Monday 14 August 2017. Improving hearing protection (I hope)

Riding motorcycles has a number of health hazards when compared to driving in a car. The most obvious is the greater opportunity for a crash and off course, the lower body protection available. However there are other health hazards, such as the nerve damage I mentioned in previous posts, early onset of arthritis and hearing loss, among others. Almost all of these are preventable, you just need to listen to your body and use a bit of sense.

Hearing loss is easily preventable by paying attention to your windshield, helmet and wearing hearing protection. The last year I have been a bit slack on the hearing protection because the windshield and helmet combination I currently use has been quite effective. Additionally, I often get annoyed when the hearing protection I prefer to use (silicon molded ear plugs) doesn't stay in place. They seem to get 'pushed out' by air trapped in the ear when inserting them.

On the weekend I had some time to wonder why the molded ear plugs do not fit as snugly as I would like. Looking ahead, I think its time to start planning for some longer trips. This means wondering how I may re-intro music whilst riding. With the Shoei Neotec helmet comes removable pads that facilitate helmet speakers. So how do I bring everything together; pleasant sounds to penetrate the hearing protection, hearing protection that reduces unpleasant sound such as road noise and wind noise and also doesn't fall out?

My best guess is based on observation of professionally made hearing protection. A lot of them have a small hole through the centre. This is where I am headed with this:

  • I hazard a guess that this allows air to escape whilst putting the ear plugs in, thus allowing a better fit. I think that makes sense.
  • If the outside of the hole faces the centre of the helmet speakers, that should facilitate the music flowing through a bit better.
  • And finally, if the hole goes through the thickest part of the ear plugs, it should have the minimum effect on reducing the unwanted noise.

So I drilled a 3mm / 1/8 inch hole in the molded ear plugs as you can see on the pictures. Why 3 mm? Just a guess, based on what I could see from professionally made earplugs. This morning I tried them out. Certainly they do fit better and do not fall out, so that's a good start. In terms of unwanted road noise, the hole doesn't seem to make any difference, so winner on two fronts; I'm very happy with a cheap fix that is nothing more than observation and guess work. I think the helmet speakers will work AOK and will organize to order a set soon. So far, all good. Great result at no cost.