DESIGNED BY RIDERS FOR RIDERS
AGV Helmets and AGV Sports Group
Having been actively involved in the history of AGV Helmets and AGV Sports Group, I am thrilled to share the captivating story of how it all came to be.
In 1946, Gino Amisano, a young Italian businessman from Valenza, ventured into the production of leather seats and motorcycle saddles in the post-war era. Just a year later, he redirected his skills towards establishing AGV SpA, focusing on designing some of the earliest protective leather motorcycle helmets in Italy.
As safety testing and standards were not yet prevalent during that period, Amisano was among the pioneers in manufacturing protective racing helmets, with his iconic 160 helmet introduced in 1954. Fast forward 77 years, and the AGV brand has attained worldwide legendary status.
The “King of Helmets” in the European Industry
After the production of the first leather ‘pudding bowl’-shaped helmet with a crisscross inner lining and harness, designed to mold to the rider’s head, AGV distinguished itself from the competition. Gino Amisano would soon be known as the “King of Helmets” in the European industry.
To attain such a prestigious status as a ‘King,’ AGV had to establish its dominance in the helmet industry. They began with a riding helmet, but what would come next?
Their first step was the production of a protective jet helmet in 1956. Later, in 1967, they signed the best motorcyclist to ever participate in the sport, Giacomo Agostini, who would go on to win 14 World Championships while wearing AGV helmets. The first AGV full-face helmet worn in racing was in an Italian race, by Alberto Pagani, in 1969.
And finally, by creating and sponsoring the now-famous ‘Clinica Mobile,’ a mobile clinic that would treat injured riders at the race track starting in 1977, it became evident that AGV had a strong commitment to excellence in both the safety of their products and the sport itself.
Enter Michael Parrotte
It was around this time that Michael Parrotte started riding motorcycles while attending the American School of Paris for three years. During this period, AGV was the undisputed king of the helmet world in Europe, while Bell Helmets reigned supreme in North America.
In Europe, AGV Helmets became the go-to choice for many renowned Grand Prix Riders, including Giacomo Agostini, Barry Sheene, Angel Nieto, Johnny Cecotto, Steve Baker, and Kenny Roberts. AGV not only sponsored individual racers but also entire race series. One notable event was the AGV World Cup, which featured 200-mile races at Daytona, Paul Ricard, and Imola.
AGV’s influence extended beyond motorcycles, as they played a significant role in Formula One Grand Prix car racing as well. Esteemed F1 drivers like Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittapaldi, and Keke Rosberg all trusted specialized AGV helmets for their racing endeavors.
Pioneering AGV Helmets in the US Market
Shortly after returning to the US, Michael Parrotte wrote a letter to Gino Amisano inquiring about the possibility of importing AGV Helmets into the country. Communications continued, and in late 1976, AGV granted the exclusive rights for the AGV brand to Michael Parrotte and his new company, AGV USA. The first helmets arrived at the port of Baltimore in the spring of 1977.
As an avid road racer, Michael traveled the race circuit, promoting and selling AGV helmets, as well as participating in races. During this first season, AGV USA sponsored their first racer, an up-and-coming fourteen-year-old from Louisiana named Freddie Spencer.
After years of serving as the exclusive importer of AGV helmets, Michael Parrotte recognized another promising opportunity in the motorcycling market. He ventured into producing safety apparel for riders, specifically targeting club racers who required products that were both highly durable and safe, while still accommodating their limited budgets.
And in 1985, Gino Amisano licensed the use of the AGV tradename to initiate a joint venture with Michael Parrotte. In the first year, American GP rider Randy Mamola wore AGV gloves, specifically the CX-1 model. AGV road race suits and boots were quickly introduced, all handcrafted in Italy at that time.
The Birth of AGVSPORT
After just a few years of operation in the US, Yamaha Motor Canada, a key player in the motorcycle apparel industry, became the first international importer of AGV apparel. Following the triumphant reception of AGV motorcycle safety apparel in both the United States and Canadian markets, it was decided to rebrand from AGV to AGVSPORT for cosmetic reasons, especially for suits, jackets, and pants.
The AGV logo proved to be a perfect fit for helmets and also worked well for gloves and boots. But when it came to arms and legs, the logo appeared too short. As a solution, the AGVSPORT brand was introduced in the late 1980s. For several years, products were dual-branded as AGV and AGVSPORT, depending on their specific styling needs.
Despite its young age, the company leveraged the extensive helmet industry expertise that AGVSPORT founder Michael Parrotte had acquired during his earlier years with AGV SpA. This wealth of knowledge proved to be invaluable when it came to developing high-performance safety apparel.
While many other producers emphasized fashion, Michael’s primary focus was on safety, performance, and value above all else.
AGV SpA Acquires Majority Ownership of AGVSPORT
In 1992, AGV SpA acquired a majority ownership stake in AGV Sports Group. The reputation for durability quickly spread throughout the world of club racing, with AGVSPORT suits from two decades ago or even older still being used by club racers today.
This enduring success forged a strong and enduring partnership that has surpassed 25 years with Keith Code and the California Super Bike School. In fact, all instructors at the school are equipped with AGVSPORT leather suits.
For over a quarter of a century, the instructors and students of the California Superbike School have been subjecting AGVSPORT leather suits to rigorous use and abuse. These suits undergo unparalleled stress tests, enduring consecutive days of use in all weather conditions, rain or shine, year after year. Instructors and students often remain in their suits throughout the entirety of the day’s lessons, effectively living in our leathers.
While you might assume that top sponsored riders would be the prime example of our suits’ exceptional quality, it is actually the instructors and students at this school who truly exemplify how our suits can withstand intense heat, endure rough treatment, and still provide safety, coolness, and comfort.
Michael Parrotte: Decades of Expertise with AGV Helmets and Helmets Industry Consulting
As an apparel company, AGVSPORT maintains a unique connection to the world of safety helmets, which has profoundly influenced the development of its products since its establishment in 1985. Michael Parrotte, with over twenty-five years of experience at AGV Helmets, has also worked as a consultant with KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, and Suomy Helmets.
The rich experience of operating in the scientifically driven realm of safety helmets has consistently shaped AGVSPORT’s product development process. Over the years, AGVSPORT has established a strong position in the apparel industry by adhering to its time-tested business model: “Designed by Riders, for Riders” and “The Science of Safety.” This approach combines years of helmet industry knowledge, placing AGVSPORT at the forefront of safety apparel design and construction.
Passionate Riders Creating Finest and Safest AGVSPORT Apparel
AGV Sports Group remains an assembly of passionate riders and enthusiasts who proudly wear and continuously develop AGVSPORT apparel. This ensures that you, as a customer, will experience the finest and safest products we have to offer. We hope that when you ride and wear any of our AGVSPORT leathers or textiles, you will be able to truly sense the rich history of Gino Amisano and witness the progress of AGVSPORT.
Every AGVSPORT product is meticulously designed by riders for riders, and functionality is never compromised for aesthetics. By keeping product development and design in-house and leveraging the expertise of experienced riders, we stay true to the dedicated following of discerning motorcycle enthusiasts who appreciate the quality and value of AGVSPORT’s performance-driven offerings.
At AGV Sports Group, we proudly count ourselves among the greatest enthusiasts of the sport.