STOP the sale of unsafe motorcycle riding kit | How YOU can help

Stop unsafe riding kit_01

 

Apart from a helmet, it’s entirely your choice what you wear when riding a motorcycle in the UK, but since 21 April 2018 the law has stated that ALL motorcycle kit sold in the UK and EU has to be tested and certified as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

There is some leeway for individual garments that reached shops before this date, but otherwise it’s illegal to sell anything that’s uncertified. If you can’t find a label stating the safety level achieved inside the garment, and it’s not legitimately old stock, the seller is breaking the law. You can find all the info you need on what labels to look for in motorcycle kit here.

 

The law is NOT telling you what to wear

It’s important to stress again that it’s your choice what to wear, and that the law (and insurance companies) won’t change that. This is about having the freedom of choice to make an informed decision. It’s about safeguarding consumers both financially and physically.

For far too long, sellers (and some brands) have made bold claims about the protective qualities of their products, but they’ve never had to back them up. Now they do, and the past four years have proven that it hasn’t put prices up. Now you can look at the label and have some degree of assurance of the level of safety you’re paying for.

 

Stop unsafe riding kit_07

This trader at the London Motorcycle Show shut their stand down after intervention by Newham Trading Standards

 

Rogue traders are damaging UK businesses and ruining shows

We recently reported on how, after extensive work by Paul Varnsverry (one of the world’s leading experts on PPE) Newham Trading Standards visited the London Motorcycle Show at Excel. Visiting 27 stands, officers dealt with 12 sellers who had illegal uncertified (non-compliant) motorcycle kit. Some of these sellers quickly removed their stock from sale and no further action needed to be taken; shockingly, after nearly four years, there is still some need for education in the UK marketplace and some traders or brands are just catching up. But others were more reluctant to meet their legal requirements, and that led to some stock being confiscated.

Besides misleading buyers, these traders are ruining motorcycle shows for many visitors who get fed up with paying often substantial entry fees, only to be faced with sub-standard products offered for sale.

It’s also causing some brands to stay away after investing tens of thousands of pounds into ensuring their gear is up to scratch, only to face stallholders who have completely ignored the law and are putting unsuspecting buyers’ lives at risk with unproven, potentially dangerous kit.

Certification of riding kit is not a licence for brands to put up their prices, and that’s demonstrably not been the case; it simply means that you can decide how important safety is when you spend your money.

 

Help us stamp out illegal sales of dangerous motorcycle clothing

There’s no denying that the online market place is full of uncertified, potentially dangerous motorcycle kit; we bought a set of leathers from Amazon that had a fake back protector, no certification, and that evaded UK taxes by shipping direct from Pakistan. It’s a battle we’ll continue to fight with the help of dedicated professionals like Paul Varnsverry.

But with shows organised by more accessible individuals, rather than massive multinationals hiding behind corporate marketing and PR teams, it’s far easier to make contact and get the ball rolling. If the sale of illegal kit can be stopped at UK shows, not only will it make for a more enjoyable and trust-worthy event in which we can all search for the legitimate end-of-line bargains or seek out the latest, greatest kit, it should also mean that the major brands that have been conspicuously absent might be more encouraged to return.

We’ve contacted the organisers of every major motorcycle event in 2022, asking them if stallholders are made aware of their legal obligations when booking space, if any action is being taken to filter out non-compliant brands and traders, and whether they’ll be notifying the local Trading Standards office ahead of the event to give them access, should they want it.

All show organisers should contact Trading Standards to ensure the team has plenty of time to plan any attendance (it’s no good telling them as the show’s just about to end of course).

We’ve also contacted all of the Trading Standards offices ourselves for comment, though there will always be limitations on what they can tell us due to upcoming or ongoing action. Still, it’s worth noting that Trading Standards is not centrally controlled; each falls under its own local council and the actions taken can vary significantly.

Below is the list of events we’re watching closely this year, and if you click on any one of them it’ll take you to the section in this article that will be constantly updated with outcomes…

 

What YOU can do

No matter where it’s offered – at a show, online or in a shop – uncertified kit is illegal. Besides individual items that got to stores before 21 April 2018, there are no excuses. If you’re passionate about ensuring you’re able to make an informed choice when buying, you can help

“One of the most important parts from our point of view is that the items/listings have to be reported to the relevant market surveillance authorities,” says Christopher Bell, Team Leader at Edinburgh Trading Standards (and a Yamaha R6 rider himself). “The Economic Operators within supply chains have an obligation to report concerns of product non-conformity, but Trading Standards can’t be everywhere at once, and therefore it’s important that consumers and others do the same.

