- by John Hawkins
- Published: 28 July 2012
Kali Protectives have built a solid reputation overseas for making top quality helmets and protective gear. In addition to cycling helmets, Kali also make moto and snowboarding helmets, so they know a thing or two about protecting your most valuable asset. Their products have only recently become available in Australia with AS2063 certification through the retailer Velogear.
BNA was invited to test Kali Protectives’ Amara helmet. The styling of the Amara (Sanskrit for “immortal”, which is reassuring) follows the trend set by Fox with their Flux helmet, and provides greater protection for the rear of the head by extending down lower than most cross-country and roadie helmets. The weight is at the higher end of the range, coming in at around 350 grams, about 10 grams lighter than my equivalent size Fox Flux.
The front visor is of a break-away design, but is actually not removable. The Amara uses mid-to-high end in-mould technology, where the foam is moulded into the polycarbonate shell so there is no air gap. Kali calls this their “Composite Fusion Technology” and has taken it a step further by using separate polycarbonate bridges and inserts at various points to improve strength. Pleasingly, the outer polycarbonate shell extends all the way to the bottom at the helmet’s rear, leaving no bare foam unsupported at the base of the skull (unlike like many others in the same price bracket).
This helmet is without doubt the most comfortable I’ve used. The previous benchmark was set by a $300+ European roadie helmet, which unfortunately was non-AS compliant and which I did not buy, but which opened my eyes to a comfort standard I have been unable to match until the arrival of the Amara. This high end helmet combined the usual Coolmax + foam cushion strips with an integrated bug net.
The Amara does the same, with the padding and bug net forming a one-piece construction that is easily removed for washing. This may possibly make the helmet a little warmer during the summer months, but an unseasonably warm July mid-20-degree ride last weekend showed that for most conditions these concerns are unlikely to be a problem. Seventeen large vents ensure excellent air flow. Another upside is that I no longer present at work with Darth Maul helmet hair until I can get to the showers.
With the use of adventure helmet cams strongly on the rise, Kali have moulded an integrated mounting rail along the crown of the helmet. Four separate types of mount adapter are included, which will provide coverage for LED torches, “bullet” style cameras, GoPro-compatible cameras, and some types of helmet light.
I tried the Kali Amara with both GoPro and Swann HD helmet cams and found it to offer a significant improvement over the normal strap-on type vented helmet mounts (where it is almost impossible to prevent camera shake and fire cracker-like rattling noise across rough ground). The helmet offers similar mount rigidity to stick-on adhesive mounts, with none of the hassle of trying to find sufficient surface area to ensure the bond is secure. The video results were markedly better than any of my previous attempts with helmet mounted cameras.
In the event of a collision with a tree branch, the adapter will pull free, preventing you from “coathanger-ing” yourself.
The rear adjustment mechanism is identical to the Fox Flux, and provides easy to use and secure adjustment. Coming from the exact same Asian factory, I suppose that is no surprise!
On my particular review helmet there were a couple of small rough spots in the finish, but nothing to detract from the Amara’s function or aesthetics; a casual observer would probably not notice them at all.
I have been looking for a replacement helmet for a while, and after trying on multiple models in 7 or 8 different brands, I was prepared to spend a significantly higher amount to get similar comfort levels to the expensive roadie helmet I liked. I found nothing suitable until the Amara. To get similar results for a spend of under a hundred dollars was outstanding.
Comfort – exceptionally good
Integrated camera mount
Extended head coverage at the rear
Outstanding value for money
Some small finishing issues
Possibly warmer to wear on 40C+ days
You can find the Kali Amara helmets online at Velogear.com for $79.95.