A New Breed

AGV Sportmodular Carbon Helmet Review: In a Class of Its Own


July 10, 2018 Cars : Motorcycles By Photo by Hunter D. Kelley

I’ll come right out and say it now: I’m not a fan of modular helmets. The chin-guard hinge mechanisms on the sides add an awkward girth to the helmet and throw off the design proportions and, for the most part, they’re damn heavy as far as helmets go. But, even with the extra weight, the chin guard locking mechanisms always sound cheap and flimsy. Plus, when the helmet is flipped up, the cheek pads give the rider a toddler-with-its-head-stuck-in-the-banister look. And, from an entirely superficial standpoint, they lack any sort of style. However, despite what the name suggests, the AGV Sportmodular is not your average sport modular helmet. It’s the first of its kind, using a 100 percent carbon fiber shell, and bucks every other trend I despise in the two-in-one lid category. To put AGV’s all-new helmet to the test, I wore it for a couple weeks, and contributors Kyra Sacdalan and Matt Neundorf put in a few hundred miles with Sportmodulars of their own.

The Good: Featherweight construction and an interior cutting edge innovation are the Sportmodular’s party pieces. By using Formula 1-grade carbon fiber for the shell and chin guard, a wickedly thin hinge mechanism and even titanium for the chin strap d-rings, AGV were able to make this possibly the lightest helmet in the segment.

Lining the inside of the helmet is reversible padding with a Shalimar fabric on one side to help insulate heat during colder rides and a sweat-wicking Ritmar fabric on the other that works with the venting to keep you cooler during a hotter ride. Short of having an electrical heating or cooling system in the helmet, this simple solution worked surprisingly well. And considering the cheek pads ended farther back on my jawline, not suffocating my cheeks, the airflow was a life-saver in the triple-digit heat during my commute the past couple of weeks.

Who It’s For: Sport modular helmets are geared more towards touring and long distance riders. The defining full-face flip-up feature lets riders keep cool off, talk to passengers or other riders and eat and drink all without taking off the helmet. When you’re on an all-day ride, you notice just how often you use the feature. With a typical solid full-face lid pulling your helmet on and off isn’t just tedious and annoying, you can essentially give yourself rug burn on the backs of your ears and cheeks if it happens often enough.

The AGV Sportmodular Carbon isn’t just for touring riders rolling down the highway on plush cruisers. The slimmer shape, design, fit and finish broaden the helmet’s appeal. Whether you commute or weekend ride on a sport standard, street, naked bike or cruiser the AGV fits the bill. For anything short of all-out track riding (modular helmets aren’t track approved) the Sportmodular gets the job done — it’s not very often such a well-rounded, all-purpose helmet comes along.

Watch Out For: It’s always the small details that turn into the biggest annoyances over time, and two that kept boiling to the surface was the chin strap button snap and the neck roll padding. On most of my helmets, the button snap is on the same strap as the D-rings, making it easy to find and less of a hassle to fasten one-handed with gloves on at a stop light (if I forget to snap it before setting off).

A more aesthetic problem was the plastic tabs securing part the neck roll never actually stayed attached. There were multiple times before and after a ride I found myself jamming these tabs back into position. To be fair, the padding never shifted or popped out accidentally, but I did have plastic tabs sticking out of the bottom of the helmet more often than not. — Bryan Campbell

Two major flaws (and maybe one or two minor): When you opt for thicker, weatherproof gloves, or I imagine if you simply have big hands, the mechanisms on the helmet – opening/closing, using the drop-down shade, opening the windshield – are frustrating to operate. And though this is only an issue for those who ride with their hair tied back, the top of the cheek pads catch my hair every time I pull off my helmet, often ripping some strands out. — — Kyra Sacdalan

My only real gripes with the Sportmodular are that, next to my Schuberth, the shell size is quite large. It eclipses my C3 in all directions by quite a few millimeters. It’s not bobble head territory but imagine how many more ounces could be shaved with less helmet to produce. That and the exterior vent panels, although easy to operate with a gloved hand and good at their job, feel a little low rent compared to the rest of the package. — Matt Neundorf

Alternatives:
Both the Schuberth C3 Pro and KLIM TK1200 Karbon Modularare designed for a more upright riding position, for long hauls and touring bikes and come in at $630 and $600, respectively. The Touratech Aventuro Mod is more at home on an adventure bike or light off-roading and rings up at $549.

