Excellent Bang for the Buck (former Bell Star owner)
I'm 2 Months into wearing the new Qualifier as a 5 day a week commuter. I really enjoy it - hence the long product review.
I owned a Bell Star for 5 years and took a step "down" to the Qualifier because I wanted the solid Hi-Vis color. I had noticed a real difference in vehicle reactions when I had a simple hi-viz windbreaker on, and wanted that in my "normal" riding. While the vehicle reaction isn't as large, it's definitely there; I certainly feel more noticible.
For me, the main drawback to the Qualifier (as opposed to the Star) is that it does not flow nearly as much air as the Star. But then, what helmet does? I'd say the air flow is decent, but not in the Star's "amazing" category. (I ride in Miami, FL, so this is very important to me.)
However, even with less air, I'm nowhere near overheating. Also, the visor is excellent and does not fog easily - I only crack it at very long lights. The transitions visor (darkens in UV) is nearly worth the price of admission alone. No changing visors, just put the helmet on and go, which is awesome for commuting or leaving a place after dark. No extra visor to lug about. The transition from clear to dark is very fast in UV, and no, the visor does not darken when when someone flashes a high beam at you at night. Excellent visual clarity as well; it's like nothing's there. I've never wanted the visor to be darker or lighter at any given moment. It's just perfect - so perfect you don't think about it. I can't speak to the long term visor durability, but I got 5 years out of daily riding with my old Star visors.
Like the Star, it's loud, but the extra deep pockets in the ears (for the bluetooth hook up) easily accommodate reusable plugs that stick out a bit - so my etymotic musician's ear plugs cut the noise to perfect levels for me without discomfort. It's not *so* loud that'd I always use the plugs, but a hour on the interstate can be irritating. Actually, I'd say it's *slightly* less loud than the Star, but you'll want to consider plugs for extended/loud rides.
I've had it out a couple times at 65mph in the rare 50 degree weather here and the helmet seals up nicely. No problems with the vents closed in rain either. So, overall, as a 3 season helmet, it rocks. As a deep summer daily wear helmet, we'll have to see. I've had some hot days so far, so I'm not anticipating huge problems.
Haven't used the bluetooth option, but the design to accommodate one seems to be all it's cracked up to be, with the port in the helmet, recessed area for the unit, deep speaker pockets in the lining, etc. If I did, I'm sure I'd love how the design accommodates it.
Overall, I find I really don't miss the extra bells and whistles from the Star. While they're high-production and well made and nice to have, the difference in price, the solid Hi-viz color, and the transitions visor more than make up for it. If the venting was 10% more robust, the Qualifier would be perfect. (I do miss the Star's "lock/crack" lever for the visor. Again, nice for one finger venting/fogging relief at lights, without that "I'm reaching up and moving the visor" feeling. But I'm not in the typical environment.)
In terms of function, I'd actually choose this Qualifier over a Star with swap out visors. (Both helmets have Bell's quick change visor system, which makes swapping relatively easy. But if you're moving from a helmet where swapping is a pain, you'll love the Transitions visor). The Qualifier over a hypothetical solid hi-viz Star with swapout visors, maybe not. (And I don't even use the bluetooth which might tip the scales for some.)
So - excellent helmet and a very impressive bang for the buck. Everyone's particular, but I don't think this helmet has any "deal breaker" features. This one more than holds it's own against it's big brother - it pushes back.