Motorcycles and HoH Riders

#1

Motorcycles and HoH Riders

I just came from a custom fit plugs sales presentation for motorcycle riders.

My un-qualified observation was that they are recommending industrial hearing protection (designed for stationary noises, jackhammers) for motorcycle riding (high speed and wind noises)
… and partially recommending noise reduction solutions, so you may hear your music better (?).

Plus, the audience were, most likely, long-term riders owning their helmets looking for a (quick) solution for the noise reduction … without checking their actual hearing levels and/or bringing their helmets (?), or disclosing their style of riding: city commuting (slow), highway (wind), dirt (high rpm) (?).


My background: I am semi-mature person in my 50s, new to motorcycles, looking for suggestions from actual motorcycle riders who have some scientific background, audiologist, police or military expert, etc., who have their own first-hand experience with noise and motorcycles.

Question 1.) Does it make sense to buy a $300-400 helmet and add custom fit plugs $250 = $600?

Question 2.) Is it better to get $600++ helmet (examples: Shoei RF-SR/RYD, Schuberth, BMW, etc - I have an oval head/ for touring) with no earbuds? https://youtu.be/W3b73xngRwc

Question 3.) Do hearing aids (BTE/ITE) if turned off or at minimum value, protect your hearing like any other plugs?

Question 4.) Is riding a motorcycle without any sound - by protection or by being deft - a smart/safe thing to do - balance and safety?

Question 5.) If communication with other riders is required - instead of the popular bluetooth equipment should I rather look at the TCAPS, Tactical Communication, and Protective Systems used by the army? https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/army-noise-canceling-headset/

Thank you for any suggestions, and happy riding!

D.

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#2

I wear hearing aids and ride s large scooter, so speeds up to 80 mph. I asked my Audi and he recommended that I mute my aids while riding and I always wear a helmet. So I asked my Audi to setup a program for me that mutes my aids. Now understand that my normal riding speed is 55 or less.

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#3

My hearing aids will not fit into my Schuberth helmet. For highway riding (45Mph +) I use industrial or shooting ear plugs.

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#4

I modded my helmet for Quiet Ride muffs. Order Quiet Ride Ear Muffs Online Now That puts any sound delivery system on the correct side of the hearing protection. The inflation function clamps the muffs like an aviation headset while still allowing removal of the helmet. I’ve experimented wearing two different models of HA’s inside the muffs. Feedback becomes an issue with open domes. Music and voice is somewhat clearer at the cost of some hiss. For my use, which is serious touring behind an adjustable-height windshield, the main reason to wear the aids inside the helmet is so that I don’t have to put them on and off when I stop and go. I’ve worn them now on about a dozen rides, and I mute them before setting out. No need to unmute because that happens automatically when taking the helmet off brushes one of the buttons. :slight_smile: BTW, even though the apps for the two HA models are nearly identical, hitting the mute button on the Unitron app is remarkably easier than on the Phonak version.

Answers to your questions.

  1. Most riders buy their helmet of choice, and wear earplugs or not. You can find many opinions about hearing protection from serious riders here. http://www.fjrforum.com/forum//index.php?app=core&module=search&do=search&fromMainBar=1
  2. All riders should be wearing hearing protection. The quietest helmets https://fortnine.ca/en/quietest-motorcycle-helmets/ achieve much of their noise reduction by minimizing upward airflow through the helmet. That means a tight neck roll and extended chin curtain, which isn’t the best on warm days. The only “good” reason to go without hearing protection is if you seek to be qualified to advise about hearing and helmets when you’re my age. :slight_smile:
  3. Only if using closed domes.
  4. Nearly impossible to be that soundless inside a helmet at speed. When I first started using the muffs, the increased quietness was a little disorienting. I soon got used to it. Still lots of din, and easy enough to hear most things required. I do need to take the helmet off to talk to fuel attendants etc.
  5. Any product with the word tactical attached is unlikely to be good value. The regular bluetooth intercoms etc. work as designed. The most common strategy is to wear earplugs and then blast music/intercom past the plugs. However you do it you’ll need a boom mic if you need to talk at speed. I took a call once when my phone was accidentally paired to the aids instead of the intercom. I could hear very well, but the caller couldn’t hear a word from me until I pulled over. I was surprised the HA’s could pick up my voice at all from inside the muffs.
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#5

First, I have been riding motorcycles since 1970, and I unfortunately attribute some of my hearing loss to the activity. My left ear is worse (click my avatar) because I shot large rifles like a 264WM without hearing protection before I was even 20. I have always used as minimum an open face but full helmet. Put many km on a 500 Kawasaki triple two stroke, than I am sure was not good for my ears. Currently have the 1977 Yamaha 750 triple that I bought new. Last summer my brother bought a 1200 Harley and then was afraid to ride it home, so I got conned into driving it about 200 km with what I call a Harley pee pot helmet, open to the ears, and no hearing protection. I’m sure that set my hearing back a bunch too.