Review:

I can’t deny the practicality of a modular helmet, but the majority of the options out there look more at home on riders wearing high-vis full body suits cruising down the interstate. Modulars are essentially the helmet for practical dads in my mind. AGV was able to incorporate the chin guard with the rest of the helmet, almost seamlessly — from a distance the Sportmodular looks like any other semi-aggressive sport helmet.

One of the biggest flaws with modular helmets is that they let function dominate form. The top of the line touring modulars are ridiculously nice pieces to be for long stretches on the open road — they’re quiet, the air flow is superb and the field of vision is excellent. The AGV Sportmodular manages to incorporate all of the above and has passable style and be incredibly light on top of that. — Bryan Campbell

I’m becoming somewhat of a modular helmet snob. But this good-looking, sleek Italian carbon fiber SportModular is as lightweight as one could hope for. Up against a strong headwind, it’s about as quiet as my Schuberth C3 Pro and aerodynamic enough for air to glide past without bobbing my head – whichever way it’s pointed. Of course, you must wear a thing for several hours to really know for sure. And I did just that with this new AGV. It took everything I threw at it in stride and whatever minor irritations I experienced were easily remedied. — Kyra Sacdalan

Thanks to still chilly temps around here, I haven’t yet flipped the reversible panels to feel the difference between Hot and Cold modes, but everything is plush on my cheeks and AGV has even integrated install space for a communications kit. This keeps speakers where they should be and not pressing against my ears.

Right out of the box I could tell AGV set its sights high on fit, finish and lightness. The chin guard slots into place near seamlessly, eliminating all but the most minute panel gaps and the mechanism for swapping visors has been slickly integrated to avoid the need for superfluous panels or tools. On my digital scale, the Sportmodular registers a tick under 3.5-pounds, which is lighter than some full-face lids and bests the industry standard for modular helmets, Schuberth, by enough to warrant bragging rights. — Matt Neundorf

Photo: Sung Han

Verdict:

Style and design is high on the list of top features for the AGV, but above all is the experience inside the helmet. I went canyon carving in Malibu, working my way up the PCH and spent a week commuting via the Holland Tunnel during a heat wave, when stop-and-go traffic had me sitting in 122-degree heat. I can say without question, the AGV Sportmodular has the best airflow and breathability of any helmet I’ve worn and it’s damn quiet, even without earplugs. Between the Ritmar fabric, the ventilation and where the cheek pads sit on my jaw, I never felt overcrowded or overheated, which might be why I’m starting to pick AGV up more often than my usual go-to helmet. Now if I can just get the damn neck pad to stay tucked in. — Bryan Campbell

This helmet supported me on a 2,600-mile journey in a variety of weather conditions and withstood the test. There is so much more good than bad, and even the ‘bad’ traits never amount to more than simple inconveniences. Whether I’m commuting or crossing the planet, I’d opt for a modular and count my blessings if it’s anything like the AGV Sportmodular. It’s a helmet for a practical rider with style. Not everyone wants to look like Robocop when they’re pumping gas, paying tolls or crossing borders. — Kyra Sacdalan

Out in traffic the weight savings and shape of AGV’s newest helmet delivers a comfortable environment that translates into extra miles at the end of the day. Wind noise is still apparent, essentially on par with the best already out there, so I wouldn’t go tossing the earplugs away just yet despite a decidedly peaceful interior. I see many miles and hopefully a few passport stamps in this helmet’s future. — Matt Neundorf

What Others Are Saying:

• “In my personal experience riding several hundred miles in this thing, it stands out as the best flip-face lid I’ve ever worn. Vision is excellent. Comfort is wonderful. Even the chin strap (with its double D rings made out of titanium because of course, they are) sits so comfortably on my neck that I checked more than once at the lights to see if I forgot to do it up. — Loz Blain, New Atlas

• “This is the AGV trump card. They’ve managed to create a flip front helmet with the same safety standards as their most premium lid, all with a claimed weight of 1295g making the Sport Modular over 300g lighter than its competitors. That’s the weight of an iPad Mini.” — Michael Mann, Bennets

• “Inside, the helmet is pretty luxurious, particularly for a sports helmet. The cheek pads can be changed for thicker or thinner ones to improve the fit, but they’re not due to be available until some time after the helmet is released. One neat feature of the interior is that the headliner can be turned inside out. One way is channeled for better breathability, and to allow hot air to be vented out of the helmet. The other side is fleece lined for extra warmth when it’s cold. We’ve never seen this on any other helmet.” — Moto Legends

Key Specs

Construction: 3K Carbon Fiber
Weight: 3lbs 4oz
Liner: Ritmo fabric/Shalimar fabric
Certification: DOT/ECE

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