Why Every Motorcyclist Should Wear Earplugs

Life’s no fun when your world is silent.

First and foremost, earplugs are necessary whenever you ride.

It is disturbing to learn that many of motorcyclists still shun earplugs. Hearing damage not only causes discomfort that leads to irritability, negativity, anger, fatigue, tension, stress and depression. Ultimately, it could lead to loss of hearing.

Unfortunately, hearing damage builds progressively and the sufferer does not realise it…until it is too late.

Hearing damage starts with exposure to sound levels from 85 dB (decibels) and above, for prolonged periods. This is a fact outlined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). According to the workplace safety regulator, workers should not be exposed to sound levels above 85 dB in an eight-hour work day. NIOSH also stated that exposure to 100 dB for just 15 minutes is enough to damage one’s hearing.


Riding at city speeds between 40 to 80 km/h will produce sound levels as high as 80 to 89 dB. In heavy traffic, one can also expect sound levels from 80 to 89 dB. Yes, that is what we get from riding below 80 km/h. However, noise starts to increase to 100 dB at 100 km/h. Research shows that riding a bike to 150 km/h increases the sound level to 110 dB.

10 dB may not seem a lot but while it takes 15 minutes of 100 dB sounds to damage hearing, 110 dB damages hearing in less than 2 minutes.

Helmet manufacturers tend to lead us to believe that their helmets are “quiet”. But the hard truth is that there is no “quiet” helmets. Wearing a full-face usually reduces wind noise by 10 to 15 dB, but you are still at the threshold of between 85 to 90 dB at 100 km/h.

The best solution, therefore, is to wear earplugs. Many motorcyclists believe that earplugs will damp out important environmental sounds. That is true if you are not used to it, but your hearing will adjust.

There are many types of earplugs in the market, ranging from foam to neoprene to silicone.

However, the best are specialized earplugs, such as those from Alpine MotoSafe, NoNoise and Pinlock, among others. Each piece employs a special filter which blocks out the whistling wind noise but allows speech, engine note, communication system and surrounding sounds through. They are expensive but bear in mind that hearing aids are a lot more expensive!

Besides saving you from hearing damage and loss, earplugs cuts down on the fatigue from fighting the noise. Additionally, you are not overwhelmed by wind noise and “tricked” into thinking you’re riding too fast, allowing you to concentrate on other aspects of riding.

Do you now see why professional racers such as Valentino Rossi use earplugs?

So, start wearing ear protection today and save your hearing.

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