Head injuries have to be one of the scariest things out there. They're in the spotlight now more than ever due to a slew of high-profile incidents over the past year or so, and unlike a broken bone, torn muscle or ligament, or some other kind of trauma, we still know relatively little about them. This is compounded by the fact that a concussion - which is actually brain trauma, an even scarier way of putting it - isn't the type of injury that can always be easily diagnosed, and even when it is, people often shrug it off because it's not a gaping flesh wound or a femur split into two pieces.
How we look after ourselves post-accident is a whole other ball of wax, but doing what we can to prevent or limit the damage to our brains from a crash should be paramount. With their Composite Fusion Plus shells that use conical-shaped foam of different densities to progressively dissipate impacts, Kali Protectives has long been doing things differently than their larger sized competition. Now, Kali is employing a new technology, dubbed LDL, which they're claiming is going to be a ''MIPS killer.''
It also happens to look like a cross between an octopus tentacle and a piece of green Lego.
While some helmet testing standards, as well as a lot of helmet technology, focuses on the worst-case kind of cycling crashes that might be akin to getting hit by a car or falling out of a third-story window, the very large majority of spills aren't that violent. Kali's Brad Waldron believes that helmets designed to mostly look after your head during those third-story window types of crashes sacrifice a lot of protection when it comes to the kind of relatively minor spills that some of us seem to have weekly. Why? Because the EPS foam, and also the helmet's exterior shell in some cases, has to be so rigid that there's no way that it can properly deal with smaller, less violent impacts, even though those are arguably more common and can also cause some real damage.
So, how do you construct a helmet that has to pass tests that demand third-story window type of impact protection, but that also dissipate lower energy impacts?
You add in another element between the head and the helmet, much like how MIPS sits between the shell and the rider's head. Waldron said that he wanted something more effective than MIPS, though, so he worked with a company called Armor Gel to come up with LDL (an acronym for Low Density Layer) which is essentially odd looking strips that have been placed under the pads inside of the helmet's shell.
MIPS likely helps to prevent head injuries to some extent, but it could also be said that having a MIPS sticker on your lid is nearly mandatory when it comes to sales these days.
Marketing aside, I'd rather have a MIPS helmet on my head than a normal lid, but Waldron is claiming that his LDL system and how it allows for flex rather than MIPS-like sliding is a much more effective way of keeping a rider's head safe.
Kali is looking to employ LDL in all of their helmets, and it's already put to use in the $180 USD Interceptor that's pictured here. With added protection at the back of the head, the Interceptor is a trail/enduro style helmet, but it's on the airy side of things in that category. Waldron explained that the helmet's large vents are possible because of the shell reinforcement around the vent edges, a step that he took instead of using denser foam (less foam requires denser foam, he says) which would be a step backward in regards to absorbing the majority of impacts. The back of the Interceptor's shell is also a bit more rounded than some other helmets that are sporting a more popular, squarer shape, a shape that Waldron believes to be more prone to digging into the ground and intensifying an impact rather than a rounder profile that's more prone to slide and lessen the forces of a crash.
Reader Comment -
(The sad thing is that no one pays attention to preventing concussions until they've already had one. Once you've had a couple concussions like we have, it takes much less force to give you another, and no helmet in the world will fix that. The riders who need a helmet like this the most are the ones who've never had a concussion.)