Armoured jackets and pants are scored according to the E uropean N orm standards. This involves dropping a weight onto the armour and then measuring how much force is transmitted through. There are four European Norm standards relevant here: EN1621-1 , EN1621-2 , EN1621-3 and EN13595 .
EN1621-1 is used for pieces of body armour excluding back, spine and chest protectors. An EN1621-1 rating indicates that the armour transmitted an average peak force smaller than 35kN.
EN1621-2 is used for back and spine protectors. This standard has two subsets, called CE Level 1 and CE Level 2 . Oftentimes, safety ratings will state the CE Level without specifying the European Norm it falls under. CE Level 1 indicates that the average peak force transmitted was less than 18kN. CE Level 2 is better yet, indicating that the average peak force transmitted was less than 9kN. Obviously, the less force that passes through, the better.
EN1621-3 is used for chest protectors. It uses the same subsets as for back and spine protectors, and is therefore subdivided into CE Level 1 and CE level 2.
Finally, EN13595 rates the fabric or leather used by professional riders. It assures a high level of abrasion, cutting and seam-tearing resistance.
You may notice variations on these coding schemes. Occasionally, a year designation will follow the European Norm – something like EN1621-2:2012. This simply indicates that the armour was tested according to 2012 standards. The European Norm hasn't changed a lot since its inception, so the year designation shouldn't worry you too much.
Sometimes certifications will look like this: PREN1621-3. The “PR” designates a draft standard , which means that the criteria is fairly new and hasn't been legally solidified yet. Again, this shouldn't worry you too much.
If you've found the perfect jacket, but it doesn't meet a particular rating you’re looking for, check to see if the armour is removable. If this is the case, you can buy CE-rated replacement armour to customize your gear.
As a final note, some racetracks and race organizations require a particular standard from their competitors. You may want to check this out before buying your gear.