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AGV K3 Review

AGV K3 Helmet Review
AGV K3 Helmet Review
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com

More: wBW Reviews Home  |  wBW Motorcycle Helmet Reviews  |  Owner Comments (Below)


Summary

That the K3 is the most basic street helmet in the AGV lineup matters not.

The helmet exudes quality and it includes some outstanding features and good comfort.

The smooth external shape helps reduce noise and makes a noticeable difference in reducing head toss.

Background

AGV has been making helmets since Vincent was selling Black Shadows out of its Stevenage plant.

The Vincent factory is long gone, but AGV has both survived and thrived, with il Dottore giving the ultimate endorsement.

AGV now also owns the MDS brand, a line of less expensive helmets sold in many markets.

In North America, the AGV helmet line is divided into four segments: Race, Street, Open-Face and Off-Road. AGV helmets sold in the European market are categorized as Race, GT Series, Off-Road, City and Street Road.

Each market gets basically the same designs, with the AGV Miglia flip-up (review) and the AGV Stealth (review) listed in the Street segment in North America but in the GT Series segment in Europe.

In addition to the webBikeWorld reviews of the Miglia flip-up and the AGV Stealth (both of which are nice models that were well received), the AGV TiTech with its race fit was also reviewed some time ago.

Calling the K3 an "entry level" helmet would, I think, be a mistake. The helmet in no way gives that impression, either in handling it or riding with it and it seems that AGV took just as much care in the design and manufacture of this model as it does for any other, no matter the price.

I wasn't sure what to think about the K3 at first and, in fact, I was not at all familiar with this model, but first impressions were very positive and grew from there as I rode with the helmet, dodging our way-too-frequent snowstorms this winter. In fact, I'd say that what is "entry level" to AGV is top-drawer to several other brands I can think of -- indeed, some of the features on the K3 are no doubt class-leading.

So let's take a look...

AGV K3 Helmet - Top View

AGV K3 Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality

First impressions are important when prying back the lid of the helmet box for the first time, and the K3 did not disappoint in this "Basic Red" color pattern, which is anything but.

AGV is apparently not interested in playing up the color-naming scheme, at least in the North American market; "Basic Black" and "Mono Flat Black" are as exciting as it gets in the K3 lineup. Under-promise and over-deliver must be the watchword here; a good strategy.

But the rest of the world gets a K3 (and a K4) in 12 different patterns, including 5 different Valentino Rossi graphics. Perhaps it's a matter of cost, but all of us here agree that AGV would do well by having the Rossi graphics available in North America -- although perhaps they are concerned that doing so might crib sales from the Race helmet lineup.

The K3 uses what AGV calls a "Painted HIR-TH (High Resistant Thermoplastic) resin helmet shell and it's difficult to tell, but the pattern on the Basic Red model shown here actually does look like it may be painted on, rather than the cheaper decal used on many lower-end helmets.

The helmet clear coat feels slightly thicker than normal and the overall finish looks very good, with deep and vibrant colors and metallic silver paint used in the stripes. The painted surface does, however, have several dust bits and tiny bumps here and there under the clear coat.

None of these are obvious to anything other than a very close inspection, and it is probably more difficult to control for dust if indeed the helmet shell is painted rather than covered with a decal. But a slight tightening up of factory tolerances here wouldn't hurt.

Again, that's only an issue for a sharp eye and otherwise, the finish is excellent with no other paint drips or faults that I can see. One quirk of the Basic Red pattern is the black "holes" that appear in a few places on the silver paint. These are apparently not faults but simply part of the pattern, as if the painter was attempting to give the paint an airbrushed look.

There are two on top and one on the back of the helmet that can be seen on close inspection of some of the photos included here and they probably bother me more than others, but just to let you know that it's part of the design and not a mistake. I think.

Other than the vibrant color, what is most impressive on the K3 is the quality of the recessed top vents and the chin vent. The top vents are beautifully recessed into the helmet shell with tight tolerancing, and the operation of the upper and lower vents is first-rate, with a solid feel and -- wonder of wonders -- they indeed provide excellent ventilation, as I'll describe in a minute.

