Vemar VSR Motorcycle Helmet
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
| Owner Comments (Below)
UPDATE: November 22, 2007 - Rumor
confirmed: Vemar is back in the U.S.A.!
| Quick Look at the
Motonation has announced that it has acquired Vemar
helmets as an exclusive brand and they will exclusively
represent Vemar Helmets in the U.S.A.
"While there are presently a large selection of
helmet brands offered in the USA, Vemar comes to the
market at a time when the upper end of the market has
room for growth and is missing a pure 100% European
production manufacture of high end laminated helmets",
according to Motonation.
"Vemar will fill that void and will surely make an
immediate impact on the market with its unique
"exclusive" sales territories, firm retail pricing
policy and the addition of two top riders in the MotoGP
"Alex De Angelis on a Gresini Honda and Andrea
Dovizioso on Montiron/Mularoni Team Honda. These
efforts will be supplemented with an extensive retail
advertising program that will surely drive
discriminating consumers into the finest dealers in the
More info on Vemar below, and we hope to acquire one
of the new helmets as soon as possible for a review.
is it exactly that gives certain brands a mystique
and cachet that all the marketing dollars (or Euros, in
this case) in the world can't buy? There are a
very few motorcycle helmet names that seem to rise above
the crowd and somehow become "the" helmet to own.
It can't be just the quality and
features, because those are a given to even start a play in this
market. It must have something to do with
word-of-mouth, limited availability, pricing that
excludes the unwashed masses, race creds and a winning résumé.
just can't be bought, can't be controlled and when it
happens -- no matter the product -- the manufacturers
are usually taken by surprise.
In the motorcycle
helmet world, the "It" label has been variously held by Schuberth, ROOF, Soumy, OGK and
maybe one or two more. Some end up trying too hard
to capitalize on their surprising desirability and blow
it by saturating the market in the pursuit of quick
Others figure it's haughtiness that does
it, and they end up on the wrong side of their customers when the Next
Big Thing comes along. It's a razor-thin line,
easy to misread and way too vulnerable to market whims.
Vemar seems to have it
coming their way recently -- but can they make it last?
If they keep pumping out products like the VSR Chrome,
it should be a safe bet.
Started in the
not-too-distant past of 1981, Vemar (VE from vetroresina,
Italian for fiberglass and MAR from Maremma, the region
in Tuscany where the factory is located) started as a
manufacturer specializing in carbon fiber, plastics and
fiberglass technologies. They've since developed a
robust line of racing, street and off-road helmets and
have been fourth in sales of motorcycle helmets in the
ultra-competitive European market and rising fast.
Some of you long-time
webBikeWorld visitors may remember the Vemar VSR Carbon
helmet we featured on the Motorcycle Helmets page a
couple of years back.
We cribbed a photo and directed visitors to the
Vemar website (then only available in Italian), and that single helmet photo generated
tons of email, most of it asking where and when they
could buy one.
After all this time,
Vemar apparently still doesn't have the Carbon ready to
ship, but we finally have an interesting example of
Vemar technology nonetheless, the
Vemar VSR "Chrome" racing helmet.
Photos don't do this
helmet justice -- it has a radiant red chrome
finish that seems to emit its own light. I've
literally had people stop and stare as I drive by with
this baby on my head -- "eye popping" is probably the
word for the color. Also available in chrome blue, the VSR Chrome is one of Vemar's
top-of-the-line helmets, and it's now available in the
U.S.A. thanks to the folks at Intersport Fashions West,
the official U.S.A. importers and distributors.
You may know Intersport Fashions West as the
distributors for some high-quality motorcycling
accessories, including FirstGear apparel, Held Gloves,
Schuberth Helmets, Hein Gericke, Oxtar Boots and more.
We've reviewed several of these products, so be sure and
check out the webBikeWorld
Review Index for more information.
But the VSR Chrome is
more than just a pretty face -- at 1566 grams for a size
XL (3 lbs., 7-1/4 oz.), this is a relatively light
weight helmet. Vemar uses two shell sizes
for their helmets, a small shell for size XS to M, and a
large shell size for sizes L and XL. We would
expect that the smaller shell size would be even
lighter; Vemar claims the smaller sizes weigh in at 1420 grams,
or about 3 lbs., 2 oz., which would make it one of the lightest
Vemar has its share of
acronymic obfuscations, and we'll assume that the
alphabet soup is
responsible for the light weight. If you're
interested, they have lots of detail on their website
about the various types of fibers that go into a Vemar
helmet, but suffice it to say that they use "Tricom",
which Vemar claims is a proprietary mixture of fiberglass, carbon fiber, Aramid and
a fiber called "Dyneema".
