Lighter, Smaller, Safer: A Look at Kali Protectives

Inspiring confidence with breakthrough technology

By Patrick D. Rosso

Photo: Called To Creation

Ashton Smith well protected and stylin’ in Kali at the Fontana Enduro. Photo: Called To Creation

Enduro racing is intense. But it takes more than just pure muscle; you have to be calculating and perceptive. That means you need to keep your noggin safe, whether you’re bouncing off rocks at China Peak or taking a trip to the Ashland duff. That’s where Kali Protectives – head and body protection – come in. The brain child of former aerospace engineer Brad Waldron, the tight knit company launched in 2008 and has bucked trends and led the industry ever since.

“Kali Protectives was born as the result of a significant breakthrough in helmet safety technology – Composite Fusion™,” explained Patrick Ribera-McKay, marketing manager for Kali. “What started as an engineering challenge to remove unnecessary impact G forces found in traditional helmets quickly became the rider’s benchmark for helmet safety and innovation.”

The Morgan Hill, CA, based company has continued to push the envelope for safety and comfort. The Maya helmet, the manufacturer’s enduro/trail offering, weighs in at a mere 360 grams, but still offers the kind of protection aggressive riders demand. Even the more robust Shiva, Kali’s downhill helmet, tips the scales at just 1,050 grams.

“Kali has been leading that charge since its inception with our Composite Fusion™, which allows us to use a thinner shell with softer foam that is still safe while inherently less susceptible to rotational forces,” Ribera-McKay added. “We are also always developing new technologies and testing new materials for the next generation of helmets. You will see the fruits of our labor this fall.”

Working closely with riders, Kali focuses on products that athletes not only need, but want. Using in-molded shells, proprietary technologies, and commonsense design, the company pushes to truly separate itself from the competition, according to Ribera-McKay.

“The demands of today’s mountain biker have changed drastically over the last few years. We do see that there are key things that are important to the enduro rider. No longer is it okay to just have a helmet that meets the safety standards,” continued Ribera-McKay.

Jeff Kendall-Weed, a Kali rider and fixture on the West Coast racing scene, explained the unique approach Kali and its founder take towards development.

“It’s great being able to communicate directly to Brad. Not only will he decide if something is worth pursuing, but he has the experience to pull it off in a professional, innovative manner,” said Kendall Weed, 31. “Kali loves the ‘smaller is better’ approach and I think that’s genius. If your helmet is smaller, not only is it placing less leverage on your head and neck, but it’s less likely to hit stuff in the first place.”

Beyond the tech that goes into the product, Kendall-Weed, a big fan of the Shiva, also said the company’s gear, including its flagship helmets and line of pads, look good and inspire confidence.

“Every little advantage you can find in racing will help you get to the finish line ahead of your competitor, and that’s the name of the game at the end of the day,” observed Kendall Weed. “If you feel exposed and vulnerable, you won’t attack the course with full confidence. With my solid Kali gear, I feel ready to go!”

For Ashton Smith, a Kali rider who has been with the company since its beginning, Kali’s intense focus on safety with its revolutionary tech, really stands out.

“Kali has been a leader in innovation since day one. Brad didn’t start designing helmets because we needed more options; he did it because he knew they could be, and should be, safe,” concluded Smith, 27. “Mental focus is what separates top level athletes from your casual rider. Having gear that you are comfortable in, feel safe and confident in, and know you can rely on is critical. When you don’t have to worry about your gear, you can turn 100% of your focus to your race.”

Protection and innovation are at the core of what makes Kali a leader in the industry. There are many helmet and pad manufacturers, but the Kali engineers and riders emphasize that they ride their own trail when it comes to design, function, and style or as Ribera-McKay said, “lighter, smaller, safer. That’s what we do.”

For more information about Kali and its innovative line of products, visit