After I crashed my 500 Kawasaki into a school bus in the rain, planted my face on the highway, and spent the night in the hospital, I got rid of my open face helmet and bought a Snell approved fiberglass full face Shoei back in the 70’s. If I had it on for the crash I suspect I could have got up and rode my bike home instead of being taken to the hospital in an ambulance and barely remembering the ride. I put the subsequent 750 Yamaha in storage for quite a few years, and more recently got it back on the road. The old Shoei helmets were in good shape except for the foam comfort padding, but are no longer approved… Broke down and bought a $200 or so HJC FG-17 helmet. I could not justify the $600-700 Shoei prices. It seems OK, but fits a bit on the tight side, as I guess they are supposed to. Real difficult getting my glasses into it.

I have not taken a ride since getting hearing aids, but I suspect wearing them with this full face HJC is a no go. Not sure I will use ear plugs though as I have a full highway fairing on the bike and with a windshield, full face helmet and visor, there is not a lot of wind noise.

On your questions, yes, I think if you have a more open helmet it is a good idea to wear hearing protection. There is a company called OTO Hearing in Surrey, BC that makes what I believe are quality hearing protection plugs. I believe Costco and others will order them for you. Are they necessary? I don’t really think so, if you use industrial style memory foam hearing protection with a full helmet. If using a totally open (pee pot) type helmet then it may be necessary to get some real good custom plugs.

Closed vent HA fittings are probably better than nothing, but open vent ones are not going to do much.

No experience with the communication stuff…

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#6

Riding motorcycles will most definitely contribute to hearing reduction over a long period of time. When I started riding nearly 50 years ago no one talked about ear plugs but the decibel level at high speeds from wind noise is very high, well beyond damaging over even relatively short periods of time.

However, there are many good quality foam ear plugs that can reduce noise levels dramatically and they cost no more than a couple bucks a pair, less if you buy in bulk. I keep a large box of ear plugs where I keep my helmets.

My strongest advice as a person who has researched this topic heavily and consistently for decades:
Get a helmet that fits well. A properly fitting $100 helmet works better than an ill fitting $1,000 helmet.
No helmet yet available reduces noise levels enough to forego ear plugs. I am very comfortable with certain types of foam ear plugs that are cheap and do the job very well. Try them. Some people have difficulty finding comfortable ear plugs. Find ones you will use because they don’t protect your ears when they are in your pocket.

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#7

Similar circumstance as yourself. I would tend to parse it this way, you didn’t comment on your need for HAs. If you cannot hear sirens/horns without your HAs, I would recommend wearing your “ears” and pursue a comfortable and quiet helmet within your budget. If you have mild/moderate hearing loss, a set of good active noise cancelling earbuds connected via BT to your phone, under a regular helmet, might be a better overall solution but would preclude wearing your regular “ears”. Communication with other riders via voice is tough, tried several solutions over the years, nothing works particularly well - and everyone has to be on the same platform and would have to work in concert with your HAs.

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#8

I always thought shooting hand guns, rifles and working in the petroleum chemical field was my hearing loss cause. Never thought much about riding bikes being part of it. Have rode bikes for 45 years, most of it without a helmet. The important time for hearing on a bike is in town at slower speeds, when cars are all around you. As a biker you really have to be in tune to what is going on around you, not so much sound, very visual.
I have worn hearing protection on the bike for longer rides. That was actually very nice. Never ridden with the aids in, afraid of losing them.

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#9

It’s two weeks since I got my honda cb500x.

I tried different options of riding as HoH person.
I may confirm that it is important to know if you are commuting and stuck in city traffic at low speed on a daily basis, or you are riding for fun avoiding it.

At low speed, in busy street definitely, I like to hear what is going on around me. At the same time, I hear the noise of my own engine and open helmet visor - so I may recommend either some earbuds filtering it, or I am wearing my BTE hearing aids that can be adjusted and reduced to a minimum (Costco KS8 paired with iPhone 5s). However, the act of putting on and taking off my helmet may damage the hearing aids (full-face helmet Shoei RF-SR/RYD). I am wearing a buff over my ears to keep my hearing aids in place. The KS8 are paired with my iphone so, if needed, my GPS may talk to me, and eventually listening to spotify or internet radio is no problem, or knowing that there were phone calls.

I tried riding with no hearing aids - and I didn’t like it (maybe in the future).

My preferred option: I still have one of my old ITE hearing aids - there is no issue putting my helmet on. At speeds over 50 km/hr, I keep my visor closed, and there is no issues with wind thanks to Shoei ventilation design. At higher speeds, we don’t hear our own engine (some physics for sound waves).

Happy riding.

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#10

I ride and wear ITE aids but I turn the volume down a great deal. I don’t ride in traffic and I depend on sight and mirrors.

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#11

Sight and mirrors speak for me too. Your in the ear aids have sure got me thinking about them.

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