Dainese Press Release: How Valentino Rossi's AGV Helmet Protected Him During His Aragon Crash

The crashes of Valentino Rossi and Andrea Iannone at Aragon two-and-a-half weeks ago raised a lot of questions about safety, leading to the Safety Commission deciding to start removing all of the artificial turf from around the circuits used by MotoGP. Rossi's crash, in particular, was severe, the Italian being clipped and knocked briefly unconscious by the back wheel of his Yamaha as he tumbled.

That Rossi did not suffer much worse injuries is in no small part down to his helmet. The AGV Pista GP helmet which Rossi helped develop provided an incredible level of protection for the Italian. After the incident, AGV took the helmet away to analyze the damage done to the helmet in the crash. They issued a press release, complete with close up photos of the damage sustained, explaining the damage done and how the helmet had protected Rossi. 

The press release makes for interesting reading, and the close up photos of the damage are especially revealing of just how well the helmet stood up in the crash. Make sure you click on the photos to view higher resolution versions. The AGV press release appears below:


Like all helmets that have been involved in falls or accidents in competitions in which AGV riders officially participate, the Pista GP helmet worn by Valentino Rossi at Aragon on 28 September was taken back to the factory and completely dismantled for a thorough technical analysis at the Group Research & Development Department.

Tests carried out on Valentino's helmet following his violent fall during the race, showed no critical structural failures and demonstrated how the helmet had perfectly absorbed the energy from the impact to protect his head from trauma injury. (fig. 1, see also the PistaGP Crash Report available at: http://ww.facebook.com/agvofficial/photos/a.393537957340921.106096.13254...).

The technical analysis reads as follows:

The outer shell shows clear signs of impact with the ground and with Valentino's Yamaha M1 factory bike (fig. 2).

The first impact was with the ground (fig. 3) following his high side.

The rear left section of the helmet received the first blow (fig. 4) close to the spoiler that broke off as it was designed to do.

After Valentino tumbled a few times on the run-off area on the tarmac and gravel, the helmet then came into direct contact with the bike (fig. 5). There are clear signs of a violent impact on the right side of the helmet between the outer shell and structural components on the rear of the M1 (swingarm and/or brake disc/caliper). There are also very evident traces of rubber on the right side of the outer shell and the visor (fig. 6) that are obviously the result of contact between the spinning rear tyre and Valentino’s Pista GP helmet.

Severe friction between the tyre and the helmet tore the right part of the visor away from the shell and broke the metal swivel closing mechanism holding it in place (fig. 7).

Although the visor was also cracked on the left side (again near the closing mechanism), it remained in place. This degree of protection was further enhanced by the racing kit (additional metal screw which fastens the visor to the swivel mechanism) that AGV use on all its competition helmets.

This kit is also available as an accessory for professional and private riders alike.

Valentino's symptoms of temporary loss of memory and headache are probably due to the violent and sudden rotational acceleration of the head caused by contact between the helmet and the still spinning rear tyre.

Thanks to AGV Extreme Standards Technologies, Valentino did not suffer any trauma injury and was able to race in the following Motegi grand Prix where he and his AGV Pista GP finished on the podium (fig. 8).

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Fascinating post; this type of article makes this site really good.

Hit by the spinning tyre; that could have easily been a broken neck, the helmet has done an incredible job but you are out of control in a crash like this and how it ends is partly down to luck, when you have umpteen kilos of flying and spinning racing bike.

It looked terrifying on the television especially when there was no movement from the rider; thankfully Rossi recovered relatively unscathed, but even being KO'd is serious, hence off to the hospital for a scan.

I saw an amusing picture from the hospital where all the nurses had their smartphones out taking pictures of a smiling VR as he left the scanning room, at least they enjoyed it!

The press release was compiled and issued by Dainese. All I did was format and prepare it for publication on the website. It is fascinating to see the damage done by a crash, though.

AGV is a fully owned subsidiary of Dainese, and I believe that Rossi has a large stake in Dainese. To paraphrase a famous salesman, he liked it so much he bought part of the company.

Thanks David. I should have known that really, about the subsidiary. And Rossi having a stake in Dainese makes sense too. Cool, they could have worse stake holders than that. At least this one has some affinity with the product.

And the Pista GP was one I was looking at. Having taken a number of whacks to the noggin on tracks and highways over the years, I'm a staunch advocate for buying the right protective gear. But at $1,400, that's an expensive lid. this makes me think twice.

