There are very few things that can compare to the freedom that motorcycles provide. You’re out there, struggling with the wind and the elements, riding your machine down the open roads and enjoying every minute of it. That same wind that is giving you that I’m alive feeling can also cause you hearing loss, and, if you haven’t done so yet, it’s time you take care of it before it’s too late.
Long term exposure to sound levels over 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss
It’s a fact that riding motorcycles can damage your hearing. At a speed of 100 kilometers (60 miles) per hour, average decibels in your helmet are around 94. It won’t take long to lose that good hearing of yours if you keep it up. One piece of equipment that’s too frequently overlooked is hearing protection.
Hearing damage is irreparable—it doesn’t heal, it won’t get better with time. Once you’ve lost it—it’s gone.
If, after returning from your ride, you have that ringing sensation in your ear, you have been exposed to damaging levels of noise.
Highway/freeway driving surpasses 100 decibels, in a couple of hours of riding like that, you will suffer hearing damage, and noise exposure damage is a cumulative thing, every time you do it, you’re damaging your hearing and could end up with a hearing aid later in life.
And yes, you need ear plugs even if you have a full face helmet, high windshield and your bike exhaust is really quiet, winds are the killer here. Turbulent airflow around the helmet generates wind noise that is damaging to your ears.
Many people think that after they put in ear plugs, they will be cut off from everything and continue to ride in silence, and that is just not the case. You can even wear your ear plugs and still hear your passenger through the helmet intercom. I have been using Moldex disposable memory foam models for quite some time now, and I have no problems hearing the traffic around me, sirens, cars, my bike, everything.
Types of ear plugs
There are basically four types of ear plugs; disposable ear plugs (memory foam), custom molded ear plugs, silicone ear plugs and reusable ear plugs. Cheap memory foam ear plugs are among the most popular ones, and I would say among the best you can buy, really easy and comfortable to use.
How to fit disposable ear plugs (memory foam)
• Wash your hands
• Roll the ear plug in your fingertips until it is compacted into a cylinder shape
• With your free hand, pull on your ear over your head from above before you insert the ear plug, this way, you straighten your ear canal and easily put the ear plug into the ear. At the same time, open your mouth as wide as possible, this also seems to help open the canal
• Push the ear plug into your ear and allow some time for the ear plug to expand, it will take a few seconds. You should feel the ambient noise slowly silencing
• When removing the plugs, pulling them out slowly while twisting them is the best practice
Disposable ear plugs come in different sizes, so be sure to go for an ear plug which you find most comfortable with the best protection. Also, if using disposable ear plugs, be sure to not reuse them after removing them from your ear, as they can cause you ear infection.
I personally don’t use them when city commuting, but on any longer ride, including highway travel, I don’t leave home without them. As a result of that, I’m more focused on the road, have no ear buzzing after riding and my headaches are practically non-existent.
After reading all of this, I hope ear plugs do sound like a sound investment.
What are your thoughts on this? Are you using hearing protection while riding? Please share below.