PVA File Services Limited often works on standards. PVA
developed the first British Standard for PPE used in violent
situations (BS 7971). To jump to information on a standard, please use
the drop down below:
BS 7971 - "Protective clothing and equipment for use in violent
situations and in training"
BSI technical subcommittee PH/3/12 - "Protective clothing and
equipment for use in violent situations and in training, including
ballistic and stab protection" - has completed work on a total of
eleven standards which are now at various stages of completion. Ten
have now been published and an eleventh - specifying foot and ankle
protectors - is close to publication.
The eleven mandated standards are as follows:
BS 7971-2001 "Protective clothing and equipment for use in violent
situations and in training"
Part 1 (BS 7971-1): "General requirements"
Part 2 (BS 7971-2): "Guidance on risk assessment and on the selection,
use, cleaning and maintenance of protective clothing and equipment"
Part 3 (BS 7971-3): "Personal defence shields - Requirements and test
Part 4 (BS 7971-4): "Limb protectors - Requirements and test methods"
Part 5 (BS 7971-5): "Footwear - Requirements and test methods"
Part 6 (BS 7971-6): "Gloves for protection against mechanical, thermal
and chemical risks - Requirements and test methods"
Part 7 (BS 7971-7): ""Slash-resistant gloves - Requirements and test
methods Part 8 (BS 7971-8): "Blunt trauma body, shoulder, abdomen and
genital protectors - Requirements and test methods"
Part 9 (DD 7971-9): "Training suits and equipment - Requirements and
Part 10 (BS 7971-10): "Coveralls - Requirements and test methods"
Part 11 (BS 7971-11): "Foot and ankle protectors - Requirements and
Additional parts may be issued in due course. Those with an interest
in these standards are advised to contact BSI for further information
(see contact details below).
The subcommittee - which is charged with the responsibility for
preparing standards for protective equipment used by police, prison
officers, security guards and others at risk of violent assault in the
course of their employment - has made amazing progress since its first
meeting in September 1998.
The proposal for the PH/3/12 work programme arose following the
publication of the "Police (Health and Safety) Act 1997", which brings
Police officers within the scope of the UK "Health and Safety at Work,
etc., Act 1974", and interacting legislation, for the very first time.
Protective equipment worn by the police in the course of their duties
is generally not manufactured in conformity with the requirements of
official standards, and the police and military are specifically
exempted from the need to comply with EU Directives covering personal
The "Police (Health and Safety) Act 1997" and the "Police (Health and
Safety) Regulations 1999" radically change this situation, however,
and there are now strong legal indications that PPE for the United
Kingdom's Police service must now comply with the requirements of the
Personal Protective Equipment Directive bear CE marking. With
successive Defence Ministers also issuing policy statements confirming
that the UK military will comply with all prevailing Health and Safety
legislation, the armed forces also appear compelled to use
suitably-accredited PPE products wherever these are required.
The significance of the PH/3/12 work programme and BS 7971 is not
confined to the United Kingdom alone, however. Since the inaugural
meeting, the participation of and input from International Liaison
Members the Australian Centre for Policing Research, the Canadian
Police Research Centre and the US Office of Law Enforcement Standards
has ensured that these standards have global relevance. Recently, all
three organisations have reaffirmed their intention to adopt BS 7971
as Police Standards in their own countries. Interest in the standards
has also come from Police Authorities in other countries.
In the UK, however, the Home Office Scientific Development Branch
(formerly Police Scientific Development Branch) has recently announced
that it is to develop its own Police Standards for many of the
products already covered by the BS 7971 suite of standards.
It might be questioned why HOSDB feels the need to revisit the ground
already covered by BSI PH/3/12 - particularly since HOSDB technical
staff attended PH/3/12 meetings and represented the organisation, ACPO
Public Order subcommittee and the police service generally - but the
scope of the HOSDB standards is yet to be revealed; although meetings
between HOSDB and BSI PH/3/12 members reassuringly suggest the
former's work will be focused more toward the ergonomic aspects of
garment performance (although this is already covered in detail within
BS 7971-1), rather than attempting to "reinvent the wheel" in respect
of protective performance.
The BS 7971 suite of standards continues to represent the benchmark in
terms of evaluation of ergonomic and protective performance of PPE for
the police, prison officers, military peacekeepers and other employees
who are required to deal with violent situations, and the unique
status of British Standards under British Law also present a
significant barrier to vexatious and frivolous litigation in a way in
which no other document can compete.
For information on the work of PH/3/12 and BS 7971, please contact the
committee chairman, Paul Varnsverry, via PVA Technical File Services
Applications for membership to BSI PH/3/12 - and/or its Project Groups
- from suitably-qualified experts are still welcome. Please contact
Secretary to PH/3/12
British Standards Institution
389 Chiswick High Road
London W4 4AJ
Direct Telephone: 0208 996 7169
Direct Facsimile: 0208 996 7198
< Back to Top
European Standards for motorcyclists
- Part One ( A Buyers Guide)
Good protective clothing for motorcyclists has been available for
many years. However, how many riders are sufficiently experienced in
materials science, clothing design and the mechanisms of injury in
accidents to determine in a shop which jacket for example is truly
protective and which jacket merely looks protective? The new European
Standards set minimum levels for various characteristics of protective
clothing that should ensure all clothing claiming to conform to the
standards will provide a reasonable level of protection. Clothing,
boots and gloves subjected to testing and bearing an independent and
recognisable mark of fitness for purpose will be a less risky purchase
than unmarked clothing.
