Women Riders

Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow

Written by  December 31, 2005

Huh? What did you say? Can you hear me now? Do you find yourself talking loud around other bikers? Has riding affected your hearing? How many years in the future do you want to hear well, and how important is your hearing to you?

Earplugs, do you use them? Do you think of them as bike protection like you do your leathers, boots, gloves and helmet? I would guess you probably don’t. I polled a few riders and only 5 out of 18 wear earplugs on a regular basis. The majority only wore them on the highways, rarely during in-town riding. A few never wear them saying the noise/loud pipes are part of the thrill of riding. Some said they don’t wear them because it inhibits important traffic sounds around them. Others, myself included, disagree and say you can hear sounds of cars while wearing earplugs, plus you don’t have the hearing fatigue. And in turn, that makes you a safer rider all around. I personally think if you get into the habit of wearing them the day you start riding, you will always wear them. Otherwise, they are a hassle taking them in and out at every stop, and then trying to find them before you saddle up again. I have tried several kinds, even the ones attached to a string (like idiot mittens for children!), and they get tangled up in my hair or clothing. I have found several loose ones in the washing machine or dryer, and I’m sure they are like lost socks; the machine devours the other one thus eliminating your “pair.”

Statistics show that at any speed over 30 mph the noise levels are loud enough to eventually cause hearing damage. Even with a quiet full-face helmet, hearing damage will begin with much more than half an hour of daily exposure at highway speeds.
Between the wind, the pipes and even the loud noises of buses and trucks, you’re exposing your ears to a barrage of sound every time you ride. Construction workers, teenagers listening to heavy metal music, people serving in the military, just to name a few, are exposed to on-going abuse to their ears. It’s a proven fact that continuous exposure to elevated noise levels will cause you to lose sensitivity; the more continuous, the more permanent the damage becomes.

There are many benefits to wearing earplugs besides saving your hearing for the future.

Earplugs stop the hiss, and reduce the volume of the engine on your bike.
With less noise, you are more relaxed and you have a better concentration level while riding.
Ear plugs are inexpensive, moisture resistant, comfortable, easy to use and effective.
Earplugs can make a noisy helmet much quieter.

They can be reusable, washable, disposable or custom made.

Can’t find a pair that fits you or want a perfect fit especially for your ears? Order a custom set of molded latex earplugs that are a worthwhile investment in protection and comfort. Remember, every ear canal is different, so try several types until you find the one that works best for you. It is recommended your earplugs be at least 30 dB noise attenuation. It is important to make sure your earplugs are inserted and fit property, or you won’t get the full benefit of noise attenuation.

The E.A.R., Inc., Company recommends the following procedure for correct insertion: “For the disposable foam ear plugs, hold the ear plug between your thumb and forefinger. Roll and compress the entire earplug to a small crease –free cylinder. While still rolling, use your other hand to reach over your head and pull up and back on your outer ear. This is important! This straightens the ear canal, making way for a snug fit. If you can cup your hands over your ears and the noise seems to decrease, your earplugs are probably not fitted properly. Remove and refit. Using the EAR Disposal Push-Ins eliminates the step of rolling down the foam tip. A gentle push inserts plug easily into the ear. Flexible insertion stem improves hygiene because there is no need to touch the earpiece. Ultra-soft foam tips mold comfortably to fit almost any size ear canal.”

I have tried the silly putty kind that you knead a bit to soften them up, and then press into your ear. They peel back out easily and cleanly. It does take a little longer to put them in than regular earplugs, but on a longer ride where that is not an issue they are nice. If you happen to be on a motorcycle trip and sharing rooms with someone who snores, any earplugs will become multi-purpose! Always remove earplugs slowly, twisting them to break the seal. If you try and remove too quickly, you could damage your eardrum.

There are many companies to choose from when purchasing earplugs, such as Beneficial Products Inc., who offers earplugs made from purified beeswax, sterile cotton and lanolin. They are easily moldable and form to the shape of your ear canal. They can be inserted (softly) to allow in some sound or (firmly) to block it out significantly.

There are several other websites for you to search to compare price and materials before choosing your earplugs. Some companies even offer a trial package of different kinds of plugs. Also check out vendors at motorcycle rallies and gun shows; they usually sell a variety of earplugs.

My New Year’s Resolution is to start wearing earplugs every time I ride. Whether you agree with the benefits of wearing earplugs or not, it is your choice, but I hope you will consider them. We always take things for granted, like hearing. We would have to try living without being able to hear before we know the true value of being able to hear.

If you are bored this winter because you cannot ride, spend a few evenings by a cozy fire reading these suggested motorcycle books.

Biker Lady, Living and Riding Free by Shasa Mullins
Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough
The Savvy Guide to Motorcycling by Shirley Duglin Kennedy
Guide to Motorcycle Excellence by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles by the editors of Motorcyclist Magazine with Darwin Holmstrom

May all of you have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Goldie Arnold
“Never rider faster than you angel can fly”

TIP OF THE MONTH: Silk glove liners offer the best cold weather protection versus cloth. If your fingers are still cold, use Latex gloves over your liners!