Why is it motorcycle magazines and blogs never write about hearing protection? That’s the question I got in my inbox from Jermy at Alpine Hearing Protection.
He raised a good point. Motorcyclists are exposed to huge amounts of noise and we routinely expose ourselves to sound levels which do long-term, irreversible damage to our hearing. So maybe we should be taking our hearing more seriously. Have a look at our Alpine MotoSafe Review.
Experienced motorcycle riders (or at least informed motorcycle riders) know it isn’t the loud pipes doing the long term hearing damage, nor is it the traffic, it’s the wind. Our helmets only make things worse as they create a vortex around our heads trapping in the wind.
So why don’t motorcycle publications about hearing protection? Well, there really isn’t anything sexy about hearing protection, for starters. When I worked in the motorcycle industry I met media members from magazines and websites, none of whom had ears anyone would like to see close up high resolution pictures of. Hearing protection is the black sheep of motorcycle gear, but we all know the story of the ugly duckling…
And now that duckling has come of age, and it’s risen like an angry phoenix, and we’re all too deaf to hear it. What?
How bad is wind noise to motorcyclists, really?
It’s actually very bad, so much so that I have noticeably worse hearing than all of my non-motorcyclist friends my age. I’m in my mid twenties. I’ve been riding without hearing protection for seven years.
Any prolonged exposure of sound levels over 80 decibels can cause hearing loss. 80 decibels sounds like a big, loud number, but factor this in:
At 100 km/hr the wind noise is 94 decibels and 15 minute of exposure can do irreparable damage to your hearing. If you’re moving a bit quicker, say 140 km/hr, the wind noise is 102 decibels and 3 minutes of exposure is enough to do long term damage.
Granted, under your helmet you may not be getting direct exposure, however some helmets actually amplify the noise by creating a wind tunnel effect. Moreover there is still the noise produced by your motor, exhaust, and the other vehicles adding to the total noise which must be considered.
With this in mind I agreed to try a sample pair of Alpine MotoSafe ear plugs. Soon after, I received my media kit package from Jermy in Europe.
I decided I wouldn’t do any research to the ear plugs prior to receiving them so as to form an unbiased opinion. I was pleasantly surprised to find 3 ear plugs and two different sets of noise filters included.
Why two sets of noise filters?
The green filters will reduce noise by 15 to 19 decibels. The yellow filters will reduce noise by 19 to 22 decibels. In my opinion, the yellow set is what you really want. Go ahead and throw away the green ones. Even the yellow filters are a lot quieter than than the squeeze and twist disposable ear plugs you find in hardware stores across North America.
Why go for a reusable hearing protector over a disposable squeeze-twist hearing protector anyway?
My mother wanted me to be a doctor. Good intentions are about as close I ever got. While I can’t tell you anything for certain, logic dictates that every time you twist something up and shove it down your ear canal you’re probably introducing a nice shot of bacteria just a couple inches from your brain.
Personally, I’ve never gotten an ear infection from using disposable ear plugs, but I haven’t exactly used many of them either. Why is that? Because they aren’t practical. I would carry around a few at a time in a ziplock bag that either always needed to be replenished, or simply was never used. The MotoSafes are already pocket sized and ready to go, and they don’t go deep down in your ear. They sit like regular headphones. You’ll like them.