AGV K5 S Helmet Hands-On Review


AGV K5s Helmet

The Breakdown

A very competitive option in this price range. With the K5 S, AGV takes a very lightweight composite shell and fills it with a comfy liner, a drop down sun visor, and a Pinlock insert. Excellent ventilation rounds out the good stuff but there are a couple of minor issues that keeps me from giving it that 5th star.
Overall
Pros
Very lightweight composite shell / Outstanding ventilation / Clear Pinlock insert included
Cons
Drop down visor could drop more / Visor optical characteristics could be better / Forehead vents covers could use some texture

Introduction

I have handled a good variety of motorcycle helmets since I started riding in the early ’90s. I’m therefore a bit surprised to realize I’d never owned or tested a helmet from AGV. As part of my review process, I always read up on the manufacturer, even if I’m pretty familiar with them, in case there is some interesting fact I can bring to light.

Checking out the story behind AGV had me realizing how little I actually knew about this company. For instance, AGV founded in 1947 and the company made some very notable contributions to the motorcycle helmet world. They were the first put into production the fiberglass shell crash helmet in 1954 and they were the manufacturer of the first full face helmet worn at the Italian Grand Prix in 1969.

Flash forward to 2019 and I have in my hands one of the results of 72 years of being in the crash helmet business. I liked a lot about the helmet even before I learned of its history. Now I find I’m looking at it with the extra dose of respect that comes from an appreciation of the long road that leads to this helmet’s existence.

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AGV K5s Helmet full side view

So the AGV K5 S has the legacy and passion of 70 plus years poured into its Italian design and that’s great. But, you may ask, is it a good helmet?

Spoiler alert! – Yes.

Is it perfect? Not quite. Let’s take a look and see what got this helmet so close to getting a five-star rating, and what kept that final star out of reach.

The AGV K5 S

The K5 S represents the top end of AGV’s sport/sport-touring helmets with a moderately aggressive shape. The curves downward providing extra coverage up front. This particular example is mostly black with slim, angular graphics that make up the “Magnitude” colorway.

Being designed for sport touring, the K5 S has an internal drop down sun visor and the main visor is “pinned” for pinlock inserts. A clear Pinlock 70 insert is included so one can jump right into the fog-free goodness right out of the box.

AGV K5s Helmet pinlock

Over the visor, in the center of the forehead space, is the green, white, and red AGV logo/graphic and a smaller version of it appears on the rear under the spoiler. A pair of closable exhaust vents are there under that spoiler and join the chin, forehead, and top vents providing a lot of options for ventilation.

A double D-Ring fastener is used to fasten the chin strap. It may be considered an “old” style but it’s simple and lightweight and I’ve never found anything wrong them. The interior lining is removable, but there’s a bit of twist, as the cheek pads and neckroll are one piece, making for a solid ring around the back of neck from one side of the jaw to the other.

That single piece neck roll/cheek pads gave me some concern about installing my Sena 3s headset, but its installation went along just fine. Speaking of headsets, ear pockets, and wiring cutouts are present in the interior. The spaces made for speakers are covered in removable padding to help reduce noise if no speakers are installed.

AGV K5s Helmet DOT certified

Certifications from both DOT and ECE are met by the K5 S but no Snell cert here. Like most helmets with internal visors, this one was likely never tested for the Snell rating. On the plus side, the K5 S does get a 4 out 5 star rating on the SHARP rating system which is a very good showing.

With the overall view behind us, let’s take a closer look at this helmet.

Paint & Graphics

The graphics are applied very well but there are a couple of spots a noticed a little misalignment. Most notably, the “point” behind the top vent isn’t quite centered, but these would not normally be noticed without looking for them.

The clear coat is smooth with very little “wave” present. I couldn’t find any defects in the finish and there appeared to be no dust caught between the surface and the finish. Modern finishing techniques and better “clean” painting facilities seem to have made those sort of blemishes a thing of the past.

AGV K5s Helmet rear view

The pattern of the “Magnitude” graphic breaks up the black paint nicely and the slender lines follow the contours of the helmet well. The red color is nice and rich making for a sharp looking pattern but the deep color and black paint don’t really make this helmet stand out. Fans of high visibility lids might want to look for a different color option.

Construction

The shell of the K5 S is a fiberglass/carbon composite which accounts for the light weight and solid feel. Coming in at 1499 grams (3lb 4.9oz), the helmet feels very light in the hand (and on the head) which is quite a feat considering the internal visor system. The neckroll is covered in a material AGV calls “Shalimar” which has a water-resistant treatment meant to keep the bottom of the helmet from wicking moisture up into the helmet in the rain. The upper liner, including the brow padding, is also covered with this soft Shalimar material.

The cheek pads use a microfiber “Ritmo” fabric which is very smooth and moisture wicking as well as possessing antimicrobial properties. The liner and cheekpads/neck roll are all easily removed for cleaning.

