From the beginning, the history of AGV helmets is overflowing with technological breakthrough and sporting success.
AGV reseaches, projects and commercializes innovative systems for the protection of motorbike riders’ heads.
AGV STANDARDS defines AGV’s innovation strategy.
The History of AGV Helmets
PROTECTING YOUR PASSION
A.G.V. is an acronym that stands for Amisano Gino Valenza. Gino Amisano is the founder of the company, Valenza Po the city in which AGV came to life in 1947. The logo is nothing other than “Ago”‘s helmet as seen from behind.
Or rather, the way so many riders would see it while being beaten by the Italian champion. The colours are those of the Italian flag, as to confirm AGV’s great pride of its connection to its homeland. After a few modifications throughout its lifetime, the brand continues to win while being worn by great champions, like Valentino Rossi.
“Where I came from, they used wooden lasts to mould shoe uppers, but i needed to mould my first helmets in the shape of heads, not feet. So i approached borsalino of allesandria, the famous hatter. and he lent me the moulds i needed.”
– GINO AMISANO
LEATHER AND SKIN TO START WITH
THE FIRST AGV HELMET IS FROM 1947, HAND-MADE FROM A WOODEN MOLD, JUST 5 ARTICLES A WEEK.
Gino Amisano was a vivacious young accountant in 1945 when, the war just over, he decided to become a businessman. The area around Valenza in the Province of Alessandria was full of shoe factories and leatherworkers, while practically everyone who lived there was passionate about cycling. So Amisano and his two partners set to work hand crafting two types of products, saddle covers under the name FAB and light helmets for racing cyclists branded Robic.
Our story begins shortly afterwards, with AGV being founded the following year, its company name formed from the initials of Amisano, Gino and Valenza. In 1946, the new company also shifted its target market from bicycles to motorcycles or rather scooters, making saddles and backrest pads for Vespas and Lambrettas.
Gino had gone his own way, leaving his partners and doing the work of three. He pushed himself hard, selling his wares as far as Milan, and driving sales from 20 saddle covers per week (with just one employee) to 700. This was also when he met Luciana Morando, who he married in 1947 and immediately brought into the company. Luciana was to be the driving force of AGV.
The first AGV motorcycle helmet was created right then, in 1947.
THE BIRTH OF THE MODERN CRASH HELMET
IN THE YEARS OF ITALIAN ECONOMIC GROWTH THE FIRST PILOTS PROTECTED THEMSELVES WITH A SIMPLE LEATHER CAP.
The next step, vulcanised fibre, came in the fifties. The shell was made by die cutting the appropriate shape out of a special resinimpregnated fabric, hardening it using a catalyst and then forming it using aluminium moulds.
It was an entirely manual process, also used in yachting at the time, and difficult to carry out because the material was so hard.
When a number of competitors ganged up to keep production of this material to themselves, Amisano was forced to use a fi bre known as “kerizzata”. It was then that Gino, infuriated, hit upon a slogan to advertise the superiority of his “kappa” fibre over its rival – “il casco AGV Kappa tutto spacca” or “the AGV Kappa helmet beats them all”.
The image borrowed from the battering rams used to break down the gates of ancient cities under siege.
As Italy worked tenaciously to rebuild its economy after the war, Gino Amisano and his wife led the way. They practically lived in the factory, arriving at seven in the morning and often staying there until after midnight. They were mostly involved in making the company’s saddles, including those supplied as original equipment on Vespas, because that was where their profits lay.
1954 saw the creation of the first modern Italian helmet, made of fibreglass. The shells were initially made by a factory in Grugliasco which also made the fibreglass front body panels for the Piaggio Ape.
THE JET HELMET
“PEOPLE WANTED TO PUT THE HUNGER OF THE WAR YEARS BEHIND THEM AND THEY WEREN’T WORK-SHY. MANY OF THE WOMEN WORKERS TOOK THE MATERIALS FOR MAKING THE LININGS HOME WITH THEM. MY WIFE LUCIANA FILLED THEIR BAGS UP IN THE EVENING AND THEN COUNTED THE FINISHED LININGS THE MORNING AFTER.”
AGV began exhibiting at trade fairs in this period, first at the Milan cycle show and then at the motorcycle show. Aiming above all to get the company noticed, highlighting its production capacity and extensive range, Luciana had the idea of launching a small series of riding and polo helmets. Made of fi breglass, they were elegant designs with velvet or Prince of Wales fabric covers. Only a few hundred were made, almost all exported to the United Kingdom.
The first AGV jet helmet went into production in 1956, on the heels of its launch at London’s International Motor Show in the Winter of 1955.
It naturally caused a buzz, being based on the helmets used by jet fighter pilots, while offering greater protection and eye-catching modern lines.
Carlo Bandirola with MV, followed by the Gilera 500 road racers Giuseppe Colnago and Umberto Masetti soon came to depend on Gino Amisano as their helmet supplier of choice. Money didn’t come into it. In those days, back in the fifties, you asked for no more than a couple of helmets decorated with the rider’s colours and graphics. What’s more, Gino was an amiable young man who could get on with anyone and talk about anything. Affectionately known as Ginetto by his racer friends, Amisano became a great communicator, pioneering many aspects of modern motorcycle racing.
