Motorcycle Ear Plugs: Can You Hear Me Now?

Motorcycle  EarplugsI’ve done a lot of riding over the years — and most of it without ear plugs. Throw in a whole bunch of rock concerts from a long time ago, and you have a recipe for aural attenuation (reduced hearing).

Some guys/gals don’t like ear plugs — and I can understand why. It takes more time to get on to the road while you insert them in your ears. When you stop for gas, it’s harder to speak with others, unless you take the plugs out. Ideally, you would then clean your hands before you put new plugs in, so you don’t get anything untoward in your ear canals. And that can slow things down a little more.

Ear plugs have made their way into my road gear over the last few years. Particularly when I’m going on longer rides. The reduced noise just makes the trip more comfortable…up to a point. Perhaps I haven’t tried enough different kinds of ear plugs, but the barrel-foam variety that I use, as well as the re-usable rubbery types that I often wear, create their own fatigue after several hours. Somewhere between 3 and 5 hours, they start to become a nuisance. The good news is that when I take them out after a chunk of riding, and then continue on my merry way, I’m definitely more refreshed than I would have been without them.

There are some riding adjustments I need to make when I’ve got the plugs in. I have noticed that I tend to go faster and I’m guessing it’s because the engine is quieter so it “sounds” like I’m going slower than I really am.

For me, ear plugs just add an additional element of riding safety: I’m more alert for longer periods of time. I’m more comfortable. It’s important to note that ear plugs do not reduce all the noise: I can still hear what’s going on around me. The ambient sound is just softer. It’s not as quiet as driving in a car, but it’s a more pleasant way to spend longer hours in the saddle.

The lessened noise reduces general fatigue by cutting down the strain on my ears. Hopefully, this will help reduce the amount of future persons that will be repeating in my direction “Can You Hear Me Now?” (Or is that just a standard cell phone conversation?)

Do you use ear plugs?

63 thoughts on “Motorcycle Ear Plugs: Can You Hear Me Now?

  • Everything you say rings true…except you didn’t mention the ringing in my ears. Do you hear the crickets? 24/7 for me. As one of the posters said, when it’s gone, it’s gone. For me it’s going, so I’m trying to keep what I have. And yes, I am magically a faster rider when wearing plugs…oops. But a good set of earplugs is as important as a comfortable seat on long days. Been using the NoNoise plugs, which work well, but can get uncomfortable after a few hours. I recently ordered a set of custom fit plugs, waiting for delivery.

  • Faithfully wear plugs in ears. Loud steel belted tires on all cars and especially large trucks, are very loud. Your hearing is precious and well worth preserving! Huh? What’d you say? Would you repeat that please? Oh forget it you old fart!

  • I almost exclusively ride with earplugs in. I have found the foam and plastic ear inserts uncomfortable and ill fitting. I had custom earphones made that I use a lot, which adds to a great ride. The molds make for good earplugs but one broke. One of our area gunshops make the custom plugs and I recommend them.

  • Norm Quan is on the right track with the maximum insertion theory…..but, what I do is lick the end of my pinky and give myself a “Frenchie” in my ear canal before inserting my foamy earplugs. If you really roll ’em tight and slip them into your wet canals, you’ll have a near perfect seal and the result will be an “other-worldly” experience.

    I don’t ALWAYS ride with the plugs in, but for long rides, especially on the slab when big mileage is a mandatory evil, it definitely helps to not have that constant buzz in your head.

  • I’ve been using “ear valves” for years now. They’re basically and ear plug with a diaphragm in them, I’ve found they cut the wind and exhaust noise while riding but you can still have a conversation when stopped. Plus I don’t get that “plugged up” feeling. You can usually find them in hunting supplies.

  • Rode since 1963 as near as I can figure well over 250 K and probably a lot more miles , Run heavy cranes on the railroad , We had no air in vehicles so more than a million miles with window down which accounts for deafness and ringing in left ear , Driving truck for at Least a Half million miles, Shooter and back then it was hard if not impossible to find an ear plug even if we knew about them , And oh yes did I mention the military that said nothing about hearing protection while shooting such toys as the M14 (308), And Bazooka, Mortar , Ma deuce 50 cal machine gun which I was a gunner on, let alone a DI screaming in your ear. Being married.
    No wonder I am deaf.

  • An absolute essential for me on every ride. Would not ride without. I use the Scala G4 for inter bike communication and the soft ear plugs allow me to hear my riding buddies voice clearly. Yes plugs can be fiddly but once I’m settled into my ride they are great. I change them often and they’re only a few cents. They add to safety and do not detract in anyway.

  • As an Audiologist I suffer from the quandary of wearing plugs. I prefer the EAR Classics
    as they give as much as a 29dB NRR (noise reduction rating).typically, when I am not going to exceed 50mph I don’t wear them. On long trips they may be a pain however, I find them
    a must! My engine sounds wierd and might benefit the service people. I ride with some
    for whom restrictions on pipes know no bounds. My bike is quiet by comparison .
    You be the judge; bottom line it’s your choice. I do note that my tinnitus is not as bad when
    I wear the plugs on long trips. Unfortunately, since the seventies not much noise research
    has been done in this country.

  • I wear earplugs for every ride. According to Keith Code, a famous racing instructor, a rider has only a finite amount of concentration at any given moment on the road/ track. Every facet of riding (road conditions, bike behavior, inputs, etc.) use up a certain percentage of this finite amount of concentration. Earplugs regain a portion of lost concentration by ridding the distraction associated with wind noise. You will be able to think more clearly while riding if you use earplugs. For advanced users, try this trick: After inserting the disposable plugs, use the eraser end of a pencil to jam each plug further into the ear canal with moderate force. You will notice a marked improvement in effectiveness over insertion alone. When done riding, remove the plugs with the aid of your motorcycle key. Use your judgement with this technique.

  • For unclear reasons I have lost my 86% of my hesring in my left ear; all I can say with sincere advice is to do what is needed to protect your hearing. When its gone, its gone.

  • I wore earplugs at work for years. Unfortunately I probably started too late and damaged my hearing prior to that by running machinery without during my teenage years. I also wore single protection at work in areas where double protection is now mandatory. I drove unairconditioned cars and trucks with the windows down at speed and I rode motorcycles for years before I finally wised up. I now have ringing in my ears ALL the time and it is no fun. Ear Plugs? I wear them religiously as I do not want to lose even more of my hearing.

  • I wear ear plugs when I’m not wearing my full face helmet. As many have commented here its not the noise but the wind.
    Be aware though that some states have laws regarding the operation of a motorcycle and the wearing of ear plugs.
    Personally I’d rather fight the ticket than suffer the hearing loss.

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