“Encouraging consumers with concerns to report to their local Trading Standards teams allows us to develop a more complete market picture, prioritise appropriately and take action at the various levels in the market to ensure that consumers are not exposed to unsafe products. Consumers/Businesses can find their local Trading Standards team here: www.tradingstandards.uk/consumers/support-advice

We at BikeSocial would also urge anyone reporting illegal sellers and kit to let us know by contacting us with details of what you’ve passed on to Trading Standards – we can then follow up on any action taken, and make Freedom of Information requests where necessary. You can email our stop illegal riding kit campaign here.

 

What do traders think?

Brian Sansom of BKS (made to measure) Ltd feels it’s been a long time coming: “We have been attending shows like the NEC and Ally Pally since 1990 and were the very first company Worldwide to gain CE Approval for motorcycle leathers to the Cambridge Standard in 1994.

“It was new back then but still remained a rare thing to see anyone other than the small UK made-to-measure brands following suit.

“We would often see between 50-100 clients order made-to-measure suits from us at a show, but as more brands emerged – all making uncertified clothing – it became untenable. We just accepted that Trading Standards weren’t interested, but for it to continue this long has been infuriating.

“I’m glad this is now getting the public awareness it deserves as we decided 10 years ago shows were not viable for us to trade at.

“We used to supply most of the UK Police forces, but in recent years we have even seen some of their riders issued kit that is not correctly certified. This is still a wide-scale problem away from shows so hopefully it will encourage the industry to regulate more successfully and gain further support from the external authorities.”

“Bona fide, responsible retailers invest a lot of time and money when designing their products to ensure that their goods meet the strict testing criteria that is in place to pass CE approval,” said Ian Wilson, Director of Roadskin, which sells CE-approved motorcycle jeans from just £74.99.

“It can sometimes take up to a year from conception to manufacture of a product to get it absolutely right, which includes the three to four months that it’s taking to get a product tested and certified. It’s therefore pretty frustrating when we go to shows and can clearly see that goods are being sold as motorcycle PPE when they obviously aren’t!

“I think the exhibition organisers owe it to the riders to ensure that anyone pertaining to sell protective motorcycle clothing can prove that it does the job!”

Joe Cullen of Goldtop Motorcycle Outfitters said “Motorcycle clothing exists to protect the user, and so it can only be a benefit for consumers to know that the clothing they purchase to protect them is safe, has been tested and certified, and that those certifications are being checked up on, with untested (and illegal) products thankfully being removed from shelves.”

Kate Jennings, director of bespoke manufacturer Hideout Leather told BikeSocial that “We are pleased to see that the market surveillance and enforcement authorities are at last closing down unscrupulous dealers selling uncertified substandard kit.”

“We are proud to say we were one of the first British manufacturers to certify our leathers in the mid-nineties and were frustrated to see that the industry didn’t follow suit until the more attainable prEN 17092 with its AAA rating was established nearly 26 years later. However, this is a firm move towards an industry that promotes safety first, something we at Hideout have always championed.”

 

Stop unsafe riding kit_06

Needless to say, this is NOT an Alpinestars jacket. Products like this – as well as many uncertified brands that aren’t ripping off another – typically avoid taxes that are vital to the country, they take business away from legitimate stores, and they don’t invest time or money in safety testing. It’s still your choice what you wear, but certification means that those who care about their safety can buy with some knowledge of what they’re getting.

 

Ina Lombard-Ogilvie, owner of MotoGirl told BikeSocial that “We welcome the idea of strict rules on brands who want to sell motorcycle PPE; people expect to buy clothing from trusted sources at a motorcycle show.

“Shows are, for us, a shop window and with thousands of people passing our stand at shows it is an opportunity to display and build customer reassurance in the brand. We want to provide people with confidence when buying our products that the garments will not only protect them but also offer them value for money. Our customers only have to worry about the fit and how they look, and we take care of the safety and quality aspects of garments.

“Trading standards visiting the London Motorcycle show has definitely raised awareness amongst motorcyclists, and got motorcycle clothing brands talking, but this is not enough in my opinion since there are so many online channels where clothing is sold that is unsafe to ride with. Most people do not know what is involved in the full scope of testing, what the marking means, and what to look out for when buying so more needs to be done by brands, motorcycle shops and test centres who are approved bodies of the PPE Regulation to educate the consumer on health and safety of motorcyclists PPE.”

For full details of what the labels in certified motorcycle riding kit mean, click here.

 

Stop unsafe riding kit_04

Poorly-made kit might look okay, but it can prove potentially dangerous.

Below are details of each event we’ll be following through the year, and the results of any action taken. All organisers and Trading Standards offices were contacted by 9 March 2022 (some much earlier). We will keep this updated.

 

Bristol Classic Motorcycle Show 26-27 Feb

“We have been working very closely with Trading Standards regarding the Bristol show,” Nigel Hole, Commercial Director of Mortons Media Group told us. “We as a business fully support this national initiative and we have already taken steps with Trading Standards to ensure that retailers at our shows comply with the current legislation.

