Still Love The Vortex, Despite The Flaws
Usually I write a long intro before my reviews but I'll skip it since you're probably concerned with 1 thing above all: The noise. Ill address the noise issue first before reviewing the rest of the helmet (which is quite exceptional). Is it as noisy as everyone says?
The Vortex is pretty loud. My other helmet is an Icon Alliance. It's probably half as loud as the Vortex and it doesn't even have a chin curtain. So people complain in reviews and all over the net about how unbearably loud the Vortex is and wah, wah, wah... If you want dead quiet, buy a Buick and ride around and a big comfy cage. The solution is earplugs. While super annoying, the noise problem is a simple one to solve. JUST WEAR EARPLUGS. Oddly enough, the noise is actually at it's worst around 40-45 mph. At that speed, it sounds almost the same as sitting on an airplane at 35,000 feet. It's a low pitch, droning, unyielding bringer of pain. Speeding up increases the volume, but also the frequency of the sound so though louder, it's more bearable. I have an open face helmet (Custom 500) that is actually quieter at 40 mph than the Vortex. Yes really. I can't tell you how they compare at higher speeds. I won't wear an open face above 40 mph. Short missions around town only.
So it's the worst helmet ever, right? Far from it. Just wear earplugs and it's biggest flaw all but disappears. It's only other flaw, however, is one that can't really be solved. It doesn't flow any air. Well, it does, but barely. Even with all the vents open you still barely feel anything getting in. I was sweating after a short ride at dusk in 65 degrees. I imagine it will be murder in high heat. Looks like I'll be wearing my Alliance through the dead of summer.
Flowing almost no air isn't necessarily a bad thing. NOTHING is getting in there. With all the vents closed on my Alliance, I still have gotten bugs under the chin bar and even in my eye. That's actually what prompted me to purchase the Vortex. Fear of a bug in the eye at high speed. The Vortex will never allow anything into it. Unfortunately that also means air. I'm not sure if the chin curtain is removable. If it is, that would really improve airflow but since I intend to ride with it on regardless, I have to rate airflow as poor to nonexistent. In 65 degrees at 70 mph, you can feel the vents are open, but not in that "ahhh that's better," way. It's more of a "Eh, I guess. it's better than nothing," way. And while I'm whining about airflow, I have a VERY hard time opening/closing the chin and brow vents with gloves on. I managed it, but it took way too long trying to find the switches (and failing) before finally getting it. Maybe more time in the helmet will get me more familiar with it. And since the airflow sucks so bad anyway, who cares if they're open or not? Just crack the visor then, right? Sure, if you like a stream of air DIRECTLY into your eyes. The 1st detent is just a little too high. So instead of filling the helmet with welcome, cool air, it just directs it straight to your eyes. The airflow on the vortex is really a perfect storm of terrible. But all these ventilation issues probably add up to a huge positive in colder weather. So in that case, it might actually be flawless since no freezing cold air is getting through, either.
Now for the good and I swear there's a ton of good. The fit is incredible. I'm usually an XL in everything but I went with L this time for a more snug fit and I'm glad I did. It's perfect. Even better than my Alliance which I already thought couldn't be beat.
Vision is better than expected. Head checks are very easy and vision is wide enough to look all the way back over your shoulder with ease. The wind doesn't catch the helmet, either. It's also very light. I was very surprised at how much lighter it is than my Alliance despite looking like a bigger helmet. Comfort/fit wise, I can't find a flaw.
Changing the shield is nothing. I can't compare it to Icon because Icons system is some tout out of the Stone Age. Bells shield change takes seconds, literally.
The magnetic thing in place of the strap snap is cool but an unnecessary feature and all the reports of the magnet falling out have me being extra careful as I feed it through and back through the D rings. I suppose it will last if you're careful and don't just jam it through or rip it out before taking it off. I'll be taking full advantage of Bell's 5 year warranty if it falls off.
Overall quality seems great. I seems well made and the graphics are even better in person. It's a smooth, matte finish which means no fingerprints. You'll turn a lot of heads at traffic lights. Either from the awesome graphics or from drying of heat stroke. Either way, they'll take notice!
So after all that, I still recommend the Vortex. It's light, the vision is great, Snell and DOT, killer looks, noise is easily solved and 90-100 degrees sucks in ANY helmet. If you're thinking about the Vortex but are hesitant from the complaints, don't be deterred. Way more people rate it highly than rate it poorly and with good reason. It excels at all the I present stuff. Fit, safety, visibility... In all, it's a great sub $200 helmet for the rest of us that can't afford a Shoei.