Dyneema is an HPPE (High
Performance Polyethylene) fiber produced by DSM N.V.
Dyneema is used in high performance ropes and lines,
commercial fishing nets, high performance sails and in
bulletproof vests, cockpit doors and military helmets.
It's claimed to be the "world's strongest fiber", so
it's nice to know it's included in the mixture. Vemar makes reference also to the use of carbon fiber,
and we wouldn't be surprised to learn that the VSR
Chrome has its share of the stuff, but we're not
sure. Certain areas of the VSR Chrome appear to
have that "matrix" look of carbon fiber, especially
around the chin bar.
The objective of a
motorcycle helmet is to protect the rider's noggin, and
a helmet's shell is usually made from some type of
mixture of various fibers that, when cured, form a
strong matrix that will absorb the energy of crashing by
deforming in a controlled manner.
It's easier said than
done, because the shell has to be bag molded under heat
and pressure to also come up with a shape that will be
both acceptable to the customer, provide aerodynamic
efficiency and allow good airflow.
inexpensive helmets are molded using various types of
plastic, with or without a fiber matrix added for
strength. If they pass the DOT, Snell or ECE tests,
then who can say that one is better than the other?
But I usually look to see what the motorcycle racers
wear, because they require the absolute best protection.
It's one thing to pass the various safety requirements
by just squeaking through; it's quite another to surpass
the real-world abuse that a helmet can take on the race
I'm at the far end of a
size large motorcycle helmet, and depending upon the
design, I sometimes take a large but I sometimes need an XL
to fit my
round head. Intersport Fashions West sent
me a size XL when I described my head size and shape,
and the VSR Chrome fits just about perfectly, so I'd say they run
a touch small.
The internal shape of the VSR
Chrome tends slightly
to the oval, because the sides are a bit tight, but the
liner is surprisingly plush and I find the helmet to be
internal shape seems to be unusual; it feels like it's round at the
top, slightly oval at the sides, and opens up again at
the bottom. I have an "earth" shaped head,
wider at the temples, and often have trouble
finding the perfect fit.
I also have a wide jaw, and
although you'd think that the VSR Chrome's "hourglass"
shape as described would be at odds with my head shape,
it's not the case. The extra room in the lower
half of the helmet does the trick, and relieves the pressure on my cheeks.
The VSR Chrome has
removable cheek pads and a removable liner, and the
cheek pads are available in small (15mm), medium (25mm) and large
They fit very nicely in the helmet,
because they're completely backed by Velcro fastener,
and not the
cheap snaps like those found on inexpensive helmets.
I'm not sure what size cheek pads are standard with the size XL
helmet (probably medium?), but these fit me perfectly,
so I'm very satisfied.
The slightly wider design
of the lower portion of the helmet has a slight
drawback. It doesn't seal out the turbulent air
around the base of the helmet, letting in more noise
than might otherwise be the case. Race-oriented
helmets are usually noisier than, for example, touring
helmets, but the noise generated in the neck area of the
VSR Chrome could, I think, be easily remedied by some
additional padding in that area.
If I hunch my shoulders
up just a touch when I'm riding, which shoves my jacket
collar up near the neck area of the helmet, I can reduce
the apparent noise by about 50%. It seems to be
coming from under the helmet, just under and in back of
the ears. I can stick a finger along the opening
and quiet things down also.
This may be caused by
my head shape, or even the types of jackets that I wear,
so your experience may differ. Alternatively, a product
Windjammer helmet wind blocker goes a long way
towards quieting down most any full-face helmet.
The VSR Chrome features
several types of vents and extractors to keep things
cool. The chin bar includes a "V" shaped vent
which lets in a good quantity of air that's directed up
behind the breath guard.
The back of the chin bar
has some nice, cushy EPS lining, and although it feels
like the air flows through it and on to my face, I can't
see any holes, so I'm not sure how this happens.
There are also a series
of rectangular passageways along the top of the eye
opening in the helmet shell that direct air back over the top of the
The chin bar also features an external extractor on each side,
which is nicely camouflaged into the overall look, and
apparently help pull the air through the chin bar.
The top of the helmet has
a simple but cool-looking top vent that slides open to
two positions (three if you count the closed position).
A plastic screen lives underneath, keeping out bugs and
Two vent channels lie on each side of the
top of the helmet, and the air that is forced in to them is
extracted out the back via two corresponding diffusers
that can be opened or closed.
