AGV Corsa R helmet review: Testing AGV's pricey lid on the track

When it comes to the sport bike world, AGV's top lids are the Air Jordans of helmets.

Go to any twisty-road hangout and you're guaranteed to see at least one Valentino Rossi replica, if not four. I’ll be the first to admit that I own an older GP Tech replica that sits on my mantle, retired from use since God himself (Rossi) signed it outside of Pinos Trattoria Restaurant a day before my Phillip Island track day. All I could think of while lapping the track was, “Don't crash on the signature side!”

AGV has revised their two raciest and priciest lids with some new innovations to entice the moto elitist in all of us. The Pista GP R is priced between $1,599 and $1,399. The Corsa R fetches $999 to 799, depending on model. The Rossi and Andrea Iannone replicas are the more expensive versions.

AGV Pista GP R Rossi replicaAGV Pista GP R Iannone replica

The Pista GP R is branded as the MotoGP helmet. Paying the premium price allows you to assert to your peers AGV snagged Rossi’s backup helmet from his locker when he was out in Qualifying 2. AGV says you are literally wearing the same helmet that could be sent to the paddock for race weekend.

AGV Corsa R Rossi replicaAGV Corsa R Arrabbiata

The Corsa R is intended primarily for track use with occasional aggressive riding on the streets.

The outer shell design remains the same. The Pista GP R is constructed entirely of carbon fiber. AGV’s SSL (Super Super Light) materials, consisting of carbon, aramidic (kevlar), and fiberglass, make up the Corsa R’s outer shell.

Rossi’s head was actually scanned for a 3D model as a starting point to design the helmet from the inside out. The head shape is designed as an intermediate oval. Both helmets are offered in four shell sizes and give the owner the option (with an additional purchase) to swap padding for better fitment. It should also be noted that AGV is now offering an Asian fit option for both helmets in every global market except North America.

AGV Pista GP R hydration systemFor those of you stunned by the Pista's price, here's another interesting option. AGV explained during the presentation that most parts are interchangeable between the two models. You can order the more aerodynamic Pista spoiler and fit it on your Corsa R. Want the hydration system that is included in the Pista GP R? Order it up!

AGV held the helmet launch at Buttonwillow Raceway. We were met in the morning with a beautiful display of older helmets, like Loris Capirossi’s actual race bucket, in line with the new Corsa R and Pista GP R. There were a few pro racers in attendance who received the Pista GP Rs while us humble journos got the Corsa R to test.

The first thing I noticed when I got my hands on the Corsa R is how solid, small, and light the helmet feels. Not as light as the Pista GP R, or some other full-carbon lids, but light enough to raise a brow. The next thing I noticed is how soft the inner shalimar lining is. I couldn't wait to throw the helmet on to meet its warm, fuzzy embrace. I can only describe the feeling of the helmet sitting on my head as if I were snuggled by the fire with a glass of cab after a long day of snowboarding on the slopes.

A new innovation for the Corsa R is a reversible crown liner. One side for cooler weather, and the other side for warmer weather. The Pista utilizes a different, single-sided crown liner, but allows for adjustments to the pressure point location of the padding to your head.

Although it was late autumn, the latter part of the day saw sunny, warm temperatures. The five front and two rear vents provided plentiful ventilation to keep my noggin cool and dry. The new models have revised vents, but we’ll touch up on that in a second.

Cost and safety

AGV Pista GP RHow much is your head worth? That's the most important question when it comes to helmets. You will pay a premium for the Corsa R or Pista GP R, but AGV is giving you more than a name that backs one of the greatest racers of all time. AGV calls its focus on safety their “Extreme Standards,” a helmet design process that sets their safety standards above the legal requirements around the world.

AGV Pista GP R spoilerThere are many features on both helmet models that are designed with safety in mind. The spoiler is primarily designed for aerodynamics, but also detaches in a crash so it doesn’t snag, causing further injury. The front-facing visor release button is recessed so it doesn't accidentally open in a tumble, keeping the rider's face and eyes protected. The helmet shell shape is designed to prevent collarbone damage.