The Personal Protective Equipment Directive neatly divides
motorcycle clothing into that which is protective and that which is
not. The Directive's stipulations are quite clear in this regard, and
following lengthy meetings between the European Commission, industry
and riders’ groups, agreement on how to categorise motorcycle clothing
has been reached.
In practical terms, motorcycle clothing can be divided into three
- Non-protective. Outer clothing constituting a barrier to the
elements: heat, cold, wind and rain. Claims for any other form of
protection breach the PPE Regulations, UK law, and industry and
riders’ groups’ agreement with the European Commission.
- Non-protective supplied with CE impact protectors. A
non-protective outer garment, as above, fitted with for example
accredited shoulder, elbow, knee and back protectors bearing CE
- Protective. Jackets, trousers, one-piece or two-piece suits,
boots and gloves claimed by the manufacturer to be protective.
Tested according to the European Standard (or the Cambridge or SATRA
standards) and bearing CE marking. Garments must be fitted with CE
What defines which group a garment falls in to?
Quite simply, whatever the manufacturer claims it to be. As is
often the case in such situations, however, there are a few mendacious
companies who are taking advantage of the situation, and the
consumer’s lack of in-depth knowledge, to make capital.
For example, limb and back protectors can only be present for one
purpose: to protect. There are some manufacturers, however, who are
still fitting components made from plastic and foam into the limbs and
back of garments. There are also boots and gloves with similar
components. The likelihood is that the consumer will infer that these
are impact protectors, but because the manufacturer does not claim
them to be so, they take advantage of the loophole.
Where CE marked protectors are fitted to a non-protective garment
(typically a textile jacket, but equally applicable to leather
jackets, trousers and suits), some retailers are misinforming
consumers, claiming that the whole garment is approved. It is not, and
retailers who provide such information contravene, for example, the
Sale and Supply of Goods Act and the Trade Descriptions Act.
Some such garments feature a “CE” label sewn to the lining, but in
fact, this refers only to the status of the fitted protectors. This is
misleading. Do not allow yourself to be misled.
Finally, how has the manufacturer or distributor described the
garment in their advertising? What did the clothing salesperson at
your local motorcycle shop say about the clothing as he tried to sell
it to you? The European Commission’s agreement with industry and
riders’ groups is quite clear in this regard, and the following advice
has been issued:
“If a manufacturer explicitly claims, or implies in sale literature
and /or advertisement, that a garment offers protection because of
specific additional features, these additional features shall be
qualified as “PPE”. As such, they must comply with the provisions of
the PPE Directive.
“The specific features may materialise in e.g. impact protectors
for limb and/or back, pads for elbow and /or shoulder and protection
from cuts and abrasions (not exclusive listing of examples)”
Consequently, phraseology such as:
- “shock absorbing”
- “impact resistant”
- “absorbs shocks during falls”
- “affordable protection against wind, rain and tarmac”
- “abrasion resistant”
- “for protection, quality and style”
- “total commitment to safety”
can hardly be credibly be argued not to constitute a claim that the
product so described is protective.
So how can the consumer tell which group a garment falls in to?
There is a simple answer: by law all CE marked PPE must be supplied
with detailed, printed information on selection, care and maintenance
of the product. Protective motorcycle clothing and impact protectors
must be supplied to the consumer with such information and it must
describe, for example: how the product was tested, the test data
generated, how to remove and reinstall protectors (as may be necessary
when cleaning the garment) and the anticipated service life or how to
recognise when the PPE requires replacement. Contact details for the
European Notified Body responsible for the testing and certification
will also be provided, from which you will be able to contact them to
determine the authenticity or otherwise of the manufacturer’s claims.
If you are unsure how to go about this, your local Trading Standards
Department may be prepared to assist.
In brief: treat “no information” as “not approved”.
“The retailer told me that the European Standards do not apply to
leisure riders, only ‘professional motorcyclists’ ”.
Riders’ groups agreed to support the standards if leisure riders’
clothing was specifically excluded, to prevent the standards being
used to support compulsion. The standards are for clothing not users;
consequently, they can still be used to CE mark clothing for
non-professional use. Furthermore, the Cambridge Standard and the
SATRA alternative technical specification, which jointly form the
basis of EN 13595, are still available and do not discriminate between
leisure, professional or competition users. Simply, there is no excuse
for industry not to offer accredited products.
“I have been told that the cost of testing and certification is so
high, it would price CE marked clothing out of my reach”
This is another red herring. It actually costs less to test and
certify a motorcycle suit than it does the average pair of safety
shoes – as proven by the fact that the first companies to achieve EC
type approval were the small, UK manufacturers of bespoke
motorcyclists’ clothing. Furthermore, the main clothing brands are
buying CE approved impact protectors at substantially lower prices
than they were five years ago. In fact, these major clothing brands,
with marketing and advertising budgets in the hundreds of thousands of
pounds, could cancel one magazine advertisement and entirely cover
their testing costs. They have the budget.
< Back to Top
- Part 2 (The Path to Standards)
Take a long, hard look at your motorcycle clothing. Do you know what
it is? Not in the sense of is it leather or textile, one piece,
two-piece or separates, and is it padded; but is it protective
clothing or is it “fashion” clothing – because since 30th June 1995
those are the legal distinctions.
