Other than significant price difference, there is a huge difference in the fit and finish, comfort and features offered by any helmet at any price point.
So then, after 5+ years of faithful service from my Shoei XR1100 - coupled with a considerably nasty drop - it was time for a new lid.
In helmet shopping mode I stuffed my pin into as many lids as I could, it is difficult to gain a proper representation of how a helmet will perform just by sticking your head in it - alas, it's the best we can do. Helmets are one of the hardest things to buy.
I don't have an 'Arai head' but retried them anyway to be sure. Nope
Never having owned a Shark I was intrigued by some of the new designs and features from the French company, I gave them a crack. Nope
With the newer ECE helmets now available in Australia I could try some of the Bell helmets - bugger. Nope
Back to Shoei then? Hmmmm. Then I tried the AGV K5
I took the plunge and have now been riding with the K5 for about 2 months including some track time during California Superbike School. Let's take a look.
Aesthetically, this is a very pleasing helmet. Fit and finish is good with a composite shell, sans carbon fibre, or other exotic polymers you'd find in the Pista range. That said, the helmet is appropriately light and weighs less than my old Shoei.
Rider vision is excellent considering the 'race cut' of the lid - requiring you to look up and out of the visor opening. One thing to note about the race style is that the bottom surface of the helmet has an arc which prevents it from sitting flat on a table.
Visor attachment is very simple using a similar cam and channel design as found on Shoei helmets - however the AGV offers something else too - visor increment adjustment.
The green component is the 'Road/Urban' visor guide which has a hard stop at the top, a hard stop at the bottom and three intermediate positions in between - also, there is a fine stop opening to allow the visor to vent.
Also included are blue for 'Race' with hard stop fully opened or fully closed with nothing in between and red for 'Tour' which provides open/closed and increments but no fine stop for slow speed venting. Out of the box the helmet is set to red, touring.
Ample airflow and venting provides a relatively cool and fog free experience, and surprisingly, not too noisy. Don't kid yourself, there is no such thing as a quiet helmet, the name of the game is to find one that is 'less bad.' I would report better venting, less fogging and noticeably quieter than the Shoei XR1100.
Furthermore, with the race cut and small lip at the rear, the K5 is remarkably stable when on the bike at speed - no buffeting or pressure build up which can make other helmets feel heavy or shake when getting on.
The internal padding uses natural bamboo and latex fibres meaning a comfortable skin feel which won't become humid and sweaty in hot conditions. The bucket of the helmet has the usual memory foam found in most lids and after a few rides this breaks in well.
Luckily I wear contact lenses, so seeing glasses are not required - however if they were - you'd be shit out of luck.
The K5 advertises a 'Glasses Fit' slot located on the temple of each cheek pad - a fairly standard feature and design and one which fails completely with the AGV. In the past I would often wear riding glasses with a high contrast yellow lens to offset the smoke visor in dim conditions. No longer it would seem.
Something about the angle and height of the glasses channel makes it impossible for me to use glasses of any kind with this helmet. Inserting the glasses arms is painful as you try to force them past the soft piece of your noggin at the temple. Furthermore, if you do succeed, the glasses lens will be hovering somewhere around your eyebrows - not your eyes. Useless.
Continuing the theme - the internal sun shade is pathetic, both in contrast and position.
The bottom of the shade terminates just below your eye socket on your cheekbones, delivering distractingly bright reflected light straight into your pinholes. Oh good, that helps........
Further failure is observed in the contrast the shade provides - which is not much. Honestly, you're better off not using this (or removing it which is possible) and just installing a smoke visor as I have done.
The AGV K5 offers some solid features and top notch fit and finish for a mid range helmet. At this price point some shortcomings are forgivable and the lack of a carbon-composite shell is understandable.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely, unless of course, you wear glasses.