AGV Helmets: Everything You Need to Know
Following the classic Italian recipe since 1947
AGV is as Italian as bocce ball and torta di mele; it is to motorcycle roadracing as cheese is to tortellini – and its premium helmets could, and still can be found on the heads of such racing greats as Giacomo Agostini, Barry Sheene, and now Valentino Rossi. Not that you need to be a professional racer, now that the company produces helmets for touring, offroad, and urban riding as well.
AGV was founded in 1947 by Gino Amisano (1920–2009), in the village of Valenza in Italy’s Piedmont region, hence Amisano Gino Valenza. Trained as an accountant and having worked as a partner in a company making leather saddle covers and helmets for cyclists, Amisano’s timing was perfect, as Lambretta and Vespa introduced their first scooters in the post WW2 period. AGV began cranking out leather saddles for those revolutionary and fashionable Italian personnel carriers – along with an equally innovative leather helmet. Let the games begin.
In 1954, after experimenting with a range of alternative shell materials, AGV created the first fiberglass helmet. Two years later, the classic “pudding bowl” design was replaced with the much more protective enveloping design of the “Jet” helmet. Still open-faced, it at least covered the sides of the head and wrapped around the base of the skull, in the style AGV still produces today as the X70.
Racing and AGV are closely linked, and it was one of the first helmet manufacturers to actively involve top riders in the testing and development of its designs, starting with MV Agusta star Carlo Bandirola, an early adopter of the first fiberglass design. The great Renzo Pasolini didn’t abandon his beloved AGV Jet for a full-face AGV model until the `70s.
AGV was also a pioneer of trackside advertising; in 1958 it displayed its banner outside a prominent corner. Today the company’s red, white and green logo represents the rear view of an AGV: Amisano liked to joke it was the only view its competitors would ever get of Agostini.
In 1972, Amisano began a program of rider sponsorship that continues today. Marco Lucchinelli, Franco Uncini, Kenny Roberts, Barry Sheene, Randy Mamola, Johnny Cecotto, Steve Baker, and Angel Nieto all benefited from AGV’s largesse, in addition to Ago and Vale. Rossi was even made an Honorary President of the company in 2008 in appreciation for his contributions toward AGV helmet evolution.
It’s all about the safety, and the racing. AGV was a big sponsor of Dr. Claudio Costa’s life-saving Clinica Mobile, which began providing trackside medical assistance to riders in 1977.
In 1969, Alberto Pagani wore the first full-face helmet to appear at an Italian Grand Prix, at Imola. It wasn’t quite an AGV innovation, but the company claimed its new full-face improved on the comfort, aerodynamics and field of vision of the revolutionary Bell Star from the US, quite a low bar frankly. The significantly enhanced safety of the full-face helmet meant it was rapidly adopted not just by all the top motorcycle riders, but in Formula 1 as well. Within a few years, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet were all racing in AGVs.
In July 2007, AGV was acquired by fellow Italian motorcycling innovator Dainese, maker of fine leathers, boots, and gloves, a great symbiotic relationship that combined the abilities of the two companies to cover the rider from head to toe. That same year, AGV announced a new integrated technical design and construction approach called AGV Extreme Standards, which means these helmets not only meet DOT and ECE standards, but also makes them capable of protecting athletes in a performance race setting, where speeds are much higher. The Pista GP was the first Extreme Standards helmet, launched in 2012. All current AGV helmets are now designed to the Extreme Standards, ah, standard.
In 2015, Investcorp, a leading global provider of “alternative investment products,” acquired an 80% stake in Dainese/AGV, providing a substantial investment to keep things humming along into the future. We hope.
The following is a sampler of our favorite AGV lids.
Table of Contents
AGV Pista GP RR
At the pointy end of the racing spear would be the helmet worn by Valentino Rossi and others, this particular limited edition graphic being the Winter Test 2005. It commemorates one of Rossi’s best seasons, and was only worn in testing just after he’d brought Yamaha its first championship in the premier class since 1992. It led to a slew of AGV Rossi graphics ever since.
The Pista GP RR, as you might guess carries a lofty price as AGV’s top-of-the-line track helmet, with a shell constructed entirely of carbon fiber (not just a carbon outer layer like some other) for ultimate weight savings. Each of its four available shell sizes receives its own dedicated EPS liner for supreme fit and comfort across seven sizes from XS to XXL. A long, dual-plane rear spoiler reduces turbulence at Jerez speed. Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) simulation software was used in conjunction with wind-tunnel testing for aerodynamic purposes, not only to slice the cleanest hole through the air, but also to help keep the rider’s head stable even while turning their head at high speed (our advice: Never look back). Offering a 190º horizontal, and 85º vertical field of view, the eye port is huge, and the 5mm visor is one of the thickest available.
Other details include metal top vents, scooped and elongated chin vents to draw in more air, and a recessed visor closure system for smoother operation and to help prevent accidental opening in the event of a crash. Lastly, the Pista GP RR comes with an integrated hydration system.
- Be like Valentino
AGV Corsa R
The AGV Corsa R is like the fraternal twin to the Pista. Instead of carbon fiber, its shell is constructed from a carbon, Kevlar and fiberglass composite, making it way less expensive. The Biplano rear spoiler seen on the Pista GP R is gone, replaced with a more sensible, slightly elongated rear spoiler. Its interior provides a smooth, pressure-free fit, and a patented reversible crown pad features two distinct fabrics, allowing the wearer to select between warmer and cooler sides depending on conditions. Lastly, the Corsa R doesn’t see the scooped chin vents its MotoGP brother has, nor does it get the hydration system. Otherwise, the Corsa and Pista are identical.
