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Vemar Kona: Quality Adventure Helmet with a Budget Price

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The Italians are taking inspiration from the islands with naming their latest adventure bike helmet, the Vemar Kona. While Italy is known for its motorcycle brands, Vemar might not be the first name in helmets here in the US, yet they switched owners in 2016 and have been working on a whole new lineup of lids for the future.

What It Is

The Vemar Kona is based on another Vemar helmet, the off-road-only Taku. They share the same R-3P terpolymer shell, yet the Kona has a sprinkling of adventure riding features. There are three shell sizes available with six helmet sizes from XS to XXL. Mandatory for an ADV helmet is a face shield, and on the Kona it has an “ultra wide” field of view, anti-scratch treatment, and is Pinlock ready. There is also a drop-down, inner sun shield that is actuated by a slider on the upper left section of the helmet.

Vemar Kona Adventure Motorcycle helmet


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The lower perimeter of the helmet is flared, a feature designed to properly align with neck braces. The helmet also has a VKS (Vemar Klima System) ventilation layout with a chin inlet, two front inlets, two side vents, and two rear vents. The cheek pads and crown liner are removable and washable and the cheek pads also have an emergency release system. Lastly, closure system is a ratcheting micrometric system.

How It Works

The most readily apparent thing when slipping on the Kona is how soft and smooth the cheeckpads are. I’m probably more attuned to this because I always have some sort of stubble/beard/unshaven situation going on. Plus, motojournalists take their helmet off way more than your average adventure bike rider since we are constantly stopping to shoot some combo of videos, photos, and/or social posts. After a long day of cheek pad friction, my face was pleasantly unfazed.

I’m a size large and the Kona fit my average oval shaped head pretty well, though there was the tiniest bit of extra room at the very back top of my head. This helmet might be just perfect for a long oval shaped head. There weren’t any pressure points and the crown padding was nice and cushy on my forehead. Overall, the lining and padding felt like it was from a much more expensive helmet.

Vemar Kona Adventure Motorcycle helmet

The eyeport is plenty big, though I’m not sure it is any bigger than other ADV lids to live up to Vemar’s claim of it being “ultra wide.” Goggles fit without issue (I ran Oakley Airbrakes which are some of the biggest on the market – if they fit, any goggle should fit) and I liked the goggle strap channel all the way around the back shell of the helmet. It’s not like modern goggles are going to slip off, but it is a nice reference point to keeping the goggle strap in the middle of the helmet. When all the way up, the visor isn’t distracting and is mostly past your upper limit of vision, and it does close over goggle straps without tightening them or bunching up the straps.

Ventilation was hit and miss. The two front intake ports worked great and I could feel cool air hitting the crown of my head. But that was it. I didn’t notice any other ventilation from the top rear or side vents at all. Plus only the chin vent is closeable, yet since their effectiveness was questionable, this wasn’t an issue on cold mornings. It is also a little redundant to have an inner and outer chin vent slider. I’m not sure why you would have one open and not the other.

Vemar Kona Adventure Motorcycle helmet

Vemar Kona Adventure Motorcycle helmet

The drop-down sun shield was a little close to my face and the tip of my nose would just barely touch it, and I don’t really have a big nose so that is saying something. I just adjusted the helmet up a little bit and didn’t have issues from there on out. The sliding lever to actuate the sun shield is a little hard to use because the tab isn’t very big and it just took a lot of force to get it to work, but the shield never got stuck or diminished in its function. There was a clean, quick snap down or up each time.

Wind noise is in the medium range. It wasn’t silent or moto-helmet loud either. The visor did a good job of letting air pass without becoming a sail. I did have a minor issue of the very top visor screw backing out from vibration. It didn’t come all the way out, but I could hear it jiggling and had to screw it back in with a coin. Once I cranked on it pretty good, I didn’t have it backing out any more.

Vemar Kona Adventure Motorcycle helmet

Vemar Kona Adventure Motorcycle helmet

There aren’t dedicated speaker slots but Cardo speakers fit in the ear area without complication. What was complicated with the communication system was the way the cheek pads mount to the helmet. On the Kona, there are the typical three snaps, but there is also a bottom section of plastic that slides between the foam and the shell. To have wires go under the cheek pad, you have to cut a notch out of these piece of plastic, which I did. Another issue with the Kona is that the neck-brace flare at the bottom of the shell makes it difficult to impossible to clamp a communicator on. I used a sticky mount for the Cardo.

The retention system is a ratcheting closure. On the LS2 helmet I wore previous to this one, I fell in love with that ratchet closure, and on the Kona, it works similarly but the male part has to be at just the right angle to fit into the female part which takes a little finessing. Releasing the ratchet is awesomely simple an you can take the helmet off, with gloves on, in like half a second.

Vemar Kona Adventure Motorcycle helmet

Weight-wise it is on par with budget-friendly dual sport lids. Not uncomfortably heavy, but not feathery-light either. I put in some really, really long days in this helmet and I have to say that my neck wasn’t sore. I’ve had that happen with heavier helmets, but that was also after more off-road riding where your head is banging around more.

Who It Is For

The fit is more oval than some other helmets so that is the first prerequisite. Second, the Kona is for any adventure rider who wants a ratcheting closure system, sunshield that is quick and smooth, and a bearded and/or hairy rider who puts a premium on luxurious liner feel. I would say this helmet is not for the rider looking for the lightest helmet available or one that lives and only rides in the South West where good venting is needed so your brain doesn’t boil.

Vemar Kona Adventure Motorcycle helmet

Our Verdict

The Vemar Kona punches above its weight. At just under $150, this helmet just feels like a higher quality product than what is expected at that price point. The liner and padding is very comfortable and the fit and finish is pretty high quality. There isn’t any loose stitching or awkward transitions of materials; it seems that there was true forethought and design to the helmet as a whole, not just putting some foam in a shell and call it good.

What We Liked

  • Liner and padding has a high-quality feel.
  • Sun shield operation is quick and clean.
  • Fit and finish is better than price would dictate.

What Could Be Improved

  • More ventilation needed for warmer regions.
  • It’s a little on the heavy side.
  • Liner removal/installation is laborious.

LS2 Pioneer MX436 Specs

COLORS: matte black and various graphics
SIZES: XS-XXL
SHAPE: Mid Oval
SAFETY: DOT and ECE 22.05 certified
MSRP: $139 (Solids); $149 (Graphics)

Shopping Options:

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Author: Sean Klinger

With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs. 

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