Kali Maya Helmet: Reviewed
Pitched as an affordable alternative to the half shell helmets from Bell, POC, and Troy Lee Designs, the Kali Protectives’ Maya faces a crowded market to break into. At first glance, it checks all the right boxes: deep coverage on the back and sides of the head, an integrated light and camera mount on the visor, and plenty of venting for long, hot days in the saddle. Dig a little deeper though, and you’ll find signs that Kali really took time designing the Maya for riders who want an affordable helmet with a premium feel.
The Kali Maya comes in three different colour schemes: the blue shown here, a matte black, and a matte black/white combo.
The first thing I noticed when I picked up the Maya was the weight. I’ve been riding with a Bell Super for nearly a year now, and the weight difference between the two (400g for the Super, 300g for the Kali) is impressive.
Despite the light weight and wallet-friendly price tag, the Maya doesn’t feel cheap in any way. The body is made of a dual-layer EPS foam, with one layer having several harder cone-shaped pieces moulded directly onto a softer layer of foam inside the helmet. Kali claims this helps distribute the force of an impact over the helmet, while simultaneously reducing the helmet’s overall size.
An inside look at the Maya’s “unipad” and bug mesh. Pull it off the velcro and chuck it in the wash to keep it smelling fresh.
Flipping the helmet over reveals a combination of bug mesh and padding. The whole thing is removable, which makes it easy to wash when the liner acquires a certain funk to it. There’s a solid sweat band to keep things from running into your eyes, and underneath the mesh are several deep channels in the foam to help cooler heads prevail on hot days.
A simple system for keeping things in place is ideal; it means there’s less to go wrong and break.
At the back, a dual-point closure system helps keep the pressure evenly distributed across your head, preventing pressure spots. The small/medium size adjusts from 52-58cm heads, while the large/extra large size we tested fits noggins from 58cm to 62cm in circumference.
A closer look at the fit system, and how the chin straps attach to the helmet. I do wish the Maya mimicked dirt lid style helmets and had both straps attach near the ears, as the rear straps sometimes get twisted and tangled.
When I strapped the Maya on, it all but disappeared. The fit was snug around my whole head, and there were no hotspots or contact points that felt uncomfortable. The strap adjustments were equally simple, and took no time at all to dial in.
The Maya might have one of the most sculpted exteriors I’ve ever seen. It definitely looks like a helmet that’s worth more than the sticker price.
Thanks to the light weight and good venting, the Maya feels closer to a cross-country or even a road helmet than the coverage lets on. This was a boon during the warmer weather we’ve been experiencing here on the west coast, and I’m looking forward to spending summer rides with a breeze through my hair
For riders who like to wear goggles, the Maya offers a good fit with most standard-sized eyewear. The only downside is that there’s no definite groove for your goggle strap, so pay attention to where you’re putting it.
My only gripe with the Maya is a minor one. The accessory mount on the visor is a good idea in theory (and some smart positioning on the visor to reduce the chance of injury caused by a mount in the first place), but the three included mounting pieces still aren’t truly universal. This meant I still had to run my Cygolite TridenX light through the holes in the helmet, which was a bit disappointing.
All in all I think the Maya presents itself as an excellent option to riders looking for a helmet with more coverage while not shelling out a bundle. The MSRP of $99 USD is nearly half of some of the competitors out there. Despite the wallet-friendly price it doesn’t feel cheap, or skimp on features. When it comes time to replace the Maya with something new, I’d definitely consider picking up another.
The Maya offers a lot of bang for the buck. Would you open your wallet for one, or spring for something with more cachet?