Even the best and most expensive motorcycle helmets available do not protect your hearing. That’s right, even if you’re wearing a good quality full-face motorcycle helmet (which you should) studies have shown that your hearing is still likely to be damaged by wind noise if you don’t use motorcycle hearing protection.
Studies show that even 15 minutes of riding a motorcycle at highway speeds without ear protection can cause hearing damage. And a U.S. Department of Transportation study shows that at 70 miles per hour even the most expensive motorcycle helmets do not prevent 100 decibels of wind noise. And the type of motorcycle and type of motorcycle windscreen do not significantly change this (even though you may not feel as much wind). In some cases, a single ride can lead to permanent hearing loss.
So, every motorcycle rider who will be riding at highway speeds should wear motorcycle ear protection. The good news is that cheap foam earplugs can be just as effective (or sometimes more effective) than more expensive hearing protection. So, I bought a big pack of cheap foam ear plugs to make sure I have enough for me, my passenger (pillion), and I put some extras in jacket pockets and luggage to be sure that I’m not caught without hearing protection on my motorcycle. With the foam earplugs, just be sure to compress them and insert them deeply into the ear and hold them in place for about ten seconds to be sure they stay in place.
Riding a motorcycle is a lot of fun, but don’t forget to take the steps necessary to protect your hearing. Make inserting hearing protection a part of your pre-ride routine, so that you don’t put your helmet on until after your plugs are in. Ride safe, and have fun!
More on motorcycle hearing loss: Hearing Loss in Motorcyclists