All of the other bits and parts on this helmet indicate outstanding quality, including the perfectly applied soft rubber gasket around the bottom of the helmet shell with the seam nicely covered by an AGV seal; the eye port gasket; the fit of the face shield to same; the first-rate face shield removal mechanism (all of which I'll describe in detail); and the extra-thick D-rings and very comfortable chin strap padding and liner.

The small breath guard fits tightly into the top of the chin bar and has good mold quality. This seems to be a problem with many other helmets, including helmets much more expensive than the AGV K3, so kudos to AGV on getting this small detail right also. All good stuff not indicative of an entry-level helmet in any way, shape or form.

Score:  I'll give the AGV K3 an "Outstanding" rating overall for quality. The slightly higher-than-average level of dust bits under the paint does drop the paint quality slightly to an "Excellent". See the Summary Table at the end of this page for a description of our rating system.

AGV K3 Helmet - Close-up of Chin Strap and D-Rings
Close-up of thick padding on chin strap and the hefty D-rings used on the AGV K3 helmet.
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AGV K3 Helmet Slide Show
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AGV K3 Helmet Fit, Comfort and Internal Shape

The K3 has a neutral internal shape and feels just a touch round at the top with very slightly narrow sides. There are two differences in this helmet that should be noted: first, the removable liner surrounds the upper part of the head with a sort of band that runs completely around.

The liner is slightly thin at the forehead and the EPS foam is just underneath it, which may give a very slight feeling of tightness to round shaped heads. The padding overall is slightly thinner than normal but this doesn't seem to affect the internal comfort, although I could feel the two snaps pressing on my forehead at the top. These are the snaps that attach the liner to the helmet. So far they haven't bothered me, but I can feel the bumps underneath the liner.

But overall, the K3 fits me very nicely even though my head tends toward round. The helmet feels comfortable when riding and I believe the internal shape of the K3 will fit a large majority of head shapes. I think the K3 has a fit that is almost identical to the AGV Stealth (review), which uses two shell sizes to span the range.

The EPS liner has very shallow pockets for the ears, which can make the helmet feel slightly tight at the sides, but this is something of a problem when fitting speakers. The best way to fit the thicker type speakers used on the Interphone F4, for example, is in the shallow recess in the EPS underneath the K3 liner, but this means the padding is between the speaker and the ear, which can decrease the volume.

Thinner speakers, such as those used in the Scala Q2, for example, can be located on the liner itself, but basically the shallow ear pockets are probably not the best for speaker placement. Some owners may have no problem with this while others may find it difficult.

The liner material is soft and comfortable and appears to be very well made. It's attached with plastic snaps to the inside of the helmet and is easily removable.

Note that AGV says that the K3 is made with only a single shell size to span the range from XS to XXL, which is unusual. Thus, it is possible that smaller helmet sizes will have a thicker EPS liner or padding while the larger sizes, such as the XL shown here, will have what feels like thinner padding, although the shell does not look or seem larger than normal, so it may have been designed to be as small as possible to span the size range.

The K3 is currently missing from the North American AGV website size chart, but the European AGV website lists the K3 as fitting a 61-62 cm circumference head, which I think is about right, although it may be just a touch tight for head sizes at the limit. If you're a 62 or slightly above, you may also want to try an XXL on for size.

More information on helmet fit can be found in the chart that lists the helmet weights of webBikeWorld reviewed helmets and also by shape on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.

webBikeWorld Internal Shape Estimator: AGV K3
Narrow Med. Narrow Slight Narrow Neutral Slight Round Med. Round Round
Helmet Internal Shape Examples (see more Motorcycle Helmet Shapes)
Arai
Profile
Scorpion EXO-700 Neon KBC
Tarmac
AGV
Stealth
Arai
RX-Q
Bell
Arrow
Arai
Quantum II

The shell itself, at least in the size XL, does not feel oversized and the helmet seems very well proportioned for its size.

One thing to note is that the neck roll at the bottom of the helmet liner in the rear could be larger or thicker. The shape of the helmet causes a gap at the back that could be filled by a thicker neck roll, and that gap does cause some noise at the rear in an otherwise quiet helmet (described in more detail in the Sound Levels section following).

