When choosing all the proper riding gear we always focus on the obvious kit: boots, pants, jacket, gloves, helmet. But perhaps the most overlooked component is one that can actively save you from damage on every single ride – earplugs.
Whether running stock exhaust or tearing down the roads with a less restricted aftermarket system, the ride is likely to be loud. Even at highway speeds, the wind noise is enough to be damaging. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) can happen around 85 decibels or more. For reference, city traffic is about 85 decibels, and motorcycles are around 95. That is likely to be higher on group rides when you’re riding among many other riders, some of which likely have louder exhaust systems.
Recently I bought a pair of reusable ear plugs to keep with me when riding. I find that it cuts down enough of the “noise” of riding while still letting in enough sound to enjoy the roar of the engine and the various aural elements of the ride itself. In fact, I believe the ear plugs actually enhance the engine sound similar to a live concert, where the noise from the volume takes away from the individual sounds of the instruments. The ear plugs also do a great job of letting me hear emergency vehicles and surrounding traffic enough that I can still be aware of my surroundings, which is very important when riding.
So, if you do not already have and use ear protection while riding, I highly encourage considering a set of ear plugs. While you likely won’t get hurt on every ride, you will certainly do lasting damage over time without proper ear protection.