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Just imagine pushing your motorcycle to the limits on an open stretch of pavement.
(I am thinking of the Cherohala Skyway or the Beartooth Highway)
As much as you enjoy the gorgeous scenery, wind noise is one irritant that you can’t avoid.
And make no mistake about it…
When you are pushing the limits, even with the helmets on, wind noise can damage your hearing if you don’t use protection.
So, what are the best ways to reduce helmet wind noise?
Let’s find out.
Wind Noise in Motorcycle Helmets: Facts
The sad fact is, you will hardly find much discussion around the subject of hearing loss among motorcyclists.
But when you are pushing the bike, you are being exposed to very high noise levels. And the risks of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) are high.
While wind noise is a major factor, there are other elements like engine noise and road noise as well. The overall impact isn’t something you should ignore.
That’s almost as noisy as a speeding train!
Rev it up to 63 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) and the noise levels can rise as high as 115 dB.
Now that’s like sitting near an operating chainsaw or standing in a rock concert!
The fact is, continuous exposure to noise levels over 100 dB, can cause hearing loss within 5 minutes!
And hearing loss doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It happens in small degrees. And over the years, the damage slowly adds up. (A silent danger, eh).
Did you say that the helmets will offer protection?
Then, you’re out of luck. Helmets might protect your head in case of a high-side, but they don’t reduce wind noise by much. As per some estimates, the best a helmet can do is reduce the noise by 3 to 5 dB.
Does the helmet type matter?
Absolutely! The helmet type you choose makes a lot of difference.
The open-face helmets are the worst in terms of noise reduction. The flip-up helmets are slightly better. The full-face helmets with thick padding are the best options.
(A really annoying thing about helmets – the moment I found a super-quiet design, one of my friends will surely tick that off as the noisiest one).
Let’s not forget, helmet shape and aerodynamics play a role in the amount of wind noise that reaches your ear. The pointed end of the helmet helps in reducing aerodynamic drag and reducing noise. And some helmets are noisier than others.
Another factor is the airflow around the motorcycle and the amount of turbulence generated.
(In case I have awakened the sleeping geek in you, here’s something interesting for diving deeper.)
Long story short, helmets aren’t good enough when you are looking to protect your ears while riding for long hours at high speeds.
You need to take some extra steps to reduce wind noise in a motorcycle helmet and keep your ears protected.
How to Make a Motorcycle Helmet Quieter?
Take a look at some of the best methods for helmet wind noise reduction.
Tip #1: Right Fit
Firstly, choose a helmet with the right fit. Since our head shapes vary, one rider’s best fit can be the worst for another.
Make sure the helmet matches your head profile and provides a snug fit around your neck. With a closer fit, there will be less space inside the helmet for air to move around and create noise.
Tip #2: Good Design
Make sure you choose a well-designed and durable helmet. The components like visors and vents should not loosen up with use.
Truth is, at high speeds loose visors and vents make more noise than coins dropped on a barroom floor. That will simply increase the decibel levels.
Tip #3: Scarf, Anyone?
Actually, the wind turbulence is maximum around the chin and neck area. So, reducing the space between the helmet padding and the neck is important.
Wearing a scarf is one of the easiest ways of doing that. It will create a shield and reduce the amount of wind entering the helmet. You can also use a balaclava to reduce air gaps and cut noise.
Tip #4: Ear Plugs
One of the easiest ways to reduce the effects of wind noise is to plug your ears. Made from high-grade silicone or rubber, earplugs are comfortable and easy to wear even with the helmet on.
Moreover, they can form an airtight seal around the outer ear and protect the more sensitive zones of the inner ear. Some earplugs also come with filters that block the harmful frequencies while allowing you to listen to useful noises.
Another option is wearing earmuffs. While they block the noise, they need more space under the helmet. And if it’s hot and humid, you might be sweating more than a turkey on Christmas.
Tip #5: “Nude” is Good
Not THAT kind of nude, mind you.
It’s best to ride a “nude” bike without a windscreen or other accessories like spoilers and screens to reduce noise. Airflow around a bike with fewer accessories will be more streamlined and reduce the noise.
But in case you have a windscreen make sure that it directs the airflow above your head. Windscreen height and the rider’s height are important factors that impact wind turbulence. A wrongly positioned windscreen can increase turbulence.
Tip #6: Seal Your Neck
You can use a windbreaker to cut the wind noise. Basically, it’s a neoprene skirt that fits around your neck and upper torso. This works as a motorcycle helmet neck seal that reduces the air entering the helmet from your neck region. As a result, the noise is reduced.
Tip #7: Spoilers or Memory Foam
You can buy a helmet with a noise cancellation system and a decibel rating. The specially designed helmets with aerodynamic spoilers offer better stability and noise cancellation at higher speeds.
If you want a pocket-friendly solution, use memory foam to block the helmet earholes. That will be a custom fit and comfortable solution to reduce helmet wind noise. Also putting your visor down will cut down the noise to some extent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do motorcycle helmets block out noise?
Unfortunately, most motorcycle helmets do not block out noise. You need to pick a specially designed helmet with noise cancellation features or take extra steps to reduce wind noise.
Why is my motorcycle helmet so noisy?
If you aren’t using a full-face helmet, then the noise will be louder. Also, the poor fit of the helmet and inferior design might increase the noise levels.
How do you soundproof a helmet?
You can use a motorcycle helmet wind blocker, a scarf, or a balaclava to reduce wind noise. Other than that, you can use an earplug to protect your ears.