AGV and Dainese 2012 Summer Style Series:
▪ AGV Grid Helmet Review
▪ Dainese Aspide Jacket Review
▪ Dainese Air Frame Jacket Review
▪ AGV K4 EVO Helmet Review
▪ Dainese D1 Kevlar Jeans Review
▪ Dainese Asphalt Shoes Review
▪ Dainese Druids Gloves Review
This is Part 3 of our 2012 "Summer Style Series", pairing AGV helmets with Dainese clothing.
The idea is to provide our readers with a few mix-and-match choices for good-looking, quality motorcycle outfits that work in the hottest riding temperatures.
The AGV K4 EVO is the 2012 update of the AGV K-4, which was an evolution of the AGV K-3 (review) from 2010.
The K4 EVO has an upgraded liner and padding system that uses a new "skin friendly" fabric.
The weight has also been reduced and the quality has been improved.
The K4 EVO is a relative bargain and, in fact, may be one of the best values in its price range, all things considered.
The AGV K4 EVO is an evolution of the AGV K-4, which we didn't review, and the AGV K3, which was announced in 2010 and reviewed on webBikeWorld soon after.
Actually, before we get started, I should mention that the helmet is officially known as the "K-4" (with the hyphen). But since only Dainese seems to spell it this way, we'll go with convention and the vernacular.
The K4 EVO is, as its name implies, an evolution of the K-4, itself an evolution of the AGV K-3 (review) from 2010. The K4 EVO is one of the best-selling AGV helmets, both because it is "the most balanced and versatile helmet in the AGV range", according to the company, and it is "suited to wear on both motorcycles and scooters for racing, touring, and city use."
The low price helps also; a K4 in basic white or black has a list price of only $219.95, while the patterned "Sliver" or "Explorer" graphic costs only 30 bucks more.
AGV quality seems to have been improved for 2012 across the board and the consensus here is that the new K4 EVO is one of the best helmet bargains available.
In fact, when the AGV Grid (review) and the K4 EVO first arrived, more than one of us assumed the latter would be the more expensive helmet.
The helmet shell is made from what AGV calls "ACF", or Advanced Composite Fibre, which is unusual in this price range (most competitor helmets have a polycarbonate shell). This is reflected in the relatively light weight of the K4 EVO, which apparently has been reduced by roughly 100 grams from its K-4 parent.
The K4 EVO is made in two shell sizes and they didn't go nuts with the head size spread either -- the sizes range from XS to XXL, which means there's less chance of the dreaded "astronaut helmet" big-helmet-on-small-head effect.
The helmet shown here is in the "Sliver" (that's s-l-i-v-e-r, not silver as I first thought!) graphic in black and red.
It has a lot going on, even including a gold-flecked houndstooth graphic in the background.
When's the last time you saw a houndstooth pattern on a motorcycle helmet? Hmmm...I thought you'd say that!
Let me take a guess: many people probably don't even know what a houndstooth pattern is, so for your enjoyment and edification, here's the Wikipedia definition.
Anyway, it all looks good and -- let's face it -- most or all motorcycle helmet graphics are for fun anyway. That this one provides a bit of extra visibility can't hurt either.
I was assigned to do the evaluation and to write the review of the AGV K-3 back in 2010 and I liked the helmet, even with the few dust mites that were visible under the clear coat.
Those mites have been banished from the K4 EVO, reflecting the improvement in overall quality of the paint and assembly has improved in each of the AGV helmets I've worked with recently, including the AGV AX-8 Dual EVO (review) also reviewed recently on webBikeWorld.
AGV said they also improved the liner fabric and the padding in the K4 EVO, with a new "3D" (their term) liner and a "skin friendly" fabric.
The new fabric type is also used on the AGV Grid (review) that I also reviewed just last week for the 2012 Summer Style Series. The material does seem to make it easier to slip the helmet on and to take it off and it feels comfortable in the increasingly hot weather we've been experiencing here this late Spring.
The moving parts on the helmet also have a good quality feel, with simple but effective functionality. The chin vent and top vents snap open and closed with a solid click and the face shield fits tightly against the full-surround eye port gasket, which is said to have a special design (see the "Eye Port and Outward Visibility" section below for more details).
The chin strap padding is also commendable for its length and padding, especially when compared to a much-more-expensive Arai RX-Q (review), which has the typically too-short chin strap padding found on all recent Arai helmets for some reason. Not that I'm comparing the K4 EVO to the RX-Q but c'mon, Arai -- at those prices, how about 10 mm extra length of chin strap?
So the bottom line here is that the overall build quality and the attention to details, like the ACF shell and the special eye port gasket on the K4 EVO belie its low price, which isn't much more than those rock-bottom helmets with questionable lineage and none of the advanced features.
