Motorcycle PPE and CE Certification Explained
In this blog, we are going to talk about the CE symbol and what it means to you as a motorcyclist purchasing motorcycle gear (PPE).
First of all what does CE and PPE stand for?
- CE stands for, “Conformite Européenne”, French for European Conformity. The CE mark, signifies products that have been assessed to meet high safety, health, and environmental standards, according to the European Commission. When you buy a new phone, a teddy bear, or a TV, you can find the CE mark on them. CE marking supports fair competition by holding companies accountable to the same rules.
- PPE stands for personal protection equipment. PPE includes motorcycle helmets, gloves, jackets, pants and impact protectors.
What’s the difference between CE and PPE?
Since the first implementation of the regulations on personal protection equipment, any item that was to be labeled “PPE” had to pass specific testing and certification. Proof of that certification is accompanied by a CE mark.
They are both related, as one influences or is related to the other. The takeaway here is that any motorcycle helmet, clothing, or whatever that your purchase, which has the objective to protect is called PPE. This PPE, by law, must be CE certified.
A brief history of PPE regulation.
Most simply put, regulations and standards are what we refer to when talking about all the testing, laws, etc., surrounding PPE.
The regulation sets the overall direction and goal, whereas technical details, such as testing requirements, are laid out by different standards.
Standards are set by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN).
From 1989, the regulation EU Directive 89/686/EEC provided a very broad, general regulation to all types of PPE.
Due to its vagueness, many PPE producers were able to avoid testing their products fully or interpret its meaning to their liking.
To improve this, the standard EN 13595 was developed. A standard is a set of requirements that aimed to harmonize the requirements for certifying PPE.
However, this new standard EN 13595 only described PPE for “professional” use.
This meant delivery drivers, emergency personnel, police officers, etc. It did not include anything about leisure use, which was and is the majority of the industry.
This allowed for many companies to continue bypassing safety regulations and standards.
In many cases, selling products that were called “PPE”, but really didn’t offer the protection they promised.
The current regulations are born!
In 2016, the EU gave birth to Regulation (EU) 2016/425. This held producers accountable for PPE for leisure and non-professional use.
This new modern regulation, addressed the proper design, manufacture and marketing of personal protective equipment.
It defined legal obligations to ensure PPE in the EU market provided the highest level of protection against risks, according to the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Association (FEMA).
The new standard of testing PPE is called EN 17092 (under regulation 2016/425), and is broken down into 6 sub-standards. Let’s take a closer look:
How motorcycle PPE is tested.
Under the EN 17092 standard, there are 6 parts that specify the different testing requirements for different “classes” of PPE:
- the first part, EN 17092-1: , describes general testing methods for use with the EN 17092 standard and protective garments for motorcycle riders. Includes tests for impacts and abrasions.
- The second part (EN 17092-2:) specifies general requirements for motorcyclists’ protective garments of Class AAA: these are heavy-duty garments intended to provide the best possible protection.
- Third part (EN 17092-3:) specifies Class AA testing requirements: Medium-duty protective garments
- The fourth part (EN 17092-4:), Class A: Light-duty protective garments. Less protection (but more comfort)
- The fifth part (EN 17092-5:) Class B: Light-duty abrasion protection garments, which are intended to provide limited protection to the wearer against injury.
- The sixth part (EN 17092-6:) Class C: specifies requirements for impact protector ensemble garments, which are meant to house protectors underneath street clothes. Limited protection.
How motorcycle PPE is tested, continued
Following the requirements above, each garment must be tested. This includes testing products for:
- Resistance to impacts
- Resistance to abrasions.
- Dimensional stability (resistance to washing)
- Seam strength
- Tear strength
- Fit and ergonomics
Although these are all important characteristics, the two most important are resistance to abrasion and impacts. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Testing abrasion resistance
This is done by testing the amount of time the garment resists abrasion against a surface (to mimic the experience of sliding across the concrete in the case of a crash).
There are two different types of widely used abrasion tests.
The first is called the Cambridge abrasion test, which is widely used under the EN 13595 standard.
The second test is called the Darmstadt abrasion test.
At Racered, we use the Darmstadt abrasion test, because it more accurately represents the conditions riders face in crashes.
You can see a video demonstration of the two different tests below, performed by our Italian CE testing firm, Ricotest:
Testing impact resistance
The protectors included in jeans, jackets, etc., undergo a separate testing process as they are protecting against impacts (not abrasion).
There are two levels of motorcycle PPE protectors. Level 1 and Level 2 (the highest). Basically the higher the level, the less impact energy that is transferred to the body in a crash.
Racered only uses the best materials to ensure your safety. That’s why all of our jeans include Level 2, German made SAS-TEC armor.
You can see how SAS-TEC tests for impacts below:
There are 5 main classes of protection for motorcycle PPE, although the 3 that you see most often are: AAA, AA, A.
AAA – maximum protection, knee and hip armor required.
AA – medium protection, knee and hip armor required.
A - lesser protection (more comfort), knee armor required but not hip.
How do I know a garment is CE certified?
- Check the tag!
- Above is a picture of our Clypse jeans' tag. If the product is CE certified it will have an image of a booklet with an “I”. This means information is available about the testing results.
- CE symbol means the jeans have been CE certified, to the class/testing requirements EN 17092-4:2019 and have acquired a level A. Labels with EU standards is another sign that it is CE certified.
- NOTE: Since these jeans were approved in 2019, before the official transition to the new EN 17092 regulations, there are the letters “Fpr” which means provisional. As of March 2020, EN 17092 is no longer provisional.
- The motorcycle symbol indicates the item is for use while riding a motorcycle.
Tag for protectors:
The labeling information for protectors is a bit different, let’s take a look at our SAS-TEC knee protectors:
- CE symbol means the protector has been certified to the according standard (EN 1621-1)
- Product reference number
- Purpose of the protector (for motorcycle riding)
- Type A – protectors that cover a larger area
- Type B – protectors that protect specific areas
Type of protector
- S – Shoulder, E – Elbow, H – Hip, K – Knee,
- K + L – Knee + Upper and Middle Tibia, L – Front of leg below a K protector, KP –Knuckle Protection
- Level of protection
- EN 1621-1: protection for all areas except the back
- EN 1621-2: protectors for the back and spine
So what? Does CE certified really matter?
Absolutely. Your safety on the bike is not only our main concern, but should be yours too!
When shopping make sure to check the quality of the product, research the company, their website, read the tags, markings, ask if necessary for the “I” information on the CE testing.
And of course double check that both the pants, and the protectors are CE certified.
Purchasing “PPE” without CE certification puts you at much higher risk, as the product has not been proven safe. There is no way of knowing whether the product will actually function the way it is supposed to.
It’s like riding an airplane.
Would you rather fly with a pilot that only studied the exam?
Or fly with the pilot that passed?
Have questions on what motorcycle jeans to buy? Check out our guide on buying motorcycle jeans to make sure you make the right choice.