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Hearing Protection/Custom Ear Plugs/Hearing Aids


Softtail

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I just got back from an appointment with an audiologist and ENT Dr. I ended up with custom ear plugs and not one but two hearing aids. Since the hearing aids only cost $3500, the hearing aid guy through in the ear plugs, which would have cost $120.00. They pump plastic into your ear to make a mold, wasn't bad. How did I get here, how about three trips to Sturgis on a 91 FXSTC, (open Supertrap)with nothing on my head but a bandana, since 1959, thirteen bikes with little if any hearing protection, not to mention three years on an aircraft carrier (no hearing protection, this was 1966). After I got my first Beamer, I started wearing a helmet full time, even on the Harley. But, I hated ear plugs, so never wore them. So, here I am, but hell, at least I have custom ear plugs and they were free!!! <<<>>

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Nice n Easy Rider
I just got back from an appointment with an audiologist and ENT Dr. I ended up with custom ear plugs and not one but two hearing aids. Since the hearing aids only cost $3500, the hearing aid guy through in the ear plugs, which would have cost $120.00. They pump plastic into your ear to make a mold, wasn't bad. How did I get here, how about three trips to Sturgis on a 91 FXSTC, (open Supertrap)with nothing on my head but a bandana, since 1959, thirteen bikes with little if any hearing protection, not to mention three years on an aircraft carrier (no hearing protection, this was 1966). After I got my first Beamer, I started wearing a helmet full time, even on the Harley. But, I hated ear plugs, so never wore them. So, here I am, but hell, at least I have custom ear plugs and they were free!!! <<<>>

 

Softtail,

 

By my calculations you are in your mid-60's or greater. Why do you ascribe your hearing loss to your riding? How can you be sure it isn't just related to aging since it is well known that we lose hearing as we get older, beginning with the higher frequencies?

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I'm sorry to hear that. I hope the damage is done and your hearing doesn't degrade further.

 

Also, thank you for reinforcing the importance of hearing protection.......no matter what you are riding. We get our hearing checked at work every year and I had a nice chat with the Doctor last year due to me being the only one out of 4 that showed up when I was supposed to. I told him I ride motorcycle 20k +/- miles a year, and he right away asked about earplugs. I had just started wearing them a few months earlier when I bought a new helmet and the new one had a lot more wind noise. He then started pulling out charts and pictures of the inner ear canal, and showed me the approximate noise level from just the wind while riding and the damage it could cause. It all pointed to permanent hearing loss. From that point on, I won't ride without them unless its going to be a short and slow ride.

 

I haven't taken the plunge for custom plugs yet......I just use the free ones I get from work.

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Rock 'n Roll did it to me. I worked 17 years as a musician, cranked up pretty much the entire time. Now I have a constant ring and where your tatoo might say "Mom" mine says "Huh?".

 

I wear protection all the time now, riding, lawn work. Doc referred me to the ENT for aids. I just haven't gone yet.

 

Protect!

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Joe Frickin' Friday
I wear protection all the time now, riding, lawn work.

 

Like Keith, I get my hearing checked every year due to work. So far, so good: 38 years old, hearing is still perfect. I keep a box of disposable earplugs in the garage and another in the basement; anything involving sustained/elevated noise levels, and the plugs go in. Lawn mower, power tools (sander, drill, saw, router, sandblasting, whatever), motorcycling, you name it. Earplugs are cheap, hearing is irreplaceable.

 

Last weekend I saw the Grand Rapids Symphony in concert, along with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. First time I've ever heard a full orchestra on stage, and the clarity and localization of all the instruments was amazingly cool to behold. I'm glad my hearing is still good, and I hope to keep it that way as long as I can.

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DaveTheAffable

Huhhhhh? What?

 

Tinitus (ringing) in both ears, marginal hearing.

 

Machine shop as teenager, model airplanes, chain saws, and many, many ear infections as a child. Both parents were chain smokers... and I had a tobacco allergy. They didn't care enough, or were unable, to quit.

 

Not meant to be a hijack... if anybody wants to PM me regarding hearing aid brands / suggestions, I've promised SWMBO that I'll go to ENT after the holidays.

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This is an interesting thread, on more than one level.