The requirements and provisions of the Personal Protective Equipment
(PPE) Directive (89/686/EEC), and their bearing on motorcyclists’
protective clothing, have been explained within BMF literature many
times in the past, but a brief review seems appropriate.
The PPE Directive became an active part of UK law on 30th June 1995.
Since that date, suppliers of protective clothing and equipment
“designed to be worn or held by an individual for protection against
one or more health and safety hazards” (the Directive’s definition of
PPE) have been required to categorise their products as PPE, or
non-protective; and to CE mark them by self-certification or through
independent, third-party accreditation by test facilities known as
“European notified Bodies”.
Motorcycle clothing was not originally going to fall within the scope
of the legislation. Following the collapse of the ACU Standard for
racewear (more on which later), however, a meeting took place between
Dr Garth Willson and a Mr Petrovich, of the European Commission, in
which the latter was convinced that motorcyclists would benefit from
the availability of products manufactured to a European Standard. The
European Standards agency CEN (Comité Européen de Normalisation)
convened a technical subcommittee with the long title of CEN/TC
162/WG9 – or “WG9” – in order to develop these standards.
In 1998, EN 1621-1 was published, and motorcyclists will be familiar
with this, because limb protectors fitted to garments are often
claimed to meet this requirement (in fact no protector should be
marketed if it does not conform to this standard, but that’s a subject
we’ll be looking at in Part 3). Provisional standard prEN 1621-2,
which covers back protectors, and which may be published as a full
standard by the time you read this, is starting to be promoted in the
form of recently-accredited products (for example the T-Pro
“Forcefield” back protector). Finally, there are the garment, glove
and footwear standards: EN 13595 Parts 1 – 4, EN 13594 and EN 13634
In this article, we will be looking at the development and application
of the CEN standards for motorcycle clothing, their background and
some of the controversy that blighted and slowed their delivery.
The path to standards
In February 1984, one of the monthlies carried an advertisement for
motorcycle suits “made to ACU Standard”. An enquiry to the ACU on how
other companies could gain this accreditation revealed the
advertiser’s claim was a lie; there was no ACU Standard and action was
taken to prevent the claim appearing in print again.
Certain personnel within the ACU recognised, however, that the
Standing Regulations for road-racers protective clothing - the ACU had
merely adopted the FIM’s prescriptions – could be usefully improved.
The text is at best ambiguous and at worst entirely meaningless. For
example, it requires that: “The following areas must be padded with at
least a double layer of leather or enclosed plastic foam at least 8 mm
thick:- shoulder, elbows, both sides of the torso and hipjoint, the
back of the torso, knees”. The requirement for the shoulders, elbows
and knees can be complied with simply enough. It is the requirement
for the other parts of the body that raise a question mark over the
effectiveness of the requirements. Read one way, it could be argued
that the regulations render back protectors mandatory. Read another,
few mass-production manufacturers comply with the requirement for
double leather between the armpit and the hip. Anomalous, ambiguous,
unenforceable and, of course, unenforced.
Motivated by the number of low-quality suits that were sustaining
catastrophic failure during racing crashes – which at one point
resulted in the ACU issuing an unprecedented ban on one leading
European manufacturer’s suits - in 1988, the ACU established a
technical subcommittee to prepare its own standard for racewear.
Members of this committee included ACU personnel, scrutineers, medical
experts and garment manufacturers.
However, no sooner had this group delivered the final draft of their
document than the ACU decided not to publish it. The reason
subsequently admitted was that the ACU had a fear that if a competitor
sustained injury, they might be held responsible as the “accreditation
body” for his suit. Far better for the ACU to require competitors to
wear products accredited by another body – BSI-approved helmets for
The European Commission becomes involved
It was at this point that Dr Willson, who had been a member of the ACU
standard committee, travelled to Brussels and convinced Mr Petrovich,
whose son happened to be a motorcyclist, to encompass motorcycle
clothing within the scope of the standardisation programme instigated
in response to the recently published Personal Protective Equipment
German standards agency DIN were appointed as the secretariat for
Working Group 9, which held its first meeting within DIN’s offices in
the former East Berlin in August 1991. The committee’s early efforts
were primarily focused on developing a standard for limb protectors,
but outside of the meetings, controversy was building.
The European motorcycling industry feared that the publication of PPE
standards could lead to motorcyclists being compelled to wear approved
clothing. Both the Commission and CEN were lobbied by industry and
riders’ groups to exclude motorcycle clothing both from the scope of
the Directive and the standardisation programme.
At a pivotal meeting with Commission officer Mr J-P Van Gheluwe, the
industry demonstrated a textile jacket, which, it was claimed, merely
represented a barrier to non-extreme ambient conditions of wind, rain
and cold. Such products for private use are specifically excluded from
the scope of the Directive, and so the industry considered a block
exemption for all motorcycle clothing to be justified.
Unfortunately, someone had forgotten to remove the shoulder and elbow
protectors from the jacket, and when one of the Commission delegation
enquired “what are these meant to be?”, an industry representative
answered honestly and instinctively “they are protectors” – which
immediately resulted in the Commission delegation pronouncing them to
therefore be PPE and consequently within the scope of the Directive!
