Helmet choice is a topic that divides the motorcycle community as much as bike choice. While some folks see helmets as another governmental requirement aimed at destroying your rights, the more sane populous see helmets as a necessary piece of protection. But within the “sane” group, the opinions on how much protection you need vs style vs feeling that cool air against your bug-splattered face vary widely. One such topic of debate is the modular helmet. Modulars have always brought images of 1200 GS riders to my mind, rolling through the suburbs with the chin bar up and visor down.
Don’t get me wrong, I see the appeal of having your cake and eating it too. The luxury of being able to pull your helmet apart and have a normal conversation while not having to take the whole thing off is definitely a perk, but at what cost? Normally modulars weigh a ton, and have shells so big they have their own orbit. That’s why AGV decided to reinvent the luxury modular segment with their Sport Modular.
Sport Modular is a deceptively simple name for one of the most advanced helmets on the market today, and when AGV sent one over for review I was excited to put it through its paces. The first thing I noticed was the carry case–not all helmet manufacturers do this, and when they do I feel like it should be recognized. In lieu of the normal cloth sack, AGV includes a semi-rigid fabric case that has a strap for throwing it over your shoulder. Also in the box was a Pinlock 120 Max Vision visor insert, further ratcheting up the extras included.
But extras mean nothing if the helmet is crap, and thankfully it’s not. AGV went all out to bring weight and shell size down. By integrating the hinge for the chin bar and visor into one tiny package, AGV is able to keep the overall shell size to a minimum. I’m not a helmet designer, but I think this is where every other modular helmet goes wrong. Instead of working to get the shell size down, other manufacturers have made their shells bigger to accommodate the extra bulk that the modular hinge creates. Thankfully AGV has figured out the secret recipe for minimizing size and weight, while throwing in an internal visor and maintaining the same impact protection as the AGV’s top race lid, the Pista GP R. This is no simple feat, and is the reason why the Sport Modular has been awarded the Red-Dot Product Design award for 2018.
The use of carbon fiber in the main shell and chin bar, along with a few titanium bits, brings this lightweight down to 3.25 pounds. Compared to the Shoei’s Neotec 2, at about 3.7 pounds, and the Bell Race Star I reviewed a while back, at 3.3 pounds, the Sport Modular is impressively light.
What’s more impressive is that they’ve still managed to maintain an ECE 2205 rating, remain lightweight AND include things like the double-side headliner. After riding with the helmet over the past four months, I can say the double-sided liner is no gimmick. Being able to go from the plush “warmer” side to the slick “cooler” side as the summer started made it feel like I had a whole new helmet. This extra bit of accommodation shows that AGV wanted to offer customers a quality modular helmet that separates itself from the pack.
As the summer has heated up, a gripe with the Sport Modular has emerged—ventilation. The weird thing about the ventilation is that I feel like I get plenty of air coming into the helmet, but not enough going out. The exhaust ports and adjustable spoiler on the Sport Modular are less effective at extracting heat than I’d prefer, and over the course of a day’s ride in 90+ degree heat, I found myself getting a bit hotter than I’d like. Granted, at 90 degrees I’m going to be hot in any helmet, but I was wishing I’d opted for the Arai Corsair X, which feels like a veritable wind tunnel. The Corsair X is a full-on race helmet, and maybe I’m asking too much of the Sport Modular’s more touring sensibilities.
On the topic of touring is the accommodation for a bluetooth headset. The Sport Modular has cut outs for speakers, but good luck trying to clamp a bluetooth like the Sena 10C on because the slider for the drop-down visor is in the way. Obviously the alternative is using an adhesive mount, but it seems odd that this eventuality wouldn’t have come up in development.
Then there is the topic of noise—is the Sport Modular quiet? Below 55 mph I was fine without ear plugs, but once I started picking up more speed the drone of wind noise became annoying. Not deafening, but not something I’d want to sustain for a full day’s ride. What was appreciated over 55mph was the spoiler I previously mentioned. While not the best at extracting heat, the spoiler helped with stability at higher speeds in my rather unscientific assessment.
The small gripes haven’t been enough to keep me from wearing the Sport Modular on a regular basis. The fit is spot-on for my intermediate oval head, while the Class 1 Optics and size of the amazing Pista GP R-esque visor is unmatched by any other modular. When you add up all the positives, the negatives are easily forgotten. This is a helmet that does everything a modular should, with the added bonus of being as small and light as a race helmet. The $749 price tag may be steep, but for all that you get—and the weight that you don’t—the Sport Modular is worth every penny.