Do you use earplugs when you ride a motorcycle? - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 42 Old 09-17-2019, 02:53 AM Thread Starter
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Do you use earplugs when you ride a motorcycle?

The first 8 months of me having a bike has been a blast. I was pretty comfortable with the exhaust noise and wind noise at first. Nowadays I always put a scarf on my neck so the wind and the noise doesn't enter through the space between my helmet and my neck to my ears. I've been in Argentina for vacation last month and I got my ears infected and that started it all. Now I'm considering earplugs because my hearing is still sensitive even after the infection. Been watching videos on YouTube. I found FortNine's video about earplugs but I'm more intrigued by this channel called
. It's this custom earplugs company called Big Ear who owns the channel and they look pretty legit. Have any of you guys tried their products? Do you guys have other recommendations for me?

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post #2 of 42 Old 09-17-2019, 04:16 AM
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There are various companies out there who can do custom airplugs for you. Make sure you get the ones specific for motorcycle use - they've got a filter that filters out wind noise (most important source of noise) but lets other sounds (horns) through a bit. A cheap filter indiscriminately filters out everything.

The best plugs are the ones that are moulded to your ear. If you don't have a custom fitter close to you (and note that typically there's a few present at MC trade shows as well), you can also go to your local hearing care professional and let them do the impression of your ear. This is then shipped to the earplug company, who create the custom plug.
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post #3 of 42 Old 09-17-2019, 04:26 AM
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Absolutely. I use custom moulded ones bought at an MC show from Fit Ear (US company)

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post #4 of 42 Old 09-17-2019, 07:55 AM
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I've been wearing ear plugs for the last 15 years, the first 17 years of riding I didn't, nor even thought about it. I think it's an age thing, many of my friends I've been riding with for 30+ years now wear plugs.

I like the foam plugs (-32db) you get at the drug store, a jar of 50 is well under $10. I also had a custom, molded set made for me at a MC show, not sure if they were made incorrectly, but they didn't work. They blocked almost no wind noise, yet I couldn't hear anyone talking.

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post #5 of 42 Old 09-17-2019, 08:35 AM
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Been wearing ear plugs since 1977. Learn to use them. There is a LOT of difference in how brands/shapes will feel in YOUR ear. Learn how to insert them properly. That matters and many don't do it right.

Custom molded ear plugs are wonderful. Expensive and the only way to get the best of these is to have them fitted at a rally or other event. Work on getting those later if you want.

Proper ear protection actually reduces fatigue on a long day. Not to mention that it protects hearing and that doesn't show up in your youth. You will be glad you took precautions later in life when your friends most used word is "Huh?".

Another big that you can hear traffic and even sound systems BETTER with ear plugs in!
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post #6 of 42 Old 09-17-2019, 11:11 AM
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It's shocking to me how many riders still have no idea they need to wear ear plugs. Yes, even behind a fairing and in a quality helmet, you still need ear plugs.

Yes, you can still hear the things you need to hear with ear plugs in. Much better in fact. There's no such thing as a magic "cone of silence" that eliminates all sound. Ear plugs only reduce sound so it's below damaging levels, and so you can actually hear things like sirens and horns far better than if your head is full of wind roar.

Every ear is different, so every rider has to experiment to find the best solution that works for them. You can buy sampler packs online of various styles of disposable ear plugs if you'd like to try a variety. There's a way to plug any ear.

I'll share my personal anecdote that may be useful. Your ear plug journey will likely be different.

Anyway, the custom ear plugs have never worked for me. They don't work for a large percentage of folks; I think perhaps some people have ear anatomy that moves around more or something. Things are nice and quiet, then the helmet goes on and the plugs lose their seal. And even at their best, the NRR of custom ear plugs is far less than good foam plugs.

Custom plugs (including plugs with ear phones) do work for many, but you need to be aware going in that they don't work for some. There are no guarantees. You'll always get better noise reduction and protection from foam plugs.

Every ear is different, and some folks even find that they need to use something different in their left ear than the right.

After two EXTREMELY painful ear canal infections caused by re-using ear plugs, I now only use disposable foam ear plugs and replace them daily. There are several models that worked well for me (Howard Leight was what I used to use most of the time, and they work well for lots of people).

However, I lost a large amount of weight and found that my ear holes got bigger and my usual ear plugs wouldn't seal any more. After some furious Googling, I found that the largest foam ear plugs in all the lands were "Hearos Xtreme", which is what I use now. I buy them by the box of 200 on Amazon.

If you have narrow ear canals, there are also smaller ear plugs available made for women and children. Some folks with very sensitive ears, hard-to-fit ears, or non-standard ear anatomy have to use silicone putty ear plugs, where you mash a little blob into your ears.

I'll also note that one of the most common ear plugs provided by workplaces (the EAR Classic, a yellow foam cylinder) tends to be very abrasive and uncomfortable with much harder foam than most, and has given many people a negative impression of foam ear plugs. There are far more comfortable options.

The other thing to remember is that there's a learning curve to this all. Of course, if you have any pain or dizziness, you need to remove or reposition your ear plug immediately. But for many people, it takes a little time to get used to using ear plugs at first. After a while, the ear plugs should "disappear", but they do feel odd at first. I now often use ear plugs to sleep if things are noisy (snoring roomie at a rally, for example).

With any ear plugs, there's an art to inserting them correctly; you need to roll up foam ear plugs evenly and insert them at the right depth so they're effective and comfortable. Give yourself some time to learn all this, and experiment with different ear plugs and techniques.

It's well worth it; you'll be able to ride further, faster, and far more safely because you'll massively reduce fatigue and distractions. And of course, you'll be able to hear your grandchildren...
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Last edited by bwringer; 09-17-2019 at 11:19 AM.
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post #7 of 42 Old 09-17-2019, 11:21 AM
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Here is a good place to start:

I tried the custom molded ones (got them at a MC trade show) and was not happy. Especially considering the price. For me, they did not reduce the noise enough and were uncomfortable after about an hour.
I went back to the Max Leight green foamies. Effective, comfortable, and lastly.....inexpensive. They work for ME but you will have to find what works for you.

The only constant is to wear protection of some kind.

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post #8 of 42 Old 09-17-2019, 12:25 PM
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What BW said.

You need hearing protection, IMO. As to what kind, that is going to vary by personal preference and what works for you. I'm one of those who didn't have good luck with custom molded plugs (with speakers built in - not cheap!), and find molded silicone plugs uncomfortable.

Good, soft foam plugs work for me, and I buy them by the box, having found a brand/style that works well for me. I use them on almost every ride - I'll maybe go a few km at lunch, or up to the gas station and back without plugs, at low speeds. Any longer/faster ride will find me with plugs in.
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post #9 of 42 Old 09-17-2019, 12:28 PM
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I wear ear plugs EVERY time I ride. I use the ear plugs shown below. I put a drop of Baby Oil on the tip to aid insertion into the ear canal.

3M UltraFit™ Earplugs (No Cord)
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File Type: jpg earplugs.jpg (20.9 KB, 102 views)

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post #10 of 42 Old 09-17-2019, 02:37 PM
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Earplugs are an absolute must when riding a motorcycle. I am now 68 and I regret not using them earlier in my motorcycling career. The reason of course is tinnitus which is now a permanent feature of my daily life. I have no doubt that helmet noise unchecked is the culprit.
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