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Vox Flip-Up Modular Motorcycle Helmet

by Bill and "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com

wBW Reviews Home  |  Vox vs. Zox Home  |  Owner Comments (Below)

Summary:  Strange fit, very narrow eye port and so-so vent parts quality.  The Zox Nevado R is way more helmet for the same money, in our opinion.

NOTE:  Some Vox 803 helmets have been recalled, see below.

We were all set to review the Zox Nevado when a batch of emails arrived, asking us to review the Vox helmet.

Vox?  What's that?  Did they mean Zox?  No, as it turns out... Yes, Virginia, there is a Vox helmet.

We can't find a Vox website, but the helmet seems to be available on eBay and a couple of retailers who seem to focus on closeouts. 

So the lineage of this one is up in the air.  If the company doesn't even have a mail drop in the U.S., red flags go up, in our opinion.

We're just not very fond of no-name helmets, having too much respect for our noggins.  But there is a contingent of pecuniary tightwads out there to whom cheapness means just about everything, and some of them rave about the Vox.

We can't agree.  If there were no motorcycle helmets on the planet except this one, we'd consider buying it after thinking long and hard about whether or not to take up another sport. 

Quite frankly, it is our opinion that, with all the really good motorcycle helmets out there -- and even a few surprisingly good ones for around $100.00 -- there is no reason to settle for a Vox.

Those are some pretty strong words, and there are two issues that have led us to that opinion.  First, our Vox helmet has probably the strangest fit we've ever experienced; it sits so high up that Burn's chin sticks way out the bottom. 

Which means that the lower part of the eye port -- the chin bar -- is almost directly in his line of sight.  The eye port is extremely narrow to begin with, as you can see by studying the side-by-side photos of the Vox helmet compared to the Zox Nevado on our "Vox vs. Zox" intro page. 

Look at the photos and you'll see how narrow the Vox eye port is in comparison.  You can also see how much shorter the Vox is, which illustrates how much higher it will sit on the wearer's head.  They're both size XL helmets, but the difference is pretty dramatic, in our opinion.

The other problem is the internal shape.  It's a rare "light bulb" helmet, with a sort of wider long oval shape up top and tight sides, which press sharply into the jaws of the rider.  When combined with the way the helmet sits so high up on the head, it's painful.

And finally, the Vox has the same rotating visor problem as the Zox Nevado; it can be too easily pulled open without using the release.

Sorry to disappoint all the Vox fans out there (are there any?) and we've already biased your thinking on this, but let's take a detailed look anyway.

Paint and Finish
Pink, you say?  Oh baby!  Why not, we figured?  We're bored of the plain old white, silver and red helmets, so when we discovered that the Vox was available in pink, we bit.  It will stand out in a crowd anyway... but what type of crowd, we don't know.  Who knows -- maybe pink is the new hi-viz yellow?  (Editor's Note: Uh, I don't think so...).

OK, forget the pink.  It's only a color.  The Vox actually has a pretty nice finish; the paint is smooth, it has a decent clear coat that's maybe very slightly thinner than normal, and there are no dust tidbits or other marks in the finish, so we'll give them credit for that.

Even the decals were applied before the clear coat went on, and they look good.  Kind of retro-ish.

The Vox helmet is probably made from the same type of thermoplastic as the Zox Nevado, but where the Zox feels like quality, substance and modernity, the Vox feels like heavy cheap plastic.  We don't know why, but the helmet just feels cheap.

The mundane styling doesn't help either.  The plastic on the vents seems a bit on the flimsy side, but that's also a problem on many expensive helmets.

On one hand, the global economy has forced a level of quality way higher than it was even 10 years ago, so from that point of view, the Vox is acceptable.  But on the other hand, the competition is so good that some helmets in the $100.00 to $200.00 price range are just that much better, and they have the support of a national, reputable network of dealers, so why mess around?

Score:  We'll give the Vox helmet a "good" rating for fit and finish (See ratings description in the summary table below).

Helmet Fit and Liner
The Vox has what we think is a strange "light bulb" shaped fit.  It seems wide, a bit loose and "long ovalish" at the top, but very tight on the sides.  The bottom of the cheek pads and the bottom part of the shell really presses into the cheeks.  This will fit some riders, and they'll probably be happy for it, because helmets with this shape aren't common. 