“Thanks to AGV Extreme Standards Technologies, Valentino did not suffer any trauma injury . . . the helmet had perfectly absorbed the energy from the impact to protect his head from trauma injury“
A nice example of corporate mentality on display here. Why not turn a serious accident with concussion, memory loss and headache into a selling opportunity? Altho’ most research on CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) associates the disease with repeated traumas, there are examples from the US military of a single blast combined with head shock causing the condition. #46 was very fortunate, but it’s unlikely he got away Scot free as AGV glibly assert. CTE can only be diagnosed for certain postmortem.

really a nauseating press release. "did not suffer trauma", "helmet had perfectly absorbed the energy...". What the fook, he was knocked unconscious wearing your helmet. Now I've raced, and I've crashed plenty, and there is no way (and I don't care how much you spend) that you can protect someones head from every concievable trauma in a crash. Do I believe AGV makes shite because of this? Hell no, I was sponsored by them and wore them when I raced. I still wear them occasionally. But to issue a release like that, is the stupid hoping to impress the blind.

Did VR's diagnosis get changed? Is his injury no longer considered a concussion? Is a concussion not a form of traumatic brain injury?

With Jules Bianchi lying in a hospital near death from a traumatic brain injury that no amount of marketing bloviating can make go away, does the timing of this nonsense seem utterly classless?

For the report on Marco Simochelli's helmet..... Very bad timing of this considering next week will be 3 yrs to the day of his passing.

After all, they say clearly that all helmets involved in accidents are analyzed. So where is it...?

The first word after Marco's accident was that the helmet strap was designed to break and come off to prevent decapatation. They quickly retracted that and never said another word...

I decided at that moment these guys were all bs and marketing and that I would never own a helmet which is "designed" to give up before the rider does.

This press release only serves to recall and reinforce those feelings.

I remember at the time there were a lot of questions, and a full investigation was going to occur. I wonder what ended up with that.
Perhaps Marcos family did not want the whole thing laid out in minute detail for the world to see, if that's the case I'm totally fine with that, however I hope it's not the case that it got conveniently filed on the back shelf away from site because of corporate sponsorship

From what I understand, they found that Rossi's back wheel hit the exact point at the bottom of Simoncelli's helmet that ripped it off, straps or no straps. The helmet had nothing to do with it. Simoncelli died from the impact of Rossi's tire on the base of his skull. That part is exposed because you need to move your head freely.

This was my first (rather grim) thought on reading this. Given they managed to 'investigate' then negate the obvious damage caused to Valentino and market it shamelessly, if passingly interestingly, why has it taken 3 years to clarify to damage done to Marco Simoncelli.

Now I don't expect any helmet would have saved Simoncelli and no other helmet is likely to have helped Valentino survive any better (although WITH injuries, whatever Dainese/AGV would like to claim) BUT to manage to market this within two weeks yet not manage to report on a fatality from 3 years ago shows the problem with the helmet industry in a microcosm.

The old saying "if you have a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet" still holds true.
Back in the 80's I had a top of the line AGV. Chucked it away big-time at my local track at about 180kmh and went head over heels for many rotations. Massive gouges out of the helmet from multiple head contacts with the tarmac, and 6 weeks of work with internal bruising, pissing blood from a split kidney, every toenail lost from bruising as feet got impacted with road multiple times too.
No concussion at all. Very good fibreglass lid with good padding for the time and a good snug fit.

These days I buy Shark helmets with highest UK SHARP ratings. No $150 cheapies for me.

60 and still primarily in one piece...............

But if you search the Sharp site for sub £100 (about $150) helmets with a 5 star rating, you get 9 results. What do you think the higher price point gets you in protection, if the measured performance is the same?

I get that more money can get you graphic, aero, visor and ventilation and other such features, I was just questioning why the perception exists that a $1400 helmet offers more protection than a $150 helmet with the same tested performance.

I'm not sure that's the perception, at least among folk I know. Snell is Snell, DOT is DOT, the Euro specs are the Euro specs. The best ones pass multiple tests. But if a helmet passes just one of 'em, it's verifiably safe.

I find that I have to do a lot of first-person interviewing when I buy a helmet. For a long time, Shoeis were the only ones that fit my apparently oddly shaped head. Arais never did--too round. Then one day I tried on an Arai and it was glorious. Not sure why I never got an AGV. Yes, I do. Price.

Anyway, after decades of riding with inexpensive helmets on my head, it was a revelation when my first real one made the experience so much more pleasant. And amortized over a few years, the luxury wasn't that much more costly. Good helmets can be found for a fraction of the AGV's $1,400 price tag.

Just barely passing a test and passing with significant margin are two different things.

In my personal experience cheaper helmets, even if they do pass, and even if they were to pass with the same margin fall down in a few areas:

- weight
- aero
- comfort
- ventilation
- durability of liner
- visor optical clarity

When the above is taken into account, and given the shape of my head, I am a Shoei owner. Have had cheaper helmets, none have been as comfortable for me, and the Shoeis have lasted at least 2x as long (I am a street rider and commute virtually every day).

