The emails have been pouring in ever since, and although we’ve been playing with a Jiano for a couple of months, I finally got around to writing up the entire story.
Vemar is a familiar name to European motorcyclists and probably not so familiar to Americans.
I’m unclear about the details, but the company did sell DOT safety standard helmets in the U.S. for a few years, and we reviewed the Vemar VSR back around 2003 or so.
Then, as occasionally happens in the U.S. market, the U.S. distributor apparently ended their relationship with Vemar, and the helmets were no longer available.
There were some VSR helmets floating around as overstocks, and many webBikeWorlders, thrifty as they are, exploited the situation to acquire their VSR at rock-bottom prices.
So Vemar disappeared from the U.S. market for a while, but it’s great to see them back!
Not only back, but back with a vengeance, starting off with three new full-face helmets, the Jiano flip-up that’s the subject of this review and, last but not least, they now also have two off-road helmets.
All of the new Vemar helmets are DOT safety standard, and Vemar is offering a five-year warranty on every helmet, which pretty much covers the entire life of the helmet, when you think about it.
We’re pleased and thankful to Motonation for working out the distribution details, which is not an easy task.
And also for providing us with a Vemar VSREV beauty in “Italy” colors that’s currently going through the webBikeWorld evaluation process.
Motonation is also stocking spare visors in a variety of colors and tints and spare parts for the Vemar helmet line, so they’re obviously serious about making this work.
OK, so what about the Jiano? Several flip-up helmets have passed through our hands recently, and we haven’t been all that impressed.
For reasons unknown, flip-up helmet design isn’t really evolving the way we thought it would, could or should.
The Jiano doesn’t break any new ground, and, as you’ll learn, it has, uh, shall we say a lot of mass?
But we all agree that something about it gives it a more secure and solid feeling than probably just about any other flip-up we’ve tried.
Now before we get started, one digression to clarify the term used for these helmets. Somehow, the term “modular” came into use as a word to describe a helmet with a rotating visor.
We went along with it, but now that we have helmets like the Givi X.01 (review) and the Airoh TR1 (review), which truly are modular in every sense of the word, it’s clear to us that a helmet like the Jiano with a rotating visor is a “flip-up”.
That means a “modular” is a new and evolving type of helmet with modular parts, specifically designed to allow it to be converted from one type of helmet to another.
Oh, and one more thing: who’s this “Jiano” dude?
Well, Vemar says that Jiano is “an ancient god that had roots in a number of different cultures, was used to symbolize change and transitions such as the progression of future to past, of one condition to another, of one vision to another, and of one universe to another”.
I’m not so sure about this; my research on Greek mythology and a quick search of several Greek mythology websites turns up a complete blank on the word “Jiano”, so I have a sneaking suspicion that this could be something cooked up by the Vemar marketing folks.
If that’s the case, no problem — you have to give them credit for being creative!
UPDATE: Reader “C.C.” thinks Jiano might be Italian for Janus…makes sense!
Let’s take a look…
Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
The Jiano is yet another new helmet with the “no color is good color” design philosophy.
Like the Givi X.01 we recently reviewed, the Jiano’s thermoplastic shell is available in any color you want, as long as it’s silver, gray or black. Most are matte; the black and “Graphite” are also available in gloss.
Motonation had a matte gray with a slight white pattern on display at the Indy show.
I think this is the “Escape” color and there’s an “Escape” listed on the Motonation site, but one photo shows it with the white stripes and another without.
Our helmet was ordered as a Matte Silver, but after we placed the order, Motonation called and said that it wasn’t available, and in fact they didn’t have many size XL helmets in any color.
They kindly contacted a dealer in Kansas City, who called us up and said he had this Matte Graphite, and we said “Send ‘er over”.
By the way, the matte colors are $275.00 and the gloss is an extra $25.00.
It’s hard to compare a matte finish like this with the wild clear-coated graphics found on most lids, so there’s not much to say. The finish has the same “Rubatone” rubbery feel found on helmets like the Givi X.01.
This is fine and, believe it or not, I’ve actually come to like its industrial look, although I wish that Vemar offered a Jiano in at least a gloss white or silver.
The rubbery finish on the Jiano does seem very prone to picking up greasy fingerprints and other detritus.
Overall, the finish is nicely applied and all the fitments work well and have a decent feel.