Score: I'll give the AGV K4 EVO an "Excellent" rating for excellent overall quality. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.
We have noted over the last year or so that many helmet manufacturers seem to have been converging on a more "Neutral" internal fit and shape for their helmets. Even Arai, who was once known for offering several different internal shapes, ranging from "Long Oval" to "Round Oval" has toned down the outer edges of the curve and brought their helmets closer to the more popular "Neutral" shape.
While this has been rejoiced by some, riders with narrower head profiles have been sad. Well, here's one for you, Long Oval fans -- the K4 EVO may not have the blade-like shape of the old Arai Profile (review) or Shark RSI (review), but it does have what we term a "Slightly Narrow" internal shape...with pretensions of Neutrality, of course.
The shape of the K4 EVO provides some extra room at the forehead and it's slightly narrower on the sides, but the beauty of this one is the so-called "3D" padding works for "Neutral" and even "Slightly Round" heads also. My sunglasses fit inside; it's a tight fit due to the narrower side profile, but it works for me and will probably work better for owners with a narrower head shape.
The fit is slightly narrower than that RX-Q; more like the new Arai Vector 2 (review) which, other than it's slightly increased forehead room, feels nearly identical to the RX-Q. The comparisons with Arai are coincidental and I only picked those helmets because of their defined internal shapes.
The issue is that there are so many "Neutral" helmets lately that I just don't remember a "Slightly Narrow" type having come through the review process in quite some time.
This K4 EVO in size large feels about right in the listed 59-60 cm size and although it should fit "Slightly Narrow" heads best, it should also fit most rider head shapes in those sizes.
AGV provided a lot of detail on the K4 EVO; more than most manufacturers do, especially for a helmet in this price range. For example, I know that the K4 EVO in size L comes with 25 mm thick cheek pads. And in a surprise move for a helmet in this price range, AGV also offers a selection of optional cheek pads, from 15 mm up to 25 mm. Remember, to get more room you use a thinner cheek pad and go thicker for a tighter fit.
The ACF helmet shell used for the K4 EVO comes in two sizes, but AGV didn't get greedy and they limited the head size range for this helmet. The smaller shell fits the XS to M sizes, while the large shell fits the L to XXL head size. The helmet shown here in size large seems proportional, so I'm not sure how they squeeze an XXL into this shell; perhaps the liner padding is thinner.
I will note one thing: my chin touches the back of the chin bar in this helmet, possibly because my head isn't quite as narrow as the fit or my chin/face profile is more square than narrow. Of course, this will vary, depending on your head shape and match to the helmet.
The bottom line on this one is that I I'll call the K4 EVO as a "Slightly Narrow" fit in the webBikeWorld classification scheme. Again, the padding -- at least on this size large -- has a nice design that should fit a wide range of rider head shapes and you can mess with the cheek pad option if you need more room for those jaws.
The "3D" padding and the liner material also feels comfortable and the helmet has a snug-fitting chin curtain. The liner fabric is said to have been designed for moisture wicking and also treated with an anti-bacterial coating. The liner, cheek pads and even the neck roll are removable and washable, according to AGV.
The ear pockets are of average size and depth and can fit intercom speakers. Also, the shell and liner design along the bottom of the helmet makes for an easy fitment of typical intercom helmet mounts.
webBikeWorld Internal Shape Estimator: AGV K4 EVO
|Narrow||Med. Narrow||Slight Narrow||Neutral||Slight Round||Med. Round||Round|
|Helmet Internal Shape Examples (see more Motorcycle Helmet Shapes)|
More information on helmet fit can be found in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, along with the chart that lists the helmet weights of webBikeWorld reviewed helmets and also by shape on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: I'll give the AGV K4 EVO an "Excellent" rating for shape, comfort and padding with a very nice liner and padding that works well in hot weather.
The K4 EVO uses the AGV "Street 8" face shield, claimed to have an anti-scratch and anti-fog treatment. Unlike the race-derived face shield used on the Grid, AGV makes no claims regarding UV protection for the Street 8 shield.
A combination of the eye port on this helmet and what feels like a slightly short front-to-back dimension combine to give excellent outward visibility on the K4 EVO however. I notice better than average visibility in the vertical plane and slightly better than average in the horizontal plane, and this is always a good feature to have.
We measured the face shield at 2.135 mm thick and it has a nice, large lift tab on the left-hand side.
The eye port gasket used on the K4 EVO is of a special design. Named the "PVS", or "Perimetrical Visor Seal", it is designed to create a better seal against the face shield and to reduce noise.
The marketing information comments on the PVS system states that "Thanks to a specific position on the mechanism, the edge of the visor is coupled to the visor profile around the entire perimeter, including the sides. This reduces noise and draughts which can come from the lateral area, where insulation is harder to achieve." It seems to work well, so no argument there.
