woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts frequently cite the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the primary reasons behind their passion. However, if you’re an avid rider, you should be aware of a significant risk: research has linked this stimulating hobby to irreversible hearing damage.

The effect of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was assessed in a comprehensive study conducted by a hearing protection maker in cooperation with a prominent German automobile association. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for just 15 minutes, riders who don’t make use of hearing protection can suffer irreversible hearing damage.

Why do bikers get hearing loss?

While the idea of hearing loss might not be surprising, the leading culprit could. Contrary to what many think, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but rather, the wind that poses the greatest hazard. The research highlighted that although helmets provide critical protection during crashes, they fall short in protecting a biker’s hearing. Enhancements to the helmet, such as added padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to reduce the wind noise whirling around the rider.

Motorcyclists are frequently impacted by a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS), which results from frequent exposure to extreme noise levels. TTS is a progressive condition, which means the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can become. At first, TTS sufferers may notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But permanent hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

Comparing wind noise with other noise levels

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how extreme wind noise can be while riding. The wind noise around a rider’s head can be as high as 95 (dB) at 62 mph. For context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers must safeguard their ears if exposed to noise levels higher than 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing noise levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

As the speed increases, so does the volume level. Hearing damage can occur after just 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which produces wind volumes of 98 dB. Many studies corroborate that bikers are indeed at considerable risk of permanent hearing loss.

How to safeguard your hearing

Fortunately, safeguarding your hearing while riding is both easy and effective: use earplugs. Hearing specialists strongly recommend making use of filtered earplugs, which are far better than the old, uncomfortable versions most people are familiar with. These sophisticated earplugs are designed to protect your eardrums from high-frequency noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to get in. It’s important for bikers to still be able to hear vital sounds like human voices, emergency warning sounds, and car horns.

Bikers are also able to get the complete experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the external world which can’t be said for the old conventional style. With filtered earplugs, you can continue to enjoy the thrill of the ride while protecting your hearing from the harmful effects of wind noise.

It is possible to enjoy the excitement of speed and the freedom of the open road while still keeping your ears safe from wind noise. Significant and permanent hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply using a set of quality earplugs.

Stay on top of your hearing health by contacting us to discuss hearing protection.

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