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Motorcycle helmets are hard on your hearing

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' at netrider.net.au started by robsalvv, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110729175559.htm


    Motorcycle Helmets Hard On Hearing

    ScienceDaily (July 30, 2011) — Motorcycle helmets, while protecting bikers' brains, may also be contributing to hearing loss. Scientists mapped the airflow and noise patterns to find out why.

    The distinctive roar of a Harley's engine is loud, but studies have revealed the biggest source of noise for motorcyclists is actually generated by air whooshing over the riders' helmets. Even at legal speeds, the sound can exceed safe levels. Now, scientists have identified a key source of the rushing din. Researchers from the University of Bath and Bath Spa University placed motorcycles helmets atop mannequin heads, mounted them in a wind tunnel, and turned on the fans.

    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 team also investigated how helmet angle and wind speed affected the loudness. Future tests will move beyond the wind tunnel to real-life riders on the open road.

    The findings, described in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, may one day be used to design quieter helmets, saving riders' ears for the enjoyment of hard biker rock, the researchers say.


    = = = = = =

    I think that this is the report that's been referred to: http://asadl.org/poma/resource/1/pmarcw/v9/i1/p040005_s1?bypassSSO=1

    Or buried in here: http://asadl.org/jasa/resource/1/jasman/v129/i4/p2651_s6?bypassSSO=1

    Anyway, as many were arguing in the recent "loud pipes DO save lives thread", it's not the pipe that mask you from hearing cars that creep up from behind... it's ya friggin helmet and it's wind noise.

    • Like Like x 1
  2. Earplugs should be part of your ATGATT routine.
  3. I wear a thick woolly scarfe around my neck, It does four things,
    It keeps out the bugs,
    It keeps out the noise.
    It keeps out the wind.
    It stops my helmet lifting up off my head.
  4. Certainly on longer rides, I'd agree with you. But then it's up to the individual isn't it.
  5. Earplugs always
  6. ...I just turn up the music!!.... 8-[
  7. +1

    But heck, everything is bad for you.
  8. Unfortunately yes... While this will distract you from the wind noise, it is actually adding more noise so even worse for you again :p

    Unless they are noise cancelling ear phones.
  9. hmmm. never bothered with earplugs. Perhaps I should. Then again, they would interfere with my Bluetooth headset.
  10. I found that fitting the chin curtain to my helmet made a decent difference in wind noise as it prevents wind from flowing up and into the helmet from under the chin bar.

    IF your helmet has one, fit it!
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Wearing earplugs makes my bike sound like a 250cc sewing machine
  12. I find my chinstrap does a good job of that...

    On another note, am buggered if I can find the thing that is reverberating inside my helmet at the same pitch/rate as the engine revs. Bloody annoying and has only happened in the last couple of weeks.

    Thought it might be one of the plastic poppers that fix the lining on, but i've checked all the ones I can find (which means it's bound to be the one I can't).
  13. I experienced this first hand today on the way home
    just to tie in with the loud pipes thread last week....
    Loud V-storm pulled up alongside me at the lights
    We took off together, I jumped into the left lane
    Lost sight of him in the mirrors, and the wind noise made me lose directionality of his pipes
    (I could hear a dull rumble but no idea whether he was behind me or on my right)
    In effect, I totally lost him, with his loud pipes and all due to the helmet noise

    BTW, slightly off topic, I posted this in said loud pipes thread but I think it may have been overlooked in the banter. It also has some relevance here:
  14. ..Pardon!!.... :music:
  15. i wear earplugs most of the time... pretty much only time i dont is to trade school once a week (25mins, not above 80km/h)

    my current helmet (shark rsi, i think) is a loud one for some reason,. my previous hjc was lots quieter...
  16. I wear earplugs most of the time and it's still bloody noisy. I'd argue that my earplugs make me a better rider. When I'm cutting laps through the twisties, taking the noise from wind and acceleration out of the equation puts me in a more zen space. The quieter it gets, the slower everything seems. I end up focusing more of my attention on the next corner and spend less time freaked out by the sound of my violently screaming bike.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. I *think* (don't quote me on this) that with ear plugs, even if you find it still noisy, that's OK, because they're still blocking out the ultra-low and high frequencies that ruin your hearing. That, or you're not wearing them right, or your ear plugs aren't right for you.
  18. ^^ blocks high frequency noise. lows will go through just about everything except a vacuum.
  19. There are different kinds of ear plugs, but they mostly attenuate the frequencies that the ear is most sensitive too. These are the ones that can do damage to your hearing with prolonged loud exposure.

    Anytime you come back from a ride and you have hissing or ringing, you've just done damage. Usually this damage will revert itself if you have recovery time in a quiet environment. If you don't get the recovery and have another burst of loud noise, you will be on your way down the industrial deafness path.

    People often say that plugs feel funny and that they isolate you - but with a little perseverance the muted world becomes normal and you pick out lots more stuff.

    Something riders don't tend to realise is that when it's windy, helmet noise CAN be worse. You might be happy to ride along for a while at 60km/h roads without plugs, but if there's a decent 30 - 40km/h wind going and it's a head wind, well that's the equivalent of wind noise at 90 - 100km/h.

    Edit: partial snap with Lilley. :)
    • Like Like x 1

  20. Your helmet is too loose fitting