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AGV Stealth Helmet Review

AGV Stealth Helmet Review
AGV Stealth Helmet Review
by Bill C. and Rick for webBikeWorld.com

More: wBW Reviews Home  |  Owner Comments (Below)


Summary

The Stealth sits at the top of AGV's "Street Road" collection (GT Series in Europe). This lightweight has sleek lines and it flows large volumes of air with a unique front chin vent.

Background

AGV has a long and storied history, with riders like Giacomo Agostini, Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts, Johnny Cecotto, Angel Nieto, Marco Lucchinelli, Randy Mamola and, of course, Valentino Rossi all wearing the brand.

Less well known is AGV's recent history; the company merged with Lazer helmets (Belgium) in 2002 and is now owned by Dainese, another Italian company and the manufacturer of well-regarded motorcycle clothing, also worn by Rossi.

One more side note while we're on the subject of family trees: AGV Sports Group, Inc., also known as AGV Sport, once distributed AGV helmets in the U.S.A., but is now an "autonomous" company that distributes AGV Sport and Suzuki motorcycle clothing.

Both AGV Helmets U.S.A. and AGV Sport sell directly to customers from their websites, in addition to distributing to online and local retailers. AGV Sport actually has a rather large selection of clothing, including one-piece race suits, so we'll have to see about reviewing some of their products one of these days.

And by the way -- I'll bet many motorcyclists don't realize that AGV Sport also offers custom made leather suits in cowhide or kangaroo; visit their website for more info (details below).

AGV Stealth - Top View

The AGV Stealth

The AGV Stealth is the top of the AGV "Street Road" helmet line in the U.S.A., also known as the "GT Series" in Europe

AGV also has a "Race" series of helmets, which feature the popular and limited production versions of the many Valentino Rossi helmet designs. The Rossi limited editions have been a feature of the AGV Race helmets for some time; we reviewed the AGV Rossi TiTech back in 2005. We also liked the inexpensive AGV Miglia we reviewed in 2006.

The Stealth has generated a lot of interest from webBikeWorld readers, many of whom have requested a review, and since we haven't reviewed an AGV helmet since the Miglia, we figured we'd give it a go.

Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality

When I first took the Stealth out of the box, I wasn't that impressed. Maybe it was the matte finish of the silver "Shadow" graphics, or the way the top air vent assembly meets the helmet shell with an unfinished look, but it looked more like KBC than AGV and I haven't been very impressed with KBC quality as of late.

But I have to admit that I've since become fond of the Shadow graphics and the matte silver "color" after wearing the helmet for a few weeks. It may have something to do with the shape of the Stealth -- the more I look at it, the more I like it...even the way the air scoops up top cling to the shell.

Check out this photo below, showing the top of the helmet. You can see that the graphics and paint are very nicely applied, and the lines all match as the go from the helmet shell to the top vent assembly and spoiler. This isn't always the case with even the most expensive helmets.

Again looking at the helmet from the top, it's actually hard to tell where the air scoops meet the shell, so I guess they blend in better than I thought.

The rear quarter view is even more impressive; this next photo below shows the very cool-looking rear exhaust vents, with their screened covers that have an industrial/modern look.

The exhaust vent on the lower side of the rear is really neat and it blends in nicely with the overall shape.

AGV Stealth - Exhaust Vents

AGV Stealth - Top Vent

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And the photo above shows the top vents, I'll get into these in a little more detail in a minute.

So I guess I can say that although the AGV Stealth probably didn't initially knock me over the way something like a Shark RSX or OGK FF-5 does, the paint and graphics and all the fittings work as designed with no flaws that I can detect.

The Stealth does give me the impression of being built to a price; in other words, there's not a lot of "surprise and delight" here that might make the new owner think he or she is getting a super bargain, but what's is here is decent. This is probably faint praise, but the AGV Stealth seems to be more like a KBC if the KBC was of the quality that it should be.

