Keeping customers safe: MCN joins trading standards for a look around Motorcycle Live 2023

Bike shows have always been a rich hunting ground for anyone looking to bag a bargain on new kit, but how can you be sure that the gear you’re grabbing at discount prices is everything it’s supposed to be?

We joined an Officer from Solihull Trading Standards at November 2023’s Motorcycle Live show at Birmingham’s NEC, along with a consumer expert in bike kit, to find out how they ensure that the products on sale are up to scratch.

“I’ve been to the motorcycle show on a number of occasions over the years,” said the Officer, who wished to remain anonymous, “and it’s something that the organisers positively encourage.

Textile jackets for sale at Motorcycle Live

“Sometimes we have intelligence that suggests there will be a retailer or exhibitor present who’s been selling goods that they shouldn’t, in which case we’ll target them,” they continued.

“If we don’t have any such information, we’ll just walk around like a general visitor and carry out inspections stand by stand. Although there are other issues that come up, this year was specifically about clothing.”

On one stand they discovered some jackets without any user information attached. Personal protective equipment is prescribed by law, so if a retailer is selling clothing that purports to protect a user, then it must comply with personal protective equipment regulations and requirements.

CE garment rating on a pair of Keis heated gloves

One of those requirements is that the user is given certain information, usually as a booklet, containing instructions on how to look after it. This is essential, because the way a customer cares for a product could affect the protection it offers, and particularly in terms of clothing, that comes down to things like washing and cleaning.

“We advised the exhibitor of this and found that many of the products that he had on sale were affected. He was advised that he shouldn’t be selling any of his stock without user information, and so he shut up his store.

“I went back the following day, and he was in the process of attaching the required booklets to the relevant pieces of clothing, having obtained them from his supplier overnight.”

Shopping for boots at Motorcycle Live

So it wasn’t a case of dodgy or counterfeit goods but about not having the correct paperwork. There was no obvious suggestion or indication that the jackets weren’t safe, but they didn’t comply with PPE laws, and by virtue of that were deemed unsafe.

Trading Standards take a softly, softly approach when highlighting issues, and this method of engaging with and advising retailers certainly seems to work.

The inspector added: “We paid a visit to a retailer that I’m aware had been spoken to before about this matter. When we went to his stand to inspect his stock, we found that he had listened to the advice given previously, and so walked away without having to take any action.”

Motorcycle Live 2023

CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Association (who run the event) Tony Campbell said: “As with previous Motorcycle Live events, we request all retailers only offer for sale garments/rider protective wear that complies with the appropriate regulations.

“We will continue to support local trading standards in ensuring visitors to Motorcycle Live are only offered items which fully comply with regulations.”

Shopping at a bike show

Don’t buy the first piece of clothing or equipment that you see, shop around to find comparable offers. If a deal appears too good to be true then it probably is, and if it’s really cheap, then it’ll be cheap for a reason.

This could be as simple as it being very old stock, but it could also be counterfeit or not do what it’s supposed to. In other words, if it hasn’t been tested to the correct standard, it may not give the rider the kind of protection expected from it.

Any article of motorcycle PPE should have a sewn-in label with an image of a rider on it, which will show the CE standard to which it’s been certified, and specific information regarding the tests it has passed.

For example, gloves will have EN 13594:2015 as the CE standard, with either a number 1 or 2 to denote the level of abrasion resistance and KP to show if it has approved knuckle protection. There should also be an attached user information booklet, which includes care instructions and a link to the Declaration of Conformity, an official document that shows the approved standard has been met.

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