As a motorcycle rider, you already know that the noise created by the wind can be deafening, literally! Some studies suggest that wind noise can be as loud as 120 dB. Our friends at Web Bike World say the following: "For the record, it's our opinion that riding a motorcycle is a very noisy endeavor. The noise that is generated is always loud enough to be dangerous to human health and can easily cause permanent hearing damage."
So what to do about the wind noise? It's bad enough that it drowns out the sweet, throaty roar of your engine, but that it can permanently damage your hearing clearly means something has to be done! Typically, we hear from bike riders that they use disposable foam ear plugs. That makes a lot of sense, because many riders work in industrial jobs where foam ear plugs are provided, and a few may even find their way home in a pocket.
True also, we tend to use what we know works, and disposable foam ear plugs do indeed work for nearly everyone, whether on a bike or off in some other noisy environment.
So why not just use disposable foam ear plugs like everybody else...?
The answer is that there are several disadvantages of disposable foam ear plugs. First, each time you use a pair, they will almost always provide you with a different level of protection. This is because foam ear plugs are very sensitive to the method of preparation and insertion. If they have a crease when being rolled, they can lose over 90% of their effectiveness! In fact, there are many factors that affect how well foam ear plugs perform:
- If they're not inserted deeply enough, their effectiveness will be compromised.
- If they're worn properly so you do get the full rated NRR protection, you won't able to hear many of the traffic noises that can be critical to your safety.
- If they're reused (not recommended) they will rapidly lose their resilience, becoming unable to adequately fill the ear canal.
- If they're used properly (wear one time, then discard them), they will eventually cost more than reusable ear plugs.
So even when they are inserted and used properly, foam ear plugs can be problematic.
The smart solution? Choose reusable ear plugs that include an acoustic filter.
Reusable ear plugs all feature simple "plug and play" usability: no rolling is required. You simply push reusable ear plugs gently into the ear canal, and you're done. They work the same every time you put them in, providing a consistent NRR -- and you can safely reuse a single pair many times. By choosing reusable ear plugs with a built-in acoustic filter, you will get the best of both worlds: much of the wind noise will be blocked so your hearing remains safe, but you will still be able to hear most of the sounds around you, giving you situational awareness and a much safer ride.
Another benefit of ear plugs with acoustic filters is that you will still be able to hear your radio or stereo without having to crank up the volume (as is the case when you are wearing foam plugs). Too, foam ear plugs chop the highs so badly that trying to enjoy music on your ride is not satisfying enough to be worth the effort. Try acoustic filtered reusable ear plugs, and you will be amazed at the difference! For the first time you will be able to hear your music with satisfying clarity, in spite of the wind.
Now, I don't want to over-promise, here, so let's be clear. Music from helmet speakers will never satisfy a serious audiophile, no matter what kind of hearing protection you are or are not wearing. All I'm saying is, if you switch from foam plugs to reusable plugs with acoustic filters, it may seem like concert-quality sound compared to what you have experienced in the past.
Motorcyclists, as well as workers on the job, musicians, and concert lovers, too, are all rapidly finding their way to smarter ear plugs: ear plugs that limit the dangerous sound levels from which we all need protection, while still allowing us to hear what we need to hear to be safe, to enjoy our activities, and to be more comfortable in our increasingly noisy world.
If Reusable Ear Plugs with Acoustic Filters sound like the right choice for you, these are our top recommendations:
|WindTamer™ Motorcyclist Ear Plugs||Surefire EarPro Sonic Defenders||Alpine MotoSafe for Motorcyclists||HearDefenders-DF™ Natural Sound Plugs|
And whatever you do, be safe out there -- and enjoy the ride.
--Tom Bergman, Marketing Director