For more information on motorcycle helmet internal shapes and selecting and fitting motorcycle helmets, see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page.

But our size XL Vox is definitely shorter than comparable XL modular helmets.  It seems to sit very high on our heads, making the center of gravity and the balance point feel very high.  This puts the mass up where it doesn't belong, and it can be felt with excess movement from buffeting and cross winds.

The liner actually isn't that bad -- but most helmet liners are pretty similar nowadays.  The helmet could use just a touch more padding and the foam seems a bit "lifeless", without much support.  But the fabric is relatively comfortable.

The stitching that holds the liner together also looks a bit weak, especially where the vinyl on the bottom of the helmet liner meets the softer fabric.  The stitching looks like it's already pulling apart, which doesn't give us much confidence.

We found that the Vox accommodates eyeglasses better than the Zox Nevado.  There's a split between the liner and the cheek pads that acts as a channel for the eyeglass temples.

Our Vox helmet is a size XL, and based on this example, we think the helmet runs about true to size.  Like many flip-ups, the Vox is slightly tight, but it will probably loosen up a bit over time.

Availability of the Vox is spotty.  W're guessing that local retailers are acting as their own importers.  So the availability of different Vox sizes may be limited.  We've seen medium, large and extra-large Vox helmets for sale, but we haven't found a size small or extra-small. 

Score:  We'll give our Vox an "Poor" rating for fit and for the way it sits so high when worn.

 Vox Helmet - wBW Lightbox - Click photo to view.
Vox Helmet Cheek Pad Vox Helmet Chin Bar Vox Helmet Top Vent
Cheek Pad Chin Bar Top Vent
Vox Helmet Visor Vox Helmet Liner Vox Helmet Top Vents
Side Plate Liner Top Vents

Visor
The Nevado's rotating visor has a slightly lower than average feel when it's raised or lowered.  It feels a bit "mushy" as it reaches the topmost detent.

Our Vox uses plastic for the tabs that lock the visor in place.  The visor shuts with a solid feel, but ours is easily dislodged by pulling on it without pressing the release tab.  We found this problem on the Zox Nevado also.

The release button is located in the back of the chin bar.  It as a lower quality feel than the Zox Nevado.  The clear visor has only 3 notches, and although it seems thick enough, it does exhibit some flex as it's opened or closed with the left-side mounted tab.

The eye port on the Vox is very small; it's the smallest and narrowest eye port we've ever experienced, and we think it borders on dangerous, because it blocks our vision.  The problem is compounded by the way the Vox sits on the head.  The lower part of the eye port formed by the chin bar is almost in our line of sight.  See the photos on our Vox vs. Zox" intro page for a comparison and I think you'll be able to see how narrow the Vox eye port really is.

The clear visor fits tightly against the basic eye port gasket, but the visor has a gap at the helmet shell that looks unsightly. 

By the way, the Vox has an internally rotating sun visor.  This feature seems to attract an inordinate amount of attention by some, becoming a "make it or break it" purchase factor.  We haven't found very many of these internal visors that are worth the weight and complexity. 

The Vox's internal visor is treated with a mirror-like finish, but we found its optical qualities to be poor and the curvature at the bottom of the visor interferes with vision.

The flip-up visor on the Vox can be pulled open without using the visor release.  This is also a problem on the Zox Nevado, and is, we think, a serious flaw.  If the visor can be easily pulled open, what might happen in a crash? 

See the wBW video tour of the Vox vs. Zox for a demonstration of this serious flaw.

Score:  The rotating visor mechanism, its fit, the clear visor are "Good", but the ease with which the rotating visor can be lifted without using the release is a problem.  If it weren't for that, we'd probably rate the Vox as "Good", but but the combination of the narrow eye port and the release problem drops it to a "Unacceptable", in our opinion.  Owners may and probably will disagree, but everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

Venting
The top vents on the Vox operate separately.  A piece of plastic acts as a slider and moves back and forth to cover and uncover each vent.  The plastic seems very flimsy when open; it moves around and can be rotated back and forth through several degrees.  We're not confident that the vent sliders will last very long.

