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

The AGV Sportmodular Carbon is the first of its kind, and does a damn fine job of representing the brand — but it’s not without a few minor drawbacks.

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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. 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. From an entirely superficial standpoint, they lack any sort of style. Plus, when the helmet is flipped up, the cheek pads give the rider a toddler-with-its-head-stuck-in-the-banister look.

However, despite what the name suggests, the AGV Sportmodular is not your average sport modular helmet. It’s the first of its kind, thanks to its 100-percent carbon fiber shell — plus, it bucks every other trend I despise in the two-in-one lid category.

So to put AGV’s 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.

Buy Now: $450–$850

The Good: Featherweight construction and 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 titanium for the chin strap d-rings, AGV were able to make this complex model among the lightest helmets in the segment.

Lining the inside of the helmet: reversible padding, with a Shalimar fabric on one side to help insulate heat during colder rides and sweat-wicking Ritmar fabric on the other that works with the venting to keep you cool during a hot ride. It’s not as effective as having an electrical heating or cooling system in the helmet, but this simple solution worked surprisingly well. And considering the cheek pads ended farther back on my jawline and didn’t suffocate my cheeks, the airflow was a life-saver in the triple-digit heat of a summer commute.

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 ride just on the weekends on a sport standard, street, naked bike or cruiser, the AGV fits the bill. Indeed, 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 were 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: the plastic tabs securing part of 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

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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. Ouch. — — 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. Also, the exterior vent panels –while 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; they come in at $580 and $400, respectively.

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’s design looks far better; they were 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 have decent 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 making my head bob, 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 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 the fit is plush on my cheeks. AGV has even integrated install space for a communications kit. This keeps speakers where they should be, 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

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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 with it; I also 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 this 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 . 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

Key Specs

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

Buy Now: $450–$850

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