For me, Shoei is not really any more expensive given the lack of more regular replacement required.

YMMV, and I'm sure Arai, AGV, etc. all excel in the above areas similarly. I just happen to have a Shoei shaped head.

Yes, sorry, should have pointed out that here in Oz cheapie helmets tend to be in the $150 and under bracket. We have compulsory helmet laws which mean there is significant price gouging by importers. Good safety rating helmets tend to be quite expensive. In other regions that price point may be higher or lower.
The price points in UK quid that are much lower than Oz prices are well known, but we cannot legally import UK helmets.

Every time I see a damaged helmet from a faller, I think of the stupid states in America that have no helmet law...and the idiots that ride around without one. It's just about the only time I will literally tell somebody to their face they are an idiot, and they are just about the only people that will let me do it without protest...because as strange and circular as it seems, they are smart enough to they're an idiot.

Anyway, Amazing comeback from Rossi after a crash like that! So happy to see him battling. Appreciate him while he's still racing! :)

I live in one of those "stupid states" in America (Texas) and while I never personally ride without gearing fully up, I support the folks that choose to do what they want with their own damn lives.

...to give natural selection a chance to do what it does best and improve the species.

But seriously, don't you have these gigundous bugs in texas? Isn't a helmet worth it just to keep that shit off of your face and out of your teeth?

as my dad would say, with a big grin on his face.

He grew up in Alabama and was one of those idiots who would ride around, from what I understand mostly dirt fields, farms, etc., all without a helmet. Then him and his friends would end up somewhere, shoot the breeze and wrench on their bikes.

Retired, and still riding at 62 y/o, (in the desert no less) enjoying life and finding it hard to believe that he survived all the stupid things he did as a kid, along with 26 years and a couple of wars in the US Navy.

I support people to chose what they want to do as well. But that won't stop me from calling them idiots. Especially the ones who have loved ones that depend on them. That actually bothers me more than the fact that we all have to pay for their vegetative states when they fall off at 11 mph (Darwin usually selects the ones that crash at higher speeds).

I live in Pennsylvania now, after having lived in Texas beforehand, after having lived in California, after having lived in London, after having lived in Korea, and rode in every one of them. So I have seen the whole spectrum of riding cultures. I've seen enough needless head injuries without helmets and spectacular crashes with only minor injuries with helmets to be comfortable on my stance of who I call idiots. I'm not in a popularity contest so I don't mind speaking about it, although I'm not too vocal in Texas and Pennsylvania where there is considerably more freedom with the gun laws too! ;)

Worst thing about riding in Texas is the heat and humidity combined with NO FILTERING (California nanny state surprising is the ONLY US state to allow it *rolled eyes*).

"Perfectly absorbed the energy from the impact" sounds fair to me, I hear "helmet functioned exactly as intended."
I have a harder time with a comment bringing up #58 - that was an exceptionally horrible and tragic accident. Put any helmet on him and it remains so.

As I understand an impact to the head that results in loss of consciousness is considered a moderate concussion. This does not detract from the article. Nor will it get me to ever use anything but an Arai.

Glad you are ok and complaining about the finger Vale, great race in Japan. Thanks Dorna for pulling the astroturf. All is well in the world. Carry on.

On the surface, yours seems like a perfectly reasonable view. Sadly, we don't live in vacuums. Everyone's actions affect everybody else to some degree. Mostly, those degrees are so negligible they can't even be quantified.

Treating massive head injuries, however, have real, noticeable effects on all our lives. Mostly financial. Recovering from head trauma and brain injury--not to mention the initial and follow-up medical procedures--takes boatloads of money, and every time you pay insurance and taxes, you're helping foot the bill.

That said, I'm still on your side. The argument that long ago swayed me was that passing a helmet law, then dusting your hands off and moving on to the next problem to be solved, is an inadequate response to the problem of rider injuries. The best way to protect riders' heads is by keeping them off the ground. Education is the only rational, long-term solution. Education costs money, too, but ultimately much less than long-term care for badly injured riders.

States with helmet laws tend to spend much less public money on driver and rider training. They think they solved the problem and are unwilling to devote more funds to further solutions.

the above post was supposed to be a reply to breeno's "Freedom" post above. Stupid computer machine.

The comments above citing dismay that AGV is using this opportunity to illustrate their product's worth strike me as odd on a number of levels.

First, AGV sponsors Valentino. Yes, they get media exposure for their money. They also get Rossi's help designing helmets--and not just the graphics. Of course they should tell the world how well the result of their collaboration performed. I'd be surprised if Rossi feels AGV is capitalizing unfairly, or unethically, on how the helmet performed during his crash. For anyone else to express self-righteous indignation is pretty pointless.

