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Thread: Earplugs/hearing protection

  1. #31
    Well, as I said, I ordered some 3M 1100's. Will report my experience, but I think because they're pretty basic, and because I've never used any noise attenuating devices, the result is going to be an improvement. I stuck some pieces of Kleenex in my ears yesterday just as an experiment and went, "Whoa...this is a nice change from that air flow roar"...

    Foam plugs gotta be an improvement over Kleenex!

  2. #32
    Registered User
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    Mar 2011
    Foam plugs from home depot, bag of 100 pairs about $15 dollars always keep a dozen or so pairs in a ziplock bag in my tank bag. As they get dirty simply dispose of the offending plugs and replace with a fresh pair

  3. #33
    Kbiker BCKRider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    B.C. Canada
    Most of us have at least some hearing loss attributable to exposure to loud sounds: music, gun fire, chainsaws, lawn mowers, movies (wish I thought to bring some earplugs tonight) and yes, wind noise on a motorcycle.

    I have two pair of "custom" earplugs that were bought at BMW rallies. Both are excellent for any noisy situation which does not involve a motorcycle helmet. The left ear plug of both works great under the helmet; the right one is VERY prone to being slightly dislodged. Gone back to using a foam plug in my right ear.

    By all means, try a pair of "custom" plugs: they are quicker to install at all temperatures and for many just as comfortable as the foam ones. (At cold temps, the foam ones can take 30 seconds or more to expand in your ear canal and if you are not patient, they then extract themself. At hot temps the foam ones tend to expand before seated.)

    Everyone (at least those who care about being able to hear) agrees you need ear protection on the bike. There also seems to be agreement that we have differing ear canals (even right and left ears) and only experimentation will lead you to the product right for you.

    If good hearing protection was not available, I would not ride.
    1992 K100RS

  4. #34
    Curmudgeon At Large Bobmws's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Astatula, FL

    From the horses mouth?

    I've been using and selling custom molded plugs since 1998.
    Most customers first question is "Why are these better than the foam plugs?"
    I respond that if your foam plugs fit you comfortably and you are able to achieve a good noise seal than you won't see much benefit from a custom plug. If you have a comfort or noise issue, or want communication / music, than these will offer a benefit.

    Everyone's ear canal is different in size & shape, even from right to left ear. Those with smaller or more acute bends 'may' benefit from a custom plug because they can't get a foam plug deep enough into the canal to make a noise seal. The higher the rating on a foam plug, the more dense (stiff) the material. For those with smaller or bendy canals a lower rated plug may be more comfortable and effective as you can get it deep enough to make an effective noise seal. If the plugs are sticking out of your ears like Frankenstein bolts, they are not deep enough to be doing any good.

    As for noise reduction, foam plugs offer a higher NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) than any custom mold. Foamies come in up to 33-34 db NRR while custom molds are in the 26 db NRR. Please note that the NRR is measured at low frequency where wind noise is. Earplugs have an attenuation curve. As frequency increases, so does attenuation. A 26 db rated plug will knock out 32-36 db at mid range, where the speaking voice is. A 33 db rated plug will be up to 38-42 at mid range. This is why it is harder to hear someone talking to you when your plugs are in. When considering a noise protection device always look for the NRR to ascertain the level of protection, anyone can pull a number from the attenuation curve, but that is not a number that is apropos to the protection you are seeking.

    A few have mentioned discomfort under the helmet. First, the custom mold should be fairly flush with the outside of your ear. If there is contact with your helmet that causes discomfort, then your helmet needs to be modified. Helmet manufacturers make a recess for the ear, unfortunately it isn't always where your ear is. The recess is formed from foam rubber under the liner. Ascertain where the contact is and remove some of the foam rubber forming the recess. DO NOT MODIFY THE HARD FOAM PROTECTIVE MATERIAL!
    A helmet liner does wonders for keeping plugs from being dislodged while putting the helmet on.
    Bob Weis
    Bikeless! 2004-bmw-k12rs-hannigan-Sold!

  5. #35
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    WNY, Further fron NYC, than 6 entire states!
    Used foam for years, always got the best I could, but NOTHING works as well as these

    They call them the worlds best ear plugs and I agree. They are a putty like material that you soften by kneading it and press into the ear, they seal EXCELLENT.

    No matter what I did, the foam seal seemed inconsistent, and even loosened during a ride. requiring stopping and reinsertion which is a PITA. I have had these loosen just a couple times, and I can reach inside the helmet and just press it back in on the fly.

  6. #36
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Tularosa, NM

    Washing Foam Plugs --

    IMHO, you CANNOT "wash" foam plugs successfully, as this makes them VERY "spongy" and very soft, such that they don't stay rolled into a small diameter for insertion.

    Whenever possible, I wash my (seemingly always) grubby hands before re-insertion -- sometimes I just use my water bottle, if necessary. This way, one pair lasts all day, and maybe two, without a problem. Otherwise, they get dirty very quickly. At least for me, this is mostly a matter of aesthetics, versus concern over ear infections.

    If you ride with a group, no doubt that the molded plugs are much faster to insert, so your buddies won't be waiting for your #$%@ foamies to be rolled, inserted, and (when cold) awaiting inflation. In hot weather, you really do have to be FAST getting them in before they expand, as previously mentioned.

    GOOD COMMENT about preserving what hearing you have left. MCN has run several sets of articles over the years about hearing loss and the importance of using hearing protection. Anyone ignoring this sound (heh-heh) advice WILL LOSE HEARING OVER TIME. It's all about intensity and duration.