I don’t think the tolerances are as tight as they could be, and one thing that bothers me slightly is the way the clear visor stands away from the side of the helmet with a bit of a gap (see Lightbox photo above).
But considering that the price of the Jiano is almost half of a Shoei Multitec (review), I’d say the quality is good in comparison and the Jiano definitely has a solid feel.
And by the way, the Multitec seems to have a brittle finish, as to other Shoei helmets I’ve owned, which doesn’t take kindly to even the slightest bump.
Score: I’ll give the Vemar Jiano a “Very Good” rating for the overall finish and quality of the fittings. Some potential owners may be put off by the limited — and low visibility — color choices. See the ratings scale in the summary table at the bottom of this page.
Helmet Shape and Fit
The Jiano has a round-to-neutral fit; that is, it fits Rick’s big round head without complaints, but it’s not as round as, say, the King of Roundheads, the Arai Quantum II (review).
Our findings are compatible with Vemar’s marketing info for the Jiano, which says it has a “mid-oval” shape. Vemar’s “mid-oval” seems to split the difference between Arai’s “intermediate oval” and round, in our opinion.
I’m a bit wary of Vemar’s internal shape descriptions though, because they say the VSREV has a “round shell shape”, which, they say, “offers a more generous fit ear to ear and snugger fit front to back.
In fact, we found very much the opposite for that helmet (review coming soon), and we also think that their size XL in that model was the equivalent of an XXL; indeed, we returned the XL for a size L, which seems to fit like an XL..
The Jiano fit feels very much like the Shoei RF-1000 (review) to me; round and just a shade towards neutral or intermediate oval.
The cheek pads on the Jiano seem slightly curved in at the bottom, so they may put some pressure on David Coulthard type jaws, but it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary for a motorcycle helmet.
I will say that the Jiano seems to have a relatively high center of gravity, and the helmet sits high on my head, and my chin feels like it doesn’t have as much coverage on the bottom as it should.
This has other implications; I feel like I have to keep pushing the Jiano down on to my head and forward.
The helmet overall seems to be canted towards the front, so I feel like I have to push it forward and down to gain visibility out over the top of the chin bar, which seems higher than usual.
Now this all may be due an internal shape mismatch with my head.
Although the Jiano does seem to tend towards round or neutral, it feels like it does slope towards a long oval shape up at the very top of the liner, and this tiny bit of extra space may be causing the helmet to ride just a bit high for me.
So the bottom line is that I would say that the Jiano is probably not for very round or “Earth” shaped heads, but will fit an intermediate oval to neutral to just shaded towards round.
The size XL shown here fits very slightly smaller than normal, so I think a 60 cm head
As always, be sure to check out the wBWMotorcycle Helmet FAQ for more information on choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet and for a discussion regarding human head shapes.
And don’t forget that choosing the correct helmet shape is crucial for both comfort and safety!
The Jiano is available in an expanded size range, from XXS to XXL.
Vemar says they use two shell sizes to cover this range, but we don’t know where the split is; I’d guess the L, XL and XXL use the large shell and the rest use the small shell. An XXS helmet is very small, by the way; probably child or youth size.
The ear pockets in the Jiano’s liner are fairly generous and they’re backed with a hard material, so they would be good candidates for helmet speakers.
Score: I rate the Jiano an “Excellent” for comfort and fit, but note that we don’t think Vemar’s description is accurate. I give it only a “Good” though for the way the helmet sits on my head; it just seems to need a forward tilt to sit correctly, and this has implications regarding air flow and noise, as we shall see.
The Jiano has your every day, garden variety chin vent and top vent. Neither are very big.
The chin vent operates with a nice, solid feel, but it only flows a minimal amount of air up on to the back of the clear visor. There are no venting channels through the padded chin bar.
The chin vent is very hard to find when wearing gloves, even though I know right where it is and how it operates: up and down.
I just can’t seem to grab it when wearing gloves and it has a very strong detent (good), so it’s not easy to snap up and down (bad).
No problem, because like most motorcycle helmet chin vents, it doesn’t seem to do much anyway.
The top vent is simple: it uses a rubbery-feeling slider to open and close a thin slice of a vent that points forward.
This vent is relatively easy to use, except the slider does not have a raised tab, so a couple of fingers have to push it to slide it back and forth.
It doesn’t really seem to offer much ventilation anyway, probably because the thick-ish helmet liner doesn’t really have any direct venting channels down on to the rider’s head. The vent also makes some noise when it’s open.