Second, just on a mechanical level, I thought the press release was fascinating from a rider's perspective. Probably because of the photos.

Third, as a promotional copywriter, I thought it was a brilliantly conceived piece of marketing collateral. Not so much the writing, that was pretty pedestrian, but the overall effect was fantastic. It attracted my attention, then clearly illustrated the benefits of their product's features.

Those who profess to be capitalists, then rant about the promotional component of marketing, baffle me.

What did VR contribute with regard to developing this helmet? His background in composites engineering? His skills developing LS-DYNA models?

He didn't even make a good crash test dummy, because they neglected to instrument him before the crash.

Which brings up the point that if these guys really care about developing safer products, how come all the riders aren't out there equiped with accelerometers? Especially Crutchlow?

Venting, visors, padding, spoilers; there's lots of ways a helmet manufacturer could use Rossi's experience. I mean, c'mon, there's a bit more to helmet design than composite specification. Saying a racer as accomplished as Valentino Rossi couldn't have useful input when designing a helmet because he doesn't have a formal background in composites is like saying Phil Mickelson wouldn't be handy to have around when designing a golf club because he has no training in metallurgy.

Dude's been eating, sleeping, drinking, and breathing bikes since he was conceived. Rossi's not just some pretty face riding around on a motorcycle. He probably wasn't wearing a lab coat and playing with a slide rule, but, given the AGV press release text, I'll bet he was somewhere playing with something while they were designing that helmet.

...but he probably wasn't wearing a lab coat and solving highly nonlinear transient dynamic finite element analyses.

And Phil has a degree in psychology, so I dunno where he's going with that in a R&D environment. Maybe assess the MBTI's of the engineers? Likely a lot of ISTP's.

But I'm happy disagreeing with you, it's not the first time. I don't believe a Boss Hoss should be on the list, but the Tul-aris and Britton might be great fun.

What I found utterly dissapointing, is that they are obviously unable to provide Vale with a decent set of gloves.
I´m very sure , that at least his Brno injury was avoidable.
There are gloves from the German Company "Held" which are reeinforced with the skin of a manta ray that is almost totaly immune against abrasion.They should step up their game at Dainese.
And since their main manufacturing facility has been moved to Thailand, I can say from first hand experience that the quality of their leather suits is a joke compared to the times they were made in Italy.I still like their design and how they fit and will buy them again though.

Personnaly I will never use anything but Arai, because they are the only ones which are passing all norm´s and especially the Snell.
One of the tests of the Snell-norm is a 1,5kg conical weight is dropped onto the lid from 3 meters without penetrating the helmet down to your skull.No other helmet passes this test as good as the Arai ones and I survived 4 crashes on the track without a scratch.

Didn't Vale break his finger? What does glove material have to do with that? If it's flexible enough to let your finger move, it's flexible enough to let your finger break.

Safety is a relative thing in motorcyling. Injuries can be expected. Good gear can minimize, not eliminate, these injuries. Rossi's helmet did what it was designed to do - minimize the damage. Seriously what else can be expected? He was hit by his bike and suffered no major injury. Luck and AGV played a part in that. Why shouldn't they be proud of that?

If I sound biased, I am. 3 years ago I had an accident where I endoed into the pavement head and shoulder first. My AGV GP Tech saved me from any kind of head injury. No concussion per the doctor after the CAT scan (or whatever it was). AGV saved me a lot of pain.

I said that at least Vale´s Brno-accident could have been prevented by better gloves.And thats a fact in my eyes.
I don´t know how he broke his finger though and whether that was avoidable or not.
The gloves from Germany I mentioned are these
(I have nothing to do with the Company, but owned several of their gloves for the track use): http://www.fc-moto.de/epages/fcm.sf/?Locale=de_DE&ObjectPath=/Shops/1020...

Given that Rossi owns part of the company which makes his gloves, and that those gloves have been designed based on a lot of his input, there seems little doubt that Rossi believes these are the best gloves available to him. There are always a lot of factors involved in crash damage to protective gear and injuries. A little bit of bad luck can cause a lot of damage.

And though I am glad your gloves protected your hands well, I am not sure you can equate your own crashes to those of Rossi. I have a sneaking suspicion that you may not have been traveling quite as fast as Rossi when he crashed. And I am confident you didn't crash at exactly the same place and in the same manner.

On a side note, only production of the consumer gear has been moved abroad. Both Dainese and Alpinestars produce race leathers for their athletes at their factories in Italy.

A few years back at Phillip island... I guess his alpine star gloves suck too. And Nicky Haden got KO'd at Indy guess his Arai is garbage too.

I don't suggest they couldnt be better, but they also aren't bragging on the times they get lucky either.