Score:  I'll give the AGV Stealth an "Excellent" rating for the overall finish, paint and graphics, along with the quality of the lining and the operation of the vents and fittings. I'd give it a "Good" though for what I consider to be average execution -- there's not a low of "wow" factor here, just a decent, solid helmet. See the ratings scale in the summary table at the bottom of this page for more information.

Helmet Shape, Fit and Sizing

We had some issues with the sizing of the AGV TiTech, which ran about two sizes smaller than expected (an XXL fit like an L), but some readers have told us that AGV's race sizing is smaller than normal to give a tight fit.

The Stealth seems to run about 1/2 to 1 size smaller than expected -- not as dramatic as the TiTech. This is an XL and the label claims it fits a 61-62 cm head, but I definitely think anyone with a head circumference greater than 61 cm will find it pretty tight, unless maybe they have a long oval head shape that will fit the more neutral internal shape of this Stealth. I think it probably could have been labeled to fit a 60-61 instead.

See our Motorcycle Helmet FAQ for more information on internal helmet shapes, head shapes and choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet. Remember also that proper fit is crucial for both comfort and safety.

AGV says that the Stealth is made in two shell sizes, and since the helmet is available in a somewhat abbreviated size selection, ranging from Small to XXL only, it's my guess that the small shell is for the S, M and L sizes, while the larger shell is used for the XL and XXL. I'm not certain about this, but that's my guess.

The neutral fit has a very slightly long oval front to back shape up top, with slightly narrow sides, so I don't think it will work for very round or "earth" shaped heads, although Rick tried it and said it felt tight at first but didn't bother him after riding with it for a while.

In fact, the Stealth feels tight each time I put it on, yet it becomes more comfortable after I wear it for a while. The neutral shape, slightly tight sides, slightly thin padding and lack of ear pockets should bother me but don't. Strange, and this is the first time something like this has happened.

The shell is what I'd describe as a "minimalist" design -- if you don't like helmets with the big "fish bowl" effect, like, say, the Shoei Multitec, the AGV Stealth may be for you.

The slightly thin padding and closer-fitting shell allows the helmet balance very well, and the good balance reduces buffeting, so perhaps that all adds up to a better, more comfortable fit.

The Stealth reminds me also of a KBC in the way it fits, if that's any help. It definitely does not fit me like the HJC CL-14 (round); the Arai Quantum II (round); or the Shoei RF-1000 (round).

It does have an internal shape much more like the Shark RSX reviewed not too long ago, although the Stealth does not have the comfort of the RSX.

Score:  I'll give the AGV Stealth an "Excellent" rating for the internal shape that fits as expected for a neutral helmet.

AGV Stealth Helmet

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Helmet Liner

A helmet liner can make or break a helmet. When the new owner first slips the helmet over his or her head, a soft, comfortable liner and material can give a strong positive first impression.

You'd think that good helmet liner padding and design would be a cinch by now, but it's apparently not so. Not that there's anything wrong with the liner in the Stealth, just that it's, well, average, and it looks and feels more like something you'd find on a $100.00 helmet, not a helmet that costs $350.00. And I can't believe it would take more than a few pennies to create an excellent, rather than just average, helmet liner.

The issue is that the Stealth's removable liner feels a bit thin. The padding and material is certainly not as cushy as the Shark RSX or the Arai Quantum II. It just isn't one of these helmets that feels super plush inside when the first time it's slipped on your head.

Instead, the fit is slightly tight, the fabric feels just this side of scratchy and it gets me thinking "This isn't going to be good", although as I stated above, it actually does remain comfortable over time.

By the way, even though the Stealth does not have ear pockets per se, I can still slide a pair of wire framed sunglasses on over my ears.

Score:  I'll give the AGV Stealth a "Good" for the relatively thin padding and slightly less comfortable than expected fabric in the liner.  