 

Two years ago, I had my hearing tested at three locations, and all testers recommended aids in both ears. I'm 59, BTW. I'm a pretty good boy when it comes to wearing ear protection, but of course I didn't when I was younger... In case you're shopping, I bought my aids from the Hearing Aid Center at Costco. Inasmuch as all hearing aids suck, I'm happy with the product--Revera digital aids with three programmable settings that I can change with the touch of a button. I can turn them off and wear them with or without foam plugs and my helmet. Also, I'm a veterinarian and can use a stethoscope while wearing the aids. I'm happy about that, of course!

 

The other interesting issue is the tendency of all of us to blindly attribute a problem, such as hearing loss, to a specific episode in our past. Statistically, we know that loud noises are a "risk factor" for hearing loss, but that says nothing about one person's situation. Just as there are loads of smokers that don't get lung cancer (and we all are aware of that connection), there are many of us that have hearing loss with NO history of loud noises. The loss may simply due to aging and/or genetics. My point is that it is not correct to state that "My hearing loss was due to my years of riding a straight piped Harley, or my years of rock concerts."

 

All we CAN say is that statistically, we should protect our hearing, starting at a very young age. Wear those plugs. Oh, and don't get old. That's a risk factor, too!

 

 

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Just got my first set of custom ones. The best bit was when they splurged the mold material into my ear. :eek::thumbsup:

 

Wish I did it sooner, I SAID I WISH I DID IT SOONER.

 

Jim

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"Can you hear me now???"

 

Seems many of us are afflicted with hearing loss. I've been near totally deaf in my left ear since early childhood (or birth) due to nerve damage plus I have constant tinnitus in my right ear. I don't like earplugs but used Howard Leight Max (orange) prox 4 yrs before I got my RT. I now ride sans plugs on shorter rides in combo with VStream windscreen for better air management.

 

For nav and MP3 from my Zumo, I bought Etymotic ER6i ear buds. I liked the tonal quality but all day comfort was a problem unless I used the smallest attachment. While at Fall Torrey, I scheduled time with Arizona Al for a custom set. After using them a few days there and riding 650 miles home last day, I concluded the new ones are not only very comfortable but also the easiest to listen to for extended hours. The "air tube" design doesn't transmit the frequency range of ER6i, but instead a mellow tone that doesn't irritate on all day rides. All the better now that I have XM too!

 

 

Jeff

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..........But, I hated ear plugs, so never wore them. So, here I am, but hell, at least I have custom ear plugs and they were free!!! <<<>>

 

I love your sense of humor! :clap:

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I greatly appreciate the discourse on hearing, noise and ear protection. One of the most interesting things I have learned on this forum relative to noise is that sport-touring bikes with nifty farings and full face helmets result in much greater wind noise and turbulance than the non faringed open-faced counterparts. That is really two bad, because wind noise and turbulance really impact comfort. These two factors alone have a great deal to do with how one feels at the end of a long ride. I am really hoping that my new custom ear plugs will go a long way to alleviate the noise problem. For what it is worth, my new 1200GT, even with the V-Stream windsheild, generates more noise and turbulance than my RT ever did. <<<>>>>

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I greatly appreciate the discourse on hearing, noise and ear protection. One of the most interesting things I have learned on this forum relative to noise is that sport-touring bikes with nifty farings and full face helmets result in much greater wind noise and turbulance than the non faringed open-faced counterparts. That is really two bad, because wind noise and turbulance really impact comfort. These two factors alone have a great deal to do with how one feels at the end of a long ride. I am really hoping that my new custom ear plugs will go a long way to alleviate the noise problem. For what it is worth, my new 1200GT, even with the V-Stream windsheild, generates more noise and turbulance than my RT ever did. <<<>>>>

 

Curious comments. My R1200RT with Aeroflow windshield (positioned so I can just look over the top) is so quiet that I only wear ear plugs on freeway rides longer than 20 miles or so. And that's with a flip front helmet.

 

My R90S, on the other hand is MUCH more noisy than the RT, no matter what helmet. I ride this bike frequently (no garage queens here) and wear foam or my moulded plugs almost all the time, certainly anytime I'm on the freeway. And I prefer my non-flip helmet; it's less noisy than the flipper.

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John - But how tall are you? I'm 6'4". On any faired bike I get intolerable noise at highway speeds. How much would the fairing height have to be increased to minimize it? From tucking my head down, it seems like at least 3 inches higher than stock.

 

I'm convinced that no helmet would be quiet with the stock combination with my height. But I'm also reluctant to have to see the world thru the windscreen vs over it, so earplugs it is.

 

The active noise rejection system experiment referred to elsewhere sounds very intriguing.