The face shield has strong detents with 5 opening positions. The first position is about twice as wide as I'd like for defogging, although it's narrower than others and it works at slower speeds to provide ventilation with some protection from bugs and road detritus. The face shield also seals tightly against the full-surround eye port gasket to prevent air or water leaks and it passes the webBikeWorld "Leak Down Test" with ease.
The AGV "XQRS" (Extra Quick Release System) face shield removal mechanism works well. It has a nice, large, spring-loaded pull tab that quickly releases the face shield and makes it easy to replace. The system also works well to hold the face shield in place.
Overall, the visibility, face shield and its operation on the K4 EVO are all excellent and seem a bit better than you'd expect in this price range.
webBikeWorld Eye Port Visibility Estimator: AGV K4 EVO
|Visibility||Poor||Below Average||Average||Above Average||Outstanding|
|Top to Bottom||■|
|Side to Side||■|
Score: The AGV K4 EVO visibility in this size L helmet is better than average, so I'll give it an "Excellent" rating overall.
The ventilation system on the K4 EVO is clearly derived from its K-3 lineage. It's simple but works, with a small tab to open the chin vent, repeated on each of the two top vents that are flush-mounted into the helmet shell.
The chin vent doesn't flow air directly through the chin bar, unfortunately; that's probably too much to ask on a 220 buck helmet. Instead, the air flows directly on to the back of the face shield, in about the quantity one might expect. The volume improves -- or at least the air flow is more readily felt -- with the breath guard removed.
The top vent tabs can be slightly difficult to find when wearing gloves, and we prefer a single switch rather than the individual sliders. But they're easier to use than the top vents on some helmets I can think of.
Looking inside the helmet, I can't find a direct path for the air flow from the top vents because of the large top section of the helmet liner and the wide forehead band. Peel those away and you'll find a pair of holes in the front of the EPS at the brow. So by all rights, this should be one of those helmets where you can't tell the difference whether the vents are open or closed; in fact, it's of the type with an EPS crown on top, rather than air channels.
But somehow, the system works; I can feel the air flowing through with the vents open and -- surprise -- I might even say it's better than average.
The K4 EVO has a pair of small exhaust vents at the rear of the added-on spoiler to pull the air out the back. Perhaps they help pull the air through the helmet; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case, because the exhaust vent is placed very high up on the rear of the helmet shell, in an area with a lot of negative pressure.
Overall I'd have to rate the K4 EVO as slightly better than average for ventilation, all things considered.
webBikeWorld Opinionator: AGV K4 EVO Ventilation
|Location||Poor||Below Average||Average||Above Average||Outstanding|
Score: I'll rate the ventilation system of the AGV K4 EVO as "Very Good".
Those low-profile vents, the nicely padded liner and the PVS eye port gasket all work together to make the K4 EVO a relatively quiet helmet.
I do notice some wind noise around the bottom at the rear of the helmet, but I'll attribute that to the slight mis-match between my head shape and the internal shape of the helmet. A closer fit would probably reduce this noise, but even so, the K4 EVO seems quieter than I expected.
I haven't noticed any unusual lift or buffeting with this helmet, so the aerodynamics and the smooth outer profile of the shell, along with the tapered shape towards the back, must be effective.
webBikeWorld Opinionator: AGV K4 EVO Noise Levels
|Location||Very Quiet||Quieter||Average||Louder||Very Loud|
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 K4 EVO an "Excellent" rating for better than average noise control.
Yet another surprise is the weight of the K4 EVO; this one in size large weighs only 1516 grams (3 lbs., 5-1/2 oz.), which is almost exactly 100 grams less than the AGV Grid, which is classified as an AGV race helmet. 1516 grams puts the K4 EVO easily in the 25% range of the lightest helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld (191 to date).
AGV must be on a weight reduction campaign for all their helmets, because even the dual-sport AGV AX-8 Dual EVO (review) weighs just 1514 grams in size large in its DOT form.
For comparison, some other helmets of this type in size large include the AFX FX-90 (review) at 1524 grams; the HJC RPS-10 (review), a race helmet that weighs 1525 grams; and the Bell Star (review) at 1559 grams.
Note that all of the helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld have been weighed and the weights are available on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, along with a chart that lists the helmets by weight and shape on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: I'll give the AGV K4 EVO an "Outstanding" rating for its relatively low weight and good balance.
The AGV K4 EVO has a double D-ring attachment system for the chin strap. The padding is generous and it is longer than normal for a comfortable fit.
The chin strap retainer is a separate section that contains the snap, and this is a clever design (also found on other recent AGV helmets) that makes it easy to find and to snap the extra length of chin strap without having to fish around to find the snap.