AGV Stealth - Chin Vent Opening Lever

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Ventilation: Top Vents

The design and shape of the helmet liner can play a crucial role in air flow, but for some reason, many or most helmet manufacturers get it wrong. They install in a liner without much thought to how it might block the air flow, covering some or all of the vent holes that have been cut in the EPS foam.

The Stealth's liner is pretty basic in the amount of padding or comfort it provides as I described above. And it unfortunately doesn't have any innovative channels or passages for the air to flow through -- just lining on the sides, lining around the head band and a big swath of lining that covers the top. There's a touch of mesh on either side.

The only consideration for air flow is a star pattern of very tiny holes cut in the front, just above the rider's brow. These holes are apparently designed to allow the air to flow in from a pair of 4 mm or so diameter holes cut through the EPS liner, but the holes in the EPS don't line up with the holes in the liner.

The EPS vent holes are located about 10-12 mm or so below the tiny perforations, so the air that flows in to the helmet has to fight its way around the liner material to do its job. Nevertheless, the helmet does seem to flow a decent amount of air up top, in spite of -- rather than because of -- the liner.

Those big slash vent covers on the front of the helmet are also somewhat misleading. They cover three what appears to be three separate entries for air, but closer inspection with a flashlight reveals that only the center vent leads to the single hole that goes through the EPS and directs air into the helmet.

The outside vent in each is apparently just for looks, because they're blocked by the EPS foam liner, and the inside hole looks like a smaller passage that might direct air down on to the back of the clear visor, through some perforations above the rider's eyes cut into the plastic that surrounds the eye port.

In spite of this seeming lack of attention paid to the liner design, I can say that the Stealth does seem to provide good air flow. It may be partly due to the slightly long oval or neutral shape up top, which forms a tiny sort of dome above the rider's head, allowing what air does get through to circulate. I'm sure the large exhaust vents out the rear help to pull air through also.

But I wonder how much better it could be; I think the Stealth might benefit by some judicious pruning of the liner to cut some holes directly in back of the vent channel holes that poke through the EPS, which would probably allow a lot more air to flow through.

By the way, those cool-looking screens can get covered with bugs, and it's not easy to keep them clean, so keep that in mind...

AGV Stealth - Top Vents

Venting - Lower Vents

The helmet shell is shorter than expected for a size XL helmet -- my chin just sticks out the bottom. This means that a lot of air flows up on to my face from underneath the front the helmet, something that may become a problem in cold weather.

We've found that air flowing up from under the front of the helmet can sometimes provide most of the air flow that a rider feels at speed. Air coming from underneath can mask the true air flow that's supposed to be coming from the vents.

The true test is covering the bottom of the helmet with something like a Windjammer helmet wind blocker, which then allows only the air coming in through the vents to be felt. I tried this with the Stealth, and not only did it reduce the noise levels, it allowed me to determine where and how the air coming through the vents only flows through the helmet.

A lot of air does enter the Stealth through the chin vent; in fact, I'd say this one probably flows more air than any other helmet chin vent I've experienced.

It's an interesting design also -- take a look at the photos and you'll notice that there is no chin vent switch or lever on the outside of the helmet. It's located underneath the front of the chin bar, in the position where the opening button would be if this were a flip-up.

Pull it down and it opens a sort of horizontal blind that allows a lot of air to flow in through those four cool-looking screens on the chin bar. Push it up and it closes the vent.

The lining in back of the chin bar also has four huge square holes to allow the air to flow directly on to the rider's face. Actually, the air flows through the top two horizontal screens only -- the bottom two screens look like they have much smaller holes that possibly directly the air around the sides of the helmet.

It's a good thing that the vent switch allows the large volume of the air flowing through the chin vent to be shut off completely if desired, because it would probably get pretty cold in winter if it couldn't!

The two large screened exhaust vents on the lower sides behind the rider's ears cover a pair of exhaust holes. I'm not sure where the air might come from that is exhausted out these holes, because the holes do not appear to me to continue through the EPS, although there may be a channel cut into the EPS directly under the shell that I can't see.