Score:  I'll give the AGV K3 an "Excellent" rating for overall comfort and fit.

AGV K3 Helmet Liner

AGV K3 Helmet Face Shield Removal Mechanism

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AGV K3 Face Shield

Another notable feature of the K3 is the excellent fit of the face shield to the eye port gasket. AGV uses what they call a "Perimetrical Visor Seal", which is a thick round gasket that feels somewhat like neoprene wetsuit material. The face shield fits very tightly with minimal gaps, although a very tiny amount of water did pass through in the leak-down test (water poured along the top of the closed face shield).

The gasket does seal all the way around the eye port though, unlike other helmets with have a gap at the sides. This, and the top vents that close tightly on the K3, make the helmet more water resistant than others (when the face shield is closed and vents are shut, of course).

The face shield has 5 firm detents from closed to open, including a slightly larger than normal first gap for defogging.

The removal mechanism used on the K3 is noteworthy also; it is very easy to use and it even looks good, in a sort of industrial-artistic way.

Open the face shield all the way, pull down on the release and the shield pops off. Two sets of small plastic tabs hold it in place; one set at the main rotating boss and another single small tab towards the bottom. It's important to make sure that both sets of tabs are in their grooves when replacing the shield, because it will rotate downwards with only the main boss in place and the lower tab loose.

The clear face shield on this example is not labeled as meeting the U.S. VESC-8 safety standard, so I'm not sure if it does or not. It is slightly thin at 1.43 mm but the quality is good and it has a nice, large lifting tab at the lower left.

AGV lists the face shield as their "Street 8" version and tinted shields are available. It is listed as having an anti-scratch and anti-fog coating, but we noticed fogging almost immediately in cold weather. An application of the excellent and very easy to use Clarity Defog It (review) anti-fog coating works wonders though on this face shield and others though.

Overall, the K3 face shield is easy to use, has good quality optics, seals tightly, is easy to remove and replace and it feels sturdy and reliable; more so than many other helmets I've tried.

webBikeWorld Eye Port Visibility Estimator: AGV K3
Visibility Poor Below Average Average Above Average Outstanding
Top to Bottom
Side to Side  

By the way, the eye port on the K3 provides about average top-to-bottom and side-to-side outward visibility, with slightly better than average visibility looking down, probably due to the smaller breath guard.

Score:  I'll give the overall face shield and operating system an "Excellent".

AGV K3 Helmet Top Vents

AGV K3 Helmet Chin Vent and Eye Port Gasket

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AGV K3 Ventilation and Air Flow

The top vents and chin vent on the K3 have a high-quality feel and they snap smartly open and closed. The chin vent is especially praiseworthy, as it not only functions well but it directs a very large volume of air through two large openings through the chin bar and thus on to the rider's face. It can also positively shut off the air flow when closed.

This may seem logical but we've seen too many helmets recently, including helmets costing three times as much as the K3, with no direct venting through the chin bar, which really is a must-have feature.

The K3 has outstanding ventilation in the chin area and the top vents, which are also beautifully recessed into the helmet shell, also provide good air flow at the top. The liner features four sets of four holes each at the brow that allow air to be ducted through the vents, through holes in the EPS liner and on to the rider's head.

So overall, the AGV K3 has excellent air flow, better than many other helmets we've tried recently. A small chin curtain probably helps to make the venting system more efficient also, although the chin curtain on this example was loose when the helmet was new and one side pops out every time I take the helmet off, so I'm hoping it does not get lost. It does not seem to have a tab or molded nub that will hold it tightly enough between the chin bar liner and the helmet shell.

webBikeWorld Opinionator: AGV K3 Ventilation
Location Poor Below Average Average Above Average Outstanding
Top/Upper
Chin/Face

The top vents are independent and they open and close with a small raised tab in the center of each. They're relatively easy to find when wearing gloves and they're easy to use.

The K3 has a rear always-open exhaust vent and two small exhaust vents on either side at the lower rear of the helmet.

Score:  I'll give the AGV K3 an "Outstanding" rating overall for ventilation, especially at the chin.

