Most motorcyclists understand the effects of a "silent killer"
which follows them every time they enjoy riding their bikes. Unfortunately,
several people still believe the causes of hearing loss are due to how
loud the bike sounds, and/or that it affects only the people who do not
wear full shell helmets. This is true to a certain degree.
To put this in perspective, according to OSHA's regulation of industrial noise exposure, an average worker surrounded by levels around 85-90dB for an eight hour day will not exceed the limits of exposure time within a 24 hour period of time.
However, when the sound levels exceed 100dB, your exposure time is reduced
to two hours. When sound levels exceed 115dB, your exposure time is drastically
reduced to 15 minutes. This puts riding a bike a whole other realm as
"wind noise" at highway speeds can measure up to 103dB, or comparable
to a running chainsaw. At these levels the rider is not only fatiguing
physically from the excess noise exposure, but it also puts him into a
position of needing a hearing aid later in life.
Everyone has experienced this phenomenon at one time or another, whether it is from going to loud dance halls, or concerts, or even work. Even some of today's movie theatres can cause this to happen, but this is a specific certainty for motorcyclists who disregard adequate hearing protection while riding their bike.
Riding position and style of windshield help in preventing "silent killers" ability to fully be experienced. But even the best helmets on today's marketplace provide little help when considering "wind noise" levels at normal highway speeds. Obviously, this factor is increased in half shell models as well as skullcaps, but the common helmets used in today's marketplace are designed to fit entirely over the head providing a snug fit. These types of helmets have the best attenuation value (reduction in noise) regardless of any airflow modifications done to the outside. But these helmets still produce wind noise readings of 110 to 116dB's, from 35mph to highway speeds. When reflecting back to the comparison chart, 116dB will only be suitable for 15 minutes of riding a day. Not a lot of time to enjoy your hobby.... Is it?
Although there are several versions of hearing protection devices on the market, a custom set of earmolds is still the best answer in suppressing sound. They provide excellent attenuation values and are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. They can even be molded with high-grade transducers, which allow for stereo compatibility or communications. To find out more about these products search under our "Product Links" listed on the navigation bar.
We also suggest checking with your local state officials on the regulations of wearing hearing protection. Several states have motorcycle laws regarding earplug use. For a quick reference, see the AMA web pages on State Motorcycle Laws - http://www.ama-cycle.org/roadride/road.asp.
Do You Hear What I Hear, Part 3/Norm Matzen/Motorcycle Consumer News, November 1999 Comparison Charts/A.W. McCombe, 1994
Noise Levels Under Motorcycle Helmets, Mike Lower, D.W. Hurst, A.R. Claughton and A. Thomas, 1994, 1996/ISVR Consultancy Services