If you’ve been shopping for riding gear, you may have come across products marketed as rated AA or AAA. You will usually find them in boots, jackets, and other riding apparel. While it pays to know that someone is rating these products, you may have wondered whether the extra ‘A’ is worth the buck. 


What are CE Ratings? 

These ratings are due to European technical standards. According to European Union (EU) regulations, all products manufactured and sold in Europe are required to have a CE (conformité européenne) marking. This means that a particular product complies with the relevant EU legislation.  


What does this have to do with motorcycle apparel?  

On April 2018, the EU passed a law that requires all motorcycle-related gear to be certified as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This means that on top of the CE marking, riding gear such as jeans and jackets should undergo tests that will determine the level of protection they provide for the wearer.  

All the rules have been compiled under the standard called EN 17092. Under said law, all motorcycle apparel should be tested for the following: 

  • Dimensional stability. 
  • Impact energy absorption. 
  • Seam strength and structural closures. 
  • Impact abrasion resistance. 
  • Tear strength. 

Through a variety of impact and abrasion tests, the evaluator will be able to rank garments into either of the five classes, ‘AAA,’ ‘AA,’ ‘A,’ ‘B’ and ‘C,’ with AAA offering the highest levels of protection and C the lowest.  



What does each motorcycle gear CE Rating mean? 

Let’s break down each CE Rating, from C up to AAA to see what the differences are and why pricing and levels of protection vary from one to the next. 

Class C 

The C rating is given to the least protective kinds of clothing, such as casual shirts and underwear. Some of them, technically called ‘protection containers,’ are meant to hold a separate impact protector, such as an inner mesh suit. These products can resist impact but not abrasion.  

Class B 

Unlike C products, B-rated products can protect against abrasion. While these products do not offer protection from impact, adding separate impact protectors on top can give the rider A-level protection. In fact, some manufacturers deliberately sell B-rated products separately so that the consumer can choose to mix and match their own impact protectors. 

Class A 

Considered as light-duty protective garments, A-rated motorcycle products are often lighter and better suited to everyday wear and warmer weather than AA or AAA items. Hip protection is optional for garments to acquire the A-rating, but some do offer it in the form of extra padding. 

Class AA 

AA-rated gear offers a higher level of protection while still being sufficiently comfortable for most riders. It is considered the sweet spot for most touring gear. 

Class AAA 

Finally, the AAA rating is given to garments that score the highest in all five criteria. However, they are heavier and are made with less flexible materials. The EN 17092 regulation requires all AAA-class garments to have elbow, shoulder, knee, and hip impact protectors.  



Finding the balance between protection and comfort 

Many manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to improve the protective level of their products without neglecting rider comfort.  

For example, Oxford’s new AAA-rated jeans are made with breathable materials, keeping rider comfort in mind. They are also single-layered instead of lined, which means that they are a lot more comfortable to wear on a muggy day of riding. Oxford integrated Armourlite — a kind of polyamide fibre developed by the military for parachute cords — into the denim products, giving you the most protection if ever you find yourself on the asphalt.  


Does this mean that protection-conscious riders must only wear AAA-rated clothing? 

Not necessarily. While the ratings may give the customer some confidence in what they are buying, the CE ratings do not necessarily mean a product will fit your needs.  

At the end of the day, it depends on your personal preference and the type of riding you do… if you’re a commuter, you might want something lighter with less protection. If you’re an intrepid tourer, you’ll want a balance of comfort and protection. If you’re especially safety-conscious or you like to push the envelope at the occasional track day, you’ll want the highest rating you can afford. 

Whatever spins your wheels, it is good to bear these ratings in mind. More importantly, it pays to have some assurance that these products will help protect you when you need them. But as always, remember that when you buy gear you are buying protection, not additional talent.  

Ride safe and keep it rubber side down!  

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