The venting is completed
with two extractors at the lower rear of the helmet,
which use the helmet's low-pressure zone to help pull air out the
This all adds up to two inlets (chin bar and
top); four Venturi extractors (two front and two back);
and two extractors on the upper rear area of the helmet
that can be opened or closed.
The buttons or
switches that open and close the chin bar and top vents
are "V" shaped and, in typical Italian style, serve both
a functional and stylistic purpose.
The overall quality of
the VSR Chrome helmet, the liner, the paint and the
general fit and finish is top-drawer, equal to the best
in the world, in our opinion. As we mentioned earlier, the chrome
paint really has to be seen to be believed.
Vemar uses a 2.2mm
scratch resistant visor, available in clear,
smoke (50%) and Iridium flavors. The clear and
smoke visors are treated
with "Savimex" anti-fog and UV protective coating; Vemar
claims that this is the most effective anti-fog coating
available. It's been pretty warm here, so we
didn't have a chance to put this claim to the test.
The helmet also has the
now-ubiquitous spring-loaded, easy-to-use visor mounting
system. Simply raise the visor to the uppermost
position, pull down the little button under the side to
release the spring tension, and the visor pops right out
for cleaning or replacement.
Vemar has developed what
they call "Crush Zone Technology", which is used in the
chin bar to allow controlled deformation in the case of
a crash. The VSR Chrome is ECE 22.05 and DOT
approved (See the wBW
information page on the ECE 22.05 standard). ECE 22.05 is the
European standard for
motorcycle helmet safety, and is probably the most stringent
standard in the world.
The VSR Chrome is accepted for
use in the FIM
World Superbike Championship, AMA Pro Racing, CCS, PIM,
Formula-USA, WERA and even in MotoGP racing. Vemar helmets are used by
many racers, including 250cc World Championship riders
Stefan Perugini, Roberto Rolfo and Anthony West.
details include the "Breath Mesh" comfortable lining as
mentioned earlier, plus a nice D-ring retention system
that includes a big plastic tab on one of the rings and
an easy-to-use snap to hold the extra length of
Vemar's reputation for innovation and quality are
certainly confirmed in our VSR Chrome racing helmet.
It's not hard to find little quality faults with even
the most expensive helmets, but the VSR Chome is
We're especially impressed with the
comfort and the fit of the liner; it's hard to get
excited about a helmet liner, but this one really does
seem more comfortable. The helmet flows a large
quantity of air, it's comfortable, light weight and has
some claimed safety advantages provided by Vemar's
It is noisier than other
street helmets, although probably about average for a
race helmet. We always wear earplugs and helmet
liners when riding, and suggest you do also.
Please see the wBW
Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more
information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
To paraphrase an old
saying, "if you have a 100 buck head, buy a 100 buck
helmet", but if you're only going to own one good
helmet, why not make a statement? The Vemar VSR
Chrome is a great alternative to the more common brands,
and you're getting about the best that money can buy.
Background: Vemar Helmets S.r.l.
Vemar was founded in 1975 in Grossetto (in beautiful
Tuscany) to produce fiberglass tanks to preserve wine,
oil and water for professional and domestic use.
In 1987, one of the original Vemar partners, Riccardo
Simoni, established the helmet department based on the
more than 10 years of experience in the fiberglass and
composite materials sectors. This division spun
off in 1992 into its own company, Vemar Helmets S.r.l.
From the first building, that wasn't larger than 1800
square feet, a development and diversification process
begun that, through the growth of the Vemar brand via
sales in over 40 international markets the companies
physical presence has grown to a corporate headquarters
of more than 270,000 square feet.
Focused from "day-one" on technical development,
quality materials and production methods, Mr. Simoni put
into practice the experience he gained in the sector of
composite fibers and soon, by focusing this development
plan on product comfort, weight and safety, Vemar
Helmets was able to produce Kevlar, Carbon and
multi-composite products, (Tri-composites) with superior
liners and in the quintessential Italian style making
itself the largest and most experienced European
manufacture of composite helmets.
"Every autoclave produced carbon fiber or composite
Vemar helmet is made by Vemar’s craftsman at its own
Italian production facility, the only European high end
helmet manufacturer to never outsource its production."
VSR Chrome Motorcycle Helmet
Suggested Retail Price: $399.95 - $499.95
or Blue Chrome with Silver/Anthracite accents. Also
available in solids and a Stefan Perugini replica.
|Notes: DOT and ECE 22.05 approved. Sizes Available:
XS to XL
Helmet page |
sized photo (600x400)
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►Your Comments and
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Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details
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clarity prior to publication.
