I am the type that typically thinks nothing bad will ever happen to me. Maybe that’s why a lot of people think I am such a badass daredevil. They tell me to slow down, wear a helmet and ear protection, and I always roll my eyes and sing-song “negativity!” Well, I must admit, I should have listened to them.
After long rides, I am usually mentally exhausted and like to plop down on the bed to take a nap, and when I do, I always hear this clicking noise. I chalked it up to a mouse making its nest under my bed, but when I moved to a different house, I heard it again, and the likelihood that the same mouse moved with me was very slim. I then googled “clicking noise” and sadly discovered it’s a symptom of tinnitus, i.e. ringing in the ears.
After doing some research on it, I learned that tinnitus comes from the Latin word ‘ringing.’ This makes sense because for most sufferers, this is what they hear … ringing in the ears. Although I experience clicking, others might hear buzzing or whistling, sometimes all three. Once you have tinnitus, it is permanent because the hair cells that are found in our inner ear are damaged by noise. Once damaged, they cannot grow back, thus causing permanent hearing loss.
With motorcycle riding, there is no doubt you are going to be around loud noise, especially if you have aftermarket exhaust systems. You also must remember that wind is noise. I know, it’s hard to believe since we all seek wind therapy. When wind gets around a biker’s ear, it is very loud. It is at a low frequency, but this fools the brain into thinking it’s not as bad as it really is. The airflow vibration that emits around the biker’s ears is what does the damage.
Just imagine, OSHA wants you to wear ear protection in the workplace if sound levels exceed 85 dBA, and if you are riding up to eight hours at 40 mph, wind noise is about 85-90 dBA, so it is deemed safe. But who rides 40 mph on a road trip?
I interviewed my good friend Greg about his tinnitus, and he stated, “I think I’ve had a slight hissing sound in my ears for years, ever since I was in the USAF. I never equated this to what’s known as tinnitus.” He goes to say, “As I spent subsequent years in rock bands and riding loud motorcycles, I knew I was suffering a bit of hearing loss, but again, not what I knew as tinnitus, as there was only that slight hissing sound, and only detectable when I was in a very quiet environment.” Greg now went to slightly lower-frequency pipes and using ear-plugs when going on longer trips as a preventative step.
Ear doctors (ENTs) say tinnitus is permanent, so let’s preserve what hearing we have left while riding, especially for those going on road trips this season.
Below are some ear protection ideas:
Custom Molded Fit Ear Plugs
New Leaf Hearing in Arvada provides great custom molded motorcycle hearing protection called Motorsport. The Motorsport is designed with a hollow canal for under helmet use to reduce wind buffeting. It is comfortable and easy to remove. Motorsport comes in a swirl of three colors, shiny or matte.
You can purchase these at NewLeafHearing.com.
The Auritech ear plugs are perfect for motorcyclists; it features a precision filter which 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.
You can purchase these on Amazon.com.
Earbuds and In-Ear Headphones
If you like to listen to music while you ride, I recommend Beats by Dr. Dre. They always stay in my ears while doing the speed limit and faster. They block out loud and wind noises while playing pleasant sounds of your favorite music.
You can purchase these at BestBuy.com.
Bandanas and headwear such as Buff or SA Company are great ear covers. I like to use these to secure my earphones and to block wind noise.
You can purchase these on Amazon.com
Any helmet that has those padded ear muffs work great against wind noise. If you already have a helmet and want to just get those muffs, you can purchase them at JPCycles.com.
If you are a Costco member, their Hearing Aid Center offers free hearing tests. If you want peace of mind, check out your hearing.