All you need to know about
PPE Testing

Helmets Testing

ECE 22.06 is the new European motorcycle helmet testing regulations, brought in to replace ECE 22.05. Each helmet put on sale in Europe has to pass a series of rigorous tests before it can be sold.

New helmets only have to conform to these new regs from January 2024 (in areas who use ECE helmet regs only – so no US or Japan) and even then, old ECE 22.05 helmets will still be legal. It’s only new helmets on sale that will have to be 22.06 from that date on.

Helmet Design ECE 22.06 ensures the basic layout of the helmet is defined (hard outer shell, shock absorbing inner etc.) and ensures a helmet has a large enough view port to look out of as well as provide enough coverage to give effective head protection. It must also be able to tolerate ageing and shouldn’t reduce in protection through exposure to sunlight, temperature changes or rain. 22.06 testing therefore conditions helmets using various temperatures, humidity, water and exposure to UV lights to simulate these various conditions. It also ensures any projections can’t stick out too far and that they’ll shear off during an impact.
Helmet Liner Apart from protecting the user and absorbing energy, the liner shouldn’t deteriorate and it shouldn’t be affected by sweat or cosmetics or hair products. It shouldn’t cause skin irritation either. And of course, the shock absorbing liner plays a key part in passing the impact tests.
Helmet Noise Helmets cannot dangerously affect the wearer’s ability to hear. Which means of course, you’ll never find a truly silent ECE 22.06 helmet.
Chin Strap and Fastener The chin strap must be fit for purpose, permanently fixed and not too thin. It shouldn’t stretch either. The fastener also has to be fit for purpose, including only open when the user wants it to, not be capable of being partially closed and it must be easy to use. Helmets are tested for overall retention – meaning they’re tested to make sure they don’t come off. Full face helmets are tested with a 10Kg weight dropped from .5m and modular helmets are tested with chin bars in both full face and jet positions. They’re also tested to check the strap and fastener are strong enough using a 10Kg weight dropped from .75m and checking for damage or stretching – and checking the fastener still works and stays closed. Essentially, they check the durability and ease of use of the straps and fasteners as well as their strength.
Modular Chin Bars If there’s a moveable chin bar – like on a modular helmet – it must be able to stay in place during impact tests in both Jet (J) and chin bar down in protective full-face mode (P).
Visors and Sun Visors Peripheral vision is tested so the helmet doesn’t obscure vision in any direction. 22.06 also specifies a minimum level of light transmittance through a visor and for the first time specifies transmission through lcd or photochromic visors (which, like sun visors, can go down to 20% light transmission). The standard also covers distortion levels, scratch resistance, defects, mist resistance (for fog-free visors) and refraction levels. There’s even a test to check whether signal lights are visible through a tinted visor. New for 22.06 is the impact testing of visors to ensure they can resist penetration. In this test, a 6mm steel ball is fired at 80m/s or 180mph at the visor. It must stop the ball going through the visor, and if the visor breaks, it shouldn’t shatter into shards.
Helmet Impact Testing UNECE has always had a comprehensive range of helmet impact tests, but they’ve now upped the number, introduced a higher and lower speed test, and introduced an angled impact test to simulate hitting an object that then spins the helmet, potentially causing brain damage. ECE 22.06 also includes fitting various official accessories to helmets, such as sun visors and OEM externally fitted mounts, to ensure they don’t cause damage to the helmet (and rider) during testing. Impact speeds include 6.0m/s, 7.5m/s and 8.2m/s (8.5m/s for the oblique test) to cover a range of lower and higher speed impacts. Though note, you may be surprised to hear that 8.5m/s still only equates to less than 20 mph! Helmets are then tested against a flat steel anvil, a kerbstone anvil and an angled ‘bar’ anvil, with a variety of head forms of different weights placed in the helmets. For all tests, helmets are tested at four different points on the helmet shell and against the chin guard. Further tests are then conducted with 3 impacts randomly chosen from 12 predetermined impact points to ensure the system can’t be gamed (where manufacturers strengthen only the test points).
Oblique Test New to ECE 22.06 is an angled or oblique test. A bar anvil is used in the rotation or oblique angled test. It’s a severe 15° from the vertical, has 5 case-hardened steel bars across it and is covered by 80 grade aluminium oxide abrasive paper! It’s a serious test and is designed to test the rotation-inducing forces caused by the helmet hitting a high friction surface, along with any accessories fitted. 22.06 uses brain injury criterion (BrIC) derived from a rotation acceleration figure to calculate whether a helmet has passed the oblique test. Essentially, rotational acceleration can’t exceed 10,400 rad/s2 for any test.
Helmet Shell Deformation Helmet shells are also tested for deformation, with conditioned helmets placed under a max of 630 Newton load (around 10 stones/64Kg/141lbs)  – both side to side and front to back – and deformations measured. Helmets will only pass if they deform less than 40mm when under maximum load and 15mm when under the minimum 30 N load.

