Most bikers think that a top-of-the-range helmet – or even any helmet at all – protects their hearing. They also think that hearing loss comes only from exposure to the noise of the bike itself. However, according to a study performed by the University of Southampton, above 65 km/h the wind noise generated by the airflow over a motorcycle and rider exceeds the noise from the motorcycle itself.
In South Africa, the maximum legal exposure to constant noise of 80dB is eight hours. As noise increases, exposure time decreases, and by the time noise reaches 115dB, exposure is limited to a mere 15 minutes before damage occurs. Wind noise at highway speeds can measure up to 105dB – worse than running a chainsaw! At these levels, the rider will experience physical fatigue from the excess noise exposure, and will need a hearing aid later in life.
The study showed that the main source of wind noise is the turbulence at the edge of the windscreen’s wake acting on the helmet. Low windscreens direct the turbulence to the base of the helmet, while high windscreens direct it to the helmet visor and forehead. Modifications to improve helmet seals at these points can reduce noise levels by between 5 and 8dB at the ear.
While these decreases are a step in the right direction, the best protection is at the ear, where studies show that hearing protection can achieve noise levels of 70dB at 80 km/h and 80dB at 115 km/h. While active noise reduction earmuffs can be built into your helmet, this is costly, and the same – or better – results can be achieved from custom-made in-the-ear hearing protectors.
Our custom-made hearing protection devices are made from custom impressions of your ear. The filters are sunk into the unit, for maximum comfort when wearing a helmet. Visit our products page to find out more.