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Ear plugs: the benefits for motorcyclists

Ear plugs

It's not so much the varoom or the brapbrapbrap that will destroy your hearing while riding a motorcycle. It's the noise you don't even think about. It's the constant whoosh of the wind in your ears at highway speeds that will cause you in the long run to say, "What?"

Being exposed to 85-90 decibels for up to eight hours a day is within safe hearing limits in Canada, but riders hitting the highway wearing a skid lid or loose full helmet can still allow a constant wind exceeding the safe level. Earplugs (not earphones) of any quality should take the edge off high-frequency wind noises (100+ dB) while allowing important sounds, such as oscillating sirens (115 dB) and the low hum and feel of the road, to filter through.

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Cheap squishy foamies can knock off 15-30 dB if fitted properly deep in your ear canal. Custom-fit earplugs moulded by professionals such as HearSmart Solutions may cost more, but will do the job competently and will be comfortable for the long rides.

Even knocking off 25 dB brings the noise back into a safer level. You may not feel the benefit today, but you will in 10 years.

Some states and provinces have traffic acts that disallow anything that impedes your hearing which should only mean ear buds cranking out tunes, but some riders in Ohio wearing earplugs have been handed tickets. Ontario does not have a headphone law, but you could be fined if you don't move over for emergency vehicles. Earplugs should not cause you to be unaware of your surroundings.

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