AGV K3 Helmet Rear Exhaust Vent

AGV K3 Sound Levels

The smooth shell and the recessed top vents apparently help the K3 to transmit a lower than average level of noise. The helmet is actually rather quiet at the top and the sides, again due to the tight tolerancing I think.

It also seems to have lower than average turbulence-induced noise around the bottom of the helmet shell. The exception to this is as noted above; the liner is cut a bit too short at the back of the neck roll, at least for my head shape, leaving a slight gap and some wind rushing noise from the back.

I can move my head to eliminate the noise, so I think with a bit of extra padding -- which may actually be there on the smaller sizes, due to the single shell size -- the K3 could be a very quiet helmet.

The small chin curtain in front and the overall helmet shape does seem to mitigate noise volume, and although I don't often notice this, the K3 seems to "cut" through the air noticeably better than other helmets. I definitely notice less "head toss" and turbulence movement with the K3 than other helmets.

webBikeWorld Opinionator: AGV K3 Noise Levels
Location Very Quiet Quieter Average Louder Very Loud
Upper
Lower

Note that our helmet evaluations are normally a combined effort of several riders over time, on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens. Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality earplugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems) and (usually) a helmet liner. It is strongly recommended that hearing protection is used when riding a motorcycle.  See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.

Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the individual. Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit; the type of motorcycle and windscreen; wind speed and direction and even the type of clothing that is being worn. For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.

Score:  I'll give the AGV K3 an "Excellent" score for noise control and lower than average noise levels.

wBW Video: AGV K3 Helmet
AGV K3 Helmet Weight

This K3 in size XL weighs 1543 grams (3 lbs., 6-3/8 oz.). This excellent showing is probably due to the good design of the helmet shell. It is very close to the AGV Stealth (1536); Shoei Hornet (Enduro) XL, 1542; Schuberth R1 XL, (1552); and the Shark RSX L (1553).

The K3 meets DOT safety standards in North America and ECE 22.05 in Europe. It does not meet the new Snell 2010 standard in the U.S., which could change the entire helmet due to different shell requirements and possible added weight.

The K3 feels very nicely balanced when riding with minimal buffeting and head toss as noted above.

For comparison purposes, see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page or the Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page for a listing of all of the helmets we've reviewed along with their weight and internal shape.

Score:  I'll give the K3 an "Excellent" rating for light weight and good balance.

webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator: AGV AGV K3
Picks...
...and Pans
  • Reasonable price.
  • Outstanding quality.
  • Excellent face shield operation.
  • Comfortable liner and fit.
  • Outstanding ventilation.
  • Limited colors and graphics in the U.S.
  • Dust under clear coat.
  • Chin curtain comes loose.
  • Could use thicker neck roll.
Miscellaneous

The chin strap padding on the K3 is noticeably more comfortable than other helmets. The D-rings are also thicker and more solid than other helmets and feel like they were stamped from a more substantial piece of sheet steel.

The chin strap attachment system uses a plastic snap to retain the extra chin strap length. Note that the AGV U.S.A. website lists the K3 as having a "Micro-metric adjustment buckle", which apparently is the double D-ring system.

And finally, the K3 carries a one-year warranty from sale date and a three year warranty from manufacture date.

Conclusion

My feeling is that the AGV K3 is an excellent helmet that definitely does not feel like an entry-level version. Several features are noteworthy, including the venting system, the operation of the face shield, the comfort of the chin strap and the overall quality.

A couple of minor tweaks by AGV could make the K3 a much bigger contender, and the shallow ear pockets may be problematic for some, but overall I'd say the K3 is a definite surprise to me and, I think, worth the extra $50.00 or so that this helmet might cost over some other basic helmets.

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wBW Review: AGV K3 Helmet
Manufacturer: AGV SpA List Price: Solids $169.95. Graphics $289.95.
Colors: Solids and graphics. Made In: China
Sizes: XS to XXL. Shell Sizes: 1. Star Rating (1-5): Four Star Rated
Review Date: February 2010
Ratings Scale: For reference, our ratings scale is subjective and ranges from Unacceptable to Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.
Note: Item was provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.

Note: For informational use only. All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC since 2000. All rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld© Site Info page. Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read the Terms and Conditions!

Your Comments and Feedback

Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details).  Comments may be edited for clarity prior to publication.

