May 17 2007.

Did you know that the vast majority of armour produced for the off-road motorcycle market fails to meet current European safety standards?

This is a serious situation for two reasons. Firstly, it is illegal to sell protective equipment that does not carry a CE mark (showing that it has been tested and approved for use). Secondly, it means that customers have no way of knowing whether the armour will actually work, other than putting their faith in the brand they are purchasing.

CE Marking and the PPE Directive
The Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] Directive became law in 1995 and was designed to ensure that all personal protective equipment met a common set of standards across Europe. Any products claiming to offer protection must be tested and approved to the relevant standard and carry a CE mark to prove it. However, many manufacturers, including some leading brands, have ignored the law and covered their tracks with misleading information.

The Great Protection Scandal
Just because protectors are advertised for off-road use does not mean that they do not need to be CE tested and approved. In fact, it is the same law that applies to motorcycle helmets, all of which must be approved to ECE 22.05. This law applies to all products sold within Europe, so even protectors imported from the USA must comply.

According to Trading Standards: "PPE needs to be CE marked regardless of who uses it."

The Motorcycle Industry Association is equally clear on the subject: "Clearly if manufacturers and importers of products whose only purpose is to provide protection against the risk of injury do not have those products certified, they are at risk of failing to comply with their legislative obligations. Whether the product is for on or off road use is immaterial."

This has been the law for the past 12 years. Isn't it about time manufacturers of off-road protection lived up to their obligations?

Test Results
There are two specific tests for motorcycle protectors; EN1621-1 (for the limbs) and EN1621-2 (for the back). The requirements of the CE standard are simple and practical. In order to pass, protectors must absorb a significant amount of energy from an impact (a similar concept to helmet testing) and be an appropriate size and shape for the body part being protected. Motorcycle clothing manufacturers promote the use of CE-approved impact protectors for road use as a mark of quality, yet in the off-road market many of the same companies avoid the subject altogether.

Only protectors that carry a CE mark are tested and approved to the current standards. These must also be supplied with an instruction leaflet containing details of product use and care.

The Big Questions
- Considering that the PPE Directive has been a legal requirement for over a decade and all manufacturers are well aware of it, why do they persist in marketing products for off road use that do not comply?

- How protective are non-CE tested products?

- How long will it be before a major retailer or importer is prosecuted by Trading Standards?

- How much longer will off road riders put up with this situation?

For information on the Knox range of CE-approved protection for off-road use tel: 01900 825825 - Web: