Sharp-eyed webBikeWorld visitors will know that I reviewed the Bell Vortex helmet (review) one year ago in 2010, when the helmet was first released.
I was a huge fan of the Vortex and I was disappointed that it just missed the cut for the webBikeWorld "Motorcycle Helmet of the Year" award for 2012.
The "Product of the Year" awards are traditionally posted on New Year's Eve, naming the favorite products for the year.
I don't recall how or why the Bell Vortex missed the cut, but I do know that everyone agrees that it's probably the single best motorcycle helmet value to be found (list price is $179.99).
Since I was such a big fan, I wondered if the Vortex is still the value champ one year on? And the answer is...yes!
There's no doubt in my mind that you simply won't get more helmet for the money. It meets the DOT safety standard (of course) and it's Snell 2010 approved. It has the high-end Bell "Micro-lock" face shield ratcheting system, which is one of the best in the business.
The face shield removal system is as easy as they get and it makes other removal systems seem clumsy. The Vortex has some of the best ventilation of any helmet at any price; the liner is removable, comfortable, well-padded and the ear pockets are generously sized.
It has the Bell "Super-DeLuxe MagnaFlux" (or whatever they call it) chin strap magnet retention system and a nice, but chin curtain. Wrap it all up with super quality and even an option for the SolFX Transitions photochromic face shield and, well, the gauntlet is down and has been for a year. Anyone care to pick it up?
OK, so there's a little trouble in paradise; the Vortex is on the noisy side. All that air flowing through is the likely culprit.
Bell hasn't raised the price by one cent over the past year -- at least on the basic solid-color Vortex. In fact, you can still find a few Vortexes (Vortices?) in 2012 livery on super closeout sales.
Bell has some of the coolest-looking graphics anywhere, and they mix it up quite frequently, which keeps the helmet lineups looking fresh.
That's why when I saw the new "Archangel" graphics, I started getting excited about the Vortex all over again. The Archangel design is one of many new color combos for 2011 for the Vortex, and there are many other new graphics on the Bell Star (review) and Bell RS-1 (review) this year, including the incredible-looking Bell RS-1 RSD "Flash" pattern.
My opinion of the Vortex hasn't changed one iota, so I'm not going to write another review because I said all that can be said in my original Bell Vortex review. I was Vortex-less for the last 6 months or so, and it was kind of interesting to ride with the Archangel version -- sort of like running into an old and good friend.
I installed the SolFX Transitions photochromic face shield on the Archangel right away, and we added some video to illustrate how quickly it darkens. I'm told that cold temperatures actually make the face shield turn darker, and warm temperatures prevent it from becoming as dark, which is just the opposite of how I thought it worked.
You can see how it looks in the video, although it's very difficult to photograph or video one of these face shields in a way that gives the true effect.
But I got together with Burn and we took the standard set of photos of a Vortex in the Archangel graphics, along with some video taken with a new 60p camera, which seems to smooth out the movement in the video. Enjoy!
► Read the wBW Bell Vortex Review
Owner Comments in the Bell Vortex Review.