For the longest time, we looked at wearing ear plugs while riding like having your mom force you to wear snowshoes after a snow storm when you were perfectly fine wearing sneakers. But then there was that buzzing sound that kept lasting longer and longer after a ride. So now we wear earplugs. Call us idiots or, as we prefer, just slow to mature.
Here are some stats that might convince you if you’re a hold out. Exposure to sound louder than 95 decibels (dB) can cause permanent hearing damage. Guess what – you ride on any street on even the quietest bike and you can expect wind roar alone to exceed 110dB. And who likes quiet bikes!?
If you ride 15 minutes a day, five days a week at that decibel level, you’ll say goodbye to 30-percent of your hearing within a year. And if you can’t hear us, we rest our case!
The good news is that you have a few options:
Foam plugs – they’re inexpensive and can be bought in bulk from just about any drugstore or hardware store. They’re soft enough to fit in your ear and still be comfortable under a helmet. Styles vary, along with effectiveness. So give a few different ones a try and see what works. You throw them away once you’re finished with them anyway.
Rubber plugs – these typically are a good balance between cost and performance. You should be able to find them at any hardware store. But fit can vary to the extreme and some types can actually be uncomfortable under a helmet. Since you’ll spend more, you’ll also not want to throw them away as often. So you will have to clean them between uses.
Custom-molded – you’ve seen the booths at bike shows. Some company offering up custom-molded plugs that can offer up to 30dB of sound reduction. Since they’re custom, they’re more expensive, but are also comfortable since they’re specifically made for your ear. You’ll also need to give them a good cleaning after each wear.