 

UK SHARP Rating

SHARP provides advice on how to select a helmet that fits correctly and is comfortable, and information about the relative safety of helmets to help motorcyclists to make an informed choice.

 

FITTING GUIDE

Invest time trying on as many helmets as possible. Once you’ve found those that fit you best, you can then choose the helmet with the highest SHARP rating for the best possible protection.

Tips to help you choose the right fit:

Get measured Measure around your head just above the ears and take a measurement at the forehead. This measurement is a good starting point and will correspond with a particular brand’s size (bear in mind a medium in one brand may be different to a medium in another). Getting the right fit is paramount, so don’t be tempted to go for another size if your dream helmet is out of stock.

Try it on Place the helmet firmly on your head, securing the chin strap so you can fit two fingers between the helmet and your jaw. If the helmet has a quick release buckle, then take your time adjusting the strap. Once on, you should be able to feel the helmet against the whole of your head – without feeling “pressure points” or the helmet leaving red marks. Keep it on for a few minutes to make sure it’s comfortable.

Check the fit Secure the strap and try rotating the helmet from side to side. If you’re wearing a full-face helmet your cheeks should follow the helmet’s movement, while remaining in contact with the cheek pads firmly and comfortably. If the helmet moves or slips on your head it’s the wrong size. Next, try tilting the helmet forwards and backwards. Again, if it moves or slips it’s the wrong size.

Will it stay on? Make sure the chinstrap is done up and tilt your head forward. Ask someone to try and roll the helmet off your head by carefully pushing up from the rear of the helmet at its base. If you can roll it off in the showroom, then it’s sure to come off in a crash.

SHARP IMPACT TESTS

Each model of motorcycle helmet undergoes 30 linear and 2 oblique impact tests in order to achieve a SHARP rating. To complete these 32 tests, a minimum of 7 individual helmet samples, in a range of sizes, are subjected impacts at three speeds 6, 7.5 and 8.5 metres per second.

The linear impact tests, helmets are impacted against both flat and kerb shaped surfaces which represent the surfaces likely to be impacted in real world road accidents. The impact anvils are as specified in UN ECE Regulation 22.05.

The oblique impact test is carried out to assess the surface frictional properties of the helmet that can lead to rotational acceleration injuries. For this test SHARP follows the requirements of Regulation 22.05 completely.

SHARP tests at a higher impact velocity than required by regulation (8.5m/s). This represents approximately 30% more energy input than required by UN ECE Regulation 22.05.

 

FACIAL PROTECTION (CHIN GUARD / LOWER FACE COVER)

SHARP believes the tests conducted during assessment under UN ECE Regulation 22.05 to be appropriate and compliance with this optional element of the Regulation forms part of the SHARP assessment.

