With protection, style and safety all being priorities for our shoppers, we caught up with the team at Merlin Bike Gear to ask them a few questions…
Why did Merlin decide to adhere to CE marking rather than just PPE?
Merlin as a small but growing brand worldwide has always aimed to produce affordable motorcycle clothing that with both great design and technical fabrics and components is underpinned by the fact that our products are for motorcycling and therefore safety is key. Riders need to be aware and trust in what any product offers them.
CE and PPE is one in the same. The regulation agreed by the EU working group bodies 2016/425 covers the process for CE marking personal protective equipment. This is described as any product to be worn or held by an individual for protection against one or more health and safety hazards.
Pre the CE PPE regulation, Merlin was directly purchasing the vast majority of materials and components in each product and therefore improving control over consistency and performance - for example, zippers, waterproof membrane, tartan liners and famously our waxed cotton from Scotland. This CE PPE compliance now only further shows Merlin's commitment to quality whilst being affordability in each product category.
How does Merlin tackle ride comfort vs ride safety?
Merlin has sought to approve to only level A in textiles and AA in leather. This is a perfect balance for consumers between weight, thermal penalties and comfort. Products that achieve an AA performance level and certainly an AAA level will inevitably be heavier, less breathable and more restrictive to everyday riders. We will be building a range of products that offer differing levels of protection and being quite clear for consumers as to what one product will offer over another.
Beyond the technical performance level within each collection by Merlin we offer a broad selection of products and consider both comfort vs safety, selecting the relevant materials that provide a balance between the two. We have a thorough testing and feedback program that allows us to revise test products, before finalising the development for launch. One interesting piece of technology within the wadded liners is Outlast. Originally a NASA technology this temperature regulating material in the liner of for example our new Perton works to regulate body temperature by controlling fluctuations - absorbing excess heat and releasing it when the body cools, allowing riders to be more comfortable for longer, improving concentration and thus safety.
How has the range changed over the years as the legislation changed in the EU?
Merlin has been fortunate that our vision of what we create for consumers was focussed on material sourcing and construction quality. Therefore Merlin has had to change very little in regards to EU legislation. With regard to material sourcing Merlin only purchases proprietary branded fabrics, such as Kevlar from DuPont, Reissa from Texland (and others mentioned above). Our suppliers are long standing partners and combining this with our material sourcing we have and are able to produce durable products that meet test requirements. Our range and product direction has evolved each year but in summary our range has not changed because of or as a result of any legislation.
Do you see any Brexit affects on the motorcycle clothing industry?
We don't expect to see much change as a whole. Where Merlin is concerned though, our growth over the last few years has seen no sign of slowing. We have invested massively in the team, both from a training and recruitment point of view for the future; we wouldn't do this without the confidence that our brand, product and consumers are highly engaged and confident in us. This is a passionate industry with an enthusiastic community of riders who love to meet, ride and chat all things two wheels. We also strongly believe in customer experience and as long as our reseller partners continue as they have been in developing their retail space for the consumers changing expectations from a retailer, we foresee no major impact as a result of Brexit to the motorcycle clothing industry.