From "R.F." (November 2013): "Congrats on your site, very very helpful.

I decided to say something about (the K3) because I think I'd like to have received this information before as I would not buy the helmet in the matte version. Why? After some months the latex layer began to drop and now it's horrible. Tried a lot of products to remove the rest but it's very difficult, only way it seems is using soap and your nails to scrape.

Helmet is comfortable and well made, works well if you use glasses like me. The visor scratches easily but you'll have no problems to buy another one. So I'd buy again but not the black matte version of it.


From "A.L." (10/10):  "Got a pretty good deal on this lid in plain white. A few of my friends thought it is the more expensive Ti-tech. It came with a chin curtain and nose guard. So far that's pretty good for what (I paid).

Now here's the downside:

The chin curtain and nose guard comes off once in a while, and have to push it back in. The D-ring is a smaller than usual, as the wBW review stated; it is just a minor annoyance, but how hard it is for AGV to use the industry standard d-rings?

Next, as someone else already stated, the visor gets fog up easily. This is the only helmet I have that suffer with this issue. This happens only, though, when I am at a stoplight. A simple lift up of the visor will clear the fog.

The worst culprit, however, is the feel of a liner. The liner feels like tiny sandpaper when I first wore it, and even though the issue is now lessened, this is the only helmet I ever wore that felt like this. It is not a deal breaker, but rather disappointed at so many minor oversights the helmet suffers.

Noise level is standard, and long rides comfort is on par with my other helmets (Shark S650, HJC CL-SP, Sparx S-07)."


From "G.R." (5/10):  "I purchased a K-3 via Motorcycle Superstore three weeks ago and, sadly, returned it because my head is a 'grey area' head: I'm somewhere between a medium and a small ( oval? ) according to sizing charts. At 22 inches exactly, I tried a small because other buckets have not felt quite snug enough.

I have not found a dealer in Maine who has any AGV helmets on site for me to try, and don't want to ask for another refund, so am continuing my search for 'the' helmet that feels right on and in my head.

Your review, though, was spot on as to quality for price; the K-3 is, I think, a well-designed and manufactured product.

As you mention in your new review of the 'tech, holding my hand at the back of my neck reduced an already low level of noise. I do wonder about the thinness of interior padding, though - it seems to me that slightly thicker padding would would help the helmet fit the head instead of the head having to conform to the shape of the EPS mid-layer.

Thank you for providing an interesting, straightforward, informative site: 'been telling folks in my area about webBikeWorld for some time."


From "K.S." (2/10):  "Thank you for all of the wonderful reviews ! I just purchased an AGV K3 based on your review and the discovery of the bright yellow Rossi Celebr8 color way online for $180. ... It is a must have for motorcyclists who want to be seen by other motorists.

I purchased the K3 to replace a 5-year-old pure orange Shoei TZ-R (review). The TZ-R fit my head shape perfectly. I have wanted to purchase a more visible helmet for quite some time but the Scorpion EXO-700 Neon doesn’t fit my round head comfortably and the high price of the Axis Yellow Shoei helmets kept me from pulling the trigger.

Don’t get me wrong, my head is worth more than the price of a helmet, but with so many inexpensive quality helmets on the market, paying $400-600 seems unnecessary…especially after reading “Blowing the Lid Off” (Motorcyclist Magazine) a few years back.

The finish of the K3 isn’t perfect (e.g., one of the vent mechanism holes wasn’t cleanly punched out, there is a piece of dust under the clear coat) but it is the best looking sub-$200 helmet I’ve ever seen. The two flaws I’ve found required careful inspection to detect and I doubt anyone else will ever notice them.

The visor does appear to fog quickly but it also defogs quickly when opened. Changing the visor is easy, the vents work well and it is significantly quieter than my TZ-R probably due to the lack of ear pockets. I haven’t had the chance to wear the helmet for a long ride yet but so far it seems light and well balanced, true to size and comfortable.

This helmet should definitely be considered by anyone who wants an inexpensive helmet of good quality. The high visibility yellow paintjob is optional."

Editor's Note:  The K3 in Rossi livery is currently being sold in Europe. A limited number were imported to the U.S.

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