A compromise was reached whereby motorcycle clothing intended for
private use and providing protection only from non-extreme ambient
weather conditions would not be considered as PPE. Any protectors
fitted to, for example, the elbows and shoulders were considered to be
PPE and therefore to be tested and approved. If, however, a
manufacturer specifically claimed or implied in literature or
advertising that in addition to fitted protectors, the garment also
provided other forms of “special” protection (e.g.: abrasion and cut
resistance), then the garment would also be considered to be PPE and
subject to testing and certification.
Progress is made
Progress after that point wasn’t entirely controversy-free, but a
standard for clothing which had been submitted by the British
Standards Institution (BSI), and which combined the requirements of
the remarkably similar Cambridge Standard and test house and Notified
Body SATRA’s alternative technical specification was used as the basis
of the CEN standard for motorcycle clothing. Through a series of
separate project groups operated under the control of WG9, a total of
eight product standards started to take shape.
In December 1997, the first WG9 standard to appear in print was EN
1621-1 “Motorcyclists protective clothing against mechanical impact –
Part 1: Requirements and test methods for impact protectors”.
The garment standard EN 13595 “Protective clothing for professional
motorcycle riders – Jackets, trousers and one-piece or divided suits”
finally appeared during the late summer of 2002. This was divided into
four parts: one part covering general requirements and one covering
each of the three test methods. In response to a suggestion by riders’
groups - embraced by industry and accepted by the Commission and CEN -
the scope of these documents was amended from earlier versions to
encompass clothing for use by professional riders only. This step was
taken to provide a barrier to the CEN standards being used as the
basis of further legislation making the wearing of approved PPE by
leisure motorcyclists compulsory. However, following the
implementation of the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)
2001/95/EC, the "professional use" scope is probably irrelevant, since
clause 10 of the GPSD addresses the issue of "migration" of
professional status products into non-professional use, as follows:
Products which are designed exclusively for professional use but have
subsequently migrated to the consumer market should be subject to the
requirements of this Directive because they can pose risks to consumer
health and safety when used under reasonably foreseeable conditions.
Footwear standard EN 13634 and glove standard EN 13594 also feature a
scope amended to encompass professional use only. These were published
at the same time as EN 13595, which is important since the standards
share many common test methods.
Finally, prEN 1621-2 “Motorcyclists protective clothing against
mechanical impact – Part 2: Motorcyclists’ back protectors -
Requirements and test methods” has just completed its Formal Vote
stage and it is anticipated this document will appear in print early
in 2003 – perhaps even by the time you read this.
After eleven-and-a-half years, finally a series of authoritative
standards is available that will deliver to the marketplace, and
thence the consumer, fit for purpose motorcycle clothing bearing an
independent, recognisable mark.
Remember when buying motorcycle clothing; if claims for special
features, CE armour etc. are mentioned in the advertising then the
protectors - and, if the claims extend to it, the clothing - must by
law be CE marked. It has been possible to purchase type-approved and
CE marked motorcycle clothing since the Cambridge Standard’s
publication in 1994. Motorcycle clothing manufacturers who have
accredited their protective clothing include:
ASP (leather clothing)
BKS (leather clothing)
BMW (certain models of boots)
Carrerra (leather clothing)
Crowtree (leather clothing)
Crusader (leather clothing)
Dannisport (leather clothing)
Hein Gericke (Hiprotec ® limb protectors and a selection of boots)
Jofama (leather and textile clothing)
Mir Yousaf Leatherware (Pvt) Limited (leather clothing)
MJK (leather clothing)
MW (leather clothing)
Odell T-Pro (back and limb protectors)
Planet Knox (back and limb protectors)
RS Performance Protection (leather clothing and gloves)
Scott Leathers International Limited (textile jackets)
Zak (leather clothing)
< Back to Top
- Part 3 (The Standard Explained)
The European motorcycle clothing standards explained
Good protective clothing for
motorcyclists has been available for many years. However, how many
riders are sufficiently experienced in materials science, clothing
design and the mechanisms of injury in accidents to determine in a
shop which jacket for example is truly protective and which jacket
merely looks protective? The new European Standards set minimum levels
for various characteristics of protective clothing that should ensure
all clothing claiming to conform to the standards will give a
reasonable level of protection. Clothing, boots and gloves subjected
to testing and bearing an independent and recognisable mark of fitness
for purpose will be a less risky purchase than unmarked clothing.
Whilst this has yet to be recognised as the important landmark in
motorcycling’s history it represents, it means nothing if the
requirements of the standards themselves are set so low or so high as
to be meaningless or unachievable. Whilst criticisms have been
levelled that certain aspects of the standards could have been more
stringent, in the main the standards represent a useful starting point
for further development – both in the documents themselves and in the
products they will deliver.
EN 1621-1 - Motorcyclists’ protective
clothing against mechanical impact – Part 1: Requirements and test
methods for impact protectors
Many motorcyclists will be
familiar with EN 1621-1, because since its publication in 1997,
shoulder, elbow, knee and, to a lesser degree, hip protectors marked
as meeting the requirements of this standard have appeared in
increasing numbers across the whole range of motorcycling garments.
Protectors are tested on the same apparatus used to evaluate many
other forms of impact protection, including horse riders’ body
protectors, martial arts protectors, cricket equipment and riot
protection for the police.