    Walking Eagle

  7. #37
    We started stuffing bits of kleenex in our ears when going to rock concerts. This was a result of seeing New Orleans band "Better Than Ezra" in a small club with massive volume. Did some damage to me. Wish I'd had foam plugs back then, but it helped to stuff SOMETHING into the ear.

    Re: Foam and temperature. When cold, why not keep some in your pants pocket, to warm up a bit?

  8. #38
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    I used foam earplugs for years when riding, but found after repeated long days of riding, my ears would get sore from them. I switched to custom made ones about ten years ago and am much happier with them. I too have a narrow ear canal which I think is why the foam plugs did not suit me best. I always had a difficult time getting them in. I'm on my third set of molded one now which should last a couple more years. I also had a set of custom molded earphones made since none of the regular earbuds I've tried ever fit me.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

  9. #39
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Albuquerque, NM
    Yes, my ears are "tired of them" after a day riding, foam plugs, that is.

    Oh, always take your earplugs to a car race.
    Kent Christensen
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by pffog View Post
    Used foam for years, always got the best I could, but NOTHING works as well as these
    You recommended these plugs the last time this topic came up (two or 3 weeks ago?) and I ordered a set to test as my custom plugs are getting old. My results:

    • They are more comfortable for me in all day rides. My custom plugs start to bother me after 4-6 hours. Foam plugs bother me after 2-3 hours.
    • They are equal or better in attenuation to my custom plugs. The "better" part is that I can yawn or otherwise move my jaw without breaking the "seal". That is not always the case with my custom plugs.
    • They take longer to insert. That's not a big deal on trips, but for quick commutes and running errands where plugs are constantly going in and out of my ears I still use my old custom plugs.

    One question: how long do you use a pair before tossing them for a new pair? They seem to last a long time.

  11. #41
    I tried some foam plugs today...MAX by Howard Leight. I got them seated right once, and the effect was fantastic. But I took them out later and when I tried re-inserting, I never really got a good seal, so the first time was an accident.

    What's the best method of insertion?

  12. #42
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Check out the video I posted earlier in the thread, that is pretty much the best way I know.
    I too have found them hard to get back in immediately after taking them out, I think the warmer they are the harder it is for them to stay rolled. This is probably a "feature" so that they expand quickly when inserted in your warm ear I know when I pull one out of the fairing pocket on very cold winter days they are super easy to roll and take upwards of 30-seconds to fully expand.
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
    Moto Pages

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Pender Harbour, B.C.
    Quote Originally Posted by PittsDriver View Post
    OK, I'll be the outlier here and say that if you're at all concerned about your hearing - and you should be - then only a custom molded solution will provide the best protection and the best of those is not cheap. But as I've often said before, I want hearing aids about as much as I want a diaper or a walker and at 53, I've spent most of my life assulting my ears and have started to suffer some hearing loss. I'm very motivated to save the hearing I have left because standing around at a party and not understanding what people are saying will suck.

    So, I went out an evaluated a number of different choices from the foamy OTC style you get at the drug store to ear phones that go in-ear to custom. I decided that custom was light years better in every way. Then looking at the custom ear monitors (because I like music, GPS prompts, and phone calls too) I looked at everything from the low end Westone stuff to the best of the best Sensaphonics (which is what the big names use on stage at concerts to protect their hearing and hear the music). I chose the Sensaphonics 2XLs which had to be ordered by my audiologist at Johns Hopkins. Sensaphonics has a tremendous amount of motorsports experience (almost all the Indy car, F1, NASCAR etc guys use them) so they're very well sorted for using under a helmet.

    I get close to 40 db of passive noise attenuation from these monitors. They'll turn the 90 - 100 db of road and wind noise in my helmet into 60 db or better which is better than a Lexus or Mercedes at 60 mph. And the added benefit is pretty amazing sound quality out of them for my music. The down side - they're $750.

    That sounds expensive for ear phones and it is. But compared to the other crap we spend money on with relentless disregard for rational thought, this is one of the best value purchases I've ever made. If you're one of the guys that has ever said "if you have a $100 head, buy a $100 helmet" then here's the thing, if your hearing is only worth $19.95 at Walmart or $5 for foamies at CVS, then go buy that.
    Thanks for the information. I wear a set of custom earplugs that I really like. However the ones that you're talking about sound even better. I will look into it. 750s a lot of money but my hearing is worth way more than that!
    Moringa, your body & brain will thank you! PM for discounts Smart Mix at
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  14. #44
    Registered User scrape's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Silver Spring, MD
    Radians Self-Custom Molded work ok for me. Quiets things up enough in the helmet but I can still hear everything going on around me. Usually available in most gun sections of major stores (Cabelas, Walmarts) but also available online as well. Here is a link to the manufacturers website: (I noticed the picture on this web page seems to have a corded model shown, the cord is an accessory to the basic kit, and the plugs come in multiple colors to match your bike)

    Oh yeah they are less than $20. Cheap enough for a new set to be made every year.

  15. #45
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Greenville, SC
    Another user of Moldex Pura-Fit, I gotta box of 200 or so. I am really bad about wearing ear plugs and when I would remember them, I'd forget to put them in after stopping. I don't have any discomfort with these but I've only worn them all day riding once. I never spent that much time doing day rides (will probably change w/ the BMW) so take that for what it is. I always roll the up tight, reach around the back of my head to straighten out the ear canal, place the plugs in my ear until they are flush. Don't have any issues with them coming out or itching. I use them when I'm at the shooting range as well.

    A question: When I ride behind the Cee Bailey I don't get any buffeting and it's pretty quiet to me. What kind of decibels are we dealing with here? Say 45-60mph, no wind buffeting or really even the sound of wind rushing by the helmet?

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