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Kali Protectives Maya Helmet

Vital Rating: (Very Good)
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Tested: Kali Protectives Maya Helmet

Rating: Vital Review

Review and photos by AJ Barlas

Mountain bike helmets have evolved very quickly in recent years, with extended coverage and improved impact technologies at the forefront of the improvements. These updates have provided the all-around rider with helmets that not only do a great job of keeping us safe, but look good while doing it.

Though their staff has loads of prior experience, Kali Protectives are still a relatively new brand within the bicycle industry. This youthfulness shines through in their products and the brand's ability to come forward with designs that think a little outside the box and a focus on the everyday rider. Their latest foray brings us the Maya - a mountain biker's helmet designed with the utmost safety in mind, but for a price that puts them at a competitive advantage.

Can a helmet provide the same coverage, aggressive looks and safety ratings as the competition, yet perhaps go one step further by offering it all in a great value package? We've been riding in the Maya for a couple of months in an effort to find the answers to these questions and more.

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Highlights

  • 12 vents, with internal channeling to aid with airflow across the head
  • Adjustable, flexible and break resistant visor
  • Antimicrobial liner with integrated bug liner
  • Composite Fusion Plus technology with the lowest density EPS foam Kali has ever used
  • Integrated camera/light mount on top of visor
  • Adjustable Dual Closure system
  • Certified to EN 1078, CPSC
  • Colors: Matte Black, EnduroBro Blue, and White/Black Duo
  • Size: S/M and L/XL
  • MSRP: $99 US

Initial Impressions

We tested a few pre-production Maya helmets during Vital MTB Test Sessions, and while the updates made since those earlier versions have been minimal, they have been for the better. The finished product comes across in a refined package, and initial impressions are good. The helmet fits close to the head, is comparable in weight to other helmet leaders in this genre (a claimed 350 grams), and most importantly is comfortable.

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Adjusting the lid to fit is simple. Making it tighter the "pinch and press" mechanism is straightforward, but if you want to loosen it a little it can be more troubling than other dial-style systems.The Maya also includes an integrated mesh panel through the roof of the helmet, which prevents insects and debris from getting caught up in your hair or on your scalp - an interesting addition.

At the rear of the visor you'll find an integrated GoPro/light mount. Included are a number of attachments to change between the two, and the mounts are designed to break away in the event of a crash, preventing any unwanted additional forces going through your head or neck. This breakaway technology first appeared on another Kali helmet, the Amara, back in 2011 and they continue to use it in their mounts today.

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On The Trail

We're fans of helmets that don't look like big bowling balls on top of your noggin, and the Maya does a great job of keeping a small profile while still offering great protection. The close fit is a result of Kali's effort to create a helmet that passes CPSC standards without containing excessive mass to do so. Kali firmly believe that a heavier/bulkier helmet creates more dangers, especially concerning rotational forces in a crash.

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Kali's solution was to work on the foam structure of the helmet, and the Maya includes the lowest density foam they have ever used, strategically integrated with higher density foams. The cone shapes help dissipate forces in an accident, progressively downgrading impact energy. Fortunately we haven't needed to put this to the test, and will take the expert's word for that one.

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The close fit is very comfortable with sufficient padding. It is a little warmer than similar helmets from other brands, however. We haven't had the warmest of weather here in the PNW during testing, and it's fine on the cooler days, but the warmer ones left us with more discomfort than we're used to in this regard. There are fewer vents in the Maya than some (a total of 12, with most of these at the back), and the placement of these are no doubt a contributing factor to the lower airflow as well. There are no vents on the sides, though this does add to the helmet's coverage and protection.

The helmet remains stable on your head when bombing down trails, and stays comfortable despite the older adjustment mechanism. The only time we had any discomfort or issues with the helmet's stability was when testing it with a GoPro on the integrated accessory mount.

The position of this mount can create unwanted pressure at the front of the helmet, and as a result it tends to shift forward while descending. In an effort to prevent the unwanted movement, we tightened the adjuster on the rear of the helmet, but to no avail. Even with the adjuster uncomfortably tight around the head the helmet would still gradually rotate forward. While the integrated accessory mount is a great idea, positioning the mount further backward would be helpful. On short 2-3 minute runs we had fairly substantial changes in the helmet's fore and aft position.


Before testing with the camera mounted, we were interested in whether the visor itself would move, given that the mounts don't lock it down completely. It never did move, with or without a camera mounted, but it does move up/down relatively easily when grabbing the visor and pulling or pushing on it. The visor is also flexible in an effort to prevent it from breaking in a crash or adding to potential injuries, but solid enough that it never caused any issues while riding. Our only concern with the visor is that it is a little long, sometimes getting in our field of view when descending the steeps.

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Long Term Durability

We've had little in the way of durability issues with the Maya during two months of testing. The helmet is very well made, with the straps and adjusters remaining where we initially positioned them for the duration of testing. Simply slap it on and ride!

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What's The Bottom Line?

The Kali Protectives Maya helmet offers a ton of protection and technology in a light, slim fitting package. It is comfortable, has a unique look with aggressive styling, and comes at a great value that really sets it apart from the competition. The adjustment mechanism, accessory mount position, and ventilation could be improved, but would no doubt cost more and wind up raising the price for the consumer. For the $99 US price tag, the Maya packs a whole lot of punch in a very competitive niche, complete with several innovative safety technologies that pass all the relevant standards. We really value Kali's consideration for non-standard crash scenarios, too.

For more on the Kali Maya, visit www.kaliprotectives.com. It is available at local bike shops in North America, Europe, and select areas of Asia.


About The Reviewer

AJ Barlas started riding as most do, bashing about dirt mounds and popping off street curbs. Not much has changed, really. These days the dirt mounds have become mountains and the street curbs, while still getting sessioned, are more often features on the trail. He began as a shop monkey racing downhill since day zero, only to go 'backwards' and start riding and racing BMX later on. He then came full circle once moving to Whistler. AJ loves riding everything from eight hour mountain pass epics (bonking) to lap after lap in the park and 20 minute pumptrack sessions at sunset. Driven by his passion for biking and exposing people to the great equipment we ride, AJ started and maintains the Straightshot MTB blog. So long as wheels are involved, and preferably dirt (the drier and dustier the better), life is good.

Specifications

Product Kali Protectives Maya Helmet
Riding Type Trail
Rider Unisex
Number of Vents 12 Vents (5 Forward Facing Vents, 7 Rear Facing Vents) with Internal Channeling for Ventilation
Construction Composite Fusion Plus Technology with Low Density EPS Foam
Dual Closure System
Adjustable Padding Antimicrobial Liner with Integrated Bug Liner
Certification EN 1078 and CPSC
Bag
Size L/XL, S/M
Colors Matte Black, Matte Blue, Matte White/Black
Weight 0 lb 12.3 oz (350 g)
Miscellaneous Adjustable, Flexible, and Break Resistant Moto Inspired Visor
Integrated Camera/Light Mount Works with GoPro, Contour, and Light and Motion
Price $100
More Info

Kali Protectives Website

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