Kali Interceptor Helmet
2 Minute Reviews

Kali Interceptor Helmet Reviewed

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Aug 24, 2018

Premium Interceptor

This is the first of two reviews which will pit real world riding conditions against Kali's most expensive and least expensive open shell helmets. Each is designed with Kali boss/designer Brad Waldron's "bike helmets are too hard" philosophy. 

I wrote extensively about this philosophy here, but here are the Coles notes. For a massively vented lid to survive testing, companies generally need to use much harder foam or internal structures which in turn make the helmet less effective in the low-G crashes which are quite common in mountain biking. As with any lid, higher-G crashes are handled by the EPS layer and gouverned by multiple standards.

The Interceptor is a premium lid with a BOA adjuster, a clean strap system, an adjustable visor, and ample airflow despite the use of lower density foam and multi-layer construction. It will hurtle toward your wallet with the force of 180 USD in sizes S/M and M/L.

Kali Interceptor Helmet

The venting is maximized without adding an internal skeleton or higher-density foam, either of which compromises crash-performance according to the Tao of Kali. 

Kali Interceptor Helmet

I've had lots of compliments on the size of the Kali Interceptor. It's quite slender compared to much of the competition.

Kali Interceptor Helmet

The BOA adjuster is my favourite retention system. It features a micro-adjustable dial, strong lightweight laces, and low friction lace guides.

At the Interceptor's boutique price Kali can use a low-density-layer, their 'nano fusion' core for low-G to mid-G impacts, an EPS layer for mid-G to high-G impacts and still provide enough venting to keep my head cool-enough on an August ride. Like the Leatt DBX 2.0, this helmet won't be voted the breeziest, but it is acceptably vented for a protective enduro half-lid. 

Kali Helmets AndrewM

The Interceptor venting profile features 24 large vents. Passive airflow is good for an Enduro half-lid.  

Kali Interceptor Helmet

The large rear exhaust and front scoops move a lot of air once I've hit a decent clip. Active venting is excellent while passive airflow is good. 

I wear a medium in almost every helmet but there are exceptions where I pull out a couple pads and plop on a small. Kali makes the Interceptor in two sizes and I'm solidly an S/M (54-58cm). The other size is called M/L (59-64cm) and together they cover a broad range of head sizes.

A couple of riders who tried the helmet would need a smaller size. I have a couple friends with sizeable melons who've tried on M/L Interceptors with great fits. Most large and small heads are covered by the two sizes. 

Kali Interceptor Helmet

#ownership. I appreciate BOA choosing to be involved in the design of any product that incorporates one of their closures.  

Kali Interceptor Helmet

The green padding is Kali's answer to the MIPS slip-plane. They claim it reduces rotational impact forces by up to 25% and low-G linear impact forces by up to 30%.

In addition to the lower-density foam and core, Kali also focuses on rotational impacts with the addition of a low-density-layer (LDL) of green viscoelastic material. During a crash, the LDL helps diffuse low force linear impacts that wouldn't be absorbed by the helmet's EPS layer and can stretch to absorb rotational forces. 

The Interceptor fits my head great. Luckily, I haven't had the opportunity to test the crash-functionality of this helmet. 

Kali Interceptor Helmet

The Inceptor has a pop-on GoPro standard mount that's great for a light (or a camera if your name is Footy-Phil). 

Kali Interceptor Helmet

The mount is designed to pop-off with minimal force in the event of a crash. It's rattle free. I have smoked an overhead branch hard enough to disengage my light. 

Kali Interceptor Helmet

PSA: The days are getting shorter. It's a great idea to throw a light in your pack for any rides within a couple hours of dusk. This Bontrager Ion 800 has been great.

With Helmets, shoes, gloves, saddles, grips and the like, fit comes first. The Kali Interceptor fits me very well while incorporating a solid design philosophy. According to Kali, helmets combining good venting and softer materials are unavoidably expensive. In this case 180 USD. For part two I'll be looking at a 50 USD Kali Viva which throws venting to the wind to bring their vision of safety to the lowest possible price. 

In the meantime, all the info - and some newly launched colourways - can be found at Kali's website here

Comments

thefunkymonkey
+1 Andrew Major
TheFunkyMonkey  - Aug. 24, 2018, 5:24 a.m.

Another great review, Andrew.

I currently use a Giro Montaro MIPS that I really like but I was looking to mix things up a bit and ordered an Interceptor. 

Really liked everything about it especially the shape (for my head) but the one thing I couldn't get past is how Kali routes the rear straps inside the BOA retention system. I believe Kali does this on most of their helmets? 

I couldn't get the overall fit right with the straps routed this way and definitely noticed the straps when I tensioned the BOA. May be this goes away over time? I sent it back.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 TheFunkyMonkey
Andrew Major  - Aug. 24, 2018, 7:52 a.m.

Thanks!

