Armour is a great way to supercharge a motorcyclists protective clothing, but the system for rating armours might leave you scratching your head. What the hell do all those numbers and fancy terms actually mean?
Motorcycle armour levels measure how much protection a piece of armour can provide. The numbers can seem a bit confusing at a glance, so we've put together an easy-to-understand guide to help riders know exactly how much protection they can expect to get.
Having the right level of protection can get you out of some dicey situations, so make sure to read up before deciding on the right gear. Keep in mind that different riding scenarios can sometimes call for different levels of armour.
What is CE-Rated Motorcycle Armour?
Let's start with what CE actually means. It stands for Conformité Européene, which is French for European conformity. It originates from European motorcycle safety standards, which are quite strict. European law requires you to ride with CE-approved apparel.
While safety standards in the rest of the world aren't as tough, the CE rating has been unofficially adopted in places like North America. CE-rated motorcycle armour requires much stricter approval than North American ratings, which is why manufacturers often boast about having it in their gear.
CE-rated gear can also be abbreviated as EN, which stands for European Norm. So if you see the letters CE or EN listed in any armour's rating, that's how you know that it's CE rated.
Understanding CE Armour Levels for Safety
You'll find that CE-rated armour is either listed as level 1 or level 2. These levels are indicators of how much force or 'shock' the armour can absorb in a crash. Armours have to meet a certain standard to be considered level 1 or 2, as you can see below.
Level 1 Armour: To be level 1, armour must have a maximum transmitted force below 18 kN, and no single value shall exceed 24 kN.
Level 2 Armour: This has to have a maximum transmitted force below 9 kN, and no single value shall exceed 12 kN.
Don't worry if you didn't understand any of that. Basically, level 2 armour has more protection than level 1. So why would I ever buy level 1 armour, you might ask. While level 2 armour has superior protection, it's also quite bulky and often comes with a higher price tag.
As a general rule, level 1 armour is ideal for daily use and casual riding. Level 2 armour is best used for race tracks or any high-octane riding. In fact, some race tracks won't let you ride unless you're packing level 2 armour, so always check ahead when booking a session in.
The Difference Between CE-Tested, Certified, and Approved Armour
You'll notice that CE-certified armour is always listed as being tested, certified or approved. While these might seem like nothing terms, they can tell you a lot about how well the armour has actually been tested.
CE Tested:The manufacturer tested the entire garment or just a piece of it in their own facility. However, it hasn't been independently tested in an official testing facility.
CE Certified:This is much more reliable, as samples of the gear were sent to a certified testing facility where it was tested independently.
CE Approved:This means that not only were several parts of a garment sent in for independent testing, but they met or exceeded the required standards in all zones.
So as you can see, certified or approved armour is the way to go. While CE-approved gear is the highest standard, certified armour is still considered to be high quality and is worn by plenty of riders.
CE Armour for Different Motorcycle Gear
So we've discussed motorcycle armour, but how is it actually worn? While some riding gear comes with armour built into the clothing, more often than not you'll need to buy riding gear which have armour pockets and then buy the armour separately.
A motorcycle jacket, for example, will have armour pockets in the shoulders, elbows and a space for a back protector. Motorcycle pants on the other hand will have pockets on the hips and knees that armour can fit into.
It's worth noting that back protectors have a slightly different rating standard to other types of armour. To reach level 2, a back protector will need to cover a larger area on top of providing more impact protection.
CE-rated armour is the bees knees in many ways - it's safe, well tested and fairly reliable. The only downside is that to reach such high standards of safety, the resulting armour can sometimes feel stiff and uncomfortable.
Try to go for something that meets you in the middle, like this level 1 D30 ghost armour set, which is CE certified but still considered to be very comfortable.
Choosing the Right CE Armour Level for Your Needs
There's no such thing as too much protection, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be practical when buying armour. For example, do you really need a bulky set of level 2 armour if your riding style is fairly low-key?
Think about your typical riding habits when deciding the right armour for your own situation. Protective motorcycle gear should ideally reach a middle ground between comfort and safety, so think about your individual needs before committing to something that's impractical.
CE-rated armour is the Rolls Royce of armour ratings, which is why it's been adopted so heavily worldwide. The name of the game is keeping yourself safe after all, and there's really no better option in terms of armour.
When shopping for armour, as well as any piece of personal protective equipment, try to think practically. Will it keep you safe when things go random? How comfortable will it be during those long hours in the seat?
As a final point, remember that it's always a good idea to buy your armour from the same place where you bought the gear that you're going to use it on. Otherwise, you run the risk of discovering that the expensive armour you just bought doesn't fit into your brand-new riding pants or jacket.
What are CE armour levels, and how do they impact motorcycle gear safety?
So what are CE armour levels, and how do they impact motorcycle gear safety? CE armour levels are the level of protection that armour will provide during a fall, as designated by European standards.
Think of armour as a way to supercharge your riding clothes. Yes, they provide a certain level of protection by themself, but adding armour to sensitive areas of your body is a way of stacking the odds in your favour as heavily as possible.
What is the difference between CE Level 1 and Level 2 armour in terms of rider protection?
What exactly is the difference between CE Level 1 and Level 2 armour in terms of rider protection? Level 2 armour gives better protection than level 1, but that doesn't mean you should always pick Level 2 armour. While it is technically better, Level 2 armour is bulky and more ideal for track racing. For casual riding it's best to stick to Level 1, but obviously the choice is yours.
How do CE-certified, CE-tested, and CE-approved armour differ, and which one should I choose for maximum protection?
So how do CE-certified, CE-tested, and CE-approved armour differ, and which one should you choose for maximum protection? Here's a quick rundown:
CE Tested: The manufacturer tested the entire garment or just a piece of it in their own facility. However, it hasn't been independently tested in an official testing facility.
CE Certified: This is much more reliable, as samples of the gear were sent to a certified testing facility that tested it independently.
CE Approved: This means that not only were several parts of a garment sent in for independent testing, but they meet or exceeded the required standards in all zones.
As you can see, it's best to buy armour that is at least certified. That way you can be assured the gear was tested independently, and you don't just have to take the manufacturer's word for it.
What are the key factors to consider when choosing the right CE armour level for my riding needs and preferences?
It's important to know the key factors to consider when choosing the right CE armour level for your riding needs and preferences. As a general rule, it's best to stick with Level 1 for daily riding and casual use, while Level 2 is ideal for track racing.
While Level 2 armour does give more protection, that also means that it's bulkier and less comfortable. Conversely, some racing tracks won't let you ride without Level 2 gear, so always call ahead when booking a ride to make sure they'll actually let you in.