 

% SCORES FOR SYSTEM (FLIP-FRONT) HELMETS

The percentage score latch rating relates to the number of times the lower face guard remains fully locked after each of the linear impact tests. For example, if the lower face cover stays completely closed in every one of the thirty impacts the score would be 100% but if it should open on nine occasions, the score would be 70%.

CALCULATION OF SHARP SAFETY (STAR) RATINGS

The test results are weighted according to the best motorcycle accident data available. This weights the likelihood of impacts occurring to different regions of the helmet, of impacts occurring at different speeds, and of impacts with different surfaces, based upon the accident studies carried out as part of the COST 327 study. This found the side and rear of the helmet to be commonly impacted and a strong correlation between impact location on the helmet and injury. The side of the head was also found to be particularly vulnerable to injury.

Calculation of the safety rating is complex so to enable the identification of those helmets likely to offer the highest level of protection, the ratings are expressed as a simple star rating with 5‐stars being the highest and 1‐star the lowest.

 

IMPACT ZONE DIAGRAMS

To provide information about the performance of helmets in our tests and in particular those areas where a helmet has performed well or could be considered as lacking protection, an Impact Zone Diagram is included in each helmet data page.

In each diagram, the SHARP test point has been attributed a colour to show the level of performance measured against a flat surface in the high-speed test (8.5m/s) against the flat anvil. The images show the performance of the helmet at each test point to give a better understanding of the all-round protection offered by each helmet. For example:

The impact zones have been graded in six colours which are marked as being from ‘Very good’ to ‘Poor’.

Green     Peak acceleration up to 275g: the ECE 22.05 test limit at 7.5 m/s.

Yellow    Peak acceleration up to 300g: the British Standard 6658:1985 test limit at 7.5 m/s used by SHARP as the maximum permitted value for a 5–Star rating.

Orange    Peak acceleration up to 400g

Brown     Peak acceleration up to 420g

Red          Peak acceleration up to 500g

Black       Peak acceleration in excess of 500g.


Body Armour Testing

EN 1621 Motorcyclists’ clothing protecting against mechanical impact (Methods of testing)

EN 1621-1: 2012 Motorcyclists’ limb joint impact protectors

The EN 1621-1 test is used to assess the protective qualities of armour worn on the limb joints while riding a motorcycle.

Two performance levels are specified for motorcyclists’ limb protectors – level 1 and level 2. The lower the force that a protector transmits, the more protective a product is considered to be. To pass the standard, the mean maximum transmitted force must be below 35kN, and no single value should be over 50kN. The standard includes optional impact tests to assess performance in high (+40°C) and low (-10°C) temperature environments.

EN 1621-2: 2014 Motorcyclists’ back protectors

EN 1621-2:2014 was written to specifically cover back and lumbar protectors. It uses similar design and test methodology to part 1 for testing of limb protectors, except that the geometry of the anvil and striker are different to better simulate the way back protectors are intended to work.

This standard accommodates three different types of back protector, which are offered to encourage the adoption of certified protection within the varied disciplines of motorcycling and the type of rider. These are ‘full back’, ‘central back’ and ‘lower back’ (lumbar) protectors. Mandatory impacts must be carried out after ambient and hydrolytic ageing conditions. Two performance levels – 1 and 2 – are specified for motorcyclists’ back protectors. To pass the standard, the mean maximum transmitted force must be below 18kN and no single value should be over 24kN. The standard also includes optional impact tests to assess performance in high (+40°C) and low (-10°C) temperature environments.

EN 1621-3:2018 Motorcyclists’ chest protectors

EN 1621-3:2018 is used to assess chest protectors. This standard accommodates two different designs of protector which are offered to encourage the adoption of certified protection within the different disciplines of motorcycling and the type of rider. These are ‘divided’ and ‘full’ protectors. Two performance levels are specified for motorcyclists’ chest protectors against impacts – level 1 (protectors which fulfil only the force transmission requirements) and level 2, for more rigid protectors which fulfil both the force transmission and force distribution requirements. The standard includes optional impact tests to assess performance in high (+40°C) and low (-10°C) temperature environments.

