Review: Kali Maya Helmet

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Cheesily named after its home state of California, Kali Protectives is a helmet-and-armour brand based just up the road from Specialized HQ in Morgan Hill. Kali produces a wide range of XC, trail, skate and downhill helmets, along with a number of body armour products such as knee and elbow pads. The helmets are the company’s main drive however, and they’re designed with unique technologies that its owner and lead designer, Brad Waldron, believes sets its helmets apart from the competition.

The Maya slots into Kali’s ‘Enduro’ line, and it uses a half-shell design that offers a greater amount of coverage compared to more XC orientated helmets such as the Kali Maraka XC helmet that we’ve previously reviewed.

Nice slim shape.
Nice slim shape (the helmet, not Hannah’s head)

Chipps has also tested the Maya helmet before, though that model was a pre-production sample. The Maya has since gone into production to become the much more polished lid you see here.

Roomy Sizing

As a fit for my head, the Maya is comfortable, but it is a touch roomy. I have the Small/Medium size, which is rated for heads with a circumference between 55-61cm (curiously the large/XL fits a much smaller range of only 60-63cm). Mine is a 56cm head, and to get it truly tight – so that the front doesn’t lift if the visor catches the wind on a fast descent – I need to tighten it more than is really comfortable without a buff underneath.

Currently Kali only offers the Maya helmet in either S/M or L/XL sizes. Another smaller size down in the range would be welcome for those medium-to-small heads, because this one in reality is pretty voluminous for a S/M size. Actually, a smaller size would be really welcome – this helmet is very comfortable, it feel light on your head, and doesn’t give me sore pressure points.

No vents up top.
No vents up top.

High-Tech Foam

Even with the additional coverage around the back of the head (and the quite large sizing) I like the look of this helmet – it doesn’t make me feel like I have a mushroom for a head, and photographic evidence suggests that it looks OK too (Ed: we’ll be the judge of that…). The helmet uses ‘CompositeFusion Plus’ technology, which uses a layer of multi density cone shaped foam that intersects with a layer of softer foam that surrounds the head. This, Kali claims, is in contrast to traditional construction methods that use a hard outer combined with a gap and a foam inner to provide protection – and also bulk. As another tick in the ‘looks’ box, it’s available six different colours, any of which I’d be happy to have on my head.

Rear groove to help hold a goggle strap.
Rear groove to help hold a goggle strap.

Minimal Ventilation

The Maya doesn’t have that many vents, which has caused me a couple of issues. Firstly, it’s quite a warm helmet. In winter this is a good thing, and with just a thin buff to protect my ears I’ve been comfortable in even the most arctic of conditions. Come warmer days however, it is a touch on the warm side on big pedally rides or climbs, and I’d ideally like another set of ventilation holes on the top of my head.

That said, the inner padding does seem to do a good job of stopping the sweat from running down your face. And if you want more ventilation, then the new Kali Interceptor helmet will be the better option if you’re still after that trail-style coverage.

Inner padding is comfortable.
Inner padding is comfortable.


Another reason for wanting another set of ventilation holes is lights. My lights attach to my helmet via a rather Heath Robinson velcro system, and the positioning of the holes on the Maya make it incompatible with this. Yes, you might have lights which attach neatly to a GoPro mount or around the included tube mount that clips onto the integrated bracket on the visor. But in my experience the location of this bracket is too far down the front of the helmet – I want my lights on the top of my head. For lights, I think the mount needs to be on the top of the helmet, not the visor – the visor fitting makes the helmet feel unwieldy and you’re constantly aware of the helmet and the weight of the light pulling at your neck. If like me you’ve got a battery pack to contend with, it also means you need to find a solution to routing that cable over the top and down your back rather than flapping just at the periphery of your vision or around your ear. As a GoPro mount, if you’re in possession of a nice modern lightweight camera, then you should find that the mount is well placed for getting good footage, provided that you get everything nice and tight to stop things wobbling about too much.

Mount: works for a GoPro but not lights.
Mount: works for a GoPro but not lights.

The helmet looks well made, and there are no gaps between the polycarbonate outer and the EPS foam inner, just a smooth seam all the way round. I’ve not had the displeasure of impact testing the helmet, but it has stood up to the rigours of testing, plus a few airplane journeys. The visor is slightly adjustable, although you should expect to set this before you ride, not on the go – the wheels to tighten it and hold it place are a bit fiddly.

Adjustable visor.
Adjustable visor.


The Maya is a comfortable helmet that should suit many heads, apart from the small ones. The integrated light/camera mount is a neat idea, but in practice, it could do with being further up in the middle of the helmet to better balance weight distribution. Otherwise the Maya provides loads of coverage in a well-made lid that’s packed with clever technology.

A comfortable helmet - can we have a smaller size please?
A comfortable helmet – can we have a smaller size please?

Review Info

Brand: Kali
Product: Maya Helmet
Price: £84.99
Tested: by Hannah for 6 months
Author Profile Picture
Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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