Score: I’ll give the Jiano a “Good” for venting and air flow.
So where does most of the venting come from on the Jiano? For some reason, Vemar has elected to mold a separate liner and padding section at the lower rear area of the helmet (photo above).
When the helmet is tilted forward to fit, this section seems to bend backwards, and the gaps on either side open up a couple of portals to the air, which then comes in the helmet and seems to blow around quite a bit.
When the weather was cool, there was simply too much air in the helmet for me to wear it comfortably. Now that it’s warmer, I don’t mind the air blowing around as much.
Now this may be due to some type of mis-match between my head shape and the helmet — but I don’t think so.
I’m very puzzled at why Vemar designed the liner this way (see photos below and in the video), because the gaps on either side of this separate section are also responsible for raising the overall noise levels of the helmet.
I can stick my finger in there and feel hard parts of the shell liner, and covering the gaps decreases the noise levels by an estimated 50%.
The Jiano’s liner seems well padded and more comfortable than most of the liners found in flip-up helmets.
Vemar says that the removable liner has a “life-long treatment against odor, fungus and bacteria, and extraordinary wicking capabilities”.
I don’t know about the former, but it does seem to do a good job at the latter.
Score: The Jiano’s liner gets a “Very Good” for comfort, padding and moisture wicking ability but “Poor” for the way it’s cut in the back.
Overall, the Jiano certainly isn’t the loudest flip-up we’ve tried; I’d say it’s about average.
It’s too bad about the slots on either side of the rear padding section as mentioned above, because covering them with a finger seems to greatly decrease the noise levels, and that’s where most of the noise comes from on this helmet.
The top vent will add a bit of higher frequency sound to the mix, and there’s a general mid-range wind rushing sound, as there is with most helmets.
The Jiano seems about average when it comes to lower frequency “booming” noises around the bottom of the helmet, but these are only noticeable when riding behind some mid-height fairings.
The rotating visor that gives the Jiano it’s “flip-up” designation seems very solid, and it opens smoothly and secures at the top and bottom of its range with a solid “thunk”.
Vemar claims that the visor locking mechanism bits are made from metal. They say “The Jiano’s … face cover lock utilizes metal pins and hooks, making it extremely resistant to opening in the event of an accident.”
The pins in the helmet shell do seem to be made from metal, but the mating levers that are located in the rotating visor that lock into those pins sure seem like plastic to me.
I’m no metallurgist, but if it looks like plastic, feels like plastic, smells like plastic…
Vemar’s claims notwithstanding, the rotating visor on our helmet does feel secure when it’s closed.
When using about the same amount of force that it took to easily pop open the rotating visors on the helmets in our Vox vs. Zox review, the Jiano stays put (see video).
The Jiano’s visor has a centrally located button under the chin bar that must be pressed to open the helmet. It has a solid feel, so overall, the rotating visor seems more solid and secure than most of the other flip-ups we’ve tried.
The clear visor has an interesting top-to-bottom profile, and it also has a special lip molded into the top, apparently designed to prevent air and maybe rain from leaking in at the top of the visor.
The clear visor has good optical qualities and good anti-fog properties.
It is difficult to remove, because the little plastic lever-like spring mechanism is very hard to move on our helmet and it’s hard to push with a finger.
The visor has six detents, and it opens just a touch for ventilation and the detents hold it open in any of the other positions, which is good.
The top-to-bottom and side-to-side visibility out the eye port seems lower than normal. As I mentioned, I seem to have to keep pushing the Jiano down and forward to get it to feel correct.
The top of the chin bar seems to be higher than I expected and it’s in my line of sight.
The sides of the helmet shell can be seen in my peripheral vision, so overall the helmet doesn’t have the visibility I’d like, but this will probably vary depending upon the owner’s head shape.
The Jiano has the obligatory-for-a-flip-up internally rotating sun shade, and although we’ve yet to see the “perfect” implementation of this feature, Vemar has done a pretty good job on this one.
It rotates down farther than most, and although it still has the nose cutout instead of a straight edge, the shade works pretty nicely.
Also, it can be stopped at any position, although I’m thinking that the friction mechanism that allows this may wear out over time, forcing an “on” or “off” position only.
Motonation probably needs to revise their website.
