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Strangely enough that is possibly one of the first words you will hear from a biker after a long ride. There is a reason bikers are known for being loud, that is because very often we are! I am not talking about our bikes, I am talking about the volume we produce just after we have finished riding.
The reason our volume levels rise is not just one of over excitement, it is likelier to be due to the fact we can hear fuck all after a ride. What is worse is the nagging of your nearest and dearest telling you to lower the volume even if you haven’t been out, worse even than that really annoying ringing in your ears that takes days to go away and possibly never will.
Tinnitus is the name for the constant whine you hear when you leave a concert or have been in the presence of someone using loud power tools all day, and it is a real problem for motorcyclists. Think of it as having the mother in law constantly whispering her advice in your ear…ok it is not that bad, even major blood loss isn’t that bad, but it is in the same ball park. In worst case scenarios it can be present 24/7, 365days a year, and can provoke symptoms such as tiredness, concentration difficulties and even depression....very much like a mother in law would and very much the sort of thing you want to avoid on a motorcycle!
For us bikers it is caused by wind noise and that is something you are never going to escape, all you can do is suppress it. Obviously the first thing you want to look at is your crash helmet. Shape matters, if you ride a sports machine you want a sports oriented helmet because it is built to take the wind flow in a certain way when you sit in a certain position. Try a sports helmet on a laid back cruiser and the different position will make it a lot noisier. Of course, the inverse is true; a cruisers helmet is not built to keep the peace on a racetrack. It is not just that, the design of the helmet itself makes a big difference, and guess what; the quieter ones tend to be the more expensive ones, big surprise that! The more expensive helmets do offer more advantages than just noise protection, and it is your head that you are investing in, but some of them cost more than some of my bikes!
So what else can you do?
Well the noise is generated through air hitting obstructions around the helmet and so some sort of seal around the neck is one way of cutting noise because that hole where your head goes in is a real noise generator. There are loads of accessories that will help with this, but a scarf does a pretty good job for those of us too cheap or too lazy to look for anything else. Taping up unused or useless vents is another way of cutting down those noise generators, but you then run the risk of the helmet not cooling properly.
There is however one sure fire method of cutting the noise and that is ear plugs. Any ear plug is a good idea, no, not a good idea, they are essential. Of course price matters, but the soft foam ones that you can buy in a hardware store are not a bad place to start and they are cheap! If you want the best of the best, then go for it, get some custom made ones, they will be excellent and they will fit perfectly, but they will cost. Whatever you choose, choose something because your hearing can be ruined a lot quicker than you think. On the other hand it can be saved for just a few dollars and making putting in your earplugs part of your pre-ride checks…..oh and if you forget to take them out when you reach the mother in-laws, well accidents do happen don’t they!