What Is CE Approved Gear?

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CE approved gear is motorcycle protective wear that is compliant with health, safety and environmental legislation. Conformité Européene (CE), translated to European Conformity, is the safety standard for motorcycle gear in Europe. When you ride a motorcycle, it’s important to know whether your protective gear is manufactured to meet at least the minimum CE standard.

Most riding gear these days are advertised and sold based on their protective qualities, however, only their armour is CE certified. This can cause some confusion, as it can mislead people into believing the entire product is CE certified. There is a significant difference as well, between CE certified armour and entire garments being CE certified. For example, armour is only tested for impact protection in critical zones. In contrast, CE certified jackets are tested for impact mitigation, abrasion resistance, protection on impact areas, seam tear and strength. CE armour is just one factor that jackets need to take into consideration to receive certification.

Armours

Protective armour is certified to two levels:

  • CE Level 1: These are ideal for daily usage and casual riders. The maximum force must be below 18 kN, with no values exceeding 24 kN.
  • CE Level 2: These are ideal for track use and any situation where a high-speed impact is a risk. The maximum force must be below 9 kN, with no values exceeding 12 kN.

Ultimately, the choice of armour is up to the rider and what they deem most appropriate for their situation. However, so long as the jacket has the space for them, the rider can increase the protection level of their gear by inserting CE certified armour. The most important part about this is the placement, and if the armour moves around, much of the protective abilities are nullified.

For armour to be most effective, you should place it in critical areas, such as the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. Therefore, you can divide riding apparel into four zones, each representing a different degree of risk. Each zone has their own testing criteria for level one and two, as outlined below.

What Is CE Approved Gear?
Pictured: Four zones of protection outlined on apparel.

You can categorise impact protectors by location, formatted in the following manner.

  • S – Shoulder
  • E – Elbow
  • H – Hip
  • K – Knee
  • K + L – Knee + Upper and Middle Tibia
  • L – Front of the leg below a K protector
  • KP – Knuckle Protection

As well as the standard abrasion and impact testing, there is an optional extreme temperature test. This involves acclimatising the protective gear to -10°C and 40°C and then testing them after exposure.

Once testing on the armour is complete, it is then rated and labelled in the following fashion:

Pictured: CE Label example.

Apparel

The testing process for CE level apparel is similar to that for armour. The following image explains the various tests conducted for CE level certification.

What Is CE Approved Gear?
Pictured: CE level test method: Jackets (What Is CE Approved Gear?)

Apparel is classified differently from armour. Apparel made after the year 2018 utilises the following system:

ClassLevel of Protection
AAAThis is the highest amount of protection, capable of taking on the most risky situations. Although they offer the most protection, they are also the heaviest and least comfortable to wear.
AAThe second highest level of protection, capable of taking on the expansive range of risks that motorcycling presents. These jackets are lighter and more comfortable than AAA rated ones, but can still feel bulky.
ALess protective than AAA and AA, but are comfortable and light enough to wear on a daily basis.
BAbrasion resistance is equivalent to Class A, but lacks impact protectors.
CThe least protective class, which has room to accommodate impact protection, but does not offer any abrasion resistance.
Table: Jacket protection class and description
Pictured: Apparel labelling process post-2018.

What Does Tested, Certified & Approved Mean?

There is a distinct difference between CE Tested, Certified, and Approved. Some manufacturers use these terms, hoping the customer won’t do their research before buying the product. So if an impact protector says it has been tested to meet CE level 2, that does not necessarily mean that it’s been tested in an official setting. The exact meanings of these terms are listed below:

  • CE Tested: The manufacturer has tested one or more samples in their own facility, potentially meeting standards. It doesn’t mean that it has been tested in an official facility.
  • CE Certified: Samples were tested in a certified testing facility, potentially passing tests in one or more zones.
  • CE Approved: Multiple samples have been tested at a certified facility and meet or exceed standards in all zones.

You will find supporting information regarding the testing process and results with the product if an item is CE approved.

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