Motorcycle Clothing CE EN17092 standard...what it means.
After years and years of discussion and deliberation, a collective of 30-40 European representatives including stakeholders, clothing manufacturers, or for example, test-house institutes that specialise in specific testing processes, came up with a provisional set of standards that reflect – as accurately as possible – a way of achieving CE certification for leisure use of motorcycle garments. Enter EN 17092.
A major impetus behind standard EN 17092 coming into play was to make sure riders actually get something protective when shopping for motorcycle clothing without any prior knowledge of materials, constructions, or test methods. Just because it looks strong, doesn’t make it so in an emergency situation. And just because it feels sturdy, doesn’t make it appropriate to be worn at riding speeds. The application of the EN 17092 standard means that clothing that looks like protective motorcycle gear, actually is protective motorcycle gear!
Where EN 17092 differs from EN 13595 is that the EN 17092 standard is applied to PPE for leisure motorcycle use; commonly grouped into various genres such as sport, adventure, and urban riding. It is a different standard for a broader purpose. Without straying too far off topic, it now takes into consideration the various types of riding people will be using them for.
Urban riders likely won’t be wearing full-leather one-piece suits to commute in, despite it being a “safer” choice. Nor will adventure riders. That said, it’s a fine balance between making sure safety is a top priority, but also that comfort, breathability, waterproofing, flexibility.
Why test on specific elements?
Within EN 17092, just as there are in EN 13595, there are specific requirements for CE certification. While the standard explains what tests need to be performed and how, it doesn’t necessarily explain why these specific elements are tested. We’re here to elaborate on a few of them.
The determination of impact abrasion resistance – One of the biggest differentiators between the professional and leisure standard - though both are requirements - is in the way in which determination of impact abrasion resistance is tested. It determines if a fabric can withstand/resist an impact abrasion slide. A hole bigger than 5 mm when tested using the AART Machine (Advanced Abrasion Resistance Tester) equates to a fail. This test is in place so the outer shell of the fabric can take the hit. Not your skin. The lowest outcome of a material is how it will be graded.
Tear strength – Here a pre-slit specimen is “pulled apart” and we measure the force that’s necessary to further tear it. If you rip open your garment via a sharp object, we want to make sure that it’s very difficult to rip the fabric open further.
Seam strength – Seam strength is tested on the structurally strong seams. For example, the sleeve that’s attached to the body of a jacket. It measures the force necessary to rip the seam open. We want to make sure that if you fall of your bike, then slide, that the seams from vital connection points remain connected.
Dimensional stability – Dimensional what?! Exactly. This test requires a garment to be washed five times, not in a regular washing machine but one that is specific for fabric testing, with water speed, volume, how fast it spins, temperature, etc. all regulated. The purpose it to make sure the garment doesn’t shrink over time/washings, to ensure the correct fit, and to make sure the protectors in the garment stay in the proper location. There can be no more than five percent shrinkage, or it fails.
Innocuousness – This is another example. The amount of chemicals used – such as dyes - on the garment must be safe, especially when it comes into contact with your body. We test pH to make sure it’s gentle on the skin and no irritation occurs. Additionally, we also test any substances that are known to endanger the health of the user or that of the environment.
In 2018, a CE normative was passed in the European Union mandating that all motorcycle jackets, pants (including motorcycle jeans) and racing suits must be CE-certified as personal protective equipment (PPE) if such garments are to be commercialised as motorcycling apparel. If not CE-certified, a motorcycle jacket would then be classed as fashion wear (no, I’m not kidding).
The CE normative involved is called “EN 17092” and is legally binding and mandatory for all companies within the European Union. Thus, since 2018, all European motorcycle-apparel companies have had to certify any new motorcycle jeans to EN 17092 prior to them being offered for sale.
EN 17092 tests the protective and ergonomic qualities of motorcycling garments so as to then certify (i.e. rate) a garment under one of these three classes: A, AA, and AAA. There are other certifiable classes within EN 17092 but they aren’t applicable to motorcycle jeans as per this guide.
In a nutshell, Class-A garments are deemed protective for urban riding only; Class-AA garments are deemed protective for most riding up to 75 miles per hour; and Class-AAA garments are deemed protective for speeds over 75 miles per hour.
To scoot around town or cruise at low speeds, motorcycle jeans rated as Class-A are fine, but, if you’ll be riding outside of urban environments or at speeds over 40 miles per hour, you want motorcycle jeans rated as Class-AA.
To date, Class-AAA motorcycle jeans are as rare as hen’s teeth and the very few available feel as though you’ve strapped five pairs of Class-AA jeans per leg.
One of the few exceptions to such cumbersomeness in Class-AAA motorcycle jeans are which not only are Class-AAA rated and include some epic armour to boot but are also as comfortable as Class-AA jeans. Then again, the linked set of Class-AAA riding jeans remains a rare exception to date in our industry.
Until fabric technology catches up to the EN 17092 requisites for a Class-AAA certification, Class-AA motorcycle jeans are the winning ticket for those of you who aren’t into racing on public roads.
Furthermore, our lists of recommended motorcycle jeans in this guide are being constantly updated, so, worry not, for we keep a close eye on any newer protective riding jeans that may be worthy of being in our recommended lists.
It’s imperative to point out that EN 17092 is not retroactive; ergo, European companies do not have to certify their motorcycle jeans that were launched prior to the year 2018.
As a last note concerning EN 17092, I should duly point out that this CE normative is only mandatory for motorcycle garments sold by companies based in the European Union. Consequently, EN 17092 is irrelevant to American companies or to any companies from outside the European Union or the UK..