Best Motorcycle Earplugs: Block Out Harmful Noise When You Ride
Earplugs can protect your hearing when you ride
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Many bikers wear helmets, boots, and gloves to protect themselves when riding, but ear protection is often overlooked. It's possible to damage your hearing due to wind noise, so earplugs should be a priority each time you take your bike out. The best motorcycle earplugs are cost-effective and keep your ears safe and sound.
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Benefits of Motorcycle Earplugs
- Minimize wind noise. The faster you go, the louder the wind becomes, even if you're wearing a helmet. At highway speeds, ambient wind noise can occur at levels over 100dB. That high-pitched sound can be damaging but also annoying and distracting.
- Prevent temporary deafness. When you ride, the noise from the wind is constant. It can cause a condition known as TTS (temporary threshold shift), which produces temporary hearing loss. This partial deafness blocks out all frequencies, which can be dangerous when you're on your bike.
- Pick up certain frequencies. In loud environments, a good set of earplugs will actually help you hear better. That's because some frequencies are dampened more than others. The best earplugs will enhance sounds that you want to hear and soften others that are harmful.
- Reduce fatigue. Some riders experience noise fatigue when they're on a motorcycle for a long time. This can make you very tired and can even be painful. You can avoid this condition by wearing earplugs.
Types of Motorcycle Earplugs
The most common type of earplugs are disposable and made of foam. They are very inexpensive and comfortable to wear. Foam plugs may be cheap, but you still have to consider their quality. Since you're inserting them into your ear canal, you want a material that won't harm you. Also, if they’re not inserted properly, they won’t be as effective, and they don’t always dampen sounds in an even manner.
Reusable earplugs can be worn more than once but require a bit of maintenance to work effectively, so you need to clean them regularly. If you take care of them properly, they can last for more than a year. They are more expensive than disposable earplugs but are worth it if you use them frequently.
Some earplugs for motorcycle riders are attached with a cord. One benefit is that they are harder to lose compared to traditional earplugs, which are small and easy to misplace. Corded earplugs are easy to take out of your ears, and you can hang the cord around your neck when you're not using them.
Custom-molded earplugs for motorcycling are designed to fit your ears exactly. They are quite costly, but they're worth it if you wear them often and want optimum protection for your ears. Molded earplugs are designed so you can hear voices, but loud sounds are significantly reduced.
This company is based out of Southern California. It designs high-fidelity earplugs for those who attend concerts, rides motorcycles, plays music, takes the train, or are sensitive to noise in general. Its top product is the Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs.
Etymotic Research, Inc.
Etymotic Research, based in Elk Grove Village, Ill., was founded in 1983. The name Etymotic means "true to the ear." The company designs products that assess hearing, protect hearing and improve the lives of those with hearing loss with a special focus on those who play and listen to music. One recommended product is the Etymotic High Fidelity Earplugs.
NoNoise launched in 2012 and is based in the Netherlands. The company's "smart earplugs" are made with frequency-selective ceramic filters that allow you to hear normal conversations and filter out damaging noises. One popular product is the NoNoise Motorsport Ear Protection.
Motorcycle Earplugs Pricing
- Under $5: Old-fashioned, foam earplugs are very inexpensive, but they're disposable and intended for one-time use. If you try to reuse them, they may get rough or torn and lose effectiveness. They typically don’t provide even sound dampening.
- $15-$40: Most reusable earplugs are available in this price range. Typically, they are made of silicone and reduce noise while riding, attending concerts, watching fireworks, etc. Some brands will have interchangeable earbuds for a better fit.
- Over $150: If you're in the market for custom-made, molded earplugs, expect to pay quite a bit of money. Professional musicians and motorsports pros often use custom earplugs to protect their hearing. If you can't afford this type of ear protection, less-expensive products are more than adequate.
Even though many earplugs are one size fits most, your ear canal may be too narrow or too wide to accommodate certain brands. A good fit is crucial because if the earplugs are too small, they can get stuck in your ear canal. If they're too large, the earplugs won't stay in place. If you struggle with fit, custom-molded earplugs for motorcycling may be necessary.
You may see the acronyms NRR or SNR on the packaging of your earplugs. NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) is an American ISO standard for noise reduction, while SNR (Single Number Rating) is used internationally. These ratings are classified by their potential to reduce noise in decibels (dB). The higher the rating, the greater the noise suppression.
Everyone's ears are different, and you need to find a pair of earplugs that are comfortable while you're riding. If you wear a helmet, you want to make sure the earplugs aren't crushed by the sides of the helmet. For this reason, you may want to select a pair that has shorter stems, are lower profile, and don't stick out.
- Material: Motorcycle earplugs are made from a variety of materials. One of the most popular is foam, which you squeeze to insert into your ear so it can expand to fill the canal. Others are made of soft silicone, which is more delicate. Some ceramic earplugs have filters that provide more precise sound attenuation than plastic filters.
Best Motorcycle Earplugs Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- To reduce wind noise, choose a motorcycle helmet that fits snugly on your head so there's a little of a gap as possible between your ears and the foam padding.
- Have your ears checked by a professional on a regular basis to make sure your ear canals are clean enough to accommodate earplugs and that you do not have any hearing damage or other problems?
- While a windshield will reduce wind impact, it's not designed specifically to protect your ears. Wearing earplugs is the best way to safeguard your ears and reduce noise.
- It doesn't matter how loud or quiet your motorcycle is because wind noise is the bigger issue. The nonstop, high-frequency sound generated by the wind can threaten your health.
Q: Are motorcycle earplugs legal?
A: They are not illegal in most states, but California, Ohio, and Maryland have restrictions on their use while riding, according to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). Be sure to check your state's laws before you invest in a pair.
Q: Will noise-canceling earplugs for motorcycles prevent me from hearing sirens and horns?
A: No. The best motorcycle earplugs are designed to reduce high-pitched sounds. You will still be able to hear traffic sirens and horns when you're riding your bike with earplugs.
Q: Do I need earplugs if I wear a full-face helmet?
A: Wind can still enter the gap of your full-face helmet and create a shrill sound, so high-grade earplugs are necessary to fully protect your ears.
Q: Do I need earplugs if I’m only riding a short distance?
A: Yes. Even if you're not traveling very far, it’s a good idea to protect your ears from the wind and/or engine noise with disposable, reusable, or molded earplugs.
Q: Can I hear my Bluetooth speakers if I wear earplugs?
A: Probably. Wearing earplugs should make it easier to hear your headset because you're eliminating wind noise. Remember, the best motorcycle earplugs enhance some frequencies and soften others.
Our pick for the best motorcycle earplugs is the EarDial HiFi Earplugs. They're comfortable, hypoallergenic, and they reduce wind noise and filter harmful decibels while allowing you to hear other frequencies.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the DownBeats Reusable High Fidelity Hearing Protection.