AGV K5s Helmet interior underside

Inside the lower portion of the visor, the port is a low-profile nose/breath guard which is removable (with some effort) and is something I usually remove. However, the guard sits so low I didn’t mind its presence, it went back in place after I finished tugging it out of its spot.

A chin curtain is in place and covered in the same Shalimar fabric as the neck roll and it doesn’t appear to be removable. I tried to pull it only so hard before I gave up. I like chin curtains so it was fine with me. The curtain is split to allow easy access to the chin vent slider located inside the chinbar. This is the second helmet I’ve had with one of these sliders inside the chinbar and I’m still not sure I like it. It can be fiddly to deal with when wearing gloves.

The EPS layer includes four density variations throughout the material which should provide a great deal of force absorption across a wide range of impacts. Seeing that the K5 S reached a 4-star rating on the Sharp Rating scheme, this might be part of the reason for the high rating.

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Helmet Weight

The K5 S weighs in at 1499 grams (3lb 4.9oz) placing it very high in the list of over 270 lids as far as “lightweight” for full-face helmets we’ve reviewed. It ties with the Nolan N94 for the number 31 spot, both being a carbon composite helmet. Considering the N94 is more of a racing helmet and the K5 S has the addition of an internal visor, that’s a very good showing.

Keep in mind that I measured the weight of the K5 S without the Pinlock insert installed so a few extra grams might be present after installing it.

AGV K5s Helmet full off-axis view

The helmet feels very light in the hands, and when wearing it, but even that lightweight all but disappears after a few minutes riding. Just yesterday I was out for about four hours wearing this helmet and I had to keep reminding myself to “take note” of how it felt during the ride. Any time a piece of gear “melts into the background”, the more attention can go to your surroundings and for me, this makes for a more enjoyable ride.

Fit & Comfort

I typically wear a size Large in most full-face helmets and the K5 S fits just as expected. The intermediate oval shape works well for me and unlike the Shark Spartan I recently reviewed, the top area fit is spot on rather than leaving a little extra room.

The smooth lining material feels great to the point that you don’t notice after a while. That’s a good sign of comfort. The overall feel isn’t as plush as some other helmets like Arai or even the aforementioned Spartan, but it’s still comfortable. The padding is firm enough to provide a snug, not tight, feel.

AGV uses 2 different shell sizes that cover the range from XS to 2XL but I’m not certain where exactly one shell takes over from the other. I’m going to guess the size Large reviewed here might use the smaller shell since I weighed in at 1499 grams. AGV lists the weight about 40 grams more so maybe that’s based on the heaviest option with the larger shell…

AGV K5s Helmet full off-axis view from rear

Medium Small / Medium Large

A different approach was taken to sizing than what I’m used to for helmets. The K5 S has two Medium sizes available, MS and ML. The MS size is designed for a 57cm circumference while the size ML fits a 58cm.

This extra size between Small and Large does help riders get a more precise fit in the medium range. It’s a nice extra step AGV has taken to make sure one gets the best fit they can.

Ventilation & Noise

Ventilation on the K5 S is excellent and in some cases, it’s a little too much, at least during the winter. Starting at the front, there are two vents flanking the center of the chinbar. Inside is a small portion of honeycomb grid which will filter out most bugs. Gnats and other smaller insects might make it through so it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the summer.

AGV K5s Helmet top-side vents

The screening is relevant here as the vents go straight through the chinbar which in turn means a LOT of air will come through and onto the rider’s face. This will be great for the warmer days of spring and summer but during the current colder days of February, I’ve had to keep it closed.

Some of the air is passed up to the visor for demisting but it’s hard to feel much air going in that direction with the visor completely closed. To make it more effective, the K5 S has a sliding switch that will lift the visor open about 3 to 4mm. This helps to let some additional air in and helps draw some air up through the chinbar passage.

Over the forehead space, they’re two vents with two ports on each that vent air on the forehead over the temples. These don’t flow a lot of air but they can be felt. The closure on these vents can be a bit of a bother though as the large sliding covers are very smooth on top and can be difficult to get purchase on them with your gloves. It gets a bit better once one gets a feel for the proper direction to slide them but some ridges or some other texture would be welcome.

AGV K5s Helmet rear vents

On the top of the helmet is a centrally located vent that opens and closes with a two-step sliding switch. This switch is much easier to find and actuate with gloves. It has a midway point which one can set the vent, but I found it much easier to set it halfway from the open position. Trying to open it halfway from the fully closed position is not easy as the sliding switch isn’t the smoothest in operation.

In the rear, under the spoiler, are a pair of exhaust vents that open and close with one centrally located switch. The switch in this position opens and closes very positively with an audible “click” which is helpful since one has no hope of viewing these ports when wearing the helmet. This switch has raised edges making it easy slide once one is done reaching around the back of their head to find it.

