I got a bit sick of spending hundreds of dollars on bicycle helmets. Helmets are consumables to me, I wear one for about an hour every day on my commute and replace every couple of years. Usually after a couple of years of daily wear and being left hanging off my bike in the bike cage at work, they look a bit rough.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a comfortable, light helmet with good airflow.
Disclosure: Proviz Sports provided the Mercury helmet for me to review free of charge. I purchased the Kali Protectives Chakra with my own dollars. This did not influence my opinion of these helmets in any way.
I have had the Kali Protectives Chakra Plus for about a year and have used it for mountain biking, commuting and some longer road rides. Proviz sports contacted me to do a review of their Mercury helmet and I have used it for commuting for a month and a weekend of mountain biking in order to compare the two.
These are both ‘mountain bike’ style helmets with plastic visors. From above the Mercury seems wider and longer than the Chakra, but I think that the Chakra looks chunkier whilst being worn. They are both eye-grabbing colours, with the Chakra being a more conventional green while the Mercury is a ‘high vis’ type yellow. Although it is impossible to tell at this stage, I believe that the colour of the Mercury will fade more than the Chakra over time as all high-vis products do.
I decorated the Kali for my ride in the Giro d’Perth with a bunch of sparkly green pipe cleaners. It did slip around a bit as it sometimes does and was a bit crooked on my head for the photo.
The Marketing Guff
Kali Protectives – Chakra Plus Helmet – Neon Green (rrp $59.95 but there’s always a sale at Velogear!)
- Ultra lightweight Polycarbonate Shell
- Low density EPS foam for impact absorption
- Integrated Airflow System
- Expanded rear coverage design
- Breakaway visor
- Ezi Dial Fitting
- Australian Standards
- Net Liner
- Suitable for trail, commuting & everyday riding
Weight (g): 334
No of Vents: 22
Proviz Mercury – $39.95
- Rear LED light built in to adjustable headring for extra safety and comfort
- Designed for those seeking a sleeker/racier look
- Manufactured in PROVIZ fluorescent yellow for added safety and visibility
- Suitable for male/female
- Designed and built to CE EN 1078 safety standard
- In-mould manufacturing
20 ventilation holes, weight 285 grams
Whilst Kali claim that ‘Composite fusion’ is something that only high range helmets do, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a helmet with the plastic shell and the inner foam not bonded together! It is a minimum requirement for any helmet that I would consider buying.
Even though the Mercury’s 20 ventilation holes are bigger than the 22 on the Chakra – the Chakra definitely feels like it has better air flow. This may be to do with the Mercury’s thicker padding. The Chakra would be my preferred helmet for a hot summer ride.
The Mercury does not have the red ‘Australian Standards’ sticker. This probably won’t matter on a day to day basis, but beware that on some organised rides they inspect for stickers and if your helmet doesn’t have one then it’s not deemed as adequate. The Mercury adheres to the European standard which I am personally happy with. Some more information on the standard can be found on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EN_1078
The Chakra’s fit system does not seem to be as robust as other helmets I have used. It can rattle loose over rough terrain, and the helmet buckles can also flip into an ‘unlocked’ position allowing more helmet strap out than you want. This has only happened to me on a couple of occasions but it can add annoyance to your ride when you have to stop and fix the straps, or tighten up the rear knob.
Whilst the Mercury claims to be lighter, it feels slightly heavier.
I love the way they have integrated the light in to the Mercury. It is part of the rear adjustment knob so it doesn’t add any bulk and is in quite a protected position (unlike a light stuck on top of your helmet as an afterthought) which means that it won’t have any affect on the helmet’s performance if you have an ‘off’. The light uses two small button batteries, and is replaced by removing the outer cap gently with a screwdriver. I haven’t used the light long enough to get an indication of how long the batteries will last.
I think the next step would be to have a helmet with integrated front and rear lights, front and rear ‘keychain’ style cameras and an integrated battery system charged by a USB port. If anyone develops such a helmet, no need to thank me for the idea, but please send me one!
The Final Verdict
Whilst both helmets represent great value, I have to choose the Proviz Mercury as my favorite, due to the better fit and the more robust head ring which stops it from loosening up and sliding whilst mountain biking.
If you are interested in the Mercury, check it out at Proviz Sports.
The Kali Chakra is available at Velogear.