The description provided by Vemar claims that the Jiano has “An extra anti-fog, non-scratch 2.2 mm thick outer quick release dark tinted shield is included with each helmet” but we didn’t get one in our box and other owners I’ve talked to have said the same.
Knowing how litigious U.S. owners can be, Motonation and Vemar may end up having to make good on the promise.
UPDATE: (April 2009) – Motonation sent this email: “The Jiano now comes with an extra clear external shield, as it is very dangerous to ride with the interior shield down and the tinted (exterior) shield on as well (twice as dark; blocks 75% of the light).
If you do not receive a spare face shield with the helmet, contact Motonation and they will send you one. So for 2009 you get a free EXTERNAL clear shield with purchase to be used down the road when you scratch the original, its a $60 value!
Score: I’ll give the Jiano an “Excellent” for visor clarity and operation and a “Poor” for field of view.
Our Jiano is an XL and it weighs a very hefty 1884 grams (4 lbs., 2-1/2 oz.), which makes it the second heaviest helmet we’ve ever reviewed to date.
We weighed the Jiano several times on two different scales just to make sure, and it comes out the same each time.
I’m actually surprised, because I did think the Jiano felt a bit heavy when I first picked it up, but most flip-ups are rather hefty.
I just didn’t think it was over 4 lbs. heavy. Compare this to the Caberg Trip (review) in size XL, which weighs a miniscule 1614 grams (3 lbs. 8-7/8 oz.).
The Jiano seems to possess good aerodynamics, so I’d say it doesn’t feel its weight at speed, and if it didn’t feel like it had a high center of gravity, and if it didn’t seem to sit rather strangely on my head…the weight probably wouldn’t matter much.
See the wBWMotorcycle Helmet Weights page for the complete chart, comparing the weights of all of the helmets we’ve reviewed, plus our take on internal shapes.
Score: The Jiano gets an “Poor” for its weight and balance, but a “Very Good” for aerodynamics.
The Jiano has one of the new style ratcheting chin strap closures, almost identical to the one used on the Givi X.01.
We’ll reluctantly approve, but it just seems like too many parts, extra complications and weight — and it must be adjusted for each wearer — compared to the simple, elegant, light weight and proven D-ring.
Vemar hints that the helmet was “Designed in Europe”, but there’s no country of origin label on ours, so I’m not sure where it’s made.
The Jiano currently meets DOT safety standards in the U.S. and it meets ECE safety standards in Europe.
wBW Video: Vemar Jiano
The Jiano leaves us with mixed emotions.
It seems like a solid helmet and that solidity does a lot to give confidence that the helmet will do its job, perhaps more so than many other flip-up helmets, which feel flimsy in comparison.
But there are a few details that we think just could have been done better, like a wider variety of paint and graphics choices; a bit more attention to tolerances; weight reduction; air flow; and a lower center of gravity.
The design of the lower rear portion of the liner could use some attention also.
I’ve come to like the helmet, even with all its foibles, and although I’m partial to high visibility colors in my motorcycle gear, its industrial visage is a perfect fit for its gritty persona.
From “E.B.” (5/10): “I bought one around a year ago and find it generally easy to use, the cons are it’s heavy compared to other non opening helmets and noisy at legal speeds.
And the visor has scratched on both sides of the helmet from flipping visor and chin piece, and after (searching for) how to remove visor I’m still no wiser (ha ha) which is how I got to this review.
Like everything in life it’s not all bad and maybe some of those tight chin pad (owners should look for a larger size).
If someone can tell me how to remove visor it would be appreciated, I’m about to look again online.”
From “C.B.” (8/09): “In December of 2008 I had my local bike shop order me up the Vemar Jiano with Bluetooth. A week later I had the shiny new helmet and was giddy with the way it felt and fit.
A bit heavy like the reviews mention, but I’ve been riding with an older Nolan for some time.
All was great for about a week. After the first charge of the Bluetooth system it just stopped working. The blue light would no longer work, and all it would do is beep. Resetting the system failed.
It took two weeks for my shop to reach the distributor, but then I promptly had a replacement. Unfortunately my 2000 mile trip was done before the replacement arrived. Oh well. A new shinny Vemar.
That didn’t last. The paint and surface material is shoddy at best. Small drops of the seat of the bike, or even putting the helmet in my ST1300 luggage scratches the paint right off.
It chips off sometimes in large flakes as much as 3mm or 4mm is diameter. The slightest bump on a hard surface and the paint is off.