Overall the venting is very good with only the twin forehead vents providing just average venting.

Noise Levels

Noise levels on this AGV helmet are about average. Booming is present but fairly well subdued while mid-range wind rushing noise is about average. During testing, I rode mostly with my Ninja 1000’s windscreen in the lowest position. As expected, raising the screen increased wind noise. For reference, I’m 5’ 10” in height and rider height can affect noise levels.

AGV K5s Helmet vents

With all the vents available I was expecting some whistling but it was absent in most cases. If one moves their head around some faint whistling can be heard but when in the normal riding position it wasn’t present. Opening the vents can make it easier to induce whistling but I still never had an issue with high pitched noise when in the normal riding position.

I always wear custom-fitted earplugs when I ride including when testing helmets. Also, rider height and motorcycle specifics such as fairing, non-faired, etc can affect noise levels.

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Visor & Outward Vision

View out of the eyeport is very good from top to bottom and the side to side peripheral view is outstanding. I can’t imagine seeing much more side to side in a full face helmet. The top to bottom view is the perfect balance of tall, but not so tall the top of the eyeport can’t be used to block the sun during certain parts of the day.

AGV K5s Helmet visor system

The visor is “pinned” to accept Pinlock inserts and a clear insert is included. I’m a huge fan of these inserts and it’s very effective at preventing fogging in the cool winter air. The actual placement of the insert, in this case, leaves something to be desired. The top of the insert is plainly visible at the top of one’s vision and is a bit distracting when leaning in towards the tank.

The main visor moves up and down smoothly with strong detents and has a nice quality feel to it. One can even customize the detents with the included parts which we’ll look at in a second.

The drop down visor is employed via a lever located in the left side pod behind the main visor pivot point. The lever takes some effort to move as it is very short so some extra torque is required to move it up and down.

AGV K5s Helmet visor lever and locking system

The drop down visor itself is a little light for my tastes. While many of these sun shades are often not as dark as we would like, this one seems a little lighter than others I’ve used. Also, I would prefer the visor drop down farther than it does. It is still effective but the gap between the chinbar and the lower portion of the sunshade is larger than I’m used to seeing.

Visor Sealing

Initially, I wasn’t impressed with the way the visor sealed, or rather, didn’t seal. The top edge stood out just slightly away from the eyeport gasket when the visor was fully closed. This induced some whistling noise and I could feel some air bleeding in from the top of the visor.

Fortunately, AGV uses sidepods that can be adjusted. With the visor removed, the screws that attach the side pods can be accessed and they have enough play to allow one to slide the pod around little. This was more than enough for me to get the visor to stay against the gasket when closed.

A few minutes of adjustment was certainly worth the result as it is sealed tightly. I want to be clear that I don’t know that AGV recommends doing this (perform this adjustment at your own risk).

Custom Detents

AGV includes an interesting custom adjustment for visor positioning on the K5 S. Included in the box with the helmet are two extra sets of “detents” that can be installed in the side pods. The installed one (in red) provides four positions of opening including open and closed. The initial opening is pretty large at about two inches (about 50mm) making the demisting slider necessary to have a tiny opening.

The green detent set provides five positions with the first being a small 12mm opening to let in a bit of extra venting. This one might be nice for hot weather to get some extra ventilation. The blue set of detents simply has a fully opened, closed, and middle position. I like this inclusion of custom pieces so riders can adjust the visor to their own tastes. The pieces are easy to install and I don’t see it costing AGV that much to include them. It’s a nice touch.

AGV K5s Helmet custom detents

Visor Removal

To get at those detents to change them, one must remove the visor. The visor removal system on the K5 S is pretty easy and it removes and installs positively. Simply open the visor to the largest opening, pull down on the red plastic “spring” and the pivot point on the visor should remove from the pod (sometimes it will pop out on its own).

Installing requires hooking one edge of the pivot point into the pod and then slide down the red spring again to put in the other edge of the pivot point. This sounds more difficult reading about it than actually performing the process.

AGV K5s Helmet visor

Optical Quality

The main visor is what I would characterize as average quality for a modern helmet. Much of the field of view is good with only some visible distortion. The upper ½ inch (12mm) or so shows more noticeable distortion characteristics. Not an issue for those rigging more upright to moderate lean. Tighter riding positions can place this portion of the visor into the necessary space one needs to see through.

The drop down visor doesn’t improve on the main visor with some minor, but more widespread distortion showing throughout the field of view. I would say it is average compared to most sun visors as these typically seem to get less quality control/attention from a lot of manufacturers.