The top rear exhaust vents are simply low pressure vents for the front air scoops.

So all told, the AGV Stealth seems to be able to overcome the uninspired design of the liner to provide an above average amount of air to flow into and through the helmet.

Score:  I'll give it an "Outstanding" rating for venting and air flow.

AGV Stealth - Chin Vent

AGV Stealth - Helmet Liner
The Stealth's liner isn't anything special and almost seems to have been designed to prevent rather than enhance the air flowing through the top vents.
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Noise Levels

All that air flowing through does cause some noise; I'd say the Stealth transmits more noise than average, but it's not the loudest helmet I've tried.

The top vents do not cause high-pitched whistling noises, and that liner that blocks the air vent holes probably mitigates some of the noise coming from the air flowing in to the top vents. There is some rushing wind noise though and it can be diminished somewhat if the front top vents are closed.

The helmet seems to transmit a fairly high volume of general wind rushing noise that emanates from around the sides of the helmet, and this may either be due to the smaller than average shell size or possibly those big exhaust vents behind the ears.

Also, the helmet does have some lower frequency booming noises that come from up underneath. This is probably due to the shorter than average helmet shell, and it also is due to the way the liner fits up around the back of the head.

The fit back there can vary greatly, depending upon the rider's head shape, the way the helmet fits, and even the clothing the rider is wearing. But I can stick a thumb into the liner in back of my ear and the turbulence-induced noise becomes greatly diminished.

So overall, I'd say the AGV Stealth has higher than average noise levels when compared to most street helmets I've tried. I'd say it transmits "race" helmet levels of noise.

Be sure to visit to the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page for more information. Also, note that we always wear high-quality, correctly fitted ear plugs when riding. Please see the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.

If you don't wear ear plugs, all bets are off -- every motorcycle helmet is dangerously noisy, in our opinion, and your hearing is as precious as your eyesight, so don't mess with it. Wear ear plugs. Also, note that small changes in clothing, jacket collars, motorcycle types and, of course, windscreens and fairings can make huge differences in the amount of perceived noise.

Score:  The AGV Stealth gets a "Poor" rating for noise control.

AGV Stealth - Visor Removal

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Face Shield

The Stealth's face shield has better than average top-to-bottom visibility through the eye port, and slightly better than average side-to-side. The side-to-side visibility is also good but I can see just a bit of liner in my peripheral vision.

The face shield fits with very close tolerances to the eye port gasket, which is good. It does feel slightly loose as it's raised through it's amazing 8 or 9 (depending how you count) detents. The face shield can be cracked open just a touch for defogging, which is also a plus.

We measured the face shield thickness at 2.22 mm, slightly thicker than average.

The face shield removal system is fussy, and it's complicated enough that I couldn't figure out how to remove it without reading the instructions. The face shield must be lifted to the highest position, then the left side is removed first by pushing up a plastic lever while the face shield is rotated further up. It's one of those systems that sounds and feels like it's going to crack and break.

After the left side is detached, the face shield must then be lowered to pull off the right side. That's the tricky part that confused me. It's not too bad I guess after you learn how to do it, and apparently all AGV helmets now use this system, from what I can tell reading the instructions. But it certainly isn't as user-friendly and simple as, say, the super-simple and easy to use removal mechanism on the Vemar VTXE.

The face shield has good optical qualities with no distortions or other flaws that I can see. It does not have a lock to hold it closed, and as I mentioned, it feels slightly loose when opened or closed, so I suppose the "up/down" face shield removal system is a good thing if it prevents the face shield from flying off at speed!

Score:  I'll give the Stealth an "Excellent" for eye port visibility, the detents and the defogging capability, but a "Poor" for the face shield removal system.

Helmet Weight

The relatively sleek and smaller than average shell on the Stealth helps keep it on the light side. The size XL shown here weighs 1536 grams (3 lbs., 6-1/4 oz.), which puts it securely in the bottom 1/3 of helmet weights of the 99 helmets we've reviewed to date.