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Nice n Easy Rider

OK, I give up. I've been following this thread since it started and from all the posts I've gotten the impression that I should be having a significant problem with noise from my windscreen and/or helmet (Arai, full face) but I don't. I haven't been using ear plugs. So either I'm extremely lucky or I've already gone partially deaf. Is there anyone else out there who isn't experiencing painful ear noise without the use of ear plugs?

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That's just it, the noise doesn't have to be painful to be damaging. There are two factors, noise level and time. Painful noise for a short period can be damaging but so can high noise levels that are below the discomfort threshold if the exposure period is longer. And the damage is very gradual and usually not noticeable in the early stages. In most cases the noise level on a motorcycle is above safe standards for lengthy exposure and eventually hearing damage will result. The only thing that varies is how long it will take.

 

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Nice n Easy Rider
That's just it, the noise doesn't have to be painful to be damaging. There are two factors, noise level and time. Painful noise for a short period can be damaging but so can high noise levels that are below the discomfort threshold if the exposure period is longer. And the damage is very gradual and usually not noticeable in the early stages. In most cases the noise level on a motorcycle is above safe standards for lengthy exposure and eventually hearing damage will result. The only thing that varies is how long it will take.

 

So are we talking about wind noise, tire noise, or engine noise? Or a combination of all three? I'm sure that there have been studies showing what the decibels are at the helmet/head interphase but does a good helmet reduce these to acceptable levels or are ear plugs ALWAYS a necessity to protect your hearing?

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If you just need 3" and don't want to look thru the windshield try this:

 

http://www.saeng.com/edging.htm

 

It lifts the air up about 3 to 4 inches and reduces turbulence. What I like is you can put the air right where you want it. I'm 6'3" look over my windshield and it helps alot.

 

Simple, inexpensive and money back if you don't like it.

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So are we talking about wind noise, tire noise, or engine noise?

I always wear plugs, and it's because of wind noise. I use a Nolan 102 flip chin helmet, plus Aeroflow screen on my 1150RT. Being part of the LD crowd, I see very few riders in that crowd who don't wear plugs.

 

I'm around a lot of noise at work, so plugs are a habit.

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So are we talking about wind noise, tire noise, or engine noise? Or a combination of all three? I'm sure that there have been studies showing what the decibels are at the helmet/head interphase but does a good helmet reduce these to acceptable levels or are ear plugs ALWAYS a necessity to protect your hearing?

I believe that wind noise is far and away the biggest component. As far as ear protection always being necessary there really isn't a single answer, again with exposure time being a primary factor. If you have a fairly 'quiet' (in relative terms) helmet/windscreen combination then shorter duration trips may be OK, but I think it would be pretty uncommon to find any situation where noise levels are low enough for long (meaning multiple-hour) exposure without some kind of hearing protection.

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I'm 6'0" and use the medium-height Aeroflow. If I raise the 'shield all the way up, I have to look THROUGH it, not OVER it. I way prefer looking over it. I adjust the height quite a bit: slightly higher at freeway speeds (but never all the way up), lower at 45 mph, and all the way down at 25 mph or so. This leaves a sort of dead pocket where the wind noise is minimal. Interestingly, my wife and frequent pillion (also 6'0") can't tell if I adjust the windshield. But boy, I sure can!

 

When we first bought the bike, we took a trip to Oregon and back. The wind noise with my flip-front helmet and the stock windshield was a real drag, even with earplugs.

 

Certainly, a tall Aeroflow ought to be high enough for you. I have no experience with any of the other fine aftermarket windshields.

 

John - But how tall are you? I'm 6'4". On any faired bike I get intolerable noise at highway speeds. How much would the fairing height have to be increased to minimize it? From tucking my head down, it seems like at least 3 inches higher than stock.

 

I'm convinced that no helmet would be quiet with the stock combination with my height. But I'm also reluctant to have to see the world thru the windscreen vs over it, so earplugs it is.

 

The active noise rejection system experiment referred to elsewhere sounds very intriguing.

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That's just it, the noise doesn't have to be painful to be damaging. There are two factors, noise level and time. Painful noise for a short period can be damaging but so can high noise levels that are below the discomfort threshold if the exposure period is longer. And the damage is very gradual and usually not noticeable in the early stages. In most cases the noise level on a motorcycle is above safe standards for lengthy exposure and eventually hearing damage will result. The only thing that varies is how long it will take.

 

Say what?

