There’s no greater pleasure on a warm summer day than jumping on your motorcycle and taking off down the road – the free and easy feeling that comes with gliding down the blacktop on your bike is hard to match. Before the ride begins, responsible riders are decked out from head to toe in their protective gear: they don their boots, helmets, gloves, glasses, and visor at the very least. But is that all the safety equipment you need for motorcycle riding? A growing body of evidence suggests that many riders are missing out on a critical piece of protective gear.
How Does Loud Noise Damage your hearing?
Let’s ask Dr. Phil Scheinbering who is a licensed otolaryngologist. He is also a former street bike rider, motorsports fan and a car racer. According to Dr. Phil, the soft hair cells of your inner ear vibrate when you listen to sound starting off the process of transforming acoustic energy into certain type of electrical impulses that your brain coverts into specific sounds. Unfortunately, the hair cells of your brain are prone to the ill-effects of the loud music generated by windblasts, engines and other sources. Once your hearing gets damaged, you can’t reverse the damage.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss has some clear symptoms. For instance, you may find it hard to notice the difference between high-pitched tones or conversations. In worse conditions, you may have tinnitus, which refers to ringing of the ears.
Dr. Scheinberg suggests that people should use hearing protection and get checkups at least once a year. Since the hearing damage is cumulative, make sure you wear hearing protection while riding a motorcycle in order to protect your hearing.
How Noise Affects Your Hearing
According to many research studies, motorcycle riding puts you at the risk of hearing loss due to the noise you are exposed to. Let’s find out how noise impacts your hearing.
When you are riding your bike at 56 kilometers per hour or higher, the wind noise is a lot louder than the exhaust or engine of the motorcycle itself. Even when you have a full-shell helmet on, the noise of the wind inside your helmet may be over 20 dB. The noise level will be even louder when you are riding at a faster speed on a highway.
As a matter of fact, many research studies have found that the noise level inside a full-shell helmet can be up to 116 dB. It’s like a running chain saw in the helmet! If you are wearing some other type of helmet, you will be exposed to a much higher level of noise.
Note: there is nothing like a quiet helmet. Your best bet is to look for the best earplugs for motorcycle riding.
In fact, helmets may raise the level of noise and frequency of it. For instance, if you have a helmet with a lot of cuts, the noise inside the helmet will be higher than that of a helmet with fewer cuts.
There are exceptions, though. If you opt for a high-end model of a helmet, you can experience less noise. But not everyone can afford expensive stuff. Most of the noise reaches your ears through the chin and neck area when you are wearing a helmet.
If you seal the open gaps with a scarf or helmet liner, you can lower the noise level in your helmet. The scarf will also keep you warm in cold weather.
In summer, you can choose a noise blocker or other products designed for motorcycle hearing protection. If you want to keep your hearing protected, you may want to use a special product such as motorcycle ear plugs while riding a motorcycle.
Typically, at 35 miles per hour, the noise of the exhaust and engine is louder than that of wind. The majority of motorcycles produce a noise of between 80 and 90 dB when idle and more than 100 dB at a speed of 50km per hour or higher. During a dirt bike race, a motorcycle can produce noise that can be up to 140 dB, which is equal to the noise produced by a shotgun.
Listening to Loud Music
it’s not a good idea to listen to music while you are on the move on your motorcycle. Usually, riders turn up the volume to ignore the background noise. We have already read that the noise from the exhaust and engine is too high even inside a helmet. Therefore, riders shouldn’t use the speakers built into the helmet. In some states, it’s even against the law. If you are not sure, you can Google “hearing protection while riding motorcycle law” along with the name of your state to know more.
Instead of listening to music to block the background noise, experts suggest that riders should use noise-isolating earphones. They cost below $150 and provide enough protection against noise. They are worth the cost if you are looking for hearing protection for motorcycle riding.
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