For example, the Stealth's 1536 grams is in the neighborhood of the URBAN N20 Astro in size Large at 1511 grams; the Craft RX6 Revolution, also in size Large, at 1518 grams; the Schuberth R1 (XL) at 1552 grams; the Shark RSX in size Large at 1553 grams and the new Bell Star in size Large at 1559 grams.

Be sure to visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for charts listing the helmet weights and internal shapes of all of the helmets we've reviewed.

Score:  The Stealth gets an "Outstanding" rating for its weight and balance.

wBW Video: AGV Stealth Helmet
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Miscellaneous

The Stealth is DOT FMVSS 218, and this one carries the blue British BSI Type A certificate.

The Stealth has the double D-ring attachment system, although the strap on the left side seems shorter than normal, meaning the D-rings are higher up on the left than expected, making it a bit difficult to attach. Also, the cushioned liner under the straps isn't long enough to meet in the middle under my chin, so the strap isn't as comfortable as it could be.

There is a snap to attach the loose end of the chin strap.

Other miscellaneous facts regarding the Stealth: It uses a "Multi Fiber ACF2" shell, which AGV claims is a new technology and material that provides an "elastic and lightweight" shell. Also, the face shield is claimed to be anti-scratch and anti-fog coated.

webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator - AGV Stealth
Picks...
...and Pans
  • Graphics and paint quality.
  • Ventilation.
  • Solid feel.
  • Nice overall styling.
  • Average liner comfort.
  • Liner potentially blocks air flow.
  • Face shield removal system can be fussy
  • Noise levels higher than average.
Conclusion

The AGV Stealth is hard to categorize and we have mixed feelings about it. We've come to like the overall design and styling; the chin vent flows very large volumes of air and the helmet has better than average ventilation overall.

But the just-average liner design, material and comfort and the fussy face shield removal system temper our enthusiasm; I guess we expected more from AGV, one of the most famous and reputable motorcycle helmet manufacturers in the world.

The Stealth is not an inexpensive helmet either -- this one lists at $349.95, although it can be found at discount. It offers a few innovative features, like the unique chin vent opening underneath the chin bar, but we can't help wondering if the helmet is really much better than some of the excellent under-$150.00 helmets we've reviewed lately.

wBW Review: AGV Stealth Motorcycle Helmet
Manufacturer: AGV Helmets List Price (2008): $349.95
Colors: Shadow - Blue, Black, Silver. Multi - Black, Blue, Red. Dragon - Black, Red, Blue. Also Gloss and Matte Black Graphics. . Made In: China
Sizes: S to XXL. Shell Sizes: Unknown  
Review Date: August 2008
Ratings Scale: For reference, our ratings scale is subjective and ranges from Unacceptable to Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.

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 "S.D." (September 2013): "Having pretty much used AGV helmets exclusively over my 30+ years of riding, I had no hesitation on buying this helmet over the internet. My initial impressions were good, fitted me well, and quality appeared good.

However, I have now had the helmet for 12 months and it is starting to fall apart - I am very careful with my helmets, they are always cleaned and inspected at least fortnightly, always stored in the bag, and I have never dropped it.

Issues: Both top air vents have the slide covers broken - this really amazed me, as I always leave my vents shut, so I have never actually operated them. The first one was noticed missing after about 9 months and the 2nd one went missing last week.

The clips holding the internal lining - plastic backing on the lining side has cracked and broken in 3 places.

Wear on the underside rear lip has been excessive, with the surface worn through to the foam (same jackets as used with my last AGV with no issues.

And ... it's noisy. Probably the noisiest helmet I have ever had - wind noise is so bad if I ride without ear plugs for any more that a short distance, my ears are ringing.

Although I appreciate this is not a "top-shelf" helmet, its not bargain basement either. I doubt I'll buy another AGV after this."