To be clear (yes, pun intended) I am picking at optical quality issues that many riders might never notice. Being a photographer and rather detail-oriented in this area I want to be sure I’m calling this out. Bear in mind my recent review of the Shark Spartan where I raved about the optical quality in both visors might have spoiled me due to their excellent optical characteristics.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to like about the K5 S and I found it to be one of the better overall helmets I’ve had the chance to wear. The very comfortable liner, the great fit, and the lightweight add up to a very good helmet for a long day in the saddle.

The ability to customize the visor opening detents and the excellent ventilation also make the K5 S one of the best lids in the price range in my opinion. The list price of $449.95 is expected for the feature set and composite shell. This particular colorway was available for the closeout price of $231.13 at 2Wheel.com which made this lid a steal.

As much as I like the K5 S, there are a few points that let it down keeping it from getting that fifth star in our rating. The optical quality of the visors could be better and the sunshade could come down further. Also, despite the overall finish being very good, the graphics have some minor alignment issues.

These issues are relatively minor to me and aren’t enough to keep me from making this my current everyday helmet. After getting the chance to spend the last two days riding in this helmet thanks to some favorable weather I highly recommend taking a look if you’re looking for a helmet with this feature set and in this price range.

AGV K5s Helmet interior closeup

Pros

  • Very lightweight composite shell
  • Outstanding ventilation
  • Clear Pinlock insert included

Cons

  • Drop down visor could drop more
  • Visor optical characteristics could be better
  • Forehead vents covers could use some texture

Specs

  • Manufacturer: AGV
  • Price (When Tested): $399.95 solids / $449.95 graphics (Model tested $231.13 on closeout)
  • Made In: China (Designed in Italy)
  • Alternative models & colors: Black, White, Black Matte, Various Graphics
  • Sizes: XS, S, MS, ML, L, XL, XXL
  • Review Date: February 2019

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AGV K5 S Helmet Image Gallery

8 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Jorge Martinez
    February 17, 2019
    Reply

    Shell sizes from xs to ms and from ml t xxl the other.
    AGV visors are optically correct class 1 optics.

  2. Avatar
    February 17, 2019
    Reply

    Thank you for the correction on the shell sizes, Jorge. As far as the optical rating, I am not aware of what rating system is used for determining this class one rating, but my own observation (pun intended) showed obvious optical distortion in both visors. Again, it was not too distracting, but it is present nonetheless.

  3. Avatar
    Lonerider
    February 17, 2019
    Reply

    Great review as always here.

    Because of several heat waves, last summer, i was looking for something more vented than my Shoei Gt-Air when temps went over 28°C. I even was considering modular helmet. Good thing my choice stop with this AGV.

    Way cheaper than the Gt-Air, but almost as confortable. Ven ting is way better. I even think the chin vent let a bit too much air when fully open. Of course, when all the vents are open, this helmet is noisier. But i always wear earplugs, so it’s not really a problem for me. As with the Gt-Air, i don’t use the sun visor 99% of the time. The main negative point is when temperature is colder. It seems that cool air is entering in some areas of the back of my head. A thin balaclava resolve this.

    The goal wasn’t to replace my Gt-Air. The AGV K5 is a great addition. In fact, i don’t think i’ll replace the Gt-Air when his lifetime will be reach.

  4. Avatar
    Roger Koster
    February 21, 2019
    Reply

    I’ve had one for over a year now. It will work with prescription glasses. Not quite as easy as the Shoei helmets I’ve had but not bad. Love the light weight and the shape looks cool. Great ventilation but if you have the drop down sun visor retracted and the forehead vents open you’ll end up with bug guts plastered on it.

    Wish it came in at least one more shell size. The shell seems really big. I’m a M/L which is the smallest size in the big shell. Kind of has a space helmet thing going on.

  5. Avatar
    jorge martinez
    March 8, 2019
    Reply

    agv claims that their visor are optically correct and class 1 according to ece standards, this means they are made the same way as your glasses.

    you can close the back vent and problem solved

  6. Avatar
    March 11, 2019
    Reply

    Had a bit of a mishap with the K5s this morning on my way to work. The small sliding tab to prop open the visor in front simply fell right off the helmet when I went to use it this morning. I’ve only used this helmet for my review plus a few rides and besides this the helmet is in near new condition.
    I have reached out to AGV to see what they have to say. Maybe this is a known issue? Maybe they can send me another tab to put in place. Either way I’ll report back and update my review once we have a response.

  7. Avatar
    Frank
    March 18, 2019
    Reply

    My research shows Bell making the first full face helmet in 1963.

    • Avatar
      March 18, 2019
      Reply

      That is correct. That’s not what I was saying but I could probably could have stated it better. The sentence reads: “…they were the manufacturer of the first full face helmet worn at the Italian Grand Prix in 1969” and they were. But as you pointed out they weren’t the first to make a full face helmet, but their full face helmet was the first to be worn at the Italian GP. I’ll look at this sentence and see how I can update this and make it a little more clear. Thanks for pointing this out Frank.

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