Here’s Why You Need To Wear Earplugs While Riding


  • Wind and bike noise can exceed safe levels and cause hearing damage, leading to long-term consequences such as tinnitus and permanent hearing loss.
  • Earplugs are a simple and effective solution to protect your hearing while riding a motorcycle, reducing sound levels without blocking out all sounds.
  • There are various types of earplugs available, ranging from cheap disposable foam plugs to custom-made options, allowing you to choose what works best for your comfort and budget.



Riding a motorcycle is an immersive experience, and we like to feel the wind on our faces (through helmet vents), smell the various aromas and stinks the road has to offer, and communicate with our motorcycles under us. But in this orchestra of senses, there’s one sense that is at risk: your hearing. Yes, your SC-Project muffler sounds sweet, but your hearing may not be around to enjoy it for long. Wind and bike noise may not seem like such a nuisance right now — your brain has already gotten used to it — but you are still paying the price. Fortunately, you don’t have to keep paying it while riding your motorcycle. You can save your ears from turning into a Morse code rave party (tinnitus) with earplugs.

This article on motorcycle earplugs is put together thanks to personal experiences and information sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Occupational Safety and Health Administration,, manufacturers, and

Related: Why Riding A Motorcycle Is Great For Your Physical & Mental Health

Wind Noise: A Matter Of Safety

Multistrada V4S

Motorcycles are already louder than cars as they lack the sound-deadening features present on a four-wheeler, and many bikers also like to make their bikes louder with aftermarket exhausts. But the noise issue does not end here; even your helmet produces a lot of noise thanks to turbulence when moving through the air — yes, even a fancy helmet like the AGV Pista GP RR will produce wind noise. Put two and two together and the noise levels will easily exceed 85 dB — the margin beyond which you start experiencing hearing loss, according to OSHA. The noise levels can even exceed 100 dB if you’re running an aftermarket exhaust, which can cause hearing damage in as little as 15 minutes. This is the reason why your ears sometimes feel numb after a long stint on the highway.

But here’s the scary part — you won’t lose your hearing right away. Every time you ride your motorcycle at highway speeds, your ears will incur some damage, which accumulates over the years. It will start off with a Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS), which reduces your acute hearing pattern for some time, and this will eventually turn into tinnitus followed by permanent hearing loss. No wonder engine and wind noise are the leading causes of deafness among bikers. And don’t worry about earplugs blocking out all sounds. That’s not really the case. What earplugs essentially do is reduce the sound levels; you’ll still hear everything but on a much quieter level.

The Onset Time For Hearing Damage

Average Sound Level

Everyday Sounds For Reference

Max Time Before Onset Of Damage

80 to 85 dB

City traffic

No damage, only annoyance

85 dB

Lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and motorcycles in city traffic

2 hours of exposure

95 dB

Motorcycles with stock exhaust at highway speeds

50 minutes of exposure

100 dB

Loud motorcycles at high speeds, car horns at 5 meters, sporting events, and approaching subway trains

15 minutes of exposure

105 to 110 dB

Straight-piped race bikes at illegal speeds, nightclubs, and rock concerts

5 minutes of exposure

Table sourced from Centers For Disease Control And Prevention

Comfort: Finding A Needle In A Haystack

Klim Krios Pro Helmet on a rider

Wind noise is not only bad for your hearing in the long run, but it can also make your ride uncomfortable. At highway speeds, your brain has to process around 90 dB of noise, filter out the unnecessary frequencies, and focus on important sounds around you. You may not notice this right away, but so much brain activity can actually tire you out faster, interfering with your decision-making skills. Funnily, your AirPods will run out of juice faster when the active noise cancelation is turned on. So, protecting yourself from the wind noise is as much about safety as it is about comfort on a long ride. And as you already know, the key to covering a lot of distance safely is comfort.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Motorcycle Seats Matter

Earplugs Are Here To Save Your Ears

Ducati DesertX

“Wind noise? So what, I’ll just buy a helmet with better sound insulation.” If that’s what you’re thinking, stop right now — that won’t help much. Yes, some expensive helmets are quieter than the rest, but they are still loud; helmets protect your hearing about as much as your hoodie protects you during a slide (hint: not a lot). What you need instead is a pair of earplugs. These little plugs reduce the sound reaching your ears, and while their performance varies, most earplugs cut out around 25 to 35 dB of sound. Remember, since sound is measured on a logarithmic scale, every ten dB of loss makes the sound half as loud, so even a cheap pair with a 20 dB rating will bring the noise down to around 70 dB, which is at least not harmful.