“In terms of the impact of the initiative, I think it will be nothing but a positive one. The trade and more importantly the visitors to any event, not just Mortons shows, will be much happier knowing that motorcycling garments, gloves, footwear and impact protection components retailed, meet the very latest safety standards. I would also advocate that any biker buying their own motorcycle gear, be it from a shop or a show, should always check for the CE and/ or the UKCA markings.

“Making our hobby as safe as possibly has to be a number one priority for all of us in the industry.”

This is a very welcome response from Mortons, which runs several shows and also publishes Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, Motorcycle Mechanics, Fast Bikes, Classic Bike Guide and many other popular magazines.

BikeSocial is delighted to confirm that Mortons did indeed contact all of the traders, that Devon Trading Standards took a keen interest, and that there were no sellers offering non-conforming kit at the event.

 

Scottish Motorcycle show 12-13 Mar

There has been no response from the organiser, Live Promotions.

While Edinburgh Trading Standards has been able to confirm that it’s working to make sure traders are aware of the issues in advance, it cannot (understandably) give any details on enforcement action either current, historic or planned.

This information will be kept updated

 

Bennetts BSB and MotoGP events held at Silverstone

There has been no response from the trade stand organisers at Silverstone.

Chris Newble, PR, Brand and Events Manager at Bennetts Motorcycle Services told us that “As title sponsor of Bennetts British Superbikes, we want to ensure that fans can purchase kit at events safe in the knowledge that it is fit for purpose. While we're not involved in the booking of trade stands, we have notified MSV, Silverstone, Knockhill and Thruxton of our position”

West Northamptonshire Trading Standards has informed us that it is aware of the forthcoming events at Silverstone, but (understandably) is unable to comment regarding any intended action.

Bennetts has heard from a member of the public that uncertified gloves were among products being offered for sale by at the Silverstone round of BSB. We’ve contacted the trade team at the track for a comment, and requested a list of all exhibitors that were present. There has been no reply.

This information will be kept updated

 

International Classic Bike Show 23-24 April & 15-16 October

Mortons Media is the organiser of this show and gave us an excellent response when contacted ahead of the Bristol Classic Bike Show, which you can read here.

“Staffordshire Trading Standards take the safety of motorcyclists very seriously,” said Mark Wilson MCTSI CTSP, Technical and Business Manager at Staffordshire Trading Standards. “We are very keen to ensure all motorcycle kit is safe and complies with the law. To that end we will be working with the event organisers and suppliers to ensure all the kit supplied at the International Classic Bike Show on 23-24 April meets legal requirements and keeps motorcyclists safe.”

BikeSocial attended the set-up day with officers from Staffordshire Trading Standards, and Morton’s stance has clearly been effective, with only a few traders needing to be given some advice, and one instance of counterfeit goods being removed. You can read the report here.

 

Bennetts BSB events based at MSV tracks

There has been no response from the trade stand organiser at MSV, however at a recent press event, Stuart Higgs, Series and Race Director of BSB told BikeSocial that “We’re quite encouraged by the [recent events] at the Excel show, and we’ve pushed it through at all the [MSV] circuits that should trade people want to come in and sell their wares, Trading Standards will be there to check for compliance. It’s really important.”

For the response from title sponsor Bennetts, click here.

A member of the public reported uncertified kit to us for sale at Oulton Park, but upon investigation these items were from legitimate brands, and stock that entered the market before 21 April 2018. We asked MSV to let us know which other traders were in attendance, but they declined to provide us with a list, citing GDPR as the reason. We’ll continue to look into this issue.

We sent someone to the Donington round specifically to get an idea of what else was on sale and heard that there was one stand selling a mixture of certified and un-certified riding kit, but that there was no sign identifying the vendor. If organisers are unwilling to share the business details of the traders they sell space to, it raises some concerns over how consumers might contact a vendor if an issue arises. Ultimately, buyers can and should make their own decisions, but we would recommend taking contact details from any seller with any purchase – wherever you are – to ensure any warranty can be fulfilled if necessary.

This information will be kept updated

 

Mancunia Motorcycle Festival 6-8 May

There has been no response from the organiser, MancuniaMotorcycle.com.

Manchester Trading Standards acknowledged receipt of our email, but were understandably unable to provide a comment.

This information will be kept updated

 

MCN Festival of motorcycling 14-15 May

The organiser, Bauer media, has engaged with us throughout the campaign; you can read their comments, and find details of how they worked with Trading Standards at the London Motorcycle Show in Excel here.

