Motorcyclists need ear plugs

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Motorcyclists should wear ear plugs. For as little as $5 you can get comfortable noise reduction that could have you a lot of trouble in the long run.

It is a fact that riding a motorcycle at normal highway speeds, even in a full face helmet, without ear protection, does irreversible damage to your hearing over time. Noise fatigue is also a very real effect of riding, and can leave rider far more tired than expected.

Another long time rider told me he's getting a hearing aid today, and he never wore ear plugs. I've heard a number of reasons from some friends about why they won't or don't wear them. Those reasons are weak. Here are a few:

Traffic, horns, sirens and other noises will be hard to hear: Good hearing protection will lower high frequency noise, like wind buffeting your helmet. While ear plugs will lower the volume of all sound, they won't eliminate those interruptive sounds from making it to you at all, rather you'll be more likely to hear them as the effects of constant high frequency noise will not be as bad.

I wear a full face helmet: So what? Comfortable helmets flow a lot of air, and are pretty damn noisy! Helmet noise reduction studies show very minimal improvement due to a full face helmet.

I do not have loud pipes: While the silly loud pipes of many a Harley rider could make anyone deaf, you are really looking to block out the wind noise rushing past your head. Read the rest

'Mastering the Ride: More Proficient Motorcycling' by David L. Hough

I was excited to read Mastering the Ride, David L. Hough's follow-up to the must-read Proficient Motorcycling. It is chock full of great tips and strategies to keep you upright.

In this book, Hough goes deeper into general road and city riding strategies. He offers a number of gems I've already put into practice. One is to calculate how many seconds away from you any event or object could be. Imagine a several second event horizon around you in each direction and pay attention to changes that could upset you. I've found this to be good practice and a slightly different frame of mind than my usual focus on What is going to try to kill me next?

Tips on riding in groups, bad weather, varying elevations, terrains, hazards and handling different-sized motorcycles (especially stressing the concept of riding the right bike for the ride) are among the many topics covered. As I seek to continue improving as a rider, David Hough's books are proving to be an invaluable resource.

'Mastering the Ride: More Proficient Motorcycling' by David L. Hough Read the rest