Apart from safety, earplugs will also improve your comfort on the ride. The reduced noise levels will give your brain more space to discern the surrounding sounds, so you won’t tire out so fast. Your ride will be a lot smoother and safer, and you’ll be able to make better decisions on the road. This may not seem like too much, but you’ll notice the difference after a few hours on the road — you won’t be as fatigued as you would be otherwise.

Pick Your Flavor: Foam, Custom, And Specialized

Alpine MotoSafe Pro

Before you think earplugs are yet another expensive piece of your riding gear, don’t sweat it. Chances are, you won’t have to spend more than a few dollars on your earplugs unless you want to splurge and get the best earplugs available in the market. Earplugs come in a wide variety, ranging from those that cost mere pennies to those that cost upwards of a hundred dollars. Let’s take a look at the common options you have along with their pros and cons.

Industrial Disposable Foam Plugs

Industrial disposable earplugs are made from foam, designed for loud work environments, and these earplugs are dirt cheap. You can get really good ones from 3M or Hearos for pennies, especially if you buy in bulk — you’ll find these earplugs littered around our tank bags. These earplugs reduce the sound levels by 30 dB but take time to get used to as they aren’t selective about what they cut out. As for the downsides, they aren’t plug-and-play; you need to prepare them, and doing it right takes a couple of minutes. Plus, they can’t be used more than a few times, but considering how cheap these are, you won’t mind sacrificing a few to the wind gods on your ride.

Custom Earplugs

The best hearing protection you can get as a biker is custom earplugs, which fit the unique shape of your ear canals perfectly. And there are two flavors of these: you can either get cheap silicone tabs or have them custom-made for your ears. The former is a bit finicky to use, where you have to place the silicone tab in your ear and press it until it takes the shape of your ear, creating a seal. But custom-made earplugs are *chef’s kiss* — they are comfortable and ensure a good seal regardless of your ear canal shape and size, but they can be expensive.

Biker-Specific Ear Plugs

For most bikers, the best option is to choose motorcycle-specific earplugs. These are a little more expensive than foam plugs and require some maintenance, but they are purpose-built for bikers. These plugs are designed to cut out wind noise while allowing clear communication. Generally, these earplugs block out up to 30 dB, depending on their quality and purpose.

Best Earplugs For Bikers

  • EarPeace Moto Pro Earplugs
  • 3M industrial foam plugs — buy in bulk
  • Hearos Sport
  • Pinlock Earplugs
  • Hearos Earplugs
  • NoNoise MotorsportNoise Filter Ear Protection

Recommendations sourced from

Some Tips On Using Earplugs

Remember, your ear canals are unique, and what works for you may not work for your riding buddy. So, it’s important to try out different styles and brands to find what works best for you. Some bikers swear by disposable ones (we’re one of them), but many bikers like to spend the extra dough for custom earplugs, so it largely depends on what works for you. Regardless of the type of earplugs you choose, here are a few tips on using them:

  • Always prioritize comfort; uncomfortable earplugs will annoy you for the first ten minutes but quickly turn into a headache, and they can distract you from the road — comfort is interlinked with safety here
  • Try out different decibel ratings to figure out what works best for you — some prefer 25 dB attenuation whereas others prefer 35 dB
  • Avoid cleaning disposable earplugs; three uses, and they’re done, but always clean reusable earplugs to avoid ear infections
  • Don’t lick your form plugs to make them easier to insert as ear wax tastes wacky (don’t ask us how we know); give yourself a wet willy instead
  • Avoid earplugs with long stalks or strings that may transmit noise straight to your ears

#Heres #Wear #Earplugs #Riding

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