Kali Interceptor Helmet - Review


These days, you can't throw a stick into the forest without hitting a rider who's wearing some type of enduro-inspired helmet, and for good reason. Up until a few years ago, you either chose a relatively feathery cross-country lid if you were pedaling or a hot full-face if you were shuttling, but the new breed of trail and enduro helmets offer more protection, loads of venting, and only a marginal weight penalty over what is essentially a road bike helmet with a visor stuck on it.Kali's $180 USD Interceptor is one of many enduro half-shells on the market, but it employs some unique technology that sets it apart from other helmets. This includes Kali's Low Density Layer inserts that are said to protect against smaller, less violent but much more common impacts, and also their Nano Fusion shell that uses multi-density EPS with acrylic self-healing foam and carbon nanotubes. At least it sounds really safe, right?
Interceptor Details• Intended use: trail / enduro• Low Density Layer inserts• Nano Fusion shell• Twenty four vents• Light and camera mounts included• BOA retention dial• Colors: black w/ either blue, gray, red, white, or purple accents• Weight: 390-grams• MSRP: $180 USD


The 390-gram Interceptor has a number of features that are unique to Kali.


The Interceptor is a trail / enduro helmet, and as such it makes use of extended protection at the back of the head that supplies more coverage than a cross-country focused helmet would. Being an enduro lid, the Interceptor's three-position visor can be pushed up to make room for your goggles when you don't have them on your face, and Kali even includes an integrated light and camera mount that can be easily installed or removed in seconds. The shell sports twenty-four vents, and Kali say that they were able create such large vents by reinforcing the leading edges with composite inserts. There are five of these 'Supervents' (Kali's words, not mine) at the front of the Interceptor, and nineteen exhaust ports at the back to let the heat escape.
Kali Interceptor
Lights on or lights off in only a second or two thanks to the O-ring mounting; the same goes for the camera mount.
Kali has also invested a lot in their own technology that you won't find from other brands, and it's no surprise that the company claims that all of this makes their helmets safer than other options on the market. This includes their Low Density Layer inserts and the futuristic sounding Nano Fusion shell, both of which are explained below.

Low Density Layer - Kali's Brad Waldron, the man behind several of the helmet brand's inventive safety solutions, believes that a lot of helmets on the market are sacrificing some day-to-day safety for protection against that relatively rare, worst-case blow to the head. How so? The EPS foam used to construct most lids has to be so rigid that it's not great at dealing with smaller, less violent impacts, even though those are arguably far more common than the kind of crashes that leave you feeling as if you were hit by a train. Waldron's solution was to add another element between the head and the helmet, much like how MIPS sits between the shell and the rider. Waldron said that he wanted something more effective than MIPS, however, so he worked with a company called Armourgel to come up with LDL (an acronym for Low Density Layer) which are odd looking green strips placed under the pads inside of the helmet's shell.

See those funny looking green strips under the padding? That's Kali's LDL system that's said to better protect the rider's head against smaller but more common impacts.
These rubber-like strips (Armourgel and Waldron aren't saying exactly what they're made of) have a very specific shape to them, with short, cylinder-like extensions designed to flex laterally when an off-axis impact occurs. The concept is that they'll allow for some movement and energy dissipation before the EPS foam comes into play, which Waldron says lets the helmet reduce rotational forces by 25% and low-G impact forces by a claimed 12%.
Eurobike 2016
This enlarged display model of Kali's LDL system shows how the strips are shaped, with the cylinder-like extensions designed to flex laterally.

Nano Fusion - It might sound like it's something from a NASA science lab, but it's actually an in-molding process that joins acrylic self-healing foam and carbon nano tubes with the Interceptor's EPS shell. In simple terms, what all that means is that Kali has used a different density foam, one that they say "dissipates energy more efficiently and in a smaller volume than any other material on the market,'' in places on the helmet's shell that are likely to make contact with things that don't move, like the ground.

The multi-impact material is also said to allow for a thinner shell, which in turn should mean that the helmet is applying less leverage to the rider's head and neck when it hits the dirt, rocks, or trees.
The Interceptor has a relatively low profile compared to some of the larger enduro-inspired helmets on the market.


From dual-shell designs to inserts to MIPS to the LDL system that Kali employs on the Interceptor, there's no shortage of helmets touting improved protection. I can't honestly tell you if one is any better than the other (I'm sure the helmet companies could, of course), but it's a no-brainer to assume that any helmet that has an added element of safety is a good thing. I'll pass on the real world MIPS and LDL testing, thank you very much. In light of that, however, the next most important thing to note is that regardless of whatever added safety features that a helmet has, they must be absolutely undetectable until you need their help. And Kali's LDL system does exactly that; you can't feel the odd looking green inserts, but they're there to do their job.Fit-wise, the Interceptor feels neutral, being neither overly round or too oval-shaped. Yeah, the usual "try it on before you buy it" always applies when it comes to helmets, but I suspect that most riders will feel good about what Kali has done with its shape and fit.
Fresh air in the front and nasty air out the back. The Interceptor is one breezy enduro helmet.
What good is an adjustable retention system if you need to squeeze it down so hard that your eyes feel like they're going to pop out of your head? Thankfully, the Interceptor's BOA system doesn't require eyeball-popping tightness to keep the helmet put; the band can be tweaked with a single hand and made just snug enough without feeling like the Hulk is going to town on your dome with a strap wrench. The tension is spread out evenly, too, so there are no hot spots, and it never backed off. Set it and forget it.

With the BOA tension applied, the Interceptor refused to slide down the forehead, and it felt all but invisible the large majority of the time. The one caveat comes down to the helmet's visor that's attached on the sides but not in the center, thereby allowing it to rattle a bit as the unattached center portion of the visor (pictured at right) would make contact with the shell when riding over fast, rough ground. It seemed to need just the right frequency to happen, but it'd rattle at least once every few rides. The solution? Double-sided tape. ''We are making a running change to the visor material which will resolve the issue,'' Kali's Julian Coffey said. ''All Kali bike helmets are covered by our free Lifetime Crash Replacement warranty as well.''

A small piece of double-sided tape fixed the visor rattle.
But while the visor could make a clatter sometimes, it was always up and out of peripheral vision, which is something that far too many helmets get completely wrong. The Interceptor also plays nice with both glasses and goggles, although the goggle strap does seem to tug upwards when it's stretched over the back of the helmet. Kali's 'Supervents' do a super job of letting fresh air pass into and out the helmet, with the Interceptor feeling like one of the airiest lids on the market. It certainly trumps most in this regard, barring pure cross-country helmets, which is impressive considering that the Interceptor offers far more protection.

Pinkbike's Take:

bigquotes The Interceptor is one of many trail / enduro helmets on the market touting improved safety through the use of added features and technology, and while it's not perfect - the easily solvable visor rattle isn't ideal - the helmet's class-leading venting and comfort make it worthy of considering it against any other option out there. Mike Levy