Lance Oliver offers his insight on the importance of wearing earplugs when riding your motorcycle. Below is an excerpt of the article:
“Riding motorcycles can make you happier … and hard of hearing
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends that workers should not be exposed to sound levels above 85 decibels in an eight-hour work day, and notes that noise levels of 100 decibels become damaging to the ear after just 15 minutes of exposure. Testing done by researchers from the University of South Alabama and William Patterson University, using an acoustically engineered dummy head and microphones, found that at speeds above 40 kph (about 25 mph), wind noise surpassed any noise from the motorcycle. At the highest speed tested, 120 kph (about 74 mph), noise exceeded 100 decibels at all the frequencies they measured.
Put those two facts together and you get this: If you ride your motorcycle at highway speeds for more than 15 minutes without ear protection, you’re damaging your hearing.
And who wants to ride for just 15 minutes?
Certainly not me. As someone who enjoys few things more than a long motorcycle trip, I often spend eight hours, or more, in the saddle. It’s not what most would call a workday, but it’s an equivalent amount of time, so to meet that NIOSH standard, I have to get the full effect of the sound reduction that good earplugs provide.”