“MCN has a zero-tolerance policy on the miss-selling of fashion items as protective kit or products identified as intentionally mislabelled to deceive buyers,” said Gareth Ashman, Commercial Director Motorcycling. “We ensure that all traders at our events are made aware of their legal obligations to ensure items are independently tested and certified, and to bear CE and/or UKCA markings. We will continue to work closely with Trading Standards and will welcome them to MCN Festival, as we did at the MCN London Motorcycle Show, to ensure all equipment being sold meets the correct safety standards. We also urge riders to always double-check the products they’re buying, especially if a deal looks too good to be true.

“Anything that helps to improve motorcycling safety is welcomed by MCN, we are all responsible for keeping our biking community safe.”

Peterborough Trading Standards was very quick to respond, informing us that the information is being reviewed.

We attended the event, and did see some traders selling uncertified kit, with one in particular standing out that had large signs boasting of products that were 'new to the UK', yet had no apparent certification. Peterborough Trading Standards did also attend, and gave us this statement:

"Officers from Trading Standards Service visited the MCN Festival at the East of England Arena Peterborough recently. The visit was carried out to ensure traders were complying with national legislation which requires PPE to be tested and labelled appropriately. 

"A total of 14 retailers were visited by officers and compliance was generally good with six retailers found to be fully compliant. The remaining eight either removed garments from sale or took remedial actions to remove incorrect labelling in order to sell items as fashionwear and not PPE.  

"No items were seized by Trading Standards Officers, who would rather work with businesses to achieve compliance. 

"Peter Gell, Assistant Director Regulatory Services, said: 'Our utmost priority is the safety of the public and the importance of compliant PPE cannot be over emphasised as motorcyclist’s lives could depend upon it. Our officers visited to help ensure that motorcyclists have PPE to the correct high standard.Trading Standards advise motorcyclists to buy from reputable businesses and to check that the PPE is labelled with the CE or UKCA mark.'"

This information will be kept updated

 

Bike Shed, Tobacco Dock 27-29 May

There has been no response from the organiser, The Bike Shed. 

The Environmental Heath and Trading Standards department of London Borough of Tower Hamlets has confirmed that it will be carrying out inspections.

While we haven't had a statement from them, we do know from visitors to the show that officers did attend. Our own correspondents told us that some products were on sale without the correct marking, and that Trading Standards had been informed. 

This information will be kept updated

 

Bennetts BSB at Knockhill

There has been no response from the trade stand organisers at Knockhill.

For the response from title sponsor Bennetts, click here.

This information will be kept updated

 

Adventure Bike Rider Show 24-26 June

There has been no response from the organiser, though we did receive notification that the team is unavailable until 14 March.

This information will be kept updated

 

Bennetts BSB at Thruxton

There has been no response from the trade stand organisers at Thruxton.

For the response from title sponsor Bennetts, click here.

This information will be kept updated

 

East Anglian Copdock Motorcycle Show 4 September

Adrian Smith, chair of the Copdock Classic Motorcycle club – organisers of the show – told us; “All our paperwork that goes to all traders clearly states that only approved goods are to be on sale, and we invite Suffolk Trading Standards to attend. We fully support the closure of any trader or exhibitor if found to be in breach and will remove them from the show.”

This is a fantastic response from the organisers, and a good indicator of why it’s so important for any event – big or small – to have a clear contract with traders, especially when proceeds go to charities; any stallholders that don’t comply with these requirements will be unable to hold the organisers responsible.

A spokesperson for Suffolk Trading Standards said: “We take the safety of products seriously and would encourage consumers to report unsafe products to us via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133. This is a National service and all reports are directed to the most appropriate Trading Standards Department. Suffolk Trading Standards strive to ensure products made available to the public in Suffolk are safe and compliant with the law, and work with businesses to ensure they are aware of their obligations. We welcome any Suffolk businesses to contact us for advice.”

This information with be kept updated

 

International Dirt Bike Show 28-30 October

Mortons Media is the organiser of this show and gave us an excellent response when contacted ahead of the Bristol Classic Bike Show, which you can read here.

Given the excellent outcome of that event, we’re hopeful that this will be as successful.

This information will be kept updated

 

Motorcycle Live 19-27 November

“Every exhibitor is made aware of our position on the display and sale of illegal or non-conformant product,” said Finlay McAllan, Managing Director of MCIA Events Ltd. “Having been made aware by our regs, they also sign a contract to say they will comply. Rules & regs being what they are, we then actively email them as a stand-alone communication highlighting it once again, along with their responsibilities to comply in the final 4 weeks before the show.

“We have been working with Trading Standards for many years and they are invited (and attend) every year – the exception being 2021. We have seen seizures of our own, some relating to illegal product and other relating to copyright infringement and will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities to eliminate the sale of this type of product and the exhibitors involved from our show.”

This information will be kept updated

 

BikeSocial has recently investigated Carvenal gloves – for a full review of what we found, click here.