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What does CE approved clothing mean?

CE approved

(CE certification article contributed by Pando Moto)

Motorcycle protective rider gear has become a lot safer over the years since Europe introduced a CE legal standard for motorcycle clothing, known as EN13595, in 1994.

It was originally designed as a standard for professional racers, but now any motorcycle clothing that does not meet the standard cannot be sold as ‘protective’ wear in Europe.

This CE standard (Conformité Européene or European Conformity) is now used throughout most of the world.

In Australia, it gets a little more confusing as we also have an independent MotoCAP testing regime for safety and comfort. Click here for the latest news on gloves that failed their tests.

If you are confused with the various labels, CE markings, standards and information about impact protection, double-stitched seams, and abrasion testing, read on.

CE markings and regulations

When buying protective motorcycle clothing, it is important to know whether the garments you are considering are produced to at least a minimum CE standard.

A label should have a CE marking permanently attached to the garment.

Pando Moto CE label

Any CE-approved product must come with a certificate of conformity.

What do CE standards mean?

If a product bears any type of CE marking, this means its manufacturer has constructed this garment to an applicable standard of safety and protection legislation.

This means the product is made to at least a particular level of quality for the consumer’s reassurance.

In 1995, Cambridge University played a big part in the development of CE marking, which aided an increase of knowledge for anticipated CE personal protective clothing regulations.

CE tested, certified or approved?

There is a huge difference between the terms “CE Tested”, “CE Certified”, and “CE Approved”:

CE Tested: The term normally implies that the manufacturer tested the whole or just a piece of a garment within their own facility that might meet certain standards. However, the garment is not necessarily tested in a certified testing facility to meet officially accredited standards.
CE Certified: This term is more secure, as it states that the garment samples were tested in certified testing facilities. In this case, you need to find out which part of a garment was tested.
CE Approved: This term means several parts of a garment were tested in certified facilities and are accredited to meet or surpass the required standards in all zones.

Garment testing zones

The certification test EN13595 uses two test levels, with the body divided into four zones (see illustration with zones below):

CE Testing zones

Zone 1: must-have impact protectors and needs to last 4 seconds on the Cambridge Abrasion Machine to meet Level 1 protection, and 7 seconds to meet Level 2.
Zone 2: must-have impact protectors and needs to last 4 seconds on the Cambridge Abrasion Machine to meet Level 1 protection, and 7 seconds to meet Level 2.
Zone 3: requires 1.8seconds for Level 1 and 2.5 for level 2.
Zone 4: can be used for ventilation and stretch panels, but must still last 1 second on the abrasion rig for Level 1, and 1.5 seconds for Level 2.

Cambridge abrasion machine

EN17092 has five test levels, covering three key zones of the garment – Zone 1, Zone 2 and Zone 3, with samples tested on a Darmstadt machine that spins them at a set speed until they’re dropped on to a slab of control concrete where they slow to a stop.

Darmstadt machine

Usually, you will see A, B or C letters on a label that indicates garments classification.

Classification AAA: The highest level, demanding four seconds of abrasion resistance with the machine spinning at 707.4rpm (the equivalent of 120km/h) in Zone 1, two seconds at 442.1rpm (about 75km/h) in Zone 2 and one second at 265rpm (around 45km/h) in Zone 3.
Classification AA: More suited to touring gear, this specifies two seconds in Zone 1 at 412.6rpm (about 70km/h), one second at 265.3rpm in Zone 2 and 0.5 seconds at 147.4rpm (the equivalent of around 25kmh) in Zone 3.
Classification A: Deemed suitable for urban riding, with Zone 1 requiring one second of abrasion resistance at 265.3rpm and half a second at 147.4rpm in Zone 2.
Classification B: same as A, but impact protectors are not required.
Classification C: covers garments such as the mesh under-suits that have impact protection for off-road riding.

Samples are taken from each zone to be tested for seam strength and abrasion resistance.

A company using the same materials and construction methods in two or more jackets, for example, could meet approval with one test, so long as the tested parts are put together in a tested way within the tested zones, and subsequent garments are added to the certificate.

Once these materials and construction methods are approved, they cannot be changed, and that includes the specific supplier of the material.