In 1958, AGV became the first company to use a motorcycle race for its advertising. Amisano had banners hung around the most photographed bends, emblazoned with the company name and products: AGV, helmets and saddles, Valenza, Italy.
THE FULL FACE HELMET
“WHEN YOU SAW AGOSTINI RACE, YOU LISTENED TO THE MUSIC OF HIS MV, WATCHED HIM TRIUMPH IN EVERY RACE AND ASKED YOURSELF HOW ON EARTH HE ALWAYS MANAGED TO BE SO TOTALLY PERFECT.”
When Gino Amisano saw the first full-face helmets come out in America, he immediately decided to launch them in Italy – starting with motorcycle racing of course. But he hadn’t anticipated the suspicion with which the full-face helmet was greeted.
They were years of rapid progress, but motoring has always been traditionalist and wary of change. There was, for example, still a raging debate in the specialist press between those who favoured the new-style gear lever mounted centrally on the transmission tunnel and the conservatives, almost all Lancia enthusiasts, who preferred a steering-column-mounted gear lever.
The first rider to wear a full-face helmet in an Italian race – and it was of course an AGV – was Alberto Pagani, racing at Imola in the Nations GP in September 1969. Agostini and the MV Augustas, already world champions, weren’t there due to a row with the federation, which had for the fi rst time ever left the Monza track out of the championship. Pagani won the 500 race riding the Linto, powered by two Aermacchi top ends bolted onto a single crankcase.
The AGV full-face’s fi rst outing was an out-and-out success. Then Ago started using one after some initial hesitation, just making slight changes to the graphics, and from 1971 there was a full-face boom as they went into mass production.
First there was the X-80 and then the X-3000 which, following Agostini’s advice, featured a sculpted chin bar that enabled the rider to get right down on the tank for the straights, while also being recessed at the nape of the neck to allow greater freedom of movement. AGV was also the fi rst manufacturer to make a two-colour fi breglass full-face helmet.
RIDERS CHOOSE AGV
Throughout the years, many riders and pilots have decided to associate their name with the company from Piedmont: Giacomo Agostini, Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts, Johnny Cecotto, Angel Nieto, Marco Lucchinelli, Franco Uncini, Fausto Gresini, Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi Randy Mamola and Luca Cadalora.
These collaborations have brought AGV many satisfactions and more than 130 titles, a part from bringing the company onto the world stage.
AGV EXTREME STANDARDS HELMETS
“THE INSIDE OF THE HELMET IS REALLY COMFORTABLE”
“GREAT AERODYNAMICS, IT’S LIKE YOU’RE NOT EVEN WEARING A HELMET”
“AMAZING VENTILATION, YOU CAN REALLY FEEL IT”
“OUTSTANDING VISION, LIKE SWITCHING FROM TV TO CINEMA”
AGV EXTREME STANDARDS is a revolution in helmet design that achieves tangible and measurable improvements in: Protection, Fit, Comfort, Reliability, Environmental Impact. Throughout the years, it has produced these models:
THE RACING HELMET: PISTA GP
Full carbon helmet specially designed for racing. Its wide field of vision, low weight, compact dimensions, increased ventilation, exclusive ergonomic design and class-leading aerodynamics set new performance standards.
THE SUPERSPORT HELMET: CORSA
Combines the performance of the Pista GP with road-riding features such as adjustable ventilation and improved comfort without sacrificing the performance standards of the GP model.
THE GT HELMET: GT VELOCE
Brings the revolutionary design concepts of the Pista GP to GT and Sports Touring riders. The GT Veloce was specially designed to create a comfortable, compact and quiet helmet with highly efficient ventilation, a wide field of vision and a dedicated intercom system.
THE SPORT TOURING HELMET: K-5
The new AGV point of reference for sports use but now with much more comfort. The shell is made of fibreglass and carbon fibre and guarantees resistance and lightness while the lines are aerodynamic and streamlined in true AGV style.
AGV LAUNCHES THE PISTA GP HELMET
“I CONSIDER THE PISTAGP HELMET A TRIBUTE TO GINO AMISANO, AN ENTREPRENEUR I ADMIRED FOR HIS ABILITY TO INNOVATE, THE RECORDS HE ACHIEVED, AND THE COMPETITIVE SPIRIT WITH WHICH HE FACED EVERY CHALLENGE.”
Friday 23 March 2012, Valentino Rossi’s brand-new PistaGP helmet was presented in Jerez de la Frontera. It is the first of a new generation of helmets that are the outcome of the AGV EXTREME STANDARDS project, a process that revolutionises the design method and testing of helmets, with the aim of improving, in a demonstrable and measurable way, protection, ergonomics and comfort for riders.
The presentation press conference was attended also by Valentino Rossi who confirms, “I am very happy with the PistaGP, it feels like I am not wearing a helmet. Its aerodynamics have increased, with excellent ventilation and exaggerated visibility, like switching from the TV to the cinema”.
The AGV EXTREME STANDARDS project, established in 2009 with Valentino Rossi as its leading rider, is ready to get on the track with the first PistaGP helmet.