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 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.
The authorities responsible for surveillance and enforcement of the PPE Regulation 2016/425 have been provided with additional powers. Activity since the full implementation of the legislation on 21st April 2018 has resulted in a number of manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers being visited and given appropriate advice on their responsibilities and the actions they are required to take. Further such activity is ongoing.
One major change introduced by the PPE Regulation was the decision by the European Parliament to categorise all protective clothing and equipment for use by motorcyclists as Personal Protective Equipment.
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.