Kali Avita Carbon Review

by Brian Mullin on March 1, 2011

The Kali Avita Carbon helmet is a stunning looking helmet, that was comfortable, durable, and full of innovative safety designs and materials. Kali and POC are some of the protection companies that are at the forefront of a new wave of helmet safety performance, and the aptly named Avita, which in Sanskrit means “protected” certainly defines their focus.

The major components of a helmet, are the outer shell, the foam liner, the retention system and the padding. The hard shell helps spread the impact over a larger surface (specifically to the liner), accentuates sliding and prevents object penetration. The EPS foam helps prevent or reduce brain injury by managing the energy of an impact through its own compression or destruction. Its main duty is to slow the stopping process so that the head slows down during its inertial of the impact (deceleration), by cushioning and redirection.

Features
The Kali Avita is their crown jewel of their XC helmets, and comes in two versions, the Carbon, which I tested, and the less expensive Texalium model. The Carbon is composed of two entities, the shell, which is made with carbon fiber, Texalium aluminized fiberglass and polycarbonate, while the core is made with their Contego EPS foam. Texalium was developed by Hexcel, the large advanced composite’s corporation, whom I remember mostly from their cool honeycomb ski’s of the 70-80’s. Contego is a special formula of Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS), that provides an excellent combination of densities for shock absorption. The helmet uses their Composite Fusion technology to incorporate the EPS foam as an integral part of the shell, much like the industry standard in-mould microshell. This process entails steaming small Polystyrene beads directly into the shell (in-mould), which then expand as a foam, and fuse to the exterior, giving better impact energy transfer and greater material connection strength.

The helmet includes many safety features, such as the extended rear coverage, the breakaway visor, the extra strong shell (carbon, fiberglass and polycarbonate), and the Composite Fusion technology. There is also a portion of the shell on the bottom outer edge of the helmet for additional strength and reinforcement. The helmet is well padded, and uses a rear mounted ratcheted floating retention system for fitting adjustments, has 22 vents, and a buckled chin strap with adjusters below the ear. The helmet comes in two sizes, small/medium and medium/large, and five color schemes, Pattern White or Black, Stars White, Black or Anthracite.

Measured Spec:

  • Weight (medium/large) – 392.6 grams

Impressions
I really liked the Avita Carbon helmet, as it was quite comfortable, well constructed, and looks pretty sharp. It has six nice soft anti-microbial padding on the front 75% of the liner, while the rear retention system uses two slightly stiffer foam pads. All the padding except for the rear, was removable, so it could be washed when it started to get nasty or dirty.

The retention system floats, and is attached on the sides by the temple and then up inside above the ears, so it is free to move about, and it sort of self adjusts itself to fit the oddities of your head. The retention uses a dual ratcheted system, and could be used on the fly, especially for tightening, which was nice when you were approaching more technical terrain, but it was more difficult to loosen, and took some practice and technique to make that adjustment. The ratchets worked really well, and they wouldn’t accidentally loosen up on you during a ride. The chin buckle closure was quick and easy to use, and the strap adjustment had a locking clamp, as did the ear adjusters, so it stayed exactly where you left them. On really long rides when my head swelled up, and I found that the front of the helmet caused a slight bind, and although I could loosen the retention to alleviate it somewhat, but it was still an annoyance (my head shape?).

The 22 vents worked really well, and had a good throughput, and I never overheated, which is surprising since the rear ones seemed a bit constrained compared to the rest of the blocky holes. Attaching helmet camera’s was really simple, due to the placement and shape of the vents, and a nice flat spot on the top. I enjoyed the extended rear coverage (like a skate helmet), which protrudes downward decently, and it provided excellent sun and back of the neck and head protection. It also provided better fit, cradling a larger portion of the head, and it decreased the tendency for the helmet to roll backwards. The breakaway visor sat really low, which helped block the sun, but on occasion if the helmet creep forward and started to droop, you lost a tad of peripheral vision?

Bottom Line
The Kali Avita Carbon is a sweet helmet, that is well constructed, comfortable, looks nice, and has a plethora of safety features. It includes superb safety features, such as the extended rear coverage, the breakaway visor, a high strength shell, and the Composite Fusion technology. Highlighted features is the functional floating rear retention system, chin and ear strap locking buckles, good ventilation, and soft comfortable liner padding. The helmet is expensive, only comes in two sizes, and the inner shape might not fit every head, and the retention system ratchets are difficult to loosen when on the fly.

Strengths

  • Extended rear
  • Strong shell
  • Floating retention system
  • Comfortable

Weaknesses

  • Expensive
  • Only two sizes
  • Might not fit every head shape
  • Retention system hard to loosen on the fly

MSRP: $189

Kali Avita Carbon Company Specs:

  • Revolutionary mix of carbon fiber, fiberglass and polycarbonate materials
  • Unique expanded coverage areas of EPS foam
  • More than 20 aerations
  • Safety compliance: EN 1078, CPSC
  • Size – Small/Medium 54-58 and Medium/Large 58-64

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