CE If I Care – New Motorcycle Safety Certification Explained
We’re all nutters, right? It’s what everybody tells us; “You get on that thing and you just don’t care about anything, you white-knuckle joyrider!” and to be honest they’re all correct. However, I like to continue being a nutter, day in day out, so I’m actually pretty keen on a spot of safety gear when I hop on my motorcycle.
If you spend any proportion of your internet time on motorcycle-specific sites, the buzz around ‘new CE certification’ will have been unavoidable. We’re as guilty as anybody, so we thought we’d try and cut through the smokescreen and offer some explanation as to exactly what is going on, and how it will affect you (and us).
In a nutshell, the rules are changing for motorcycle clothing manufacturers. It is to be assumed that motorcycle clothing is personal protective equipment (PPE), and if a manufacturer wants to market a product as designed for riding in, it will need to pass a set of impact and abrasion tests and be assigned a classification grade. These tests have differing requirements for different areas on a garment, so to simplify things we will only look at the primary impact areas, e.g. shoulders, elbows, knees.
To hit top marks – classification AAA – the product must use armour and will need to withstand 4 seconds on the concrete test slab at an equivalent of 120km/h. The next step down (AA, most touring-type gear) requires 2 seconds at ~70km/h. Classification A (considered suitable for urban riding) demands 1 second at around 45km/h. Classification B is the same, but without the requirement for armour.
While additional details of the requirements are still being sorted out, manufacturers are already subject to the changes so you should expect to see this certification being listed on new-for-2019 products.
MORE LEGISLATION? WHAT IS THIS EVEN FIXING?
In the past, manufacturers have been known to whack CE numbers on big swing tags without making it totally clear that this could refer to the provided armour, or choice of fabric, rather than the finished garment and its construction. This could give the illusion of a product being more protective than it actually is, which isn’t exactly the sort of biker-to-biker camaraderie we like to promote and apparently the European Parliament agrees. The new standards will level the playing field, so you know that anything being sold to you as motorbike clothing has had to pass the same test as anything else.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT EXISTING CLOTHING?
First things first – there is no change to the equipment that we are required to wear on the road, so you can rest assured you will not need to dispose of your entire wardrobe.
Also, it is worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of existing motorcycle clothing has been subject to *some* kind of testing. For example, most gloves have been CE-compliant since France made wearing them a legal requirement for motorcyclists. Also, many manufacturers have historically gone above and beyond what was legally required in an effort to produce superior products and attract our (and your) business.
Even heritage-styled items can meet the new testing standards – for example, the 10oz wax cotton that Belstaff have historically used reportedly passes without issue. However, most manufacturers will not pay out to have older product lines certified and will be aiming to move onwards and upwards. In general, you will find that new versions or entirely new products will replace those you are used to seeing on our shelves. Unfortunately, since the testing will be a new cost of business for many brands, it is possible there will be some price increases versus pre-existing iterations of products but so far this still remains to be seen. The net benefit, though, is clear – we will all be better informed about the products we are buying, and in the spirit of competition, the manufacturers will push for greater and greater performance.