Why Are Motorcyclists at an Increased Risk for Hearing Loss?

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Love of the open road and the thrill of speed top the list of reasons why individuals love to ride motorcycles. But this exhilarating hobby comes at a high risk of irreversible hearing damage for people who ride a lot.

The impact of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was examined in a detailed study performed by a hearing protection manufacturer in collaboration with a notable German automobile association. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for just 15 minutes, riders who don’t utilize hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

What causes hearing loss in bikers?

You may not be surprised that bikers frequently suffer from hearing loss, but you may be surprised as to why. Despite what many believe, it’s not the motorcycle’s roaring engine but instead, the wind that poses the biggest threat. Although helmets offer significant protection from injury during crashes, the research highlights that they fall short in protecting the rider’s hearing. The wind noise whipping around the rider’s head isn’t decreased much even when a helmet has added padding, vents, or other improvements.

Frequent exposure to extreme noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS). TTS is a progressive condition, meaning the more you’re exposed to loud noises, the more intense the symptoms can get. At first, TTS sufferers might notice minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But irreversible hearing loss can, over time, be the result.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how severe wind noise can be while riding. The wind noise around a rider’s head can reach 95 (dB) at 62 mph. To put into context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers need to protect their ears if exposed to volume levels exceeding 80 dB. This means that bikers traveling at this speed without ear protection are exposed to volume levels nearly 19% higher than what is considered safe in a work environment.

And the volume level only gets louder as the speed goes up. At 74 mph, wind volume can reach 98 dB, a level that can cause hearing damage after only 7 minutes of exposure. Other studies validate these findings, suggesting that bikers are indeed at a significant risk of hearing loss.

Safeguarding your ears

The good news is, it’s simple to safeguard your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend utilizing filtered earplugs, which are far superior to the old, uncomfortable versions most people are familiar with. These advanced earplugs are designed to protect your eardrums from high-pitched noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to penetrate. This means you’re able to hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

Bikers are also able to get the total experience of riding without feeling isolated or cut off from the external world which can’t be said for the old conventional style. You can protect your ears from damaging wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by using filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is motivated by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s essential to acknowledge and minimize the associated hazards to your hearing. Considerable and irreversible hearing damage can be caused by the noise of wind at high speeds. However, with the simple addition of quality earplugs, bikers can continue to enjoy their rides while protecting their long-term hearing health.

Stay on top of your hearing health by calling us to discuss hearing protection.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.