EN 1621-4:2013 Motorcyclists’ inflatable protectors

EN 1621-4:2013 covers inflatable protectors. Two performance levels are specified for motorcyclists’ inflatable protectors against impacts – level 1 for protectors designed to give adequate protection, and level 2 for items providing more protection than a level 1 product. As it is critical that inflatable protectors protect the user from impacts and inflate within a satisfactory time, inflation is analysed with the use of a high-speed camera which can record at least 200 frames per second.

 

Gloves Testing

EN 13594: 2015  Protective gloves for motorcycle riders:

Gloves are generally made of leather or Kevlar and some include Carbon Fiber Knuckle protection.

Motorcyclists’ gloves are intended to give protection against ambient conditions without unduly reducing the user’s dexterity in operating the controls and switches. In addition, the gloves are intended to give mechanical protection to the hands and wrists in accidents.

Impacts with the motorcycle, conflicting vehicles, road furniture, and/or the road surface are particular hazards common to motorcycle accidents. Two performance levels are specified for gloves – level 1 for gloves designed to give protection while having low ergonomic penalties, and level 2 for gloves providing greater protection than level 1. There may however, be weight and restriction penalties included with level 2 protection.

Innocuousness Tests are conducted to determine if the materials used to construct the glove are ‘innocuous’ – that is, whether or not they contain restricted or harmful substances. These tests include measuring the pH value of all materials, checking for the presence of azo colourants in dyed textiles and leathers, determining if pentachlorophenol (PCP) is present in natural textiles and leathers, and identifying if leathers contain chromium VI. Nickel testing is required to be carried out on any metallic components and, similarly, an evaluation for the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is to be conducted on plastic and rubber components that will be in contact with the skin.
Ergonomic requirements To ensure that the gloves are ergonomically friendly, an assessor must be able to carry out all defined movements without any significant problem or hazard being encountered.
Sizing and cuff length Motorcyclists’ gloves need to comply with the sizing system as defined in EN 420 or another suitable sizing system as described in the user’s information. When worn by an assessor with an appropriate hand size, the cuff length measured from the wrist line of the assessor is to be at least 5mm for level 1 gloves or at least 50mm for level 2 gloves.
Restraint An adjustable restraint system must be incorporated into the wrist or cuff. Test cones are inserted into two gloves of different sizes and the gloves are tightened using the restraint present on the wrist or cuff as it would be on a hand. With the fingers of the glove clamped in a jaw, the cone is then pulled up and should not be extracted until a force of 25N is applied in the case of level 1 gloves and a force of 50N for level 2 gloves.

Tear strength

 

Three test pieces of each type of material forming the protective layer are tested in accordance with the relevant method of EN 388. The lowest result obtained on a single test piece must comply with the applicable performance requirements.

Seam strength

 

Each type of seam or joint forming the protective layer must be tested. Three individual test pieces of each seam or joint are assessed and the mean value must meet the requirements for various locations on the glove. When the material on one or both sides of the seam include more than one layer (for example, cover material and liner), that composition is to be maintained in the test piece and those layers will be tested together.
Cut resistance All layers are tested together in accordance with the relevant method of EN 388. Level 1 gloves only require cut resistance testing on palm materials, whereas level 2 gloves require cut resistance to be carried out on all materials present, excluding fourchette material.
Impact abrasion resistance Four different sized gloves are tested within the palm area (including any lining). This is to be carried out after washing or cleaning cycles if applicable. The impact area is measured from various points while being donned by the correct sized wearer. The glove is then abraded using the Cambridge abrasion machine fitted with a P120 grit paper belt.
Impact protection of the knuckles While impact protection is an optional feature for level 1 gloves, it is a mandatory requirement within level 2 gloves and all other gloves designed and constructed to attenuate impact energy in the knuckle area. One impact is carried out on each of the four knuckles, with four different sized gloves being used.

