NPSF™ -- Are you
trying to reduce the wind noise while riding a motorcycle?
Back to the Noise
Problem Solution Finder
|Disposable Foam Ear Plugs
||Disposable foam ear plugs are the most commonly used hearing
protective device for motorcyclists. This is the result of disposable
foam ear plugs being the first, and often, only kind of ear plugs of
which the motorcyclist is made aware (usually through workplace hearing
protection programs.) Disposable foam ear plugs do an excellent job of
blocking wind noise. Unfortunately, they can also block criticallty
important sounds such as sirens, car horns, traffic noise, and your
rider yelling in your ear. If you are cruising at highway speeds,
disposable foam ear plugs may be just what you need and want, but there
are better options that can improve your comfort and safety, especially
when riding in high density traffic conditions. Disposable foam ear
plugs offer the highest level or protection you can get in a single
hearing protective device, but you must get them properly inserted, and
you must select the right plug to fit your ears. Here is a short video
tutorial on how to properly fit disposable foam ear plugs. To
find the perfect ear plug for your ears, we offer several ear plug trial packs that let you try out a bunch
to find your favorites.
|Reusable Pre-Molded Ear Plugs
||Reusable pre-molded ear plugs generally have lower NRR
ratings than do disposable foam ear plugs, and so they offer a better
balance between letting you hear what you need to hear and protecting
your hearing from excessive wind noise. Industrial reusable pre-molded ear plugs
can work well for motorcyclists and they are a lot less expensive than ear plugs made specifically for motorcycling.
Look for ear plugs without a stem, and with an NRR of 18-25. We offer a trial pack of the industrial reusable ear plugs
that can help you find one you like.
|Reusable Motorcycle Ear Plugs
||In just the past several years,
a new class of reusable pre-molded ear plugs have been developed
specifically for motorcyclists. These products have a very low profile,
with nothing sticking out of the ear to hit the helmet when putting it
on or taking it off, and they have embedded acoustic filters that are
tuned to reduce wind noise while allowing you to still hear traffic
noises and warning signals. These products are ideal for wear in and around cities where you need to be able to hear traffic and other warning sounds, but we hear from many riders that for open road full speed driving, they do not block enough of the wind noise. We suggest that you carry both motorcycle ear plugs and some disposable foam ear plugs, and use the ones you need for the kind of driving you plan to do.
|Moldable Silicone or Wax Ear Plugs
||Moldable ear plugs are simple blobs of silicone putty or wax,
which is usually mixed with cotton fibers to help keep the wax together
when it gets below about 85 degrees or so at which point the wax gets
brittle. Moldable ear plugs have the advantage of protecting hearing
without the need to insert anything into the ear canal. Moldable ear
plugs fill the outer ear, covering the opening to the canal, so they
are very comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Moldable ear
plugs have an NRR of about 22-25 dB which is ideal for motorcycling.
And, because moldable ear plugs have no stem, they work well under a
helmet. Kneading is required to warm and soften wax plugs each time you
use them, but this can be facilitated by carrying them in a pocket
close to the body where they remain warm and soft. Silicone putty is
more stable, and requires no preparatory kneading to soften them, but
both kinds must be kneaded a little to renew the tackiness that holds
them in the ear. For motorcyclists who prefer not to have a plug in the
ear canal, moldable ear plugs are a good solution.
|Custom Ear Plugs
||Lab-made custom ear plugs are the ultimate choice of the serious motorcycle rider. Custom ear plugs cost considerably more than do universal fit ear plugs, but as they say: "You get what you pay for." With custom ear plugs, physical impressions are first made of your ears (either by you or by an audiologist.) Those impressions are used to then make a mold into which the final ear plug material is poured. After that material sets, the plugs are cleaned up, smoothed, shaped, and sealed, cords or handles are added, acoustic filters (if included in your chosen ear plug model) are installed and the finished product is returned to you along with appropriate accessories. Because they are made directly from models of the inside of your ears (the impressions), custom ear plugs fit your ears perfectly, they are easy to insert and remove, they do not interfere with your helmet and they last for years. When considering custom ear plugs for motorcycle riding, here are a few things to consider:
Cords: though helpful in keeping you from dropping an ear plug on the ground when taking out or putting in your earplugs, the cord can be a nuisance while wearing them with riding gear. If you want cords, you might want to consider removable pop cords. These let you have your cords...or not, any time you wish.
Acoustic filters: Non-linear filters such as the Hock's Noise Braker (which we can install in most any custom ear plug,) can improve your ability to hear traffic noises, while still protecting you from the worst of the wind noise, but customers tell us the Hock's filters can let in too much wind noise when riding at highway speeds. In our opinion, you will be best served if you get either a convertible model, such as the Westone Style 47 (with the convertible option) that lets you plug the vent to make the ear plugs solid when you want more noise reduction, or get a model with interchangeable filters, such as the Westone Tru, so you can change the filters when you need more or less attenuation. Tru comes with just one set of filters, so you will have to buy extras if you go this route.
Isolation earphones: As an alternative to custom ear plugs that do nothing but block the noise, you might want to consider getting a set of custom isolation earphones. These are a combination of custom ear plugs, and earphones built right into the earpieces. These let you plug into your bike comm system, smart phone, ipod, or other device...or not. The earpieces give you excellent noise blocking performance and when you want to hear something through them, you simply plug them in, just as you would with ordinary earphones. Most custom isolation earphones and custom musician monitors (another name for the same thing) can be made in a low-profile form to minimize interference when donning or doffing your helmet. Because they are custom made, you can get some rather fabulous sounding earphones that double as protectors from the evils of wind noise, while providing amazing sound while you ride. Just make sure to tell us when you are ordering that you need them for wear under a motorcycle helmet. We will let you know if the model you want can be made to work for that purpose.
Our most popular custom isolation earphones, by a huge margin are the Challengers...probably because they cost only a little more than do custom ear plugs.
There are a few universal fit isolation earphones you can try, but most will be a pain because they usually get dislodged when putting on your helmet, and you cannot easily straighten them once you have your helmet on. Better to cough up the bucks to get a custom set made specifically for riding. Once you get them, you will never look back with regret.
Just ask: We offer specific custom ear plugs for motorcyclists, like the Perfect-Fit CMP, but keep in mind that custom means custom, and we can make most any model just about any way you want, so if you want custom musician ear plugs, which give you better sound fidelity, but in a low profile form so they will fit under your helmet, just ask. If we can accommodate your preferences, we will. The primary limitation is set by the size and shape of your ears. We cannot put a big thing inside a little ear, but other than that kind of limitation, we are here to serve and our lab techs are pretty awesome at making just what you want in a custom ear plug.
|Do-It-Yourself Custom Ear Plugs
||If you find most universal fit motorcycle ear plugs just do not work for you, but you are not ready to pop for the big bucks, we suggest you consider making your own custom molded ear plugs using one of the diy kits we sell. All of the diy custom kits we sell are fine products, and they do not cost much. If you want to try custom ear plugs while avoiding the over $100 price tag, diy custom ear plugs are a wonderful place to start...and maybe end. These ear plugs will last you for quite a long time with proper care. Even if it takes you a couple of tries to get your ear plugs just the way you want them, you will still save a ton by doing it yourself.
Oh, and one more idea for you: if you go to motorcycle rallys and want to engage in a little entrepreneurial venture, check out our OCEPS system that lets you make custom ear plugs right on site, for other bikers who need them. Using OCEPS, the materials cost you well under $10 a set and these generally sell for around $50 at motorcycle rallys and gun shows.
What Do You Think? Share Your Experiences, Questions, and Comments Below.