Motorcycle Hearing Protection: Earplugs for Motorcyclists

Wind Noises

Most motorcycles are not loud enough to damage your hearing. However, most of the noise and damage to your ears comes from wind noise when riding, and this can be far above safe levels for hearing.

Any damage to your hearing as you probably know is permanent, and irreversible. Each time your ears receive a tiny amount of damage, you will probably never notice the difference. However, as this accumulates over the years, it will become very noticeable.

You can easily stop your ears being damaged by using motorcycle earbuds to protect your ears. These are easy to use and inexpensive. Do not wait until you notice that you have lousy hearing before doing something about it! You need some motorcycle earbuds.

This article will tell you what to look for in motorcycle earplugs and recommend the best ear plugs for motorcycle riders

Table Of Contents

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If require the Best Hearing Protection for this item, and do not want to read the entire article, below are my recommended ear protection.

tinnitus is a permanent ringing 

"Motorcyclists who ride at high speed without earplugs are risking Noise-Induced Hearing Loss “

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), can happen when you are exposed to extended and recurring sounds above 80d. If this keeps happening, it could lead to tinnitus, which is a permanent ringing in the ears.

The amount of noise that can damage your hearing is low to some people, after 80 dB, in a work environment, some form of ear protection should be worn. This means that in your personal life, also wear some ear protection when you are exposed to sounds above this level. When riding your Motorbike, you will almost always be exposed to noise levels above this volume.

The infographic below should give you some idea of what the decibel level of everyday noises are: 

There are several options that are available for earplugs when riding. All of them will work for protecting your hearing, and it comes down to what you want when riding. Below are some types available, and we recommend some of each model so that you can always get the best.

Silicone Earplugs

Are the moldable plug. You get a lump of silicon, which you roll into a ball and mold to the shape of your ears. This type of plug is cheap, fits perfectly into your ear, and should never come out. It will reduce all the sounds.

These do not stick out of your ears, and of all the plugs, these will keep things from going into your ear. They are waterproof.

High Fidelity Earplugs.

These earplugs reduce noise evenly to maintain the full spectrum of sound, while protecting hearing. Won’t muffle music or voices as silicon plugs do.

These earplugs are great, as you should still have good hearing while wearing them.

Motorcycle Ear Plugs.

These are the best type of earplugs for motorcycles, as they have been developed with riding in mind. Work similarly to the fidelity plugs above.

Filter out wind and engine noise, clearly hear approaching traffic, listen to your comms under your helmet, and ride in comfort with ear protection plugs designed for wind and motorcycle noise reduction.

These are what I would always recommend for riding!

Noise Cancelling Earplugs.

These earplugs cancel out the outside sounds by using a microphone and playing the opposite sound waves. One wave cancels out the other, reducing the ambient sounds (Well sort of).

These earplugs provide the worst ear protection of all the plugs here, but allow you to play music or listen to things over the Bluetooth connection or wire.

They are not waterproof and come in 2 varieties, wired and wireless. The wired are much cheaper, but there is a wire that needs to be tucked in your jacket and kept out of the way.

Wireless Bluetooth ear plugs are more convenient as there is no wire, but they can run out of charge.

Scientific Study On Motorcycle Ear Protection

A group of scientists tested over 30 motorcycles to measure the noise produced. Half of these bikes produced noises that were above 100 dB. At these sound levels, you should not have exposure for over 15 minutes. Otherwise, you are risking permanent hearing damage.

“Almost all of the motorcycles tested reached a volume that would require ear protection in the workplace,” one of the researchers stated.

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) study showed that riding a motorcycle at 40MPH, wearing an open helmet resulted in the rider experiencing sounds of between 75 and 90 dB. This would require ear protection if the exposure was two or more hours.

At approximately 60 MPH, the noise levels rose to between 100 and 115 dB. At those noise levels, the exposure should be limited to no more than 15 minutes without ear protection.

The motorcycle helmet is not designed to stop sound. It protects your head. The average noise reduction by a helmet is usually 3-5dB, which is not much. An inexpensive pair of earplugs can reduce the sound levels by over 30dB. With this, you can ride your bike all day.

earplugs motorcycle

Misconceptions About Hearing Protection Riding A Motorcycle

You cannot Hear Sirens / Horns / Traffic

Hearing protection does not block out all the sounds from the environment. It is, in fact, illegal in most places to drive when you can’t hear emergency services, etc. It would be challenging to block enough noise for this to happen.

The best hearing protection for when you are riding will only reduce the very high sounds (the wind), allowing you to hear the other noises more easily

You Only Need Earplugs For Long Distance.

Even if you travel a short distance, on a loud bike, or moving at speeds, the noise will quickly be loud enough to damage your hearing. Protect your ears from the cold, pressures, and sounds by always wearing your earplugs!

You Do Not Need Earplugs Unless You Are On A Loud Bike.

The primary reason that you need earplugs on a motorbike is because of the noise/pressures caused by the wind. It is rare that the bike makes enough noise to damage your hearing. So you need plugs no matter what size your bike is.