Within the first two months the hard plastic weather stripping seal around the face shield needed to be super glued back on, twice.
Being a daily commuter on my bike in So Cal, there is not a lot of weather, but having made several long rides in this helmet in rain and even snow I can say it does not seal well.
You will get wet. Not drenched, but your face will be wet as well as your head. Even behind a windshield. Not acceptable.
Air flow is okay.
In the heat it is nice to have the internal visor with the main shield up. Very helpful and a big selling point for me.
As was the Bluetooth system. The second helmet’s Bluetooth has worked pretty well. However the battery drains exceptionally fast.
I have found myself not having it when I needed it more often than having it when I actually did need it. Unfortunately there is NO way to charge the system while ridding.
The plug-in jack is behind the flip-up portion of the helmet, and the system does not work when being charged.
After 9 months: Now that it is September I have had to glue several weather parts back onto the helmet.
The other day while riding down the 10 freeway I crazy flapping sound was coming from somewhere. I checked my jacket, my gloves, and felt around my helmet. Something strange was sticking out of the side my the Jiano.
After getting off the bike I saw what happened.
The glue they used to hold the blue rubberized buttons had given up. The blue skin had blown right off, and the little circuit board and wire were sticking about 3 inches out of the side of the helmet blowing in the wind.
Now I have a piece of duct tape acting as a band-aid and no way to even use the Bluetooth system.
One more: The chin padding material is awful overtime. The helmet never sits in the sun, it comes inside with me, but I do ride a lot.
Where you pull the chin straps apart to put on the helmet they come in contact with the chin/cheek padding.
The plastic which you see in the pictures above turned brittle and cracked. It has worn out completely and most of the underside of both pads in straight filler foam.
Conclusion: This is a nice helmet for someone who rides maybe 1000 miles a year at most. Or the rider who does occasional weekend rides to the beach.
I would not recommend this for any serious rider or someone who expects quality construction or materials.
These problems are not just this one helmet, they are fundamental to the construction and materials used by Vemar. I will not be purchasing another one of their products again. Ever.”
From “D” (7/09): “Just read your review and wish to comment. They are great helmets. Comfortable, quiet, well ventilated and seem sturdy.
Like I wrote: “Seem Sturdy”
I’ve gone through two as we speak. The first had a loose top vent and it got stuck in the closed position. The retailer was kind enough to replace it with a brand new one. Wow, great service, I thought.
The replacement unit has had both top rear vents fall off and I glued them back on.
It was then I realized the left front vent was ready to come off as well. Fixed that too, with Krazy Glue. At this point the retailer can no longer help me.
Well it gets worse. The front inner moulded plastic of the flip part, has come unglued and now prevents the release mechanism from working properly. Safety is now a concern.
Needless to say, I’m not happy with this helmet and will never buy another Vemar product again.”
From “L.P.” (6/09): “First flip front helmet owned. Have use Shoei for last 20+ years. The Jiano felt good at the Sales counter.
After the first two hours on a 4000 mile trip I was in pain and had to modify the hard foam under the cheek pads.
The second day my jaw swelled up due to interference with the chin strap loose end snap. I cut it off as it isn’t necessary anyway.
The first rain storm caused water to pour down the inside of the clear shield to the point of obliterating my vision. I ride a BMW 1200GS with an extended windscreen, thankfully.
Vemar sent me a package of replacement shield seals called the “fat one”. This has helped but it still leaks.
The helmet is good for warm weather as it has a lot of wind noise (compared to the Shoei) and helps with cooling. I have had to tape off the top vent to hear my communicator clearly.
The chin strap release and adjustment is excellent. Finish is good. Mine is gloss black. The flip release and latch is good. The sun visor is excellent but the clear shield will not stay up over 60 mph and takes the fun out of the inner shield.
Would I buy it again?….No. Not unless I wanted to practice my whittling.”
Editor’s Note: It is not advisable to ride with the face shield in the raised position when riding 60 MPH!
From “A”: “I just received my Vemar Jiano and here are my comments: This is a size M Black Matte and it weighs 1580 g. Made in China (remove the liner to uncover the label).
Liner is minimal and painfully uncomfortable. These red pieces of fabric which you see on the pictures, meant to protect the liner, dig into the side of your head.
No extra dark tinted shield. The surface is prone to fingerprints. My recommendation? Do not buy.”