The K4 EVO meets both DOT and ECE helmet safety standards.
webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator: AGV K4 EVO
The improved K4 EVO is an excellent bargain, bringing high-end and "surprise and delight" features to what is essential a bread-and-butter, mass market helmet. My honest feeling is that this will (hopefully) force their competitors to up their game by giving motorcycle riders more for their money (even better: more for less!).
It's hard to keep track of all the helmets we've reviewed and that are available today, but the K4 EVO surely has to rate as one of the best values going today. It's especially good news for those many motorcyclist who are looking for a slightly narrower fit, because helmets in that category seem to be hard to find lately.
By the way, in keeping with our 2012 Summer Style Series, I must say also that the K4 EVO "Sliver" in red and black is a perfect match with the Dainese Air Frame mesh jacket (review) and the Dainese D1 Kevlar jeans, Asphalt boots and Druids gloves that are next up in the review series.
wBW Review: AGV K4 EVO Helmet
|Manufacturer: AGV SpA||List Price: $219.95 (Solids) to $249.95 (Graphics).|
|Colors: Solids, graphics and replicas.||Made In: China|
|Sizes: XS to XXL. Shell Sizes: 2.||Star Rating (1-5):|
|Review Date: June 2012|
Rating Scale is subjective: Unacceptable, Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.
Note: Item was provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.
From "P" (August 2014): "I briefly owned this helmet and would like to add a few of my comments about it. You briefly brush over the fact your chin presses against the chin bar of the helmet. I'd like to say that when I tried this helmet on (ordered mail order and promptly returned for a refund), my chin was literally pressed against the inside of the chin bar, it wasn't like I was pushing it forward, it was actually against it. Many other reviews on this helmet state the same.
What this means in the event of a crash is unclear, but for my own safety I'd rather not have the shock of an impact transferred straight to my chin and jaw because if its touching when just in use, in a crash it will be pressed against the shell and that's bad news.
The other issue I found was the flex in the visor. Lifting it up and down showed massive flex where just one side would lift and then flex the shield until the other side eventually lifted up. It's very poor and gives the helmet a low quality feel as raising a visor is something that's done dozens of times on a ride out and each time it will do this, I'd solely blame the lack of thickness of the visor as a thicker one will be much more stiff.
Another issue with the visor is the ease of which the visor can lift up and down. The detents that hold it open at various positions are very weak and wind will easily shut it if its open. This is another common complaint. AGV state it as a safety feature, well that's just an excuse, if we need the visor open for ventilation and it keeps closing that's not helping our safety???
Upper vision is about average, same as my older Shark S800, and a bit better than my Shoei XR1000. Padding is very substantial on the AGV K4 EVO (Large size) and may well create too much heat inside it. Other sizes may have less depending on what shell size you have and helmet size. The Large uses the same shell size as L,XL and XXL so padding will be thickest I'd imagine.
But in no way is this helmet a bad one, although discontinued now it looks great and is very good value for money, I'm just pointing out issues that are common and not just my individual ones. I hear the chin-to-helmet proximity issue is more of a concern on the K4 than the K3, so don't confuse the two helmets.
Since returning this K4 EVO I've bought a Shark Vision R Series 2 and that too has issues with the chin strap ratchet against my throat and the high eye port (brow area) on low sun evenings blinding me as I cannot drop my head low enough to block it out. And the double reflection when the main and inner sun visor are closed all I see is my face reflecting in them. Very annoying so in some ways wish I'd stuck with the K4 and saved £100 and more!"
From "N.F." (June 2012): "If only it had an integral sun shield, I'd buy it. In this day and age, why don't all helmets have them? I hate having to deal with sunglasses while wearing a helmet, and the polychromatic shields are still too expensive. Argh!"
From "J.M." (June 2012): "Coming from a Shoei X-Eleven (review) I have grown accustomed to the visor lock. Upon reading your review and further watching of the video I have noticed that the visor on the AGV K4 EVO does not have this feature.
Going to AGV's website, the helmet is listed as a Street helmet. I'm guessing that this feature(visor lock) is reserved for "race-type" helmets only.
Not relying on mirrors while riding I usually turn my head to make sure of my blind spots. It's been my experience that while riding, at highway speeds, the visor can inadvertently flip up. From your review I am strongly considering this helmet and the HJC RPS-10 (review). Your review of Shoei's X-12 (review) has left me wondering about spending the extra cash for the "name-brand".
Editor's Reply: Some helmets have a face shield lock, others don't, and it isn't always just the helmets listed in the "race" category. The AGV K4 EVO costs nearly 66% less than the Shoei X-12, so some features were left off, apparently.
I have heard of this problem of having the face shield raise inadvertently when doing an over-the-shoulder head check (which I always do) but to be honest, I can't remember it ever happening to me. I guess I don't go fast enough!
Also, with a properly designed face shield system, this problem is minimized, face shield lock or not.