If your bike is loud enough to cause damage to your hearing, it is probably illegal, as it can damage other people’s hearing. These people will not be wearing hearing protection around your motorcycle.

You Do Not Need Earplugs If You Have A Full-Face Helmet.

A full-faced helmet will reduce the pressure differences, and cut down the noise, but this will not be sufficient to completely protect your ears. When riding, you will always need to wear plugs to give your ears the level of protection that they need.

Please Note: Just because an ear defender is marked, for example, "Gunshot" - it will still cover other things, like "explosions"

Related Questions


How Loud Can A Motorcycle Be?

This depends on the country and state that you are in, but as a general guideline, your motorcycle can be up to approximately 80 decibels.

Your ears can handle this volume with no damage. However, sounds over 80 dB will damage your hearing. Remember that most of the noise on a motorcycle comes from the wind. So you will need hearing protection with motorcycle earbuds even if your bike is reasonably quiet

An Idea of the wind noise at certain speeds is detailed in the main article, and you can find the laws for your state at this link Motorcycle Noise Limits

How Many Decibels Is A Motorcycle

This will depend on the manufacturer, age, maintenance, and modifications of the motorcycle. But as a general guideline, motorcycles with particular engine sizes have the following decibel range:

50cc-100cc 65-85db
750cc+ 75-95db


Is It Illegal To Drive With Motorcycle Earbuds?

It depends on the state. However, it is allowed in most states, especially if they protect your hearing, and will enable you to hear the things you need to hear. For example.

The state of California says earplugs are allowed if:

“A person wearing personal hearing protectors in the form of earplugs or molds that are specifically designed to attenuate injurious noise levels. The plugs or molds shall be designed in a manner so as to not inhibit the wearer’s ability to hear a siren or horn from an emergency vehicle or a horn from another motor vehicle.“

How Long Can You Be Exposed To Loud Noises?

The following table gives a list of the sound levels and how long you can be exposed to them before some hearing damage can occur.

82 dB16 hours
85 dB8 hours
88 dB4 hours
91 dB2 hours
94 dB1 hour
97 dB30 minutes
100 dB15 minutes
103 dB8 minutes
106 dB4 minutes
109 dB2 minutes
112 dB1 minute
115 dB 30 seconds
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Last update on 2021-06-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


If you require more information, please check these references

Motorcycles Hazardous To Your Hearing , article, “www.hear-it.org”, retrieved on, Mon 02-September-2019 

How Loud Can A Motorcycle Get , article, “www.quora.com”, retrieved on, Mon 02-September-2019 

Fortnine Motorcycle Ear Plugs Battle Of The Best , article,“www.reddit.com”, retrieved on, Mon 02-September-2019

 Motorcyclists View Of Ear Protectors

Today I’ll talk about how I protect my hearing while I’m on the road. So in research in this article for you guys, I did some research on hearing protection with OSHA standards. You should always wear ear plugs for motorcycle riding

OSHA set standards for on-the-job kind of stuff, and the OSHA standard says 85 to 90 decibels should not be exceeded for more than an eight-hour period. If you jump that up to a hundred decibels they limit you to two hours of exposure. If you go from a 100 decibels up to 115, and OSHA limit your exposure to that for 15 minutes.

So what do you think the average decibel rating riding a motorcycle down the highway would be? 103 decibels! So somewhere between that 15 minutes and 2 – that OSHA limits workers at these volumes too!

We’re exposing ourselves to 103 decibels, and I’ve been on a bike the entire day sometimes, going on a longer trip.

So what can you do to protect your hearing, now that we know? There’s a need to do so because of the decibel ratings were exposed to on a motorcycle. So 30 minutes of riding with your hearing unprotected, is going to result in permanent hearing damage to your ears. You need your motorcycle earbuds or  motorcycle earplugs

That’s permanent damage! it’s something that you won’t ever get back, and it doesn’t matter what type of windshields you’ve got, or what kind of helmet you wear. It’s the wind noise that gets to you in these situations. Thirty minutes is going to result in permanent hearing loss that can never be recovered.

To make matters worse it compounds, so if I went for an hour ride today, and let’s say I lost 0.5% of my hearing. I do the same thing tomorrow, I lose another 0.5 percent on top of what I lost the day before. So it compounds, and it continues to accumulate the more you ride with your ears unprotected

Motorcycle exhaustSo what you can do to protect your hearing is to wear earplugs. You ideally want best earplugs for motorcycle riding, but if this is not possible, any form of ear protection should help a lot.

I’ve been riding with earplugs for a lot of years. When I got back into riding it wasn’t something I knew anything about. I found an article about it, and I started riding with earplugs, and now I don’t like to ride any other way.

In fact, if I leave the garage and start the bike up, and I’ve already got my helmet on, and realize I didn’t put in my earplugs, the first thing I do is shut the bike down and get them. Not because I just want to protect my hearing, but it’s so much more comfortable to ride with earplugs now, as I’ve gotten used to it, than it is without.

