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Should you wear earplugs when riding a motorcycle?

Should you wear earplugs when riding a motorcycle?

Wearing earplugs while riding a motorcycle is a topic that has been debated for years and years. Some people argue that it is dangerous and unnecessary. Others even think it should be banned. In this post, we will learn about the benefits of earplugs and debunk some common myths that you may have heard.

Are motorcycle ear plugs necessary?

The short answer is yes, if you care about your hearing, then you should wear earplugs. Motorcycles often won’t exceed 90 dB, which isn’t too dangerous, especially on shorter rides. However, the real danger is wind noise. At 105 k/h (65 mph) wind noise reaches 100 dB which can cause hearing loss in 15 minutes. This is the equivalent of listening to a chainsaw or pneumatic drill up close. And if you’re flying at 160 km/h (100 mph), then wind noise can hit 110 dB, which can cause TTS in your hearing, tinnitus and permanent ear damage in just 2 minutes.

And once you lose your hearing, it can never come back. This is why it’s incredibly important to wear hearing protection, in order to prevent any damage to your hearing.

Your riding position, brand of motorcycle, or helmet padding won’t protect you from hearing loss. A high-quality helmet or windscreen that sounds quieter might be better for comfort but won’t help save your ears. In saying that, not wearing a helmet is even worse for your hearing (and general safety). Your only options are to ride slowly for short periods of time, or wear earplugs. 

Is it legal to wear earplugs while riding a motorcycle?

In Australia, it is perfectly legal to wear earplugs while riding your motorcycle. We often hear arguments that riders won’t be fully aware of the surrounding traffic, and should therefore be banned, but we think it is the opposite. 

Wearing earplugs will reduce wind noise, which many riders say helps them hear more of their surroundings. Additionally, it helps lower noise-induced fatigue which will greatly increase concentration, especially if you’ve been riding for a few hours. Some custom earplugs are even designed to protect your hearing from wind noise while allowing you to hear engine and exhaust notes as well as safety cues such as warning alarms and sirens.

How to put on ear plugs with a motorcycle helmet

This often differs depending on the type of earplugs you are using. 

Foam earplugs should be inserted fully into your ear. According to OSHA, 75% of people who use foam earplugs on motorcycles put them in wrong, which loses most of its protection. To make them fit properly, roll them between your fingers until they are thin, and then insert them into your ears to expand. If they are falling out, either the earplugs weren’t thin enough or they weren’t inserted deep enough.

For custom motorcycle earplugs, they’ll often come with instructions on how you should insert them. Custom earplugs are moulded to the shape of your ear, so they should fit perfectly inside without poking out and rubbing against your helmet. This is a much easier option, and more affordable in the long run. 

To put on the helmet, try pulling the side of the helmet outward. If your earplugs feel like they’re falling out, you should also try wearing a skull cap.

What are the best earplugs for motorcycle riding?

There are a lot of motorcycle earplug brands, but we recommend ACS. Their best option is the Pro Drivercom Pro 27, which are custom designed for motorcycles. It allows you to still hear some ambient sounds, exhaust/engine notes and safety cues, but will stop wind noise and any potential hearing loss. Additionally, it comes with a single lightweight speaker that's been selected to deliver crystal clear communications and work perfectly with the majority of radio systems. 

If you are struggling to afford custom earplugs, or aren’t a frequent rider, then we recommend looking into ACS Pacato 19. They are universal fitting reusable earplugs which offers an average of 19dB protection but still allows you to hear your surroundings.

No matter what brand you end up with, make sure your ears are properly protected or you may have to deal with hearing loss for the rest of your life.