Kali Alchemy Helmet: Quick Review – by Grannygear
I have to admit to a bit of snobbery when it comes to bike gear. Part of that is the amount of very fine gear that tends to come my way as a product reviewer, most of it on the higher end of things. My road helmet is a S Works version. My shoes are a mix, but many of them were $300+ when new. That is nice stuff.
But there is a place where the benefits of a higher and higher price become simply esoteric. A few less grams here and more carbon there, etc. I find that any shoe I have used that was not at the $150.00 level has been a disappointment in fit and function. But at $400.00 and above, the difference may or may not be all that apparent. See where I am going?
In helmets, as the price goes up, say like a road or light XC helmet, they get lighter and usually more vented (or aero) compared to the cheaper versions, yet offer the same amount of protection. That requires more costly materials or technology. That requires you spend more.
So when I was talking to the marketing person from Kali, and I was choosing a helmet that cost $100 bucks retail, I was expecting a good product but not a great one. Silly me. Because the Kali has been a real treat to use and I have to wonder about spending twice as much for gravel riding.
The Kali Alchemy comes in 4 color blends and two sizes, SM/MD and LG/XL. So the sizing is a bit less than other helmets brands might offer, that choice more often being three sizes – SM, MD, and LG. I found that the LG/XL fit me the best and sat down on my head better than the SM/MD did, even though my measured cranial circumference is dead on the upper limit of the smaller size and the lower limit of the bigger size on the Kali sizing chart. I also always wear a head cover under my helmet, so I have to allow for that. I tried the SM/MD on Mrs. Grannygear who wears a SM helmet in a Specialized and it was too big for her, so there is a limit to how well you can cover the market in two sizes.
Helmet fit is pretty individual as heads are like butts…no two are shaped quite the same. Kali says their helmets are built in a semi-oval shape and that seems to be what I am as well, as the fit on the Kali Alchemy is perfect for me. No wiggle, no pinching. Rock solid and comfy for hours.
For the money you are also getting Kali’s version of MIPS-type protection. See the little green Lego looking inserts in the helmet’s interior? You can read about that here but here is a synopsis:
Our Low Density Layer (LDL) padding system addresses both low-g and rotational impact forces by placing soft gel pads throughout the interior of the helmet. These specially designed viscoelastic gel pads are softer than EPS and can compress and shear in all directions. As a result, they reduce rotational impact forces by 25% and low-g linear impact forces by 30%
There is also more tech in the shell of the Kali Alchemy.
WHAT IS IT?Composite Fusion is our proprietary in-molding technology that merges the shell and EPS foam liner together. It is the innovative helmet safety technology upon which Kali Protectives was founded in 2006. Today, it is a family of in-molding technologies that allow us to make helmets with better impact energy management and increased dynamic range. WHY IS IT BETTER? Composite Fusion eliminates the air gap between the shell and EPS foam liner. The fused shell and liner are stronger and work together to absorb g-forces more efficiently. STRONGER WITH A PURPOSE.
Kali Therapy, the same helmet sans visor.Another thing I really like in a gravel bike helmet (although of course, this helmet is made for the XC MTB crowd) is a small visor. On the road, I am not so interested in one as speeds are higher, the wind is more of a factor, and I am typically not trying to ride in sun dappled conditions. But the small visor works really well for me on the typical gravel bike ride. If you would prefer not having a visor, then there is the
The Alchemy has a nice feel to it, not cheap at all with any edges to annoy on the shell, etc. So what is not amazing? Well it is not super light at 328 grams. The ratcheting system at the back of the helmet feels a bit cheap to ‘click’ when you adjust it. The helmet straps are not as svelte as some helmets costing twice as much. Honestly it weighs the same as the helmet it replaced (Mavic) and I do not notice the difference between it and my S Works road helmet, although there is little doubt that less weight on the head reduces fatigue over long hours on the bike.
None of those things would deter me from buying this for 100 clams. I have not tested the LDL protection tech, but that is a good thing, not crashing and such. But anything that helps reduce the banging to the brain when we dirt sample is better than nothing.
Kali is well worth considering as a head wrapper if your old helmet is getting a bit long in the tooth. As well, helmet tech in the last couple of years has jumped a good bit forward in reducing rotational impacts to the brain and that is a good thing. It might just be the best ‘upgrade’ you could make.
Note: ali sent over the Alchemy helmet for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.