It can be difficult to describe to people who aren’t fans of motorbikes, but the sound of a finely tuned engine is truly one of the best sounds in the world.
The warmth and richness of the music a motorbike makes showcases its performance, power, and personality; turning heads and getting hearts fluttering as it passes by.
Admiring the sound of a bike’s engine for a few seconds as it flies by is a passing fancy for an observer, but the person riding the bike is anything but that. They are continuously sat amongst the noise that other people appreciate but momentarily.
There’s a good chance that if you ride your bike regularly, no matter how long you ride it for, that you run the risk of damaging your hearing by subjecting yourself to all that noise. This is what motorcycle ear protection was made for. This is why we always recommend that you wear earplugs if you are a motorcyclist.
How Does Hearing Protection Work?
The reality is that you run the risk of damaging your hearing whenever you subject unprotected ears to a significant amount of noise for a length of time.
The human body is a wonderful and miraculous thing. It carries you through a lifetime of success and failure, but evolution has yet to give humans the protection they need against the noise of commuting to work on a bike or going out for regular drives on the weekend. How much noise a bike generates can vary based on the model and how it is ridden, but it’s fair to say that any prolonged exposure to significant noise can do permanent damage to your ears, and that’s not something you want to overlook.
Sound travels through the air in the form of waves of pressure. The louder a sound is, the more pressure it carries. Ear protection basically works by placing a barrier between the ears and the pressure that sound waves place on the eardrum.
Prolonged exposure to loud noises can damage eardrums and cause hearing issues. Hearing protection reduces the pressure, which reduces the risk of hearing damage.
How to Choose the Right Hearing Protection
Most riders wear some form of motorcycle earplugs; the simplest option is the disposable foam type, which is pretty cheap. Just roll them between your forefinger and thumb to soften them up and squash them, and then put them into the opening of your ear canals. They should then expand enough to fit snugly without coming out.
If you don’t mind spending a little more to protect your ears, then you can find more expensive varieties of this basic ear plug; rubberised washable plugs and silicon reusable varieties can be found just about anywhere.
Pinlock, for example, is a kind of washable plug fitted with a filter for reducing wind noise when riding a motorbike. There are other earplugs that use isolate technology to basically block the ear canal, leaving you hearing things at a low volume through the sound vibrations conducted by the bones around your ears.
Do I Really Need Ear Protection?
There are some experienced riders who might claim that you don’t need earplugs with a full helmet as the helmet muffles sounds enough to make them safe. Anyone who has ridden a bike for long enough knows that even a full helmet doesn’t block out sound properly and the sounds of the road can still be irritating enough to mess with your concentration levels.
Then there are people who may choose to avoid using ear protection because it blocks out sounds that you want to hear, such as the sounds of other traffic. Keep in mind that wearing ear plugs doesn’t completely block out sounds. You can still hear some things, they just cause a reduction in the level of noise that your ears need to deal with. Even if you fully block the ear canal, sound can still travel through the bones of your skull as vibration. It’s more like listening to music at low volume than completely shutting out the world.
The Best Earplugs for Bikers
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