In the lead since 1947
AGV has been a leading force in helmet design and motorcycle racing since its foundation, ceaselessly innovating every area from aerodynamics, comfort and safety to graphics, sponsorship and advertising. Founded in 1947 by Gino Amisano (1920–2009), AGV rapidly won an unrivalled reputation for its innovative designs and materials, tested on the racetrack and developed with sponsored World Championship riders, including 15-times World Champion Giacomo Agostini and modern MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi. Acquired by fellow Italian innovator, motorcycle and dynamic sport clothing company Dainese in July 2007, AGV continues to go from strength to strength. Combining their research and design expertise, AGV and Dainese provide uniquely complete safety and performance solutions that deliver advanced protection from head to toe.
Motorcycle racing transformed
The company Gino Amisano founded proudly took the initials of his name and town – Amisano Gino Valenza – to form the name AGV and a legend was born. A legend that would transform almost every aspect of motorcycle racing. Trained as an accountant and with previous experience as a partner in a company making leather saddle covers and soft helmets for cyclists, Amisano’s first products were immediately on the leading edge: leather saddles for the revolutionary Lambretta and Vespa just launched on the market, and an equally innovative leather helmet.
First shell helmet and first fiberglass helmet
Unlike the soft helmets of the time, AGV’s forward-looking design formed a leather outer over a mold and then baked it slowly to form a rigid protective shell that was fitted with a comfortable energy-absorbing padded leather lining. And so, the first example of the modern helmet concept was born. AGV experimented with a wide range of alternative shell materials until settling upon an innovative solution that marked a revolutionary development in helmet design, creating the first fiberglass crash helmet in 1954. The next big step forwards came just two years later when AGV superseded it’s classic “pudding basin” or “shorty” shape with the much more protective, enveloping design of the “Jet” helmet.
Pioneering changes from the racetrack to the silver screen
AGV has also been a force for change in many areas outside helmet design. It revolutionized life on the racetrack by actively involving top champions in the testing and development of its world-leading designs, starting with MV Augusta’s star racer Carlo Bandirola, an early adopter of the first fiberglass design. Following fast on his wheels was Renzo Pasolini, who only moved on from his beloved AGV Jet to the company’s championship-winning full-face models in the seventies. AGV was also the first company to really make its mark on the racetrack when it pioneered trackside advertising in 1958, displaying a banner on a prominent bend. Within months the company had become a household name, its logo frequently seen in newspaper and magazine photos worldwide, as it would be later on TV. Amisano built on this with some of the first ever product placements in the movies, including “A place for lovers” by De Sica, starring Faye Dunaway and Marcello Mastroianni. Springboarding from these achievements, AGV’s international visibility really shifted up a gear in 1972, when Amisano began a program of rider sponsorship that continues to this day. The names are like a roll-call of the world’s top champions and best-loved riders, from Marco Lucchinelli, Franco Uncini, Kenny Roberts, Barry Sheene, Randy Mamola, Johnny Cecotto, Steve Baker and Angel Nieto to the all-time giants Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi, who have both used AGV helmets throughout their careers. The close involvement of AGV’s riders in the design, testing and development of their helmets has culminated in the intensive involvement of multi-world-champion Valentino Rossi, recognized in his being made Honorary President of the company in 2008. A further important innovation on the racetrack made possible by Amisano’s vision and generosity was Claudio Costa’s life-saving “Mobile Clinic”, which began providing trackside medical assistance to riders in 1977.
Making the full-face a complete solution
In the meantime, helmet development continued apace and in 1969 AGV was the name on the first full-face helmet to appear at an Italian Grand Prix, worn at Imola by Alberto Pagani. AGV’s models improved on the comfort, aerodynamics and field of vision of the early examples that appeared in the United States, making the design its own. These strengths and the significantly enhanced safety of its models ensured their rapid adoption not just by all the top motorcycle riders, but in Formula 1 as well. Within just a few years, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet were all to be seen sporting the AGV logo.
To the future and beyond
The logo itself was also modernized, making it more expressive by taking the AGV Initials and the red white and green of the Italian flag and incorporating them in the profile of a full-face helmet seen from behind, which – as Amisano liked to joke – was how Agostini’s rivals always saw his helmet on the racetrack. This sense of fun has always set AGV apart when it comes to helmet colors and graphics, and has kept it in the lead with the distinctive multicolored designs that express the exuberant spirit of Valentino Rossi. Sharing similar track records for passion, creativity and world championship success, AGV was acquired by fellow Italian motorcycling innovator Dainese in July 2007, enabling the two companies to combine their leading expertise in advanced solutions delivering head-to-toe protection. In the same year, AGV turned conventional thinking not just on its head but inside out, announcing a new integrated technical design and construction approach called AGV Extreme Standards, which designs around the rider’s head and not the helmet shell. The results speak for themselves, with tangible and measurable improvements in protection, fit, comfort, reliability and environmental impact. The Pista GP was the first Extreme Standards helmet, launched to international acclaim in 2012. All current AGV helmets are designed following the AGV Extreme Standards approach. As a member of the Dainese Group, AGV benefitted from substantial investment in 2015, when Investcorp, a leading global provider and manager of alternative investment products, acquired an 80% stake to support our continued international expansion and product innovation. In 2017, our 70-year journey continues, striving ceaselessly for new performance and safety advancements, living the values that have always distinguished AGV and its reputation for excellence proven on the racetrack and road.