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Call to end confusion on protective clothing

Draggin CEO Grant Mackintosh
Draggin CEO Grant Mackintosh

When you buy motorcycle protective clothing with a CE sticker, are you getting proper riding gear or something more suitable for gardening, asks an industry leader.

Draggin CEO and founder Grant Mackintosh says Australia will introduce a five-star rating system for motorcycle protective clothing within the next couple of years, but riders meanwhile remain in confusion or are being purposely misled by labelling.

He is calling for the Australian star rating system to be introduced as soon as possible to end confusion 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.

He says the French have already issued a new protocol with lower standards so French companies can claim a CE label. (CE is French for Conformité Européene which means European Conformity.)

It includes an “urban level” with 0.5 seconds of abrasion resistance which is less than standard denim.

“Just because an article of motorcycle clothing has a CE label, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fit for the purpose of riding,” says Grant.

“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 says 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.

Draggin lining being tested confusion
Draggin lining being tested for abrasion resistance

Cambridge abrasion machine tests recently 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,” he says.

“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.”

Xray profile of Draggin Jeans confusion
Xray profile of Draggin Jeans

Until the star rating system is introduced, Grant suggests riders check the CE labels carefully, then go online and research which country they are certified in, for what purpose and to what level.

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.

Protective clothing infographic confusion
Infographic supplied by Hussey Fraser Solicitors in Dublin
  1. Of course, all motorcycle gear we use should be fit for purpose and I support a system of classification, but if we go ahead and introduce Australia specific ratings and only those that pass can be sold here then choice will become limited.
    We’ve just managed to get rid of this situation re helmets it would be a retrograde step to impose it on other gear.
    This needs a more global approach. Australia is too small a market for manufactures to have to comply to specific standards.

    Just saying.

    1. Hi,
      I think you will find the rating system is just an information guide and has nothing to do with mandatory requirements like helmets.

      1. Perhaps I may have misread the article. If it’s from an independent testing body, like SHARP in the UK, then OK it will work as a guide for consumers. I think there has already been some talk and it is just talk, in Europe for this kind of rating system.
        As the above comment from Al states there are a multiple of criteria requiring assessment. Not straight forward then.

  2. The rating system needs to be for more than just abrasion resistance.
    It’s all well and good to wear a suit of armor but if it doesn’t fit right or is hotter than a blast furnace in hell it isn’t safe at all.
    So the rating needs to have a set of stars for;
    Proper fit
    Comfort , hot weather cold weather and general wearability
    Visability ,Hi Vis Low Vis etc

  3. Abrasion is an important factor, but i’m as concerned if not more so about impact protection too.

    If I come off a motorcycle at a decent speed there’s a good chance i’m gonna slam into something and i want to know that my gear isn’t going to explode at the seams and the armor is gonna be in the right place and take a good percentage of the impact.

    In a pair of boots, i want to know if the fancy bits of plastic are actually gonna hold my ankle in place and reduce the risk of my ankle facing an unnatural direction.

    I want my gloves to slide to help protect my wrists and i want to be able to easily tell that one pair is better at wrist protection than another.

    Pretty much anything from a name brand is probably going to be okay as far as abrasion resistance, the difficulty in motorcycle gear to me, is how well it’s going to protect my bones and joints.

    1. That’s a great wish list but unfortunately that’s all it is.
      Impact protection is almost entirely for the initial impact with the road surface.
      Which is likely to be much harder in a slow fall than a high speed one.
      Impacts with objects after a high speed off are going to hurt and the armour can do little about it . The only thing that can handle such impacts is the helmet but I doubt you want to look like an extra from Star Wars.

      1. True, but they could put a fake foot in a boot and simulate something to get a rough idea of how well a boot might protect an ankle etc.

        I kinda feel like the focus on abrasion is because it’s easy.

        But i guess who’s gonna pay for that kinda testing, not the govt – it’s clearly borderline hostile to motorcycles.

  4. We have just got rid of the duplication of Helmet testing. Australia is an extremely small market on the world stage who is going to manufacture to our tiny Bureaucracy ??

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