AGV ventsAny time you cut holes into something that is supposed to be protecting you, you are creating potential weak points. AGV has nullified this risk by incorporating a metal mesh into the vents to keep structural integrity intact.

Much of the 2016 MotoGP season focused on the aerodynamic wings on the bike. AGV has also focused on redesigning the spoiler on the Pista. A reported four percent increase in aerodynamics in the wind tunnel may not seem like much, but remember that aerodynamic effects increase exponentially with speed and that the GP gods are jockeying for hundredths of a second. Suddenly, four percent seems a little more important.

The Pista GP R now has revised outward fins for the vents to maximize air flow. AGV has held its stance on fixed open vents (in inclement weather, you have to use clunky rubber plugs to close them) for the Pista GP R, but remember… race helmet. The Corsa R gets closeable vents.

AGV Corsa R eyeportAfter safety and protection, vision is the most important aspect of a helmet, to me. Just like photography, a high-end camera body means nothing if you use a cheap lens. You must invest in a good lens and “pay for glass.” AGV didn’t skimp with its visor. A posh Class Optic I visor comes on both models, with five mm thickness to keep vision quality perfectly clear. Both the new Corsa R and Pista GP R receive a 15-degree vertical increase (85 degrees total) in the eyeport and an unparalleled 190-degree horizontal range of vision.

testing the AGV Corsa R

Testing the AGV Corsa R on the track

Also new for this generation is a Pinlock 120 antifog insert. The competition will be forced to play catch up since the previous highest rating is at 70 versus AGV’s 120 (the number indicates the number of seconds before a visor will fog without airflow). Both helmets also have new internal chin channels to distribute airflow evenly to the entire visor surface. Somehow, I failed to open the chin vent for the first track session, which was pretty cold. After a few laps and some increased breathing, I finally noticed some slight fogging. I’m going to say despite my operator error, the Pinlock 120 did a great job of correcting my buffoonery by only allowing the bottom portion of the visor to fog. If I hadn’t looked down at the bike’s gear indicator going onto the straight, I would’ve never noticed the fogging, thanks to the wide field of vision.

I can report that the aeros of the Corsa R left me slicing through track with no bobblehead effect whatsoever. Vale is quoted by AGV as saying “Amazing aerodynamics — it feels like not wearing a helmet at all.” Now picture me reciting the same testament in my best Italian accent after coming into the pits.

I always get asked, “Is the (insert helmet model) quiet?” Yes, some helmets are quieter than others, but here’s the thing. Even the quietest helmets hover around the 85-decibel level, which is where hearing damage begins. So the lesson is, always wear earplugs, even with a quiet helmet.

AGV Pista GP R

While I didn’t get to test the Pista, it is branded as an all-out race helmet. I can make the educated guess that it won’t win the quietest helmet award. The Corsa R wasn’t loud enough that I felt distracted on the track. I could hear myself laugh within my helmet as the AGV guys stared at me doing wheelies across the straight at triple digits.

Comparing the AGV Corsa R

The only helmet comparable to the Corsa R that I have worn recently is the Shoei X-Fourteen. Both have comparable price points. Both are incredibly comfortable and have great vision. I’d say the upper hand the Corsa had over the X-Fourteen was the ventilation. The ventilation of the X-Fourteen is great, but there is a hot spot at my middle forehead that leaves the padding drenched in sweat. Granted, it was a much milder day with the Corsa, compared to the three weeks in mid-summer with the X-Fourteen. I’d like to see how the Corsa does in warmer weather.

Bucky with the AGV Corsa R in the canyons

Luckily, AGV let me take the Corsa R home. I look forward to seeing how this top-notch race helmet performs in different weather conditions. I can’t wait for winter to hit Southern California, if it ever does, so I can reverse the crown liner to test the warming side. I hope to report back with a long-term report.

Right now, what I can tell you is that this helmet won’t be put on a shelf. It will stay close to whatever rocket I have in my stable for testing. The only way to make this predicament better is to figure out a way to talk AGV into letting me take home a Pista GP R Replica, so I can be one of the many at the Rock Store with a Rossi lid next weekend.

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