- Affordable Pista the pie
The latest thing from Italy is the culmination of all of AGV’s helmet technology focussed onto a single helmet for all manner of street uses. A super light carbon and aramid fiber shell is formed into an aerodynamic shape that works well on any kind of motorcycle even at ludicrous speed, and its intermediate oval shape and four shell sizes deliver an excellent, snug fit for most heads in seven sizes from XS to 2XL. A plush Ritmo and Shalimar fabric interior is moisture-wicking, removable, and quiet – and well ventilated by five big vents. The K6’s shield is easily swappable using really small mechanisms to maximize EPS area, and the large eyeport provides a sweeping, 190-degree panorama for maximum visibility. Furthermore, the shape of the helmet is designed to minimize the chances of collarbone contact – a thing AGV invented. All that weighs right around 3 pounds, which is seriously light and makes a big difference on longer days in the saddle.
- AGV's do-it-all street helmet
Something in a retro perhaps? This one has the same shape as the helmet Giacomo Agostini wore on his way to 15 world championships, but under the cool Barry Sheene graphics of this example (one of many), you’ll find the safety, ventilation and comfort you expect from a modern day AGV. The removable and washable premium interior is constructed of genuine leather and suede fabric with an embroidered logo. Three shell sizes, in AGV’s Advanced Composite Fiber, keep things light – just over three pounds – in seven available sizes to fit long oval heads.
- Relive the swingin' `70s in comfort
AGV’s flip-front Sportmodular is built entirely from Carbon Fiber. AGV says this one meets the same safety standards as its Pista GP RR helmet – while weighing slightly less than the racing counterpart – around 3.2 pounds depending on size. Its D-rings are titanium, 43% lighter than steel. That’s pretty amazing, and that light weight is a big reason why the Sportmodular is so comfortable. Built for the sport and sport-touring rider, AGV says it spent countless hours in the wind tunnel to make the Sportmodular aerodynamic and quiet, while still providing good ventilation and stability. Three shell sizes covering XS to 3XL mean everybody should be able to find a comfortable yet compact fit. Inside, you’ll find the same high-end plush accommodations and excellent ventilation you expect from a helmet in this loftyish price range.
- Once you go modular, you never go regular
With its latest adventure helmet, AGV redesigned the ventilation system on the chinbar to give users venting which can be closed from the front or back, as well as being able to completely remove the front closure system to allow for a dirtbike-esque open chin vent with nothing but an open-cell foam type filter in the chin bar vent. The AX-9 is made from a tri-composite blend of carbon, Kevlar, and fiberglass, and can also be had in full carbon for quite a few dollars more. A large peak keeps the sun out of your eyes, while also being aerodynamic, and can be easily removed for even better aero when the speed arises. The AX-9 also comes with a pinlock-ready shield and has dedicated cutouts for a communication system.
The liner uses Shalimar and other materials; cheek pads and top liner are moisture wicking, the neckroll is water resistant to prevent water from getting inside the helmet, and ridges for glasses wearers are molded in for optimal comfort. The AX-9 fits intermediate oval skulls best, in nine different sizes from 2XS to 3XL.
- Ready for adventure
You don’t have to empty your bank account to pay head homage to your heroes. The K1 doesn’t have quite the high-tech bona fides of AGV’s latest and greatest lids, but if you’re mostly just riding to work or school and not really racing every day, it’s a perfectly fine choice for way less money. In fact, its aerodynamic shape, ventilation, and spoiler were developed for the wind-tunnel tested Corsa R and Pista GP RR, with a shell and spoiler designed to provide stability at speed, and with the spoiler also acting as a passive vent to extract hot air as you ride.
Its High Resistance Thermoplastic Resin shell is going to make the K1 just slightly heavier, at around 3.6 pounds, and only two shell sizes must cover all seven sizes from XS to 2XL. But, as we’ve said repeatedly – if the helmet fits, you must acquit. If yours is an intermediate oval shaped skull filled with visions of GP glory, the K1 is a viable and affordable way to get there. In addition to the classic Vale Soleluna (sun and moon) pictured, we’re also seeing Joan Mir and Jack Miller replica K1s.
- Rossi wasn't always wealthy either; this one's a bargain
Relive the thrilling days of the `50s, when men were men and AGV’s first fiberglass shelled helmet was the Jet, with a shape much like the modern X70. The classic styling belies the updated everything else, including an ACF fiberglass shell containing a high quality EPS liner and high-end comfortable eco-leather and fabric interior, which is removable and washable. You probably don’t need to be told open-face helmets don’t provide the protection of a full-face, but for low-speed scooting about town, it’s tough to beat the X70’s light weight and ahhhh, open-facedness. Be sure to wear good eye protection, maybe some period goggles like the great Renzo Pasolini wore with this signature design back in the day.
- Nice on your Vespa Ciao
AGV Helmets FAQ
What does AGV stand for?
For those who weren’t paying attention during that long drawn-out intro, the company founder was named Gino Amisano (1920–2009), who began AGV in the town of Valenza in Italy’s Piedmont region. Hence Amisano Gino Valenza – AGV.
Are AGV helmets good?
For a long time there many of the company’s helmets weren’t the most comfortable, possibly the result of shells that weren’t the best fit for lots of American heads. Following the acquisition by Dainese in 2007, though, they really seem to have stepped up the game in every way, including fit, comfort, and overall quality. With the adoption of Extreme Standards technology, beginning with the 2012 Pista GP – a standard which it now follows in all its helmets – AGVs are also some of the most protective helmets you can buy, exceeding DOT and ECE standards.
How much is an AGV helmet?
How much have you got? You can spend $1699.95 for the most expensive limited edition Pista GP-RR. Or as little as $209.95 for a Matt Black K1. They are definitely in the premium helmet category, but AGV is so prolific with its designs it seems like there are always great closeout deals to be had, too.
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