At the European level, clothing, gloves and motorcycle shoes are theoretically considered as personal protective equipment (EPI, or PPE for Personal Protective Equipment in English) meeting the standards dictated by the European Council directive, on December 21st, 1989 (89/686 / EEC).

Standard EN 1621-4: Airbags

The latest Standard EN 1621-4, currently under approval, defines the deployment delay and the shocks mitigation values.

The deployment delay is the duration between the accident crash and the end of inflating, and it must be less than 200ms.

As for a back protector, the vest is tested at several points with impacts of 50 joules. The average residual strength must not exceed 4.5kN without any value above 6kN for level 1, and only 2.5kN average, with no peak above 3kN, for level 2. The impact used is a one time-impact, i.e. on a small area.

CRITT Certification Protocol

As part of the CRITT certification, the tests mainly focus on the available time of the inflatable protection and the performance to mechanical shocks.

The delivery time must be less than 200ms; this is the delay between the triggering and the moment the airbag is efficient to pressure. The detection time cannot be measured by a mechanical system.

Performance in mechanical shocks, for a 50 joules energy, must have an average value of less than 18kN without force above 24kN. The impact used is a surface impact, i.e. the force is distributed.

Standard EN 1621-1

Appeared in 1997, it affects “protective clothing from mechanical shocks for motorcyclists”: the tests carried out classify these protections into 2 levels: if nothing is specified on the product, it is likely that it will be level 1 only. This standard is divided into 4 parts according to the location the body is protected.

At level 1, these protections undergo 12 impacts, equivalent to a 2.5kg brick dropped from 2m height (50 joules): the residual strength transmitted must be 35kN maximum (with a peak allowed on one of the impacts, up to 50kN). At level 2, the residual strength must be 20kN maximum, with peaks at 35.

No big deal on this standard, any product with this type of protection is fully compliant with this!

Standard EN 1621-2: Back protectors

2 levels for the standards concerning “back protectors”: protectors must be subjected to 5 impacts of 50 joules.

At level 1, the average residual strength must be less than 18kN, with an allowed impact up to 24kN.

At level 2, the average residual strength must be less than 9kN, with an allowed impact up to 12kN.

Standard EN 1621-3: Chest protectors

Same principle for “chest protectors” subjected to 50 joules impacts: the average residual strength must be 20kN (peaks allowed up to 35kN). However a concept is added: the strength distribution must be around 15% for a level 1 protection, and 30% for a level 2.

Standard EN 13594: Gloves

Lately, the standard has evolved to favor the motorcyclist safety: the “professional equipment” concept disappears in 2010.

This distinction now involves the full compliance for “motorcycling gloves” with the standard, even if it is not explicitly mentioned as protective.

Test protocols are there, also numerous, but we can keep in mind the total length of the glove must be equal to the hand length + 1.5cm, on Level 1; resistance to abrasion should be a minimum of 1.5sec. On the palm, resistance to tearing should be 25N, and 18N on the back. Seams resistance and shock absorption are also tested.

At level 2, the glove must exceed by 5.5cm the hand length, resistance to abrasion must be 5sec, and palm resistance to tearing must be 40N, and 35N on the back.

Standard EN 13634 : Boots

Any boot wearing malleoli, ankle tibia protections is considered as a PPE and must therefore be compliant with regulation!

Thus, all “motorcycle sneakers” more related to sportswear than protection, can no longer be sold as protective boots. Real motorcycle boots, on the other hand, will require the CE logo and EN 13634 certification displayed on their box, attesting to their compliance with the standard. A large number of requirements cover the overall design of the shoe. These include properties such as the shoe upper height (at least 160mm) and the type of seam. On the other hand, tests measuring the binding force between the shoe upper and the outsole, assess of the cross-sectional stiffness of the shoe.

Standard EN 13595: Motorcycle clothes

It applies to “protective clothing for professional motorcycle riders: jackets, trousers and 1 or 2 pieces jumpsuits”. This standard therefore retains the notion of professional equipment, giving its “optional” nature with equipment manufacturers.

Garment must meet with global requirements: e.g. checking the absence of harmful chemicals. Ergonomics is also controlled, considering a material can be very resistant but useless with a bad cut: too wide legs or sleeves, in the event of a fall, would make limbs move and expose the pilot to injuries.

Tests laboratory process involve abrasion and tear resistance due to impact, as for burst resistance. The clothes are “cut” into several aeras: e.g. hips and joints should logically be more resistant than the inside of the calves.

There again, we will find 2 different levels of certification: the level 1 of requirement is defined as “clothes designed to provide some protection, whilst having as less weight as possible, and ergonomic penalties in concordance with its usage”, whereas level 2  applies to “clothes providing a moderate level of protection, higher than provided by level 1”.

To make it simple, Level 1 clothing should provide the proper protection in case of crashes at urban speeds around 50km/h. At level 2, clothing should offer a protection at higher speed, without being subsequently reusable or repairable.

For your safety, follow the logos…