So when I first started using earplugs, I went with those foam ones, that you can find just about everywhere. You know the kind that you roll up, and you get real thin. You insert it into the ear canal and then it expands back out to block the sound coming into your ear. That’s the kind that I started with.

They’re all over the place, they work really well, they block a lot of sound, in fact, they block the most sound of any of the three I’m going to tell you about.

That can be a good thing or a bad thing, because you still want to be able to hear your motorcycle, hear some road noise around you. You need to listen to what’s going on around you so that you can continue to use your ears to be alert on the road.

One of the problems I found in using the disposable type, was I could only get two maybe three uses out of it. Then it didn’t want to roll up as easy, the foam would expand quickly once you rolled it up. So it made it hard to get in your ears. After two or three uses so I found myself throwing a pair away.

So I was continually carrying new ones on my motorcycle in the saddlebags. Then having to remind myself to put a few more in there whenever I would go out for a ride. It became a pain trying to keep up with keeping new ones with me all the time.

So the next thing I went with were some of the custom-molded earplugs these come in a case. I’m not sure what kind of material it’s made from, some kind of plastic molded. What they do is they inject this into your ear canal, you sit there for 15 minutes while it sets

Then they pull it out, and they trim it up. You’ve then got custom-molded earplugs that are fit your ear canal perfectly. They’re really easy to insert, and they work well.

They don’t, I would say, they block as much sound as the foam earplugs do, and they’re expensive. The earplugs, the foam ones you can get at the store for a buck. The custom ones, at the motorcycle show are 60 to 100 bucks, so they’re expensive.

You can also get these made at a lot of gun shows, and some sporting goods stores, will have the ability to get these made as well.

These last for years, I have ridden with mine on an, I’d say on a daily basis, almost over the last eight years. They’re still in excellent shape and work fine.

The downside is they’re going to let a little more sound in, than I’m comfortable with, but they fit well and like I said they last almost forever.

I was in Colorado, and I stopped to look at a river on a dirt road. I pulled these earplugs out and set them on the back seat, rode off forgot about them. When I got about a quarter mile down the road, I realized that I had left the plugs sitting on the back seat!

I rode back, and found them sitting on a dirt road, in the middle of nowhere out in Colorado. It wasn’t the money, I didn’t want to face riding any length of time without these earplugs.

So once you get used to them, they’re a lifesaver, and you won’t want to ride any other way.

So my next venture into earplugs was something I purchased for this article, I’ve been seeing these on Amazon and heard about them. I thought I would check these out and order a pair for this post.

They come in this really cool looking case. The earplug looks like it’s the silicone rubber type that’s got the little ridges on it. It’s got a little thing at the end to help you get the earplug out. It’s also got a little plastic piece in there to allow some ambient noise through.

Riding with these earplugs, most of the wind noise was stopped, in fact I would say better than than the custom-molded plugs. These blocked out more wind noise, but I could still hear traffic around me. I could still hear the motorcycle a whole lot better.

If I use a set of Bluetooth headphones, I could hear the music and the radio much better with these plugs.

If I listen to music sometimes, when I am riding, does it block all that sound out? Wearing earplugs is going to allow you to hear those kinds of things better, because you’re not competing against the wind noise.

So you’ve got the headphone against your ear, you’re still going to be able to hear well, but it’s going to block out all that harmful wind noise.

These plugs are the EarPeace Motorcycle Earplugs, and are best motorcycle earplugs I have used.  If possible we should all be looking for the best motorcycle hearing protection, but the best may vary slightly from person to person.

These are the best combination of the two. They block more sound than the custom earplugs, and yet allow me to hear some of the road noise and traffic around me. I can also listen to the Bluetooth better. But they block out a whole lot more of the wind noise.

These are washable, you can wash them in just warm soapy water, and are reusable. You get can three different sizes there’s a large medium or small. Mine came with a large setup and that seemed to fit me well. But you also have a medium or small

So if you’re in a position where you’re riding, for any length of time at speed, I want to encourage you to get something to protect your ears

Even if it’s a quick trip to Walmart to get some of those foam earplugs, they’re going to work much better than nothing at all. Exposure to the wind at those speeds is going to cause permanent hearing loss. You won’t notice it at the end of a ride, but the cumulative effect take its toll over time.

That’s why you see some of the old bikers that get off their bike, and you say something to them, and they don’t hear a word that you’re saying. It’s because of years of riding, they have lost hearing permanently, due to wind exposure.

Your wind exposure in a full-face helmet is going to be the same, or like not wearing a helmet at all. We’re exposing ourselves to a lot of wind, and you need something like motorcycle earplugs to protect your hearing.

So, what are the best motorcycle ear plugs? EarPeace Motorcycle Ear Plugs are the best that I found so far, and it is what I’ll be riding with from now on. But find something that works well for you and protect your hearing.

Author: Nick

Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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