Author: Naomi Dunbar

Protecting yourself from hearing loss and tinnitus when riding

Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route

The rev of your engine as you fire it up, the beastly roar as you accelerate into the distance… tunnels – need I say more!? We all love the rugged sounds that our machines spit out as we ride, but, if you’re not careful, you might not be able to hear it forever.

Did you know that wind and road noises can reach a heck of a lot of decibels when you’re out and about on your motorbike? Easily enough to gradually cause permanent hearing loss or tinnitus over your riding years, just as working at aviation or construction sites would.

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So with that in mind, we teamed up with hearing protection specialists, Auritech, to look at the dangers of hearing impairment caused by riding without earplugs.

When you can't hear what someone says
No matter how fast or slow you ride, wind noise is always going occur. It’s considered very dangerous when it comes to damaging your hearing, as when you’re out on your bike, wind noise, along with engine and road noise, can create over a whopping 100 decibels. It’s being exposed to this amount of decibels for hours at a time when riding, that can cause irreversible damage to your hearing.

So how does this noise actually damage your hearing? Well, deep down within the cavity of your ear, there are thousands of tiny little hairs that vibrate when sound waves travel down your ear canal. The vibration of these little hairs is what enables your brain to convert sound waves into the sound you hear, for example, someone talking. When your ears are subjected to loud noises for a prolonged amount of time, over the years, these hairs can become damaged. Unfortunately, this is irreversible, so once they are damaged, they won’t grow back. It’s the loss of these hairs which causes hearing impairment and can also increase the risk of you developing tinnitus (a very annoying, constant high-pitched noise, which you can’t turn off!).

Foam ear plugs
Photo: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

You can dramatically lower the risk of hearing loss and tinnitus if you take precautions to protect yourself, by wearing quality earplugs. “But surely wearing earplugs is unsafe? I won’t be able to hear anything around me, including emergency service vehicle sirens?” Yep, your bog standard foam earplugs, which cost 14p (including postage) from eBay, for about eight million of the buggers, most probably will. However, the folks at Auritech have created a pair of biker specific earplugs which have a nifty little solution for that.

“How?” I hear you ask. Well, the Auritech earplugs feature a precision filter. This filter is positioned deep into the hearing channel of your ear and ensures that the maximum level of sound waves can reach your eardrum after being safely filtered first. Which means the earplugs do not muffle or block your hearing and are also suitable for intercom use.

Auritech ear plugs
The patented filter is ceramic and frequency-selective, therefore it allows you to hear normal conversation and all of the relevant background noises such as sirens and horns whilst blocking out wind and road noise, so you can carry on as normal. In fact, once you’ve got used to the feeling of the earplugs in your ears, you’ll probably hardly notice them at all.

The earplugs have a universal fit, are silicone free, hypoallergenic and are created using thermoplastic, for ultimate comfort. They’re also washable and re-usable, which means you’ll have no issues with using them over and over again.

So, what is your hearing worth to you, could you put a price on it? How about £19.95? Not bad is it. For more information and to browse Auritech’s range of different purpose earplugs, check out their website here.

Featured image: Pierce Martin