 

http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html

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That's just it, the noise doesn't have to be painful to be damaging. There are two factors, noise level and time. Painful noise for a short period can be damaging but so can high noise levels that are below the discomfort threshold if the exposure period is longer. And the damage is very gradual and usually not noticeable in the early stages. In most cases the noise level on a motorcycle is above safe standards for lengthy exposure and eventually hearing damage will result. The only thing that varies is how long it will take.

 

Say what?

 

http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html

 

A few questions:

1. On that link, 100 dB is listed as the noise produced by a motorcycle. I assume that that figure refers to engine noise, or more specifically, muffler noise. Doesn't the EPA mandate 93 dB as the standard? That would of course be for stock exhaust systems. Aftermarket pipes are another story.

2. This discussion has generally focused on wind noise, not exhaust noise. Thus, the chart in the link doesn't quite apply. Does anybody have an idea how one might quantify the wind noise inside a helmet, adjacent to the ear?

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Studies carried out in the UK a few years ago (links to which I now cannot find) showed that noise levels inside the then quietest tested hemlmet on a sports bike exceeded 75dBA (the lowest threshold for hearing protection in a work environment) at 60mph, and exceeded 100dBA at 100mph.

 

Hearing loss is permanent. Hearing aids are a long way short of perfect. Protect what you have - you cannot get it back if you loose it.

 

Andy

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From my engineering experience with noise measurements around (hydraulic) machinery, I'd guess the blowoff noise levels from riding either of my faired bikes to be at least 100 dba at 60 mph.

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Hearing loss is permanent. Hearing aids are a long way short of perfect. Protect what you have - you cannot get it back if you lose it.

 

Andy

 

Amen! I've had hearing loss possibly all my life (in thinking back on things), possibly from infancy from being on the receiving end of allied bombings in Germany toward the end of WWII.

 

Yes, I use earplugs now. I've used hearing-aids for about the last 15 years and just recently gave up on them. They are very expensive, are much less than perfect, as Andy points out, and, for me anyway, only marginally effective. Plus they are only designed to last (per my Audiologist) 3 - 5 years!

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John - But how tall are you? I'm 6'4". On any faired bike I get intolerable noise at highway speeds. How much would the fairing height have to be increased to minimize it? From tucking my head down, it seems like at least 3 inches higher than stock.

 

I'm convinced that no helmet would be quiet with the stock combination with my height. But I'm also reluctant to have to see the world thru the windscreen vs over it, so earplugs it is.

 

The active noise rejection system experiment referred to elsewhere sounds very intriguing.

 

I'm 6'4" as well and the quietest helmet I ever purchased was a Cee Bailey #2 +7.5. I always wondered what a boxer twin sounded like at 80mph. I still wear my ER6i plugs but not because I need too. And I'm quite certain the +6.5 wouldn't have done it.

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WIND noise!!!

 

Has anyone noticed how quiet there FF helmet is with the visor up? I was amazed yesterday when I flipped it up to fiddle with my glasses - it got much quieter! So now I'm wondering about wearing goggle-type glasses with my FF helmet but removing the face shied. I realize I will trade some protection after removing the face shield, and probably it will be marginally cooler in winter riding, but I'm thinking seriously about giving it a try.

 

Does anyone ride with a FF helmet minus the face shield? And what comments do you guys have on my idea?

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WIND noise!!!

 

Has anyone noticed how quiet there FF helmet is with the visor up? I was amazed yesterday when I flipped it up to fiddle with my glasses - it got much quieter! So now I'm wondering about wearing goggle-type glasses with my FF helmet but removing the face shied. I realize I will trade some protection after removing the face shield, and probably it will be marginally cooler in winter riding, but I'm thinking seriously about giving it a try.

 

Does anyone ride with a FF helmet minus the face shield? And what comments do you guys have on my idea?

 

My FF helmet is NOISIER with the visor up.

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WIND noise!!!

 

Has anyone noticed how quiet there FF helmet is with the visor up? I was amazed yesterday when I flipped it up to fiddle with my glasses - it got much quieter! So now I'm wondering about wearing goggle-type glasses with my FF helmet but removing the face shied. I realize I will trade some protection after removing the face shield, and probably it will be marginally cooler in winter riding, but I'm thinking seriously about giving it a try.

 

Does anyone ride with a FF helmet minus the face shield? And what comments do you guys have on my idea?

 

My FF helmet is NOISIER with the visor up.

 

Really? Do you have a windshield on your motorcycle? Interesting......

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