The protection standards of motorcycle clothing are becoming more confusing as changes to Europe’s CE Approval system begin to flow through to Australia.
In May, Draggin CEO and founder Grant Mackintosh said that until Australia introduced a five-star rating system for motorcycle protective clothing in the next couple of years, labelling would remain confusing to riders who will have difficulty distinguishing between proper riding gear and something more suitable for gardening!
He has called for the Australian star rating system to be introduced as soon as possible to end the confusing situation over the current European standard.
“The confusion is extremely difficult with the European standards,” he says. “I’m in the industry and even I find it complicated!”
Current European standards are being reviewed after 20 years, but it seems there is pressure on the reviewers to lower the testing standards because many manufacturers cannot meet them.
“This is not fair on motorcyclists and we are fighting this,” Grant says.
Grant has since been sidelined by a serious motorcycle crash where his legs were saved from abrasion injuries by his protective jeans.
However, in an unprecedented move, the company has released a new press statement about the confusing CE situation, naming a competitor which it says falls short of proper rider standards:
Unless a garment is approved to CE EN13595-1 then the garment is not actually CE Approved to the high European standards we expect.
Recently there has been a jean released called the Ixon Spencer HP with a claim of CE Approval, below is the quote from their webpage.
“Ixon exclusivity, Spencer HP is the first CE certified jeans, in Twillguard, denim material extremely resistant and especially conceived to meet essential requirements of CE certification.”
The standard to which these jeans are tagged is the French Protocol 89/686/CE, not the industry standard of European CE EN:13595-1. This creates confusion on the part of both you as dealers and riders looking for approved safety clothing in store.
What this looks like in practice is for example: the Draggin Holeshot jean which is CE Approved to the CE EN:13595-1 Level 2 standard tests at 18.59 seconds of abrasion resistance. The Ixon Spencer HP jeans tested on the same machine tested at 0.74 seconds of abrasion resistance. Regular jeans test at about 0.5 seconds of abrasion resistance.
Grant told us in May that the new French protocol has lower standards so local companies can claim a CE label. (CE is French for Conformité Européene which means European Conformity.)
“Just because an article of motorcycle clothing has a CE label, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fit for the purpose of riding,” he said.
“I was in Europe and there were motorcycle gloves being sold with a CE certification but when you read the number they were certified for gardening, so what chance does the motorcyclist have in that confusing environment?”
He said the Cambridge testing machine developed by a Cambridge University researcher is the proper standard for testing and certifying protection. It has formed the backbone of the British and subsequently the European standard for more than the last 15 years and is widely accepted as the best method for evaluation motorcycle clothing.
Cambridge abrasion machine tests featured on an episode of the ABC’s Catalyst program. One of the products tested was Draggin’s Roomoto material which had the highest abrasion rating at more than six seconds.
“If Draggin Jeans in Australia can pass the CE tests at the highest level you have to ask why the big brands can’t or won’t,” Grant said.
“The sooner an independent testing regime is introduced into Australia with appropriate labelling so riders can make informed decisions, the better.
“It is way overdue for motorcyclists to have proper information.
“Australia led the world with ANCAP safety ratings in cars and it should be the same with motorcycle clothing.”
Until the star rating system is introduced, Grant has suggested that riders check the CE labels carefully, then go online and research which country they are certified in, for what purpose and to what level.
The number they should be looking for is EN13595-1 (level 1 and 2) for clothing where the abrasion resistance for level 1 clothing is 4 seconds and above, and level 2 is 7 seconds and above.
The number for the armour approval standard is EN1621-2 (previously EN1621-1) followed by a letter which corresponds to the location such as S for shoulder, E for elbow, K for knee etc.
He says Draggin hasn’t had all their clothing tested in Europe as it is expensive and time-consuming, but they have one garment with a level 1 CE label and two certified at level 2 which is the highest.
However, Grant is confident that Australian testing will certify all Draggin clothing as either four or five on the star rating system.
“If you are in the business of providing protection, it’s got to be about the motorcyclist. That’s got to be the priority,” he says.
The latest Draggin release says the company is “committed to working to only the highest standards worldwide” and will release several new products in the next few weeks for the spring riding season.