Screaming guitars, screaming engines, thumping bass, and loud pipes. Whether you are in a band on stage or a band of motorcyclists, you will likely come to regret it if you do not protect your hearing.
It’s been proven that regular and prolonged exposure to sounds of only 85 dB will permanently and irrevocably damage your hearing. Even a helmet can’t fully protect you from this danger, as even the quietest helmets still allow more than 85 dB at highway speeds.
Earplugs are a cheap and extremely effective way to protect your hearing, and we’ve rounded up the best options on the market for your consideration.
Best Earplugs for Motorcyclists
Alpine MotoSafe earplugs are made from a patented “AlpineThermoShape ” material which is softer than silicone and molds to the unique shape of your ear canal for a better fit.
These can be ordered in “Race” or “Tour ” configurations plus a combo pack that offers a set of each.
The Race set has a noise reduction of 20 dB and is designed for “Fast” riders (i.e., over 60 mph). The Tour set is slightly less aggressive, with a noise reduction of 17 dB for “Relaxed” riders (under 60 mph).
- Comfort – the AlpineThermoShape material allows for a low-pressure fit.
- Price – at a little over half the price of the Eargasms a set, these are a good balance of cost and effectiveness
- The filter insert is soft, and therefore more comfortable under a full helmet than the hard plastic insert in the others.
- The filter insert is soft and therefore can tear more easily while removing them. The consensus is “be gentle with them”.
- Size – only come in one size, so if you have very small or large ear canals, you should look elsewhere.
Howard Leight by Honeywell Disposable Foam Earplugs
The Howard Leight earplugs are designed for any high noise environment. Industrial plants, construction, mining, and yes – motorcycling.
Depending on who you purchase these from, they come in a sack with 400 earplugs or a sack with 200 baggies, each containing a pair of earplugs. Super simple to use and self-adjusting to virtually any shape ear, these offer the most protection at a whopping 32 dB reduction.
- Price – Bulk pricing makes these work out to a little over a dime per pair! If you never reused them you would get 200 rides out of a bulk bag purchase.
- Sound reduction – Broad-spectrum sound reduction of 32 dB. These are used on construction sites and warehouse floors, wind noise is not a problem
- Fit- Properly inserted the foam quickly expands to fit your ear canal perfectly.
- Pressure – a few people who have small ear canals have reported that the constant outward pressure of the foam trying to expand causes discomfort over long periods.
- Too good – To some people these block TOO much sound. Muffling or completely blocking traffic noise can be dangerous and eliminating engine noise can make shifting tricky for motorcyclists.
- Disposable – Rather than one pair of earplugs that you will use for your entire 2 months, 48 state tour, you will need to carry more of these with you. They CAN be reused, but only a few times before they are worn out and dirty.
Eargasms are soft silicone filtering earplugs designed for live events, motorcycling, or for those with general noise sensitivity.
Each set comes with two pairs of earplug shells sized small and standard. Simply slide the filter portion into the shell that best fits your ear for up to 21 dB of noise reduction.
- Reduces noise evenly to allow you to still hear, just at a reduced volume.
- Aluminum keychain carrying case to keep them clean and safe while not in your ear.
- Two sizes in each order so most people feel they are comfortable to wear with a helmet.
- Price. At the time of this writing, the Eargasms were coming in as the most expensive of the round-up. Don’t drop them!
- Some people have reported that they are uncomfortable to wear for extended periods.
- Placement in the ear is critical and can shift with jaw movement.
EarPeace Motorcycle Earplugs are a two-flange design to gently seal the ear for all-day comfort.
These earplugs can be ordered in either small or regular sizes, but either size gets three insertable filters to dial in your hearing protection. The Medium (17 dB reduction), High (20 dB reduction), and Max (26 dB reduction) filters can be fitted into the silicone earplugs to customize the level of protection you desire.
- Comfort – For those that are uncomfortable with a more traditional three flange design, this two flange design may fit your ear better.
- Adjustable – the 3 different levels of noise reduction are a major win if you are uncertain of just how much noise reduction you want or need.
- Spare plug! Each package ships with three plugs in case you lose or damage one. There are also three of each filter for the same reason.
- Price – While not quite as expensive as the Eargasms, The second most expensive earplugs are not something that you want to drop!
- The smaller two-flange design can be finicky to get seated in your ear correctly. You can’t just jam them in, they have to be placed correctly to be effective.
Loop Experience Noise Reduction Ear Plugs
Loop is a unique design with a fashionable look and differs from the other plugs in that the filter is not exchangeable but rather the ear tips.
Included in the package are Extra-Small, Small, Medium, and Large foam and silicone tips so that you can get the exact fit you want.
- Look – these can be ordered with Black, Gold, Rose Gold, or Silver loops.
- Fit- with eight different tips included, these will fit virtually anyone
- Noise reduction – These only reduce noise by 18 dB. That’s better than nothing but probably not enough for riders of high revving bikes or those with loud pipes.
- Price – The third most expensive in this round-up, they cost almost as much as the much more versatile EarPeace plugs.
Earplugs are by far the simplest, most effective, and most flexible of the hearing accessories.
Ranging from pennies per pair for disposable foam plugs to over $40, the cost-effectiveness of earplugs varies widely but can be boiled down to a few basic types.
- Foam earplugs (i.e Howard Leight by Honeywell). These come in packs of 50-100 pairs and are intended to be disposable. You roll them in between your fingers to compress them to a small tube that expands to fit your ear canal.
- Pros: Excellent at blocking harmful noise yet allowing things like car horns and sirens to get through.
- Cons: For people with small or sensitive ear canals, the outward pressure from the expanding foam can be uncomfortable.
- Wax earplugs (i,e Mighty Plugs). These are a little more expensive than the disposable foam ones but not by much. These you warm up in your hands and then jam into your ears.
- Pros: Since these mold themselves to your ear, there is not continuous outward pressure on your ear canal. They are also essentially water-tight, although I have never ridden in rain bad enough to be concerned about water getting in my ears!
- Cons: However as these are both air and moisture tight, they can increase waxy build-up in your ears or cause earaches from air pressure if you aren’t careful when you insert them.
- Silicone Earplugs (i.e. Eargasm High Fidelity) The next step up the price ladder, these are specially engineered to let some sounds through and keep the damaging ranges out.
- Pros: So long as you get the correct size, these will be the best bet for selective noise reduction. They are also washable and usually come with a hard case for storing them somewhere other than your lint-filled pants pockets!
- Cons: They are a little more expensive, and if you do NOT get the right size they can be very uncomfortable.
Hearing damage is a real problem for motorcyclists of all types. Regardless if you ride a screaming sportbike, a rumbling V-Twin cruiser, or a smooth tourer like a Goldwing, the wind noise will get you.
With price points starting literally in pennies, there is no excuse not to wear something.
Personally, I like to hear some wind and engine noise, just not enough to make me too deaf to hear my grandkids.