If you only ever ride for short periods of time you might not be aware of just how noisy motorbike journeys can get.
It’s not simply the noise of the bike that can be a concern on longer rides and having an aftermarket exhaust fitted doesn’t help to keep the volume down, and a much greater factor is wind noise around your helmet.
Helmet designs are continuing to develop to try and reduce wind noise as much as possible, but the only real way to really reduce it and as a result, try and prevent possible tinnitus is to use some kind of ear protection.
What many people consider to be a budget option are simple foam plugs that are sold as all-purpose hearing protection. These are the sort of thing you’ll often find in a jar next to the till at motorcycle dealers, where they are an impulse buy. You’ll find you can often get them for free if you’re making a reasonably sized purchase at a dealer. They can also be purchased in bulk quantities in packs of 20, 50 or more from bigger retailers and online specialists.
It may feel like you’re getting a good deal buying them in bulk, but if you use them as recommended and dispose of them after each ride, the cost quickly adds up. There is a good reason for the one-use policy too. As they are unmarked how do you know if you are putting the one from your right ear back in that ear? Why does that even matter? Because if you’ve got an infection in one ear that’s a sure-fire way of spreading it to the other. Repeated use of the disposable ear plugs also degrades their usefulness as they fail to expand fully and offer less protection.
The initial but more expensive, opinion is to get a set of ear plugs custom moulded to suit your ears. Custom ear protection can be different coloured or otherwise marked, so you know which ear each plug goes into. Thanks to them being made of silicon you can easily clean them and that reduces the chance of infection and you can keep wearing them on every ride, so that initial high cost drops with each use. If you like to listen to music or want to use you can even get them with built-in headphones.