 

Footwear Testing

If footwear is tested to the most recent version of the standard it will read ‘EN 13634:2017’. This involves four mandatory tests and six optional tests:

Mandatory Tests

Height of the Boot The first isn’t a test as such, but indicates the height of the boot. If there is a number one, it means the boot is ankle length. If there is a two, it means it’s a long boot that covers the shin.
Abrasion Resistance

If you went sliding down the road, you’d want to know your boots wouldn’t wear through. The abrasion resistance test is designed to check how well boots will stand up to this type of punishment.

For testing, the boot is divided into two areas – Area A covers the sole, front and back of the boot, where you’re most likely to find stretch panels, and everything else is Area B. Three samples of material are cut from the boot and each is held against a moving abrasive belt until a hole appears. The shortest time it took for a hole to develop in one of the samples dictates the boot’s abrasion rating. For basic Level 1 approval, samples cut from area A must last 1.5 seconds, and samples from area B need to last five seconds. To reach the higher Level 2, area A samples need to last 2.5 seconds or longer, while area B must survive at least 12 seconds without wearing through.

Impact Cut Next, the boots are tested to see how they’d hold up if they came up against a sharp object. For this, a blade attached to a mounting block is dropped onto a sample of the boot, and apparatus measures how far the blade goes through the boot. The tests use the same areas as the abrasion test (see above) and the blade is dropped at different speeds to test each area.When testing area A, the knife will be dropped at two metres per second (m/s). For a Level 1 and a Level 2 rating, the knife can’t protrude through the material by more than 25m. Area B is tested by dropping the blade at 2.8m/s. For Level 1 approval, the blade can’t go through the sample by more than 25mm. To pass Level 2, the maximum it can go through is 15mm.

Transverse Rigidity

 

The transverse rigidity test determines how strongly the boot can resist your foot being crushed if a bike’s weight fell on it. The boot is laid down with the widest part of the foot positioned between two plates, which squash together at a rate of 30mm per min. Apparatus records the force required to compress the sole at that rate. The machine is turned off when the plates stop compressing the sole, when the force is clearly remaining constant or when the sole has been crushed by 20mm. This test is repeated three times. If it took less than 1kN of force to compress the sole to 20mm, the boot fails. If it took 1kN-1.4kN the boot takes a Level 1 pass and if it needed 1.5kN or more to compress the sole it achieves a Level 2 pass.


Optional Footwear Test

Manufacturers can submit their boots for optional extra tests. Passes in these tests will be represented on the label with letters underneath the mandatory test ratings

IPA/IPS: Impact protection to the ankle and/or shin

 

These show boots with approved impact protection. For this test, the boot is cut along the sole and opened up, and a striker is used to drop 10 joules of force onto the protector. To pass, the protector can’t allow more than 5kN to be transmitted through it. If the ankle protection passes, the letters IPA will be on the label, and shin armour will be displayed as IPS.

WR: Resistance to water penetration

 

To see if water leaks through the boot, it can be tested in one of two ways. It can be clamped to a machine with the toes flexing to replicate 4600 steps while the foot is submerged in water, or a person can wear the boot and walk 1km (100 x 10-metre lengths) in shallow water. To pass in either method, areas of dampness inside the boot can be no bigger than 3cm².

FO: Resistance to fuel and oil on sole

 

Two samples of a boot are weighed twice – once normally and once in distilled water. The sample is then left soaking in fuel at 23 degrees for 22 hours, taken out and weighed in the same ways again. To pass, the weight of the samples shouldn’t increase by more than 12%.

SRA/SRB/SRC: Slip-resistance of sole

 

Three tests make up the one rating for slip resistance. Each test is done with a mechanical heel set at a seven-degree angle, which moves to imitate different kinds of slips and falls on different surfaces. If the label shows ‘SRA’, the sole will have passed on a ceramic tile surface treated with diluted soap. ‘SRB’ means it passed on a steel floor treated with glycerol. ‘SRC’ means the boot passed both tests.

