AGV X101 helmet review | Dakar-inspired retro full-face


Date reviewed: June 2021 | Tested by: John Milbank | RRP: From £249.99 |


The AGV X101 on review here is a retro-style full-face that promises to suit the street bikes and classics so popular at the moment. I’ve been using it on a variety of motorcycles – some less suited to this design of lid than others – and as one of the least cool people I know, does it have the edge to make me fit in with those more style-conscious, while keeping me safer than an open-face?


For and against
  • Airy and cool on more sedate rides
  • Great styling
  • Relatively good value in this market
  • No drop-down visor
  • Unsurprisingly, not as quiet as a modern full-face with visor
  • I’d like a goggle strap retainer


Outer shell

The AGV X101 is an ECE 22.05-certified helmet with a tough, fibreglass outer shell that comes in three sizes covering the seven interior sizes of XS to XL, meaning someone in the smallest lid doesn’t have the large outer shell required for the XL.

Prices start at £249.99 for matt black, rising to £269.99 for gloss white or gloss red, £279.99 for the yellow and black graphics, and £289.99 for this ‘Dakar 87’ design, which names the locations from the epic race (of which I’d probably have managed to get about five hundred yards before getting lost/stuck in sand/crashing).

The coloured stripes, subtle wording and off-white paint look great, with a deep gloss over everything and pleasing flat rivets on the sides. Overall, with well-applied trim and a simple design, it’s got a quality feel and appearance that might not appeal to everyone, but the round shape has a classic look that works great on the right bike.

The helmet’s supplied with a peak that clips onto the poppers above the aperture, though don’t suddenly sit up from behind a Tracer 9 GT screen at 70mph with this fitted as the wind will rip it off and dump it at the side of the dual carriageway, tantalisingly within view every day you ride past, but on an awkward bend that makes it impossible to stop safely and retrieve it.


See the moment I lost the peak

Check out our Best Motorcycle Helmet video


The instructions state that it’s ‘forbidden’ to use the peak at speeds above 150km/h (93mph), and you might find it stays in place better if you build up to speed, but the good news is that it’s also a standard fitting, so the peaks from my other open-face lids also fit.

An additional neck skirt is supplied to give a tighter seal on the back of the lid, but I simply couldn’t get mine to fit – it looks like it might have been the wrong size supplied with the lid. To be honest, I have no problem with the feel of the rear, but if you pick one up, ask your dealer to show you how to fit this piece if it’s important to you.



AGV X101 weight

This medium weighs 1,222g, which is a fraction more than the 1,141g of the Shoei Ex-Zero but you’d not know in the hand or on the head. An open-face is typically lighter of course, but it doesn’t give you the same protection in a crash.




These classic designs don’t tend to have any vents on top, though thanks to the large opening up front and the chin vent – which goes straight through the mesh to your mouth – it’s not something you’ll worry about, so for its intended use – back roads and city riding – there’s plenty of airflow.




With no drop-down sunshield, goggles are essential with this lid, so budget for them. AGV sells its own, very cool ‘Legends’ goggles for £89.99, though I haven’t had a chance to try them and my 100% Barstow pair are the same price and fit fine. There are also plenty of cheaper alternatives, but do buy ones that are tested and certified for motorcycle use, to ensure your eyes are protected from stones.

While it might not have been in keeping with the retro-style, I like having a google retaining strap or clip on the rear of helmets like this, just to stop it slipping off when you pull them about. Still, the silicon grip applied to the inside of my Barstows seems to keep them in place okay.




The lining is plush and comfortable, as well as being fully removable for hand washing. The neck skirt doesn’t come out, though it is easy to wipe the outside of it clean.



A double D-ring fastener is of course in keeping with the style of lid, and while the apertures are a little on the small side and the end-retention strap can get in the way – making it a little bit of a fiddle to do up – you do get used to it.

The strap covers aren’t removable, but realistically, not many people will be riding in this helmet through desert conditions too often, so cleaning sweaty sand from the interior isn’t a priority.



Obviously fit is very subjective, but I found the AGV X101 to be a little snug to pull on, but very comfortable once it’s seated.

There’s also an alternative, slightly more dense foam pad you can pop into the top of the skull cap to tailor the fit, but I didn’t feel the need to use this.

Over a full day’s riding you will find a helmet like this more tiring to use compared to a standard modern full-face with a visor, but it’s better (and safer) than an open-face, and this isn’t meant for touring riders.

I wear glasses and had no problem with them inside this helmet.




Unsurprisingly, this is noisier than a standard full-face, thanks to the wind blasting into the open aperture, but earplugs are essential on any helmet.

Fitting intercom speakers is possible, but there are no recesses so you could find them uncomfortable and they aren’t tucked away behind anything, though again, this isn’t the type of lid you’d typically be trying to use comms with, and it would certainly spoil the style to have a unit stuck on the side.

For more information on why earplugs are vital with any helmet, and advice on which are the best, click here.


Three alternatives to the AGV X101

There’s an ever-increasing range of retro style helmets, but not a huge choice in this off-road style. Here’s what you might like to look at.

  • I love the Shoei Ex-Zero, which we reviewed here, but starting at £359.99 it is significantly more expensive. On the other hand it does include a drop-down sunshield, which potentially saves you buying goggles, though keep in mind that once you start getting up to speed, the wind can whip under this and make your eyes water. In profile, it’s a less rounded design than the AGV, having more of a motocross edge to its styling.
  • While we haven’t had the opportunity to review one, the Nexx X-G100 is a similar style and has a removable clip-on visor, which makes the £269.99 price seem quite attractive compared to the AGV and Shoei. It’s got a fibreglass shell and some pretty funky styling options so is worth trying on.
  • If you want a retro style with more modern practicalities (like a proper visor), consider the Arai Rapide HA, which we reviewed here. Starting at £449.99 it’s a pricey option, but it works very well and is, arguably, just as cool looking.

These are just three of many alternatives – you can find all the helmets we’ve tested here.


AGV X101 helmet review_22


AGV X101 review: Verdict

For me, the AGV X101 has the breezy feel of an open-face with the safety of a full face, being certified as having a protective chin section. Sure, you could still get a stone or bug between your goggles and the aperture, but you’d be unlucky. And if the worst did happen, your face is protected in a crash.

Sportsbike riders are unlikely to be interested, but on so many machines this is just what I want to wear – including my ridiculous Africa-Twin-styled Grom – and while it’s not cheap, it is a well-made, high-quality helmet that brings a smile to my face every time I put it on…