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Helmet Noise

Riding and Protecting your Ears

Hearing loss is permanent and culmulative and despite what you may be thinking it's not loud pipes that are doing it. Yes, they make it worse but, even if your bike was totally silent, motorcycle riding will still damage your hearing.

It turns out that wind noise does the most damage to our hearing. It is constant, loud and very difficult to get away from. At highway speeds wind noise is well over 100db, even when wearing a helmet! A properly fitted 3/4 shell or greater helmet only reduces that by 3db (an improperly fitting helmet will actually increase wind noise). ONE HOURS of exposure to 110 db will damage your hearing. At 115 db it takes only 15 MINUTES. The damage is relentless, irreversible, and cumulative.

Hearing loss begins at only 90db and your only defense is to wear ear plugs every single time your ride!

OSHA PERMISSIBLE NOISE EXPOSURES
Duration per day, hours Sound level (dBA)
8 90
6 92
4 95
3 97
2 100
1 1/2 102
1 105
1/2 110
1/4 or less115

To the right is a chart demonstrating wind noise at 30 MPH and 60 MPH within various brands of helmets from a 1991 issue of Motorcycle Magazine.

Additonal Links: Sound affects our sport in another critical area as well and anyone utilizing OHV areas or participating in most motorcyle competitions knows about the next subject all to well:

Motorcycle Sound Testing

Due in part to the surging popularity of four-stroke off road vehicles, noise complaints have been steadily increasing and costing us riding area after riding area as a result. Four strokes are particularly to blame because they generate far more low frequency sounds (below 100 to 150 Hz) which travel much further than the higher frequency sounds emanating from two-stroke vehicles.

Or to be more specific, mid and high frequency noise is attenuated by propagation through the atmosphere and also by attenuation due to its passage over acoustically soft ground such as grass land. Low frequency noise does not benefit to the same extent from either of these effects. This means that as a sound travels, its frequency content alters making the low frequencies more prominent at greater distances.

Without getting into the right or wrong of it, we're all just gonna have to accept that people are moving closer and closer to our riding areas and are not being tolerant about the noise coming from them. If we want to keep riding and/or racing then we have to quiet our bikes down.

OHV Noise Regulations
J1287 Exhaust Sound Testing Standard (pdf) *

The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC)
1985-2005 Model Year Supplement to MIC Stationary Sound Test Manual for Off-Highway Motorcycles and ATVs
2006-07 Model Year Test RPM Supplement

In memory of Speedshop  LP Privateer  LP Racing  Aftershocks  Pirelli

December 22, 2014