B: Breathability of uppers

 

If a CE label has the letter B on it, it means the boot has gone through an optional test to check that moisture vapour can escape.
WR: Water absorption/desorption of inner The boots are tested to see how much water the insides hold and how much they release. If the boots pass this test, ‘WAD’ will be displayed on the label.

 

Jacket & Trousers Testing

Certification to prEN17092 – the set of testing standards established in order to certify products for a ‘safety rating’ – also requires tests for impact protection, seam strength, tear strength, innocuousness, dimensional stability, performance after cleaning, restraint, additional constructions and fit/ergonomics; only with all this information can you make any assessment of the potential safety on offer.

The way the fabric is used, and many other elements of construction, come together to determine the final rating.

EN 17092:2020 is the newly published motorcycle protective clothing standard. It covers protective garments – including jackets and trousers, as well as one- and two-piece suits – and features a wide variety of tests intended to assess the protection and integrity of the clothing ensemble.

Dimensional stability If the manufacturer’s instructions indicate that a garment can be washed or dry cleaned, the test procedure for dimensional change for washing of protective clothing material is to be carried out in accordance with EN 13688. Changes in dimension due to cleaning of must not exceed ±5 per cent.
Impact energy absorption

Elbow, shoulder, knee and hip impact protectors are to be present in Class AAA and AA garments as a mandatory requirement, with the hip protectors being optional in Class A garments. EN 1621 impact protectors must be positioned in the garment so that they cover the appropriate body part, according to the relevant impact protector standard.

Class B garments are designed to provide the equivalent abrasion protection of Class A garments but without the inclusion of impact protectors. Class C garments are designed to provide impact protection for areas covered by the impact protector(s) only, and they do not offer minimum abrasion protection. Class C garments are intended to be worn with and supplement the protection offered by Class AAA, AA, A or B garments.

Impact abrasion resistance

 

This test simulates the stress that is placed on the protective garments when worn by an average rider (with a body mass of 75kg and a height of 1.75m), when sliding from variable initial speeds to standstill on a real concrete road surface.

All removable liners (for example, waterproof or thermal) are removed from the garment and the weakest combination(s) are tested. In one run, three specimens of the material(s) are mounted in holders in warp, weft and at 45 degrees. They are then attached to rotating arms positioned above a concrete tile. Once the desired speed has been reached, the specimen’s impact on the surface and come to a natural stop. If the specimens do not hole, the test is repeated a further two times. To pass, no holes with an opening of 5mm or more in any direction are to be present on the layer closest to the body.

Seam strength and structural closures Each different seam type, zip fastener and protector pocket seam must be assessed for seam strength in accordance with the applicable zones as detailed in EN 17092-1:2020. Seams and structural closures are tested in accordance with EN 13594:2015.

Tear strength

 

For textile garments, three specimens are taken from the warp direction and three from the weft direction of each material forming the structurally strong layer and impact protector pockets. These are then tested in accordance with EN ISO 3377-2:2016. For leather garments, three specimens taken from both parallel and perpendicular directions are tested in accordance with EN ISO 4674-1:2016. Materials are evaluated individually and may not be tested as part of a combination.
Two-piece suit and garment sleeve restraint Two-piece suits are engaged and a force of 100N is applied for 60 seconds. A visual assessment is carried out to ensure that no gapping or connection failures have occurred. Cones are used to exert a circumferential force to the mandatory sleeve restraint systems. A force of 50N is applied to the cone for 30 seconds when all restraint systems are correctly adjusted. The cone must remain satisfactorily within the sleeve.
Fit and ergonomics Garments are to fit in accordance with the manufacturer’s size labelling and with the fit information supplied. The assessor must be able to carry out all the essential movements while wearing the garment, and all responses given by the assessor to the series of questions detailed in EN 17092-1:2020 must be positive.