The $400 K-5 is AGV’s “sport touring helmet,” which means it’s appropriate on most road-going motorcycles from basic uprights to screaming sportbikes. With a snap-down sun visor and space for an audio system, it’s got enough nice features to be interesting.
Here’s the big feature on this helmet: a carbon fiber composite shell, giving it less weight than less weight than most anything else in its price range and category right now. But does that really make it a standout?
(Full disclosure: AGV let me pick up a K-5 to wear while I wrung out the Kawasaki Z800 on California’s canyon roads after my west-coast colleagues insisted the little league batting helmet I usually rock was “not sufficient.”)
(Want to learn about helmet basics? Learn about the science and technology of motorcycle helmets in general and check out our big breakdown of which models were great in 2015.)
AGV stands for Amisano Gino Valenza because in 1947, a Mr. Gino Amisano founded the company in the town of Valenza Po, Italy. The brand’s logo features the “tricolore” of the country’s flag and is a prominent sponsor of Italian motorcycle superstar and living legend Valentino Rossi. The company has a solid status of respectability in the motorcycle scene today, and it’s owned by another well-regarded outfit trading in protective equipment and Italian heritage called Dainese.
AGV doesn’t really make any “cheap” products, but beware if you’re buying into the brand because of its Italian allure: many of its less-elite items, including the K-5, are made in China.
But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. The K-5 is ECE 22.05 and DOT certified, meaning it’s street legal in America and Europe. We’ve covered the significance of those ratings before; a DOT rating is acknowledges that a helmet manufacturer self-reported some safety specs, but the ECE rating is Europe’s much more rigorous, cross-checked and legitimate version of the same.
AGV says that the K-5 is their new point of reference in the “sport-touring sector,” so get used to the shape. That said, it will be familiar to some riders already. It’s exactly the same as the entry-level AGV K-3 SV sport helmet, but it has a carbon fiber composite shell and almost half a pound less weight. And anyone that’s worn any helmet will know: less weight means more comfort.
The cheapest full-face AGV lid you can grab is about $200, top of the range is $1,400. This K-5 is on the lower end of their lineup at $400.
Straight out of the box the K-5 feels good with a smooth shell texture, elegant stitching and a visor that snaps closed with the authority of a judge’s gavel. Imperfections start to be apparent when you lean in close; namely that the glue holding the rear air splitter to the back of the base looks a little rough and the vents all feel kind of clunky.
But the bonding lines are all straight, the shell doesn’t scratch easily and the D-ring clasp feels strong enough to keep the helmet on your skull should it god-forbid meet pavement.
Interior padding is robust, removable and washable. It’s taut but soft on the cheeks and well-stitched. A pad in the lower front cups your chin and really makes for a feeling of total-enclosure that made me feel confident and comfortable.
The K-5's headline feature is the carbon shell, which gets the helmet’s weight down to just over three pounds. It feels remarkably light in your hands and even better on your neck. But there are a few more gadgets you can flick and tug on.
A quick-release system for the visor makes it extremely easy to change shields, in theory. It’s quick alright, but you’re definitely going to get a few bites on the skin of your fingers as you figure out how to use it. Luckily that won’t take long and you won’t have to look at a manual to make the visor-release work; it’s about as complex to operate as a zipper.
Regardless, if you don’t feel like messing around with multiple visors that there are “drop-down sunglasses” you can toggle with a plastic switch on the side.
The switch is a little hard to find; the little nub can be elusive if you have heavier gloves on. But the extra visor is great for when you get caught riding into the sun. I like these because they let you leave the main shield up to soak up some wind without sacrificing your eyes to a wash of road grime.
More individual vents can also be activated with similar switches, which you will not be able to open or close while you’re riding. There’s one around the mouth, one at the crown, two big “eyebrow vents” and an exhaust vent at the rear that’s supposed to help with aerodynamics.
You have to apply significant force to activate them, and from what I felt were odd angles, except one and it might be the best: right at the helmet’s lower front section is a tab that pops the visor up just a few millimeters.
It really increases airflow to kill off condensation from your breath and cool you down, and it’s thankfully easy to toggle on the move.
The AGV K-5 is also pre-shaped for the company’s proprietary audio system “Share Communications” which connects your helmet to the sound source of your choosing; phone, passenger intercom, Walkman, whatever.
Of course if you need an audio system beyond your bike’s exhaust, it’s time to shop for a new motorcycle and not a $200 set of headphones.
The K-5 is more oblong than spherical in shape, making it optimized for heads on the “long and skinny” side.
The internal pads have a grippy texture that keeps the lid planted, but it’s not so coarse as to catch on skin or beards. I also liked the consistency of the padding; it seemed to squish easily when I mashed my head in but sprung back and coddled my jawline like a baseball in an old glove.
Thanks to its light weight, K-5 stays comfortable in motion but it’s noisy whether the vents are open or not.
But the wind is actually supposed to be a big part of the K-5 experience; AGV tells us the shape and venting system is exceptionally aerodynamic. As for whether or not that translates to a smoother ride, my experience says not really. It didn’t feel any sleeker than any other road helmet I’ve worn but perhaps I don’t make it over 80 mph often enough to get the full effect.
We also don’t have any rain to ride in here in Los Angeles, but RevZilla says the K-5 lets precipitation in when you’re running in heavy weather and doesn’t recommend it for riders in wet climates.
You can get a safe and comfortable full-face sport riding street helmet for $250 to $300, as discussed in Sean’s big helmet breakdown. The vents and visor features might not be so far ahead of other brands to be worth an extra $100, but the low weight level might push you over the edge if you dig the design.
Sean’s ridden a lot sport touring helmets in the AGV K-5's price range, and says he’d recommend all of them over this one. Ouch.
He tells me that at $375 the Schuberth S2 has superior build quality and noise reduction. The $395 Icon Airframe Pro Construct was another one of his favorites, which doesn’t have a drop-down visor but “simply feels nicer than the AGV.” The Shoei Qwest, HJC RPHA 10 were also well-regarded and less expensive.
The K-5 is a comfortable, well-constructed and versatile helmet for sporty but not necessarily hardcore road riders. Best suited for shorter rides in warm and dry weather.
I didn’t experience any egregious issues with the K-5, but with so many other lids on the market with strong endorsements for quality and zero issues with noise, it seems like you’d be better off riding with one of the alternatives listed above.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.