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AGV AGV Compact-ST review

A full test of AGV’s flip-front touring helmet

Price: £199.99 | Weight: 1907g | Sharp rating: 4 stars (Good) | www.agv.co.uk

AGV’S COMPACT-ST has been in use since January and I've clocked up about 1500 miles in it. It’s been used for launches abroad in the sun, slogging up and down the M1 on my Honda Africa Twin, and a couple of sunny afternoon rides on the Kawasaki H2 SX SE – when weather allowed. The Compact-ST is homologated as both a full-face and open-face lid, meaning it is legal to ride with the front down and in the up (flipped) position.

I’ve never really been a fan of the styling of flip-front (or modular, to give them their correct name) helmets. It’s not that I’m a fashion victim, but there is something about being able to see my scrunched-up mush in the window of the van next to me - they seem about as sexy as entering the bedroom in waders and a woolly jumper.

But variety is the spice of life and if we all used the same kit, the world would be a very dull place indeed. With that in mind, I sent off for AGV’s Compact-ST, the second and cheaper of the two flip-front lids in their range. It’s priced extremely well, at a gnat’s nadger under £200, it’s cheaper than the Neotec2 from Shoei, Schuberth’s C3 and LS2’s FF399. It is fairly weighty though measuring 1907g on my digital scales. Not so much that I’ve suffered any discomfort while riding, regardless of the bike I’m on, and let’s face it, the structural reinforcement and mechanisms within the lid are sure to add to the weight a bit.

To look at, the lid is plain and simple. With no decals and just the small AGV logos front and rear. The thermoplastic shell is smooth with only two brow vents, a chin vent and two exhausts at the rear. The vents are all easy to find, although thicker winter gloves make it tricky to open and close them, the air-flow when open is good and keeps any winter misting at bay. It’d be nice if the visor had a smaller first click when opening for some extra fresh air – it goes from fully closed to about 30mm open, which is a tad too much for me.

The lining of the Compact-ST is where this flip-front starts to get lovely as it’s an extremely soft and pleasant feeling material, much like that on the AGV Corsa R I reviewed a month or so back. It wicks sweat away from your face keeping you comfortable and seems to almost completely dry out within about 20 minutes of being sat with the chin-bar up. The whole lining is removable and washable, it also has small eyewear hooks for sliding the arms of you driving glasses down if you need to. Fastening is taken care of with a micrometric adjustment (ratchet) strap.

The AGV Compact-ST comes with ready to go intercom recesses which look more than big enough to take most types of earpiece.

To put the lid on it’s easier to have the lid in the flipped position, then once the helmet is on and secured you can flip the front down to make it a full face. The front of the helmet comes right down and sits comfortably midway back on your chin making it a warm and turbulence free place to be on a -4° winter morning. To flip the lid up you pull down on the red lever by your chin and push the front of the helmet up and back. It’s almost counter-intuitive but the opening works in this way for a good reason: There aren’t many crashes you can have that pull the lever one way and force the front of the lid in the other direction, thus making it more secure in a spill.

I’ve got the M (57-58cm) lid and for me, the fit is good although I could have probably gone down one size for a closer fit, at the expense of long-distance comfort. Sizes on offer are XS, S, M, L, XL.

The lid features an internal drop-down sun-visor which is operated by a chunky lever on the left side of the helmet. It’s a fairly sturdy mechanism that takes a bit of force to operate but once you get a grip on where it is it’s easy enough to use on the road. The visor gives good coverage and doesn’t leave a big gap at the bottom or fog up easily on colder mornings. There is another lever on the right side of the lid that is used to lock the helmet in the flipped position – although as someone who never rides in this manner for more than a couple of metres it has been mainly redundant for me.

At speed the helmet is quite noisy, you get the odd whistle when the airflow crosses the hinges and joints, but not painfully so. I always wear earplugs so don’t find it an issue, but you can definitely tell it’s a modular lid from the interior noise. The sealing system is exceptionally good at keeping the rain and drizzle out. Even on one extremely wet blast at *clears throat* motorway speeds on an H2 in a dismal spring shower, the top visor seal and chin-skirt kept the inside of the lid dry and cosy.

Verdict

As a newbie to the world of flip-front lids I did find the Compact-ST a bit of a faff to start with but as time has gone on it’s grown on me and I’ve enjoyed my time with it. I don’t see the benefits of having one over a standard full-face lid yet – I never ride with the lid flipped up and don’t find it too much bother to take my lid off and walk into a petrol station. But I understand why some people find this to be helpful.

If you’re a fan of the flip-front lifestyle, the AGV Compact-ST is full of smart features and tech, is comfortable, works faultlessly and is priced so competitively, it really cannot be overlooked.

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