Honestly not something I noticed/thought about but next time I pop the lid on I’ll have a think about the straps.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 24, 2018, 10:34 a.m.

Interestingly, it was a 30-second job to unhook the BOA straps and re-orient the straps outside of the BOA system.

The BOA certainly feels different inside the straps. I don’t know if it’s more comfortable persay but I like it - thanks for planting the thought.

Reply

thefunkymonkey
+1 Andrew Major
TheFunkyMonkey  - Aug. 27, 2018, 7:03 a.m.

Hey Andrew.

Thanks for the follow-up and the option to un-do the BOA to re-route the straps. I didn't even consider that option.

How does it affect the fit, if at all? I failed to mention in my original comments that the Kali is somewhat unique (at least from my experience) in that the rear straps are attached inside the back of the helmet. Versus at the base of the rear of the helmet lie a Giro Montaro or Bell Sixer.

Thanks again!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 27, 2018, 10:11 a.m.

Had a solid ride in it yesterday. Obviously the fit of the shell/padding/LDL is the same but reorienting the BOA does change how the straps feel quite a bit.

Before the BOA and straps felt ‘coupled’ whereas now they feel independent. Put on the lid, tighten the BOA and then buckle up. 

With the straps outside the BOA I don’t notice them at the back anymore. 

Anyways, small difference but I prefer it. Thanks again for the idea!

Reply

slyfink
+2 Zapp Andrew Major
slyfink  - Aug. 24, 2018, 7:32 a.m.

Unfortunately for me, I was able to crash test this helmet. And I can say with certainty that it saved my neck. I washed out towards the inside of a berm (I think I started to wash out and overcorrected which led to oversteer), and my front wheel caught on something, and I went otb, jack-hammering onto my head. The impact went straight through my head and neck into the thoracic spine. no concussion, no broken neck. Two months later, I still have soreness between my shoulder blades, but it's manageable, and I'm back riding. I'm feel very lucky and I think this helmet played a significant role in that luck. I'm no expert, but I think the combination of high- and low-density foam really played a role in absorbing the significant impact that went through my head and spine.

Pics of the broken helmet:

Reply

slyfink
+1 Andrew Major
slyfink  - Aug. 24, 2018, 7:33 a.m.

I now have another Interceptor, as well as a Leatt DBX 3.0 All-mountain, the only other helmet I find comes close to the impact absorption capabilities of the Kali.  I got the Leatt because of fit.  My head measures in at 58.5cm.  So pretty much too big for the S Kali, and right on the cusp of the M and L Leatt (I tried both on, and while the M fit, the L was a much better fit, with better coverage).  My observations on fit, comfort and ventilation are as follows:

Kali: more of a round shape.  I have more side to side play with it. front to back is ok. it feels like a larger shell, and a sloppier fit (for me). padding is minimal and those LDL knobs dig into my head a little bit, making it uncomfortable after about an hour of riding. IMO, ventilation is slightly better than the Leatt. sweat drips aren't too big of a problem, but when they drip, it's into my glasses, towards the outside corners of my eyes.

Leatt: more of an oval shape.  front to back is good (similar to Kali), but it's closer on the sides, leading to a more snug fit.  padding is thicker too, and so overall, the helmet is comfortable. actually, it's very comfortable. the front pad is thick, and comes down far on my forehead. this makes it feel hot when you're wearing it, but I find I don't notice it while riding. it's only bothersome when stopped. I think this is because you're concentrating on other things while riding.  Ventilation is good (except across the brow - but as I said you get used to that). Surprisingly, sweat drips weren't a big concern. I would have thought because the pad is so thick and comes down so far, it would dump the sweat right down my forehead, but nope. I've been riding with this thing in hot, humid, misty east coast weather, and I sweat a lot, so I am tempted to say sweat management is excellent on this one.

Last thing that really differentiates these two, and makes a difference in my book, is the clean implementation of the accessory mount on the Kali. Lights are a reality about 9 months out of 12 for me. that mount is super nice, and super clean. I really wish Leatt had done something better than resorting to glue-on mounts.

Overall, I highly recommend both helmets. IMO (and IME), the Kali is totally worth its price. Safety is second to none, comfort is average (but that's highly personal), ventilation is good, and the accessory mount is very well executed and useful.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 TheFunkyMonkey slyfink
Andrew Major  - Aug. 24, 2018, 7:50 a.m.

Holy crap; Glad you’re okay!

Thanks for the thorough review-comparison-comment as well.

Reply

oldmanbike
0
OldManBike  - Aug. 24, 2018, 8:59 a.m.

Nice review. I own an Interceptor and like it. I also use a Super DH (sans chinbar). Both helmets are designed for state-of-the-art concussion reduction, but they come at it quite differently and there's no way to know which design offers better real-world protection. My guess is that the benefit of Super's two-shell design is worth its added mass and volume, protection-wise. But I very much prefer the Kali for comfort.

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