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Thread: Ear wear - plugs, phones, buds, commando

  1. #16
    I've been using these inexpensive custom in-ear headphones since early this year. Pretty good noise reduction (not as much as good ear plugs) and good enough sound for inside a helmet.

    I also do not wear ear protection for short runs in town. But always on the road.

  2. #17
    Registered User LENRT1200ST's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Sanderville, GA

    ipod and external noise

    Ok, so here's the thing. I once saw a fellow mowing his lawn, of course he was riding a very loud machine, but he was listening to an ipod w/ earbuds.

    What occurred to me was this. If the music is loud enough to block the mower, then isn't the added sound level (ipod + mower) more harmful than the noise of the mower itself?

    I'm sure the ear buds eliminate some of the mower's noise, but I just didn't know how this would work out to hearing protection unless the buds had really good external noise attenuation.

    This would seen to me to be an even greater concern where in helmit speakers are used, as I doubt they attenuate much of any external noise. Music or ipod sound output would necessarily need to be louder than the external noise to be enjoyed by the listener.


    Last edited by lenrt1200st; 12-30-2009 at 03:39 PM. Reason: added thought

  3. #18
    Ambassador at Large JIMSHAW's Avatar
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    Apr 2003
    Hinckley, Ohio USA
    Quote Originally Posted by BetterLateThanNever View Post
    Wanted to get some opinions from forum members on ear wear... to plug or not to plug. I personally have rarely worn ear plugs, most of my driving in the past was short urban legs, either for work or errands. Sometimes on longer or freeway rides I would use plugs. Now I'm planning longer rides and trips and I'm rethinking.

    Another connected question has to do with earphones, whether blutooth, noise canceling, intercoms or otherwise. How do you feel about these items? Is it a good idea to be listening to music while riding? Or talking on the phone? Do you carry on conversations over a bike-to-bike system? Much of this technology is new since I learned to ride... I didn't ride for a number of years and I've come back to it with an entirely new generation of equipment, accessories, and options to choose from.

    Any thoughts are welcome, thanks in advance!
    I use the inexpensive, throw-away, soft foam 30dB earplugs that anyone can buy on the Internet for $25 for about 400 prs. They work fine, and I don't have to worry about losing them, finding them, not having any, and all that.

    Putting them in my ears BEFORE putting on my helmet is one of the hardest habits I've ever tried to develop. Typically, I get all suited up, connected up, booted up, zippered, velcroed, snapped, buttoned, belted, buckled, hatted, etc., then get on, start the engine. But, what! It's all that noise. Rats. Forgot the earplugs. Do part of it over.

    As to listening to stuff while riding, beware. I don't play an engineer on TV, but I am one.

    Shaw's Law of Motorcycle Audio: The frustration level of riding will increase geometrically with the number of things you want to listen to on the road.

    Starting with the equipment: Adding wired sound for one item (say, your GPS) will add wires to your helmet, GPS, and some kind of helmet-to-ear speakers. Adding an intercom doubles the complexity. Adding music doubles that. Adding bike-to-bike communication triples all the previous. Then, adding radar audio warnings doubles it again. Connecting a cell phone triples all the above. Forget CB; it will bring your frustrations to the middle of the Richter Scale.

    Or, you can use wireless connections. This doubles everything again, making it pretty unlikely that you will ever get it all to work together, all the time. There will always be some anomalous disconnects or weak batteries, or something wrong.

    Everybody has a different solution, but don't forget the Law of Audio, above.

    The best solution I know is to just wear the earplugs. If you want music, play it in your head. If you are lonely, talk to yourself. If you just have to listen to Howard Stern, submit yourself for psychological counselling.

    If you want the maximum enjoyment from your riding experience, take all the money you'd spend on audio stuff that probably won't ever work right, and spend it on gasoline.

    Gasoline almost always works.


  4. #19
    I wear plugs anytime that I will be riding for an hour or more. An article in the ON a few years ago, writen by an ear specialists, compared riding a motorcycle (highway speed) to working in a factory. After four hours of riding in a day, permanent hearing damage occurs.
    Go to a safety supply shop and buy a couple of examples of each type of disposable plugs they have and try them out. Buy a box of the ones you like best.

    Happy New YEAR!

  5. #20
    Registered User univibe88's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    Newton, MA
    Once I started wearing plugs I wondered how I ever rode without them. I like these a lot:

    2007 K1200GT
    1987 K75C - sold

  6. #21
    Registered User stkmkt1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Tremont, IL
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff488 View Post
    on wearing plugs at highway speeds.
    I have just started to listen to tunes on my Zumo using cheap ear buds.
    Not so hot an idea. Too much road noise intrudes.
    Anybody have a better idea that doesn't cost a bunch?
    Go to Walmart and get some noise reducing buds made by Koss. I think they are around $28. Seem to work quite good with my Zumo and the sound is pretty good too.
    '09 BMW 1200 GSA, 2013 BMW 700GS, 2000 Goldwing SE, '09' V Star 950, '09 Honda Rebel,
    '77 Honda 750A. Holding at six til I get new garage built - need more room for more bikes!

  7. #22
    For most of my riding - without music - I've been using these for several years:

  8. #23
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    central pa
    After trying and sending back a number of the higher end off the shelf plugs, I went to the audiologist and got some custom molded. It was for me the best solution by far. I got 1 pair with speakers and 1 pair without both custom molded to my ears. They work really well and weren't that expensive. I paid $200.00 for the pair with speakers but that included the appointment, the molds being made, and the earphones. I wear them 95% of the time. They fit so well that I use them as ear plugs a lot of the time and if I feel like listening to music or need to listen to the GPS I just plug them in.
    If you are going to listen to music, this is the best approach. I'm a musician and am very conscious of my hearing. I can listen to music while riding at the same volume as if I were sitting in my living room. If you try to use normal earphones you will have to turn the music up so loud that you will definately damage your hearing over time.

    07 R1200RT
    09 KLR

  9. #24
    Registered User marcopolo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Alexandria Virginia/Ottawa, Canada
    I never get on the bike without using custom-molded earlpugs; it's a habit now and I don't even think about it. When I want to listen to my iPod (on long trips), or my GPS, I have custom-molded in-ear plugs that both reduce noise and provide sound.
    2015 R 1200 GS Adventure

  10. #25
    Registered User BetterLateThanNever's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    SF Bay Area


    Thanks for all these suggestions, I really appreciate the input!

    Am trying some industrial safety plugs on rides now, and am considering a visit for custom molded plugs. I had forgotten but a friend of mine had recommended these years ago... he's gotten turned onto them for regular music/audio use because his daughter had a hearing problem and had various hearing aids over the years. He said they were REALLY comfortable and allowed him to hear the music well at low volumes.

    Like billfiler I'm a musician and maybe a little hyper conscious of my hearing. Never worried about it back in the day, but now I know I'm not getting another set of ears at 40!
    2009 G650GS

  11. #26
    I've used a variety of disposable plugs from local hardware stores and home centers. I finally settled on Max Lite from Howard Leight by Sperian. The safety guy at work gets them for me by the box. They're by far the most comfortable for extended wear and provide excellent protection. I rarely ride without them. Even the 5-minute trip to the grocery store is more enjoyable with plugs.

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