The distinguishing and thrilling sound of a motorcycle engine is indeed riveting and loud. And even louder when motorcycle riders add to their machine non-standard exhausts. New studies now show that the biggest source of noise danger for motorcyclists is in fact NOT those loud exhausts. It’s actually the noise generated by air swishing over the riders helmet. It’s this which is now the big concern for hearing loss.
Motorcycle helmets, while protecting our brains may also be contributing to hearing loss. This is why we diligently wear ear plugs/protection – you do don’t you? These new findings determined in results released by the “Aero acoustic Sources of Motorcycle Helmet Noise” stud, published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America which found. . . that the noise inside of your helmet can reach dangerous levels, even while driving at legal speeds.
Motorcycle Helmets Protecting Our Brains May Be Contributing to Hear Loss
Researchers from the University of Bath and Bath Spa University in performing the study, placed motorcycle helmets on mannequin heads, mounted them in a wind tunnel and turned on the fans, recreating the wind and noise situation from the riding experience. By placing microphones at different locations around the helmet and at the mannequin’s ear, the researchers found that an area underneath the helmet and near the chin bar is a significant source of the noise that reaches riders’ sensitive eardrums. the opening at the chin of a full-face helmet was the main source of noise. The study incorporated factors at how speed, helmet angle, and venting affected the noise level.
Ear plugs have long been promoted as a desirable choice to help protect a rider’s hearing. Experts note, while they block out a lot of noise, they do not impair a rider’s ability to hear traffic and other important sounds. Many riders have worn them routinely for years, and the findings suggest/underline that wearing ear plugs is a very good idea. Researchers further reinforced the idea that riders who wear helmets reduce their risk of skull fractures and fatal accidents.
The findings may one day be used to design quieter helmets (i.e. Arai full face helmets are extremely quiet), saving riders ears in the long run. Future tests will move beyond the wind tunnel to real-life riders on the open.
In the meantime, continue to wear your ear-plugs, as it is now proof that these are the best preventative!