Simply, the apparatus is a
tower mounted on a one metric tonne block of steel or concrete, to
which is bolted a load cell. The product for testing is mounted the
relevant one of a series of anvils, representing the various parts of
the human body, which is bolted above the load cell. Impactors broadly
replicating the “threat” (a flat road surface, a fist, a cricket ball
or a brick, for example) are dropped onto the sample and the
transmitted force received by the load cell is recorded. Picture 1
shows a protector under test. The standard specifies the impact energy
of the impactor and the maximum permitted transmitted force. For
motorcyclists’ impact protectors, the impact energy is 50 Joules
(roughly the equivalent of being struck by an average 2.5 kilogramme
house brick dropped from 2 metres) and the mean transmitted force
should not exceed 35 kiloNewtons (kN).
Picture 1: A protector under test
prEN 1621-2 -
Motorcyclists’ protective clothing against mechanical impact – Part 2:
Motorcyclists’ back protectors - Requirements and test methods
Draft standard prEN 1621-2 covers back protectors. This may well have
been published as a full standard by the time you read this article.
The impact energy is the same as for limb protectors, at 50 Joules,
but the transmitted force is lower than for limb protectors at 18 kN
for “Level 1” products and 9 kN for the higher performance “Level 2”
products. There has been criticism of the standard from medical
experts who consider the transmitted force levels too severe; citing
decades of automotive research which indicates 4 kN is the maximum
force the brittle bones which form the human ribcage can withstand
before they fracture. Four kiloNewtons is the requirement adopted in
standards covering, for example, horse riders’ body protectors and
martial arts equipment.
Attempts to reduce the transmitted force requirement to 4 kN and to
correspondingly reduce the 50 Joule impact energy requirement were
strongly resisted by industry, who claimed consumers would be
“confused” by different impact energy requirements between EN 1621-1
and EN 1621-2.
In truth, it was in industry’s commercial interests to test both types
of protector at 50J, since they could then extol the efficacy of back
protectors which, when struck with the same impact energy as limb
protectors, transmitted only 9 or 18 kN compared to 35 kN. The
consumer would be unaware that subtle differences in the impactor and
anvil were responsible, still less aware that 9 kN was still more than
double the safe limit supported by medical experts. Furthermore,
during the late 1990s, some companies had used the wholly
inappropriate EN 1621-1 to CE mark their back protectors. Commercial
objectives were given priority over consumer safety.
Despite these concerns, EN 1621-2 represents a starting point from
wholly unsafe products should be rendered obsolete and unsaleable. It
will be important, however, for consumers to ensure back protectors
are marked with the correct standard number, if they are not to
mistakenly purchase an old stock item marked to EN 1621-1.
Finally, there are a small number of back protectors on the market
which have been dual-tested against the requirements of EN 1621-2 and
also against a 4 kN transmitted force requirement. Reading the
manufacturer’s technical information will disclose which are the
EN 13595 Parts 1 - 4 – Protective clothing for professional
motorcyclists - Jackets, trousers and one-piece or divided suits
As the title says, and as has been explained elsewhere in this series
of articles, the scope of EN 13595 encompasses garments for use by
“professional motorcyclists” only.
When it became apparent that their political lobbying of the European
Commission and European Standards agency CEN had failed both to have
motorcycle clothing specifically excluded from the scope of the PPE
Directive and for the programme to be dissolved, industry looked to
other ways to slow development of the standards.
Claimed to be to provide yet another barrier to legislators to use the
clothing standards as the basis for compulsion, the suggestion was
tabled that the document should be divided into as many parts as
possible. It was logical to follow the format of other product
standards, with a general requirements document supported by documents
describing each of the test methods. This slowed progress down
slightly, but not significantly given the eight years it had taken to
get to the point where advanced clothing drafts were even in
The four parts of EN 13595 are as follows:
Part 1: General requirements
This “umbrella” document establishes broad technical requirements for
materials and the performance criteria for materials and assemblies.
For example, the materials and components which make up the garment
are not permitted to contain chemicals which are known to be hazardous
to the health of the wearer, and which may leech into the skin when
the garment becomes wet or when the wearer perspires.
Part 1 also covers design principles and explains the controversial
“zoning” principle for motorcycle clothing where the protective
performances of different parts of the garment are proportionate to
the severity of the forces they will be expected to withstand in an
impact with and slide along a hard, abrasive road surface. For
example, the various limb joints and the buttocks are expected to
provide a significantly higher level of impact abrasion, impact cut
and burst resistance because these are the areas of a garment which
are most at risk of heavy and prolonged contact with the road. Figure
1 explains the zoning principle.
Figure 1 – Diagram of zone positions on a suit. Drawn from a suit laid
out flat, slightly simplified.
The ergonomic performance
of the test clothing is also evaluated via a brief series of
standardised tests. A further important test is for “restraint”. Many
otherwise satisfactory garments in the marketplace exhibit sleeve and
ankle cuffs that are significantly oversized, so an assessment is made
of the resistance of the sleeves and legs of the garment to ride up
the limb and expose the wearer to injury, or the join between the two
halves of a two piece suit separating and allowing the wearer’s
midriff to become exposed to the road.
