Kali Maya Helmet: Reviewed

Words Matthew Lee
Photos Kaz Yamamura
Date Mar 2, 2015

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?

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Comments

roknfnrol
0
roknfnrol  - March 4, 2015, 6:48 a.m.

I got one of these helmets last month. It fits amazingly well and accommodates my Smith Pivlok glasses way better than my old Bell Super.

Reply

john
0
john  - March 4, 2015, 9:28 a.m.

What helmet do u think is cooler (temperature wise) the super or maya?

Reply

roknfnrol
0
roknfnrol  - March 4, 2015, 11:03 a.m.

Definitely the Super. I thought the Maya was a bit hot. As you can see in the pics, it doesn't have nearly a many vents.

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john
0
john  - March 4, 2015, 6 a.m.

Overall which helmet do you like better, the bell super or the kali maya?

Reply

mthomaslee
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Matt Lee  - March 4, 2015, 9 a.m.

Overall, I'd have to say I prefer the Maya. The lighter weight is a big contributing factor when I've been wearing it all day, and the fact that it's half the cost of the Super is the cherry on top.

Reply

roknfnrol
0
roknfnrol  - March 4, 2015, 11:06 a.m.

Here in the USA the Bell Super 2 (no mips) is $130. Not a drastic price difference. I do prefer the fit and look of the Maya though.

Reply

oldmanbike
0
OldManBike  - March 3, 2015, 1:45 p.m.

I recently got a Maya and agree with everything in the review. (Except I haven't had any issues with the mount.) I think its the half-shell helmet to get right now, and the fact that it's cheaper than its competitors is just icing on the cake.

Reply

phr3dly
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phr3dly  - March 3, 2015, 7:06 a.m.

How about some more info about the accessory mount? What /does/ it fit? Picture of the three included accessory mounts?

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mthomaslee
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Matt Lee  - March 4, 2015, 9:34 a.m.

The mounts are for a GoPro camera (or any other camera that uses that style of clip), a tubular mount to attach lights that use a rubber strap to wrap around your bars, and a clip that works with Planet Bike style attachments.

The downside to this is that if your accessories don't follow this format (none of my lights by Cygolite do, nor does my POV camera from Drift Innovations), you're pretty much out of luck, and just strapping things to your helmet the old-fashioned way.

Really what I'd like to see are accessory manufacturers adopt one standard for mounting lights and cameras. Lots use the GoPro standard already, and it would be a boon for everyone if the industry moved in that direction. Until that time, it's more velcro bands for me.

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