay when it matters most. To me, this is strong added value for the Interceptor, and think it is great news that helmet companies continue to take new and innovative approaches to helmet safety.

This helmet is definitely up to the task of being the first line of defense when the rubber side is no longer down. Kali intends the Interceptor to be an option in their new “Enduro” helmet lineup, and it’s paired up with the Maya helmet in the same category. I think for many riders, the latter is a much more genre-specific design as it is more shell-like, has angled vents, more head wrap, and a beefier construction. The “use meter” next to the Interceptor on the web page shows its ratings for different uses, specifically pumping it up to 100% on the “Trail” and “Enduro” categories. I feel that it is an aggressive XC/Trail helmet due to its rather open design, but with the addition of the LDL layer, should be capable of taking on nearly all adventures just short of full-on stage races and exceptionally rugged terrain.

The Interceptor is comfortable, breathes exceptionally well (a strong point of contention for many similar helmets), and looks great aesthetically. The protection is ample and greater than many other lightweight trail helmets. It is perfect for the enthusiast trail shredder and XC rippers who are just as fast on the descents as the climbs. Kali has developed a bridge helmet, which fills a neglected segment of the equipment market. Buyers need to be a little thorough in the evaluation of their riding when choosing from the line up though, noting the differences between the Interceptor and the Maya. Noting how one’s head is shaped will also aid in helmet selection. At the end of the day, a helmet which protects a bit more, vents like a power plant cooling tower and fits comfortably like a well-worn hat will no doubt be a big winner with a large contingent of riders.

For more information, head on over to www.kaliprotectives.com.


About The Reviewer

Zach Faulkner looks like a circus bear on a bicycle, and his riding style has been compared to a landslide, with debris chasing his rear wheel down the hill, replete with sounds of destruction. His zeal for riding is life-long, having been astride a bike since before he was forming memories. Bikes kept him in the woods and out of trouble through his teenage years, resulting in some notable race results in what was known as “Jr.X” at the time. Zach moved away from racing in the “PRO” category a few years back and can now be found lying in the dirt next to race courses around the world holding a camera and hoping the auto-focus didn’t drop on that last shot. He also moonlights as a writer and product tester, doing his best to provide constructive insight and thoughts. Known online as #MTBJesus thanks to Maddog Boris, and a Huge Mountain Bike Geek according to Sven, you’ll probably see him before you hear him, or vise versa, it’s hard to say.

Kali Interceptor

Rating: Featured Member Review
The Good:

Breathes excellent with outstanding comfort. Visor works great when its in tact.

The Bad:

Durability could be improved in plastic, pads inside don't hold up to a lot washing.

Overall Review:

I've worn this helmet now for 2 full years, about 230 ride days. Luckily, I've never had a big crash, but I've had little ones here and there, and the helmet has held up well for what I've put it through. So for protection, its done it's job but nothing major to report there. 

The fit is great.  The boa lets you adjust for a great fit on your head and the helmet doesn't move around.  It is more comfortable for my head than any other helmet I tried on.   After hiking with my helmet on my pack and putting my bike on my shoulder, I accidentally broke a couple of the clips that hold the boa to the helmet (not the boa itself), but it still works fine and fits fine.  The clips were small, and user error for sure, would have happened with any half shield helmet. 

The breath ability is outstanding.  I changed from the older Fox Flux, and immediately could feel more air, in the sprint it was actually somewhat cold.  Those vents though mean my head is a bit more susceptible to getting sunburned, so be aware and apply.  

The visor is nice to flip up if you have goggles you want to put on the helmet.  And the fit between my smith goggles and helmet are flush, no gaper gaps.  But the first crash I had the clips on the visor broke, and even given a new visor, I cannot pop it off to replace the visor.  So I've just taped down the visor, which removes the flip up for goggles, which kind of sucks.  I would prefer a bit more durability or make it easier to switch visors out. 

The pads remove easily to be washed by hand, and are re-applied easily.  But after 1.5 years they are starting to pull apart, to the point I've almost stopped washing them for fear they will fall apart.   

Overall I've been very happy with this helmet.  The breath ability and fit are outstanding, but some of the durability could be improved. 

Specifications

Product Kali Protectives Interceptor Open Face Helmet
Riding Type Trail
Rider Unisex
Number of Vents 24
Construction PC SHELL & UNDER WRAP EPS FOAM
Adjustable Padding No
Certification EN 1078, CPSC
Bag No
Size S/M (52-58 CM), L/XL (58-62 CM)
Colors Black/Blue, Black/Grey, Black/Red, Black/White, Black/Purple
Weight 0 lb 13.8 oz (390 g)
Miscellaneous
Price $180
More Info

​www.kaliprotectives.com

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