Part 1 also specifies two levels of protective performance: Level 1
and Level 2. Clothing meeting the Level 1 requirements is defined as
“Clothing designed to give some protection whilst having the lowest
possible weight and ergonomic penalties associated with its use”
whereas Level 2 clothing is said to be “Clothing providing a moderate
level of protection, higher than that provided by level 1. There are,
however, weight and restriction penalties in providing this level of
In practical layman’s terms, Level 1 clothing should provide adequate
protection in accidents at urban speeds, not higher than 30 mph/48
kph. Level 2 clothing should provide adequate protection in higher
speed accidents but may not subsequently be reusable or repairable. If
even higher levels of protection are required, clothing should further
meet the Level 3 requirements of the Cambridge standard or the SATRA
alternative technical specification.
Part 2: Test method for determination of impact abrasion resistance
During the development of this standard, a number of existing test
methods were proposed and discussed. Some were found not to be
suitable for testing certain of the textile materials increasingly in
use in motorcyclists’ clothing, and the final choice came between the
“Darmstadt” machine (which is used by several textile weavers and
motorcycle clothing manufacturers; notably Schoeller, BMW and
Alpinestars) and the “Cambridge” machine conceived and built by Dr
Roderick Woods of the Protective Clothing Research Facility (PCRF) at
Both machines were uniquely developed for the testing of motorcycle
clothing, but employ distinctly different criteria to assess clothing
materials. The Darmstadt machine consists of a “doughnut” of concrete,
with a rotary system emerging from the centre from which one or more
sample holders are suspended. An electric motor spins the sample
holders to a specific number of revolutions per minute and then the
sample holders unlock from the central shaft, fall onto the concrete
and continue to spin whilst gradually coming to rest. The test sample
is judged on the basis of the difference between its mass prior to and
subsequent to testing.
Supporters of the method claim that it more accurately mimics the
action of clothing in a real accident; a reduction in speed from
initial velocity to a halt. Critics claim that the constitution and
abrasiveness of the concrete cannot be adequately controlled, that the
surface condition changes as debris from the previous “sweep” of the
sample holders, further affecting results, but most seriously that
this method approves materials which are known to be wholly unsuited
to use in motorcyclists’ protective clothing; for example sheep nappa.
Despite these criticisms, the Darmstadt machine initially found favour
within the standards committee - possibly because the machine was
already in use in industry and there was reluctance to invest in
another device! Darmstadt University were given every opportunity to
address the areas of technical concern that had been levelled at their
device, but failed to respond. Consequently it was decided to write
the standard around the Cambridge machine.
The Cambridge machine has been used to develop, test and certify every
leather and textile product to be subject of EC Type-Examination and
bearing CE marking. At least three have been built: at PCRF, SATRA
Safety Product Centre and the device used for many years by RiDE
magazine for its clothing tests. Picture 2 shows SATRA’s test machine.
Picture 2: SATRA’s EN 13595 “Cambridge-type” impact abrasion apparatus
A heavy duty abrasive belt of known grit value and manufactured to a
standard, spins at a constant speed of eight metres per second or just
under 18 miles per hour. The test specimen of garment material is
mounted on a hinged arm that is released and falls onto the moving
belt. A fine copper wire fixed across the surface of the specimen is
cut and starts an electronic timer. The test continues until the
sample is abraded through, whereupon a second copper wire is cut and
stops the timer and the time taken from contact to perforation is
recorded. The minimum times for each of the zones are stipulated in
Part 1. Picture 3 shows an impact abrasion test in progress and
Picture 4 shows an abraded test specimen.
Picture 3 (above): Impact abrasion test in progress
Picture 4 (below): Abraded test specimen
Brushes and a vacuum debris removal system ensure the surface of the
abrasive belt is continually cleaned. The method tiers materials
according to a hierarchy supported by anecdotal evidence. Leather,
textiles (wovens and knitteds, including aramids) and plastics can all
be evaluated. The device has also been adopted for use in other
standards where there is a requirement for products to be tested for
their abrasion resistance against road surfaces, such as roller
skating protectors. Figure 2 provides a schematic of the apparatus.
Figure 2 - A schematic of the EN 13595 “Cambridge” type impact
Part 3: Test method for determination of burst strength
An adaptation of a long-established international test method. A
circular test specimen is cut from a garment and securely mounted in a
cylinder. Below the specimen is a flexible membrane behind which water
is pumped. The membrane distends, placing increasing pressure on the
test specimen until, eventually, it fails. The water pressure at the
point of failure is recorded. This method can be used to test samples
of whole materials, seams or zip insertions and lining fabrics. The
minimum burst pressures across the zones are specified in Part 1.
Picture 4 shows a leather test specimen at the point of failure.
Picture 5 shows the apparatus and a seam specimen after testing.
Picture 5 (top): Leather test specimen at point of failure.
Picture 6 (bottom): Apparatus and seam specimen after testing.
Part 4: Test method for determination of impact cut resistance
Certain materials can exhibit adequate abrasion resistance, but poor
cut resistance. Once cut, their structural integrity may be severely
compromised and catastrophic failure inevitable. For example, in
countries where the roads are covered in snow for many months, and
where use of snow chains is prevalent, the snow chains can hone the
aggregate in the road surface to a sharp profile. These sharp edges
can slice through inadequate motorcycle clothing – and the rider
underneath! – with alarming ease.