"I was in the process of doing helmet research to buy a
helmet for my wife. webBikeWorld is always the first
place I stop when researching anything for motorcycles. I
noted the comments from L.C.T on Vemar helmets.
Anyway, I purchased a Vemar VSR Chrome in red
December 2005 from Extreme Supply. I paid $168.00 for it.
A couple months later I picked up a couple (2) extra face
shields as well. When I corresponded with Extreme Supply,
they said that I needed to get the face shields now because they
were down to a few left. That, coupled with the current
VSR price (only silver left) of $99 and with what L.C.T. stated
in his comments gives me the impression as well that Vemar might
be pulling out of the US market.
That is a shame because I really like the helmet
and may just pick up another VSR in silver as a back-up. I
have about 3000 miles with my current VSR. It is a
comfortable helmet and fits well. I find it to be a little
noisy, but I ride with earplugs all the time so it is an
non-issue for me. It flows enough air to keep me fairly
cool even when the temperature was pushing 100 degrees, rare for
the Pacific Northwest.
My only complaint is that the red coating that
covers the chrome is quite fragile. If a piece chips off,
it has to be sealed with clear nail polish or it is easy to
catch it on something and then an even bigger piece will come
off. At the price I paid however, it is a small issue.
I am satisfied. It really is a real head turner. I
would not hesitate to buy another Vemar helmet but if they are
pulling out, it does not make too much sense.
The replacement helmet on my short list is the
Hopefully they will not fall victim to the market forces like
Vemar "potentially" did. Keep up the great work.
Your evaluations really help to make sense of a motorcycle
market that can be overwhelming with the amount of equipment
that is available."
"I purchased a Vemar VSR Diadora helmet from Extreme
Supply here in Costa Mesa, CA over a year ago, and have been
very happy with it. At the time, it was priced at just
$149, some $300-off the MSRP.
Though I have a normal-size
head (hat size: 7-3/8), I can’t wear most XL or XXL helmets. My
XL Vemar is a little tight in the cheeks, but quite livable, and
it’s great as my cold weather riding “lid”. Plus, it’s
muchquieter than my other helmet: an XXL size OGK (which fits me
perfectly!). And, of course, like with both of my bikes,
my Vemar was made in Europe, not Asia.
Lately, though, I’ve noticed that both Extreme
Supply and Del Amo Motorsports in Torrance are “blowing-out” all
remaining Vemars for just $99.00. Helluva deal, yes? But
it tends to indicate to me that perhaps Vemar is abandoning the
U.S. market. Are they un-able or un-willing with the Asian
companies (which advertise quite heavily, it must be noted) such
as Icon, HJC, KBC, Shoei, Arai, etc.?
Then again, other European companies, with
premium-priced helmets, are making in-roads into the American
motorcycling scene; e.g., Suomy and Shark. For what it’s
worth, I see Vemar advertising in the British motorcycling
magazines, and it’s hard to watch an international road race on
Speed Channel WITHOUT seeing at least a couple of racers wearing
Vemars. So why abandon the world’s #1 market?
Any input you might have would be
greatly-appreciated, especially since Fairchild, USA, the Vemar
distributor, has of yet to respond to my inquiries to them.
Until then, 'Keep the VEMAR side up, and the Pirelli side
Editor's Response: Thanks
for visiting webBikeWorld and for your email. I've also
noticed that several retailers seem to be reducing their Vemar
inventories lately. I'm not really sure why -- and I agree, I
think they're good helmets.
My best guess is that the
motorcycle helmet market is so incredibly competitive and now
that most of the helmets are made in China, the prices have
dropped dramatically while most quality has risen equally
Although the American market is huge, it's
also a nightmare for distribution, support, logistics,
competition, etc. HJC and Shoei pretty much have the
market sewn up. So I'll bet Vemar just said 'forget it' and will
retrench back to Europe, where they've had a good distribution
network, brand recognition, etc. for some time.
In the meantime, there are plenty o' good
helmets out there nowadays! Even the old Bell name has
been resurrected, and although I suspect they're made by another
manufacturer and re-branded, even those are darn good helmets
for the price.
By the way, Arai has also been hit; they've
recently gone back to allowing retailers to sell via the
Internet AND at a discount! With all this going on, it's got to
be incredibly tough to try and do what it takes to establish a
brand in the U.S.A., the biggest but also toughest market on