With the ever-increasing speed of bikes of our current era, the need of the hour is rider safety. Apart from a helmet, riding gear goes a long way in making the rider safe. For avid riders and enthusiasts, having quality riding gear is imperative for safety. Most riding gear also makes life a touch more convenient because of their rain and thermal liners, and other elements with riding kept in mind.
When buying a riding jacket or other gear, a very useful helping hand is the protection rating that comes with genuine products. A protection rating is provided by CE or Conformité Européenne, French for European Conformity to give buyers an idea of the capability of protection that the armour can offer. Protection armours undergo rigorous testing so that a safety rating can be determined for them.
What Are The Safety Ratings And How Are They Determined?
There are two safety rating levels. Level 1 and level 2, with the latter being the comprehensive option.The test is performed in the following manner. A 5 kg block of specific dimensions is dropped from an elevation of about 1 metre so that the impact energy is 50 joules, that is the approach speed of the block which is about 17 km/hr. The reading of the impact on the other side of the armour is taken to see how much of the impact force has been absorbed. This is then compared with the threshold readings and the rating is determined. To ensure consistency, this test is repeated in many areas of the armour, and the average is calculated.
A level 1 armour is rated for an average impact force of 18 kN (kilo Newton) or less. Since its the pressure, that is force-per-unit-area that causes damage to our body, no particular reading should be higher than 24 kN. Coming to level 2, this reading is halved. We are seeing a maximum value of 9 kN, with no particular reading going higher than 12 kN.
An abrasion test is also performed where the fabric comprising the gear is repetitively held against an abrasive material (like sandpaper), until it gives way. This test would tell us about the integrity of the fabric, and how well it would hold up if in case the rider falls on asphalt or a rougher surface and endures a tumble. Both the impact and abrasion test play a part in determining the safety rating of the jacket or pants. But the impact test itself is done only on the armour, not the whole jacket.
Speaking strictly regulation wise, level 1 protection would be enough, with only certain race tracks demanding level 2 protection. But in my opinion, safety is the one area where there must be no compromises whatsoever. Also, our road conditions mean that high-pressure points are more likely in case of a fall, so it's advisable to go for level 2 from the get-go.
Overall, the safety ratings provided by CE can be compared with the crash test ratings of cars, only that this is much simpler but equally significant. Be sure to use this information and the reasoning behind it to make an informed decision on the purchase of your motorcycle riding gear.