This test method provides a “double-check” on the suitability of
materials. A standardised blade, mounted on a holder which runs
vertically on guide rods, is dropped from a specified height onto the
test specimen and the depth of penetration of the blade is measured.
The maximum permitted depth of the cut is specified in Part 1. Picture
7 (below) shows the impact cut test apparatus.
EN 13594 – Protective gloves for professional motorcycle riders –
Requirements and test methods
Glove materials are also required to meet international requirements
for their innocuousness. Any metal studs or components of other
materials which are intended to improve the abrasion resistance of
certain parts of the glove must be fitted to a separate external layer
and may not protrude to the inside of the glove. Gloves must extend
not less than 50 mm above the wrist joint, and are restraint tested to
ensure that in use they cannot be pulled off the hand.
There are requirements for tear strength of materials, with the impact
abrasion resistance (minimum requirement of 2.5 seconds) sharing the
same apparatus described in EN 13595. The tests for strength of seams
and impact cut resistance adopt methods from the industrial glove
standard. Optional impact protection is tested with an impact energy
of 5 Joules and a transmitted force requirement of 4 kiloNewtons.
EN 13634: Protective footwear for professional motorcycle riders –
Requirements and test methods
Based on the wealth of available industrial footwear standards to draw
from, EN 13634 provides an adaptation suitable to the demands
motorcyclists place on their footwear. There is a minimum height
requirement of 160 mm, measured inside the boot from the footbed up
the rear of the boot to its topmost edge.
The strength of the bond between the sole and the upper is tested, the
thickness and cleat height (depth of “tread”) of the sole must both be
above prescribed mimima and its resistance to abrasion is tested. The
sole is also required to demonstrate a minimum specifoied level of
inherent rigidity – too soft a sole could collapse in an accident and
increase the risk of severe foot injuries, which a more rigid sole
might help to prevent.
The uppers of the footwear are subjected to the impact abrasion test
described in EN 13595 Part 2, although the impact cut test follows a
different method to that used for garments. The water absorption and
desorption characteristics of the material worn closest to the wearer
is also assessed.
Optional requirements include testing of impact protection which may
be fitted to the ankle and shin, water resistance and fuel oil
resistance of the outsole.
Each of these standards features requirements based on several years
of independent laboratory testing products from the marketplace;
determining where the dividing lines lay between products that protect
and those which do not. The standards do not seek to replace
conventional wisdom with new concepts of academic origin, but are
founded on a level of best practice established over several decades
by leading garment manufacturers. The result is a series of documents
that – even taking into account concerns in respect of the back
protectors standard - will provide exceptional benefits to
motorcyclists seeking dedicated safety clothing and those who wish to
make their purchase against a recognisable, independent mark of
fitness for purpose
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- Part 4 (Compliance
The regulations concerning PPE for
motorcyclists are quite plain: if the manufacturer claims in their
literature or advertising that the product, or some component of it is
intended to provide protection, then the product or component shall be
considered PPE and must be brought into compliance with the PPE
regulations. Motorcycle clothing is a category of PPE that is required
to be independently tested. Approved clothing is required to bear CE
Given that the motorcycling industry was an
integral part of the lobby that negotiated an understanding with the
European Commission, one should surely expect nothing less than their
total adherence to the rules of the game.
simply is not happening.
There are a number of
manufacturers – predominantly, but not exclusively, the UK suppliers
of bespoke leathers – who had elected to CE mark their garments
against the requirements of the Cambridge Standard or SATRA
alternative specification. This was because the European Standards
were still under development. It is now possible to purchase leather
or textile garments meeting the Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3
requirements of these documents.
The major players have
apparently not made much effort in this direction, however, despite
continuing to market their products in a manner that in many cases
both contravenes the terms of the accommodation reached with the
European Commission, and breaches the PPE regulations.
Looking through magazine advertisements and the web sites of some
manufacturers, it does not take too long to find companies who market
their clothing in a manner that is equally contemptuous of the law.
Where phraseology appears in print such as “affordable protection
against wind, rain and tarmac”, “offer extreme protection”, “for
protection, quality and style” and “total commitment to safety”, how
can this credibly be argued not to constitute a claim that the product
so described is protective?
For example, on the web
site of leading boot manufacturer’s Alpinestars (www.alpinestars.com),
the author found a detailed specification for the S-MX PLUS boot
containing no less than thirteen terms; each of which clearly implied
that the product is protective. . The specification for the GPS Road
Boot contained nine such terms. I have coloured in red what, in my
opinion, constitutes the contentious terminology in the S-MX Plus
“SHIN PLATE. Contoured shin plate protector
is injected in high modulus PU for a high level of impact and abrasion
resistance. CALF PROTECTOR. U shaped protector is impact resistant and
protects the internal/external ankle and rear calf area. Additional
protection is provided by the top reccessed buckle structure. SLIDER.
Interchangeable biinjected PU material with snap-in assembly.
HEEL/ANKLE PROTECTOR. Wide and ventilated heel counter extends to both
ankles to increase protection and is combined with a shock absorbing
padded insert, and selfmolding foam ankle protectors. Replaceable PTFE
coated aluminum sliders are positioned in the back and external
section of the heel to allow the boot to slide and absorb shocks
during falls. ANKLE SUPPORT. Internal patented "ankle brace" with
shock absorbing material. SHIFT AND TOE PROTECTOR. Injected PU
extended to the toe area. INSTEP FLEX AREA. Extended thermoformed
bellow for a soft back and forth flex. UPPER. Lorica and leather.
