AGV introduced two new full-face helmets in 2012, both of which take technology and design cues from the manufacturer’s top-tier race helmets. The more heavily emphasized model, the Grid, slots in just under AGV’s race-oriented GP-Tech and replaces last year’s track-based T-2. With the new name come modest updates to the exterior and a long list of revisions to the interior. But as with anything new or updated, the real question is whether or not the helmet is better than its predecessor. A few days at the track and multiple weeks of commuting quickly provided the answer we were looking for.
The Grid is identical to the T-2 in terms of shape, construction and vent layout, thus it takes a keen eye to tell the two models apart. The helmet’s slightly updated XQRS (Extra Quick Release System) visor mechanism is the first indication of its newer nature, although we’ll be the first to admit that the mechanism’s reworked base plate is difficult to distinguish with the Grid and T-2 sitting side-by-side. Flip the Grid over and the changes become more apparent; gone are the T-2’s poorly shaped cheek pads, replacing them is a set of specially contoured cushions that are designed to fit more naturally against the wearer’s cheeks. The comfort liner is reshaped in areas, and each of the pads are wrapped in a Dry Comfort, CoolMax fabric that’s intended to be more comfortable than in years past. Remove the liner and there’s more to be found, including a snap system that uses floating snap buttons to reduce pressure points on your head. A removable neck roll and chin spoiler are carryovers, but are intended to keep wind noise to a minimum.
AGV’s SSL (Super-Super-Light; yes, that’s really what it stands for) shell remains a mixture of fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon material and is equipped with an Integrated Ventilation System that uses hollowed channels in the shell to flow air. Ventilation through these channels is handled by the same four-hole chin vent, dual brow vents and twin extractors found on the T-2. Although we poke fun at the Grid’s Super-Super-Light shell branding, there’s no denying the helmet’s advantages in terms of weight; our size small example hit the scales at 3.35 pounds, which is .25 pounds lighter than the more expensive Shoei X-Twelve we most recently put through the ringer. And while it may appear to be just a small difference, we found the Grid to be a lot less of a burden on our neck both at the track and on the street.
The Grid’s new 3D pads are a step above the T-2’s cushions in terms of fit around the cheek area, and the comfort liner provides a more secure feel around the crown of the wearer’s head. What’s more, the Dry Comfort material feels more comfortable against your face, and the CoolMax material does a superb job of keeping the inside of the helmet dry on a warm day. Nowhere was this more beneficial than at the track, where we were able to set the helmet down in-between sessions and come back to a lid that wasn’t laden with sweat.
The Grid flows air relatively well at speed once the various vents are open, although the chin vent works far better than the brow vents when it comes to feeding air toward and around your head. One thing about the ventilation system is that the interiorly mounted chin vent mechanism is difficult to reach with the chin spoiler mounted. Adjusting the vents to the proper position before you head out on your ride seems to be a simple enough solution, however, and only takes just a bit of forethought.
While we were mostly all smiles behind the visor of the Grid, we admit that the helmet could benefit from a taller eyeport and more aerodynamic design. Biggest concern is that your line-of-sight is impeded by the upper edge of the helmet’s opening, which can be very distracting when looking through a corner at the track. The helmet is stable for the most part around town and the eyeport size is less of a concern at slower speeds, but turning your head to check for surrounding traffic on the freeway causes the helmet to buffet and load your neck.
In every other sense the Grid is better than the T-2. Shield swaps can literally be accomplished in seconds despite a slightly stiff lever mechanism, and the padding is far superior. It’s still not the quietest helmet on the market, but the neck roll and chin spoiler do a good job of keeping wind noise to a minimum. And with a number or racer replica graphics already available, it’s quite difficult to argue with the helmet’s looks either.
|AGV Grid helmet
|Retail: $399.95 (solid colors)
$449.95 (AGV graphics)
$499.95 (Racer Replica) $549.95 (Rossi Sun and Moon graphics)