New research by the General German Automobile Association (ADAC) and hearing protection specialists Auritech have raised alarm bells around the potential for permanent hearing loss while riding. Charlie Bliss reports Recent warnings about the damage motorcycle users are doing to their hearing hopefully won’t fall on deaf ears.
That is, use adequate ear protection while riding or you run the risk of permanent ear damage. In 2018, the ADAC conducted a study in Germany which revealed that permanent hearing damage can be caused after only 15 minutes of riding at 62mph without earplugs. Contrary to what many believe, it’s not the gnarly noise generated by your bike that’s to blame – it’s the wind.
Noise turbulence produced around your head by wind ingress while you are in motion is the primary culprit, and your helmet is not enough to shield against it. Internal padding, vents or additional weather stripping on the helmet to direct flow patterns won’t make much difference, as these measures do not significantly reduce the noise in your helmet to a safe level. DAMAGE DONE Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a serious issue with no cure. It is problematic to diagnose because sufferers may possess a keen sense for hearing certain frequencies or sounds but might experience limited or no access to other sounds. NIHL and tinnitus can occur if the listener is exposed to sounds above 85dB.
Another common malady associated with motorcycle riding is Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS), which is caused by constant exposure to excessive noise for any period of time. At first, this leads to a temporary reduction in the perception of hearing patterns – essentially, your hearing becomes worse than it was prior to initial exposure. Continuous TTS exposure will cause permanent damage. The negative health effects of NIHL and TTS are irreversible. This means you’ll likely need a hearing aid later in life.