SOLE. Brand new sole has been designed for improved feeling between
the rider's foot and the pegs of the motorcycle. CLOSURE. Instep speed
lacing closure. Unique and protective lateral zipper with reflective
piping. Replaceable ratchet buckle closure on the calf features a
hidden strap for security and is integrated with a calf slider.
LINING. Synthetic forefoot lining laminated with open cell foam.
Highly breathable lining on ankle and leg areas. FOOTBED. Alpinestars
anatomical and replaceable countered footbed provides arch support and
forefoot pedal feeling.
Still with Alpinestars, their
description of the “Stunt” jacket speaks of leather with “excellent
abrasion resistance” and “maximum tear resistance”
Italian clothing giant Dainese (www.dainese.com)
operates a very impressive web site, with an abundance of moving
images and close-ups of their products.
Dainese page makes specific reference to the importance of safety.
Phraseology appears such as “Protection and comfort; the two keys to
the safety of the motorcyclist, two words with significance that
Dainese has come to learn well over thirty years…” and Dainese
promotes a formula for their philosophy “Safety = Protection +
Comfort. Grand ideals currently unmatched by compliance with the
requirements of the PPE Directive.
Dainese explains how
this philosophy manifests itself within their products with
descriptions such as that for the “Talos” suit that proclaims, “Some
parts were made using the new D-Stone ® fabric with exceptional
performance in terms of abrasion and tear resistance...”
Apart from its impact protectors, Dainese does not market, at the time
of writing, a type-approved and CE marked motorcycling suit.
German clothing superstore Hein Gericke (www.hein-gericke.com)
also fail to receive a clean bill of health - although in mitigation
they have made significant effort with their respected Hiprotec ®
impact padding system and have recently launched a range of CE marked
boots. Will they be the first major clothing supplier to market a full
range of approved clothing? The purpose of their SAFE ® safety-seam
might be open to interpretation, however, and product specifications
including “Double leather in the crash zones”, as is claimed for the
Tribal Evo jacket, show they still have some way to go.
British distributor Feridax (www.feridax.com)
deserve marks for effort, but prove it is difficult to market leather
garments credibly without relying on the material’s reputation -
established across several decades – as the choice of motorcyclists
seeking protection from injury. Their promotion of the Spyke 4 race
suit talks of “Keprotec inserts for extra abrasion resistance”.
These are just some of the examples found in a brief trawl through
cyberspace that also included visits to the sites of Frey Daytona,
Spidi (who provide perhaps the best example of how to promote garments
within the regulations), Axosport (again, a carefully worded site) and
Some garment suppliers have been fitting their products with
protectors discovered to be fraudulently CE marked. In 2002, one
UK-based distributor was caught out when Trading Standards purchased
one of his garments and arranged for the fitted protectors to be
independently tested. The protectors failed to meet the requirements
of EN 1621-1 and the distributor’s stock of garments was reportedly
impounded until the non-conforming protectors were replaced with the
Industry can to some extent argue that
since the clothing, footwear and glove standards were only published
fairly late in 2002; with the lead times involved in the development,
sampling, selection and catalogue photography for the major
distributors’ ranges – often a year or more before they hit the shops
– they cannot reasonably be expected to have a “European Standard”
range available until the 2004 model year at the earliest. Against
this, however, industry knew from 1991 that the standards were under
development, was aware when they were completed and knew the EU Member
States had approved them for publication. Moreover, if industry can
market back protectors conforming to EN 1621-2 long before the
standard is officially published (the author’s Gore-Tex suit being a
case in point), why not a range of clothing?
significant proportion of the European motorcycle clothing industry
appears to be treading a thin line, with retribution only a visit from
Trading Standards or a product liability case away. If the consumer
purchases a motorcycle garment based on the manufacturer’s advertising
and the retailer’s sales “spiel” that it is protective, and the
product is not CE marked, the manufacturer and retailer have broken
the law and that consumer should contact the local Trading Standards
If this discovery is made after what the
consumer thought was a protective garment has disintegrated around
them during an accident, then previous litigation indicates the courts
will be on their side. For example, in Maxwell v Custom Lids (Milton
Keynes County Court, case number MK708466), a suit suffered
catastrophic seam failure when the wearer fell from his motorcycle at
40 mph. The judge stated that the motorcycle suit Mr Maxwell was
wearing was not fit for purpose as motorcycle clothing. It is
understood the brand distributor at the time removed all stocks of the
model concerned from retailer’s shelves. With eight motorcyclists’
clothing standards now available, it will be much simpler to challenge
the fitness for purpose of a product if it is sold using false claims.
This brings us full circle to the opening paragraph of Part 1 of this
series of articles. Clothing declared by the manufacturer not to be
PPE may provide a level of protection that is satisfactory, adequate,
barely adequate or completely unsatisfactory. Clear identification of
the various types of clothing will enable consumers to differentiate
between competing products in the marketplace and this will safeguard
the interests of both the consumer and the supplier. It is hoped that
in addition to alerting consumers to the situation, and the issues
involved, these articles will also have resonance with manufacturers
and distributors of motorcycle clothing and impress on them the need
to be open and honest in describing the status of the products they
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