The first AGV helmet is from 1947, hand-made from a wooden mold, just five articles a week.
Gino Amisano was a vivacious young accountant in 1945 when, the war just over, he decided to become a businessman. The area around Valenza in the Province of Alessandria was full of shoe factories and leatherworkers, while practically everyone who lived there was passionate about cycling. So Amisano and his two partners set to work hand crafting two types of products, saddle covers under the name FAB and light helmets for racing cyclists branded Robic.
Our story begins shortly afterwards, with AGV being founded the following year, its company name formed from the initials of Amisano, Gino and Valenza. In 1946, the new company also shifted its target market from bicycles to motorcycles or rather scooters, making saddles and backrest pads for Vespas and Lambrettas.
Gino had gone his own way, leaving his partners and doing the work of three. He pushed himself hard, selling his wares as far as Milan, and driving sales from 20 saddle covers per week (with just one employee) to 700. This was also when he met Luciana Morando, who he married in 1947 and immediately brought into the company. Luciana was to be the driving force of AGV.
The first AGV motorcycle helmet was created right then, in 1947.
Amisano had seen that motorcycle racers, who were somewhat better equipped in the early street races of the post-war recovery, protected their heads with leather berets. The luckier ones had Cromwell “pudding basins” made in England.
The fi rst AGV motorcycle helmet was made of leather which was formed over a wooden mould, then removed and oven dried for an hour at 50° C. Finally, once hardened, it was painted. These helmets were completely hand made, with production initially being limited to fi ve per week.
Fortunately the manufacture and sale of saddles continued until the sixties. A true pioneer in helmet design, Amisano subsequently experimented with leather-covered shells made of starched felt and then a type of compressed cardboard known as “papengus”, which was made for him by a paper mill in the Valsesia area. This material was not without its disadvantages, swelling in the rain, hardening in the sun and breaking up easily under impact, when it did however have some shock-absorbing qualities.
Tests and standards were still unheard of.