From "J.K." (5/10):  "My previous helmet was AGV and I liked it, so I chose AGV again. A few complaints though...

The good parts:


From "L.N." (1/10):  "Have this helmet for about a year now and I'm buying a new lid as soon as I can afford one!  My main complaints are pretty much the same as others: the noise. After an eight hour ride in good conditions with a balaclava underneath, my ears rang all night!  Have tried earplugs and they help a little but will definitely be investing in a new helmet when touring.

The winter months also highlighted the problem with the face shield. There is no way to prevent misting up on cold mornings, you have to either ride with the face shield slightly open all the time or open the face shield right up every five minutes. So you have a very cold face either way.

On the plus side!  The helmet looks really good! when its warm ,the air vents do their job well and the helmet is light and comfortable to wear."


From "S.S." (11/09):  "I purchased recently an AGV Stealth Grifo Black helmet in a very good price. The helmet looks great, nice graphics, cool design, good face shield.

On the other hand it doesn't fit me well, the size is S I tried M but it was a little bit large but the S is too small. My ear hurt and my chin nearly touches the front. It is also short in the back.

Anyway the most irritating thing is the noise. You hear the ear so loud you head hurts. Why the heck did they put vents behind ears. I don't know until know I find it too noisy for me. I want to hear the motor sound though which you cant with this helmet it blocks that sounds and you get the wind noise. I find the outside vents useless and noisy
** 2 star rating for me."


From "H.C." (4/09):  "My quick review of the AGV Stealth – and some comparison with my KBC VR-2:

I recently picked up an AGV Stealth (XL) as old stock on a sale for the equivalent of around US$ 130. I guess to be honest, I purchased this lid on looks alone. I also have and open-face ARC that I wear for the daily commute (in summer) and a KBC VR-2 (XL).

The AGV, in comparison with the KBC, definitely fits my round head much tighter along the sides, but especially round the back of my head – the part of your skull behind your ears. There is a lot of pressure from this helmet on the sides of my head. I have large ears and the AGV crumples up the top of my left ear no matter how I shift it.

Also, I have to agree with your assessment of the noise in the helmet, all of which seems to come from the bottom edge. The helmet seems to dampen road noise, engine noise and high-speed whistles well. It’s the rush of wind around the bottom ledge of the helmet that is the main source of noise. I experimented a bit by tucking my neck into my shoulders and jacket to limit wind around the bottom rim of the helmet and that just about shuts it up completely.

The AGV feels lighter than the KBC. The AGV’s finish is good, but I am disappointed with the ventilation and fog control on cold mornings. There is no way to keep this lid from fogging up other than to lift the face shield all the way up every few miles.

Also, there is no intermediate stop to keep the face shield in “de-fogging mode” – if left at half-click, it snaps shut. I don’t mind the face shield removal system – it’s simple enough. My final gripes with the AGV is that it has very little chin room and I struggle a lot to get my glasses on. It is a very tight fit for eyeglass wearers. In this respect, the KBC is marginally better, though it also lacks chin room.

(Also), the AGV helmet also has an odd arrangement of the fastening straps – the side that has the DD loops, is too short – so you have to dig under the edge of the helmet to strap it up. Tucking the strap end into the little red clip is even harder."


From "M.C.":  "I have two of these helmets, both "mediums". One I have had for over a year now. Yes they are VERY noisy, but I wear earplugs so it's not really an issue with me. As far as the comfort?  The chin strap is indeed way to short. The helmet's very tight fit takes some getting used to (about a week).

Funny thing, now that I'm used to the "fit" of this and the Ti tech (I have one of those too), every other helmet I try on feels loose. The Gmax 68s (I also have this one) feels very loose compared to the Stealth. Both the Stealth and the Ti tech do not move at freeway speeds (75mph) I have a 750 gixxer and my head is in the wind all of the time...I really like these helmets and would recommend to anyone... By the way I found 'em for less than $220 online. 

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