by Dennis A January 03, 2018
When it comes to high end modular helmets, your choices are pretty scarce. Besides Schuberth C4 and Shoei Neotec, there is not much to choose from and even these two models are not perfect.
So when we heard that AGV is planning an assault on this market, our ears perked up, when we saw the proposed features and specs we were intrigued, and when we actually got a chance to ride in one we were blown away.
Weight was always the biggest enemy of modular helmets. Even with the most expensive modulars with composite shells, it always adds up to around 4 lbs. It's a lot of weight for something that you wear on your head all day long. Another downside to modular helmets is that even the best of the best always come with a plastic chin bar. Also at times the hinge mechanism is mostly plastic - hello Schuberth - and it definitely doesn't inspire any confidence.
When designing AGV SportModular, Italian engineers chose to tackle 3 priorities - weight, safety and cost.
The weight issue was addressed by exclusively using carbon fiber. Even the chin bar is fully carbon, a first ever for a modular helmet. D ring is titanium. All metal hinge mechanism was designed to be as small as possible. The end result is amazing - size M tips the scale at an even 3 lbs. This is pretty much as light as Moto GP worthy Pista GP-R helmet.
Now even the lightest helmet in the world would be useless if it wasn't built to highest safety standards. Even the cheapest helmets come with DOT ratings (even though some are questionable because DOT doesn't really test them, instead relying in manufacturer's word that it passes DOT tests). When subjected to more rigorous SHARP testing many seemingly good helmets fall flat on their face, returning "poor" ratings. I was shocked to find out that both of my personal helmets, Arai Quantum and Schuberth C3, belong to this category.
According to AGV, the safety of the SportModular is nearly identical to the $1500 Pista GP-R amazingly safe helmet with 5 star Sharp rating. In fact, SportModular will be first modular helmet ever to receive 5 star SHARP rating when the results are published later this year.
Learning all the above got me even more excited about actually testing one. I'm due for a helmet replacement so could this be the one? God knows I've had a several helmet disappointments last year.
So what does it actually feel like?
The weight or lack of it becomes apparent even before it's on your head. It's unbelievably light. The liner is pretty trick too, one side of it is made from "hot" fabric for cooler conditions, and the other side is designed for use in hot weather. I didn't get a chance to reverse it and conditions were pretty much perfect, but it's great to be able to adapt.
Visual inspection revealed that it's a very nicely finished product. It's no Shoei (and nothing is, believe me) but it's very well made. I would compare it to higher end Bell helmets. I really liked the way the shield feels. It's thick and secure and it's attached to the helmet with all metal quick release mechanism that makes it very easily removable. The integrated sun visor comes down much lower than on my Schuberth C3, it was a pleasure to use.
There is lots of removable padding around the ears in an effort to make it a bit quieter. It did put a bit too much pressure on my ears, so I had to pull it out without any negative effect. I use earplugs anyways, and overall noise level seemed less than my Arai and about the same as my Schuberth C3. Turning my head didn't produce any extra noise and there was no air bleed anywhere unlike my other modular helmet.
Just like noise level, the venting is always tough to judge. It depends on many factors such as riding position, speed, windshield height, attack angle etc. I could definitely feel the air coming through the chin vent and none coming through fully open top vent. I think it's about average.
Stability at higher speeds was exceptional. Even though this helmet was a bit too big for me, it remained rock stable regardless of my head position. And it was really out in the open on my Multistrada Pikes Peak with its tiny windscreen. No complaints here, AGV designers did their job. Visibility was great too, the eye port is wider than human eye can see. The chin bar sits a little higher, but it's a matter or getting used to.
So is this helmet perfect? Of course not. We all have our personal preferences, and it's impossible to please everybody. Here is a list of things I didn't like in no particular order. Please keep in mind that this was pre-production sample and some little details could have been changed already.
Overall, I must say when you compare this helmet to competition - Schuberth C4 and Shoei Neotec, it's a winner. It's way lighter, safer and more stable. Until new Neotec 2 arrives late this spring, AGV SportModular will be the King of Modulars.
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