Helmets are the most important piece of gear any rider can own. Beyond a simple shell meant to protect our head, there is a lot of thought and work put in developing this piece of high-tech headgear. It has to be light, comfortable, but also sturdy and capable of withstanding high-speed impacts. How do they do it? If you’re like us, you’ve probably always wondered about motorcycle helmet construction well, AMERiders takes a look into their construction as we go behind the scenes of AGV construction in Movena.
At Movena, Italy where the team at AGV has a factory, where the AGV Corsa R and Pista GP R models are assembled. Is where we are going to get our look at goes into motorcycle helmet construction.
It All Starts With A Shell…
Motorcycle Helmet Construction all starts with carbon fiber shells. For AGV, the shells are outsourced, molded by a third party before being brought in the Movena plant for assembly.
This is what a helmet looks like devoid of all its components. A literal empty shell.
The Good Old Tape Trick
Even future helmet need some taping before a paint job. The carbon fiber lids are sanded down by hand before masks and tape are applied to cover certain areas of the shell that will receive a different treatment.
For instance, in the case of the Valentino Rossi 2019 Winter Test design, the chin of the lid needs to remain black, while the rest is painted bright yellow.
It’s Morphin’ Time!
The naked shells are lined up on polls mounted to a specialized conveyor belt that runs them through a chamber equipped with automated spray paint nozzles. The shells will go through this process a number of times as the same machine handles the base, the different coats of paint, as well as the top layer of varnish, applied later on in the process.
Six Layers Later
These 2019 Winter Test shells have gone through the spray paint cycle six times and have received two layers of opaque paint, followed by one coat of white paint, two of yellow, and finally a coat of stabilizer.
The masks and tape are then removed and the seems between the painted and unpainted areas are gently sanded down to avoid an uneven transition between the two areas.
The shells also go through the first round of quality control—any flaws are marked. The flawed lids then cycle back through the first steps.
The Purpose Of Water
After the shells are given an additional sanding, they are cleaned up and sent over to a technician in charge of applying the graphics by hand.
The process is similar to temporary tattoos: the graphics are printed on specialized paper. The sheets are dunked in water, then applied to the shell, transferring the graphic to the prepped surface.
Sleeking Things Down
The graphics don’t come in a single piece; the designs are broken down into pieces to makes them easier to apply to the helmet’s round surface. Once a portion of the motif has been applied to the helmet, the technician places the lid on a poll.
Armed with a scraper, she then gradually smooths out the graphics on the lid, removing any air bubbles or folds and ensuring the design is aligned with the markers.
Each section of the design takes 15 minutes to dry before another section is applied. The technician also has to make sure the designs overlap correctly and evenly. They are able to complete 25 shells per day on average using this technique.
Bake In The Oven For 40 Minutes
Once all the sections of the motif have been applied, the shells spend 40 minutes in an oven to set the graphics.
After cooling down, the protective film on top of the graphics is peeled by hand before the lids are given a thorough wash.
The Protective Layer
The shells are gently sanded once more to prep them for their last run in the spray chamber where they receive their protective coat.
A worker then controls each shell for quality before receiving its holographic homologation tag.
The prepped shells are now ready to begin their trip on the assembly line. The first step is the addition of the rubber components. Ribbons of rubber are applied and glued to the seams around the visor and the neck of the helmet.
Belts And Whistles
The shell is then sent over to a technician that adds the belts used to attach the helmet under the neck, as well as the air vents plastic inserts on the chin and on top of the head.
Time For The Protectors To Go In
The next step involves inserting each section of the EPS foam shells into the lid and gluing them into place by hand. Each piece of high-density foam protector has its own homologation tag to ensure its quality.
Clamps are used to ensure the Styrofoam is solidly attached to the shell.
A Puzzle Made Of EPS
The high-density styrofoam protectors are assembled by hand by a technician before being handed over to the work in charge of installing them inside the helmets.
It’s All Coming Together!
The inner fabric layer surrounding the head as well as the chin and cheek pads are snapped into place inside the helmet. The visor is then attached to the shell and secured into place.
This specific model also receives a spoiler, attached to the back of the head.
More Quality Control
The fully assembled helmet goes through a final round of quality control. The technician tests all the mechanisms to make sure all the parts are in place and in working order.
All The Tags!
This is also the step at which the helmet receives all its stickers and tags, once it passes QC of course.
Ready To Hit The Shelves
Each helmet is identified with a barcode which allows workers to follow its progress through the assembly process. At this point, the quality control technician scans the helmet one last time and puts it on the scale to ensure it meets the standards for weight.
The helmets are then placed in their pouch and packed in boxes, ready to be shipped out to future customers.
This special edition AGV Pista GP R 2019 Winter Test edition retails for about €1,500 ($1,700).
~And as always…
~Live Free Ride Hard~
Let AMERiders keep you up to date on the process of Motorcycle Helmet Construction.
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