The vents are covered with a copper-colored mesh, and the foam liner inside the helmet has holes drilled through it, but we've tried to locate a path from the outside of the vent down through the holes and can't find it.  Blowing air through the vent with a compressor results in no air flow that we can feel into the helmet.

The vent holes are also covered by the top section of the liner.  The bottom line is that there doesn't appear to be much air flowing on to the top of the rider's head.  This is confirmed when we wear the helmet during a ride; there doesn't seem to be much difference whether the top vents are open or not.

The chin vent is covered by a plastic slider.  Air does seem to flow through the chin vent and up in back of the clear visor.  The chin bar is covered with what we think is a very cheap-looking (and feeling) plastic molding.

The combination of vents and ports seems to provide little air flow.  But the helmet sits so high on our heads that a lot of air ends up flowing in from underneath. 

Score:  Overall, we'll rate the venting as "Poor".

Noise Levels
The Vox seems to be slightly noisier than average, probably due to the poor fit around the bottom, which allows air to flow up underneath. 

The top vents seem relatively quiet, especially when closed, although we do notice some whistling noise across the top of the vents when the head is moved side-to-side while riding.

Don't forget, we always wear high-quality, correctly inserted earplugs when we ride -- see the wBWEarplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing ear plugs. 

For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.

Score:  We give the Azuma R a "Good" rating for its average noise levels.

Helmet Weight
Our Vox helmet is a size XL and it weighs 1652 grams (3 lbs., 10-1/4 oz.).  This currently places it as #47 out of 79 helmets we've reviewed, both full-face and modular, and it places it as #5 out of 21 modular helmets only that we've reviewed. 

See the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart that compares the weights of all of the helmets we've reviewed, their head shapes and a separate chart for modular helmet weights.

Even though the Vox is lighter than the Zox Nevado by a couple of ounces, it somehow feels heavier.  Mabye it's due to the plastic-like feel, and probably the top-heavy balance of the helmet has something to do with it, but it just feels heavy to us.  We were surprised to learn that it's lighter than the Zox.

Score:  We rate the Vox as "Good" for slightly below average weight (for a modular helmet) and "Poor" for balance.

Other Features
The Vox helmet uses a D-ring chin strap attachment system.  The chin strap should be long enough to fit most riders and it can be cinched down nice and tight.  There's a snap to attach the loose end of the chin strap, and a section of webbed material is sewn on to the D-ring to use as a pull.

The Vox is labeled as DOT-approved for sale in the U.S.A.

IMPORTANT NOTE
We received a notice from Sterling Tek, Inc. of Las Cruces, New Mexico on August 20, 2009 informing us that the 2006-2007 Vox Model 803 in sizes XL and XXL is being recalled because they "fail to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218".  Apparently, they failed the "Strike Test".  FMVSS 218 is the DOT motorcycle helmet safety standard.  For more information, contact Sterling Tek at 1-877-742-1700.

Conclusion
The narrow eye port and poor balance conspire to make the Vox helmet a questionable choice, in our opinion.  Combined with the too-easy-to-dislodge rotating visor and what we think is relatively poor quality of the fittings, it would be hard to recommend the Vox, especially when there are helmets like the Zox Nevado for about the same price.

wBW Product Review:  Vox Helmet

Available From:  Individual retailers Suggested Retail Price:  Varies: Can be found from $89.00 to around $99.95
Colors: Several solid colors. Made In: China
Summary:  Claimed to meet DOT safety standards.

More:  600x650 pixel photo of the Vox helmet (Note: JavaScript window)

Ratings Scale:  For reference, our ratings scale is subjective and ranges from unacceptable to poor, good, very good, excellent and outstanding.
Review Date: October 2007

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From "J.C." (7/09):  "I purchased a VOX helmet about a year ago from one of those eBay online stores.  Though I loved the flip down shades and the great ventilation system but I had a cheek pad that just fell off.   I figured because it was affixed with hot glue I would just hot glue it back... 

Well on my way to do so the helmet fell off the back of my bike and shattered across the road (about 6 pieces), I couldn't help but wonder, what would my head be like if I were in an accident.   Frankly speaking, I was not impressed and will never buy another VOX again."

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