Kali Catalyst Motorcycle Helmet Review:
Composite Fusion Plus, and More
By Don Williams - December 4, 2018
Although better known in the bicycling world, Kali Protective’s Kali Motorsports subsidiary makes innovative motorcycle helmets that feature unique approaches to safety.
Though we do extensive test rides in the helmets, we can’t test the impact protection capabilities. Regardless, the safety aspects in the Kali Catalyst motorcycle helmet are certainly of interest.
The Kali Catalyst has two impact-dispersing calling cards—its Composite Fusion Plus EPS liner, and its Low Density Layer (LDL). The two features work in concert, yet have distinct roles is reducing the amount of impact energy transmitted to your head.
The Composite Fusion Plus liner is a multi-density EPS shell. We have seen that many times, but Kali does things a bit differently. Kali uses a softer EPS outer portion of the shell, with collapsible multi-density cones inside it. According to Kali, these interior cones absorb and disperse impacts more effectively than a traditional EPS liner.
Closer to your head is the LDL. Rotational forces are a hot topic for motorcycle helmets. 6D helmets brought it to the fore, and Kali has its method of dealing with glancing lower-speed blows.
The LDL is made up of Armourgel patches—made by a British company—placed in strategic locations in the inner portion of the EPS liner. These patches absorb lower-energy impacts, while also allowing interior movement that isolates your head from twisting forces. According to Kali, the Armourgel reduces low-g impacts by 12 percent and rotational forces by 25 percent.
Weighing in at 3 pounds, 8.4 ounces for a medium helmet, the Kali Catalyst is neither particularly heavy nor light. It’s in the same neighborhood as a Shoei RF-1200 and Arai Quantum-X. The standard Catalyst uses what Kali calls a Tri-Weave Shell, though there is a carbon fiber version of the Catalyst that Kali claims is nearly nine ounces lighter.
Fit is personal, of course, though the Kali Catalyst matched my Arai– and HJC-friendly skull nicely. The washable interior is a scalloped style, a common theme from bicycle-related helmet companies. Yet, the overall feel of the soft liner is plusher than you would expect from looking at it.
The faceshield is optically correct, with three heavily detented positions between fully up and closed. The faceshield doesn’t lock down, and an easily manipulated tab on the left is adequate for positioning the faceshield when underway.
For urban riding in humid coastal areas in the city, we did have fogging issues with the faceshield, which doesn’t have a Pinlock system. The chin guard has closable vents via an interior switch. Even with the vent open, the vents have a foam filtering system that hinders intake. The chin curtain was installed, so that also limits airflow to the inside of the face shield. Lifting the faceshield to the first open position was the only cure.
In general, venting is minimal on the Kali Catalyst. The main shell only has a single intake vent array near the top of the helmet. Airflow is encouraged by permanently open exhaust vents in the back. We did ride on warm days and the helmet felt fine, in part because the design of the soft liner allows the moving air easier access to your scalp.
Putting the helmet on is one of those leaps of faith—it seems like there is no way your head is going to fit in the opening. However, it does, and your head feels secure once it is inside. The chinstrap is a tradition double-D ring with an easy-to-find snap button to retain the strap.
Kali Catalyst Helmet Fast Facts
- Sizes: XS-XXL
- Colors: Gloss Black; Matte Black; Matte White
- Graphics: Eclipse, Matte Blue; Eclipse, Matte Red; Eclipse Matte White
- Weight: 3 pounds, 8.4 ounces (medium)
- Kali Catalyst Helmet Price; $350 MSRP