I thought I’d invented something when I pulled apart an old set of headphones and shoved them inside a noisy helmet to make ear muffs that provided a quiet, noise-cancelling environment for music while riding.
I should have known that there is nothing new in the world.
Besides, my ear muff headphone invention was pretty useless. It made the helmet uncomfortably tight and still allowed some wind noise because the seal wasn’t quite right.
Now Quiet Ride Helmets of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has invented a set of ear muffs that promise to make a helmet quiet, saving your hearing and allowing you to listen to music while you ride.
What’s different about these ear muffs from mine is that they are attached via a tube to a pump like in Air Jordan shoes.
The squeeze pump blows up an air bladder between the ear muffs and the inside shell of your helmet so that the ear muff pushes up to your ear and forms a seal. Check out the video.
It’s a fair bit of plumbing that needs to be fitted to your helmet and it can flap around a bit when you’re riding.
But here’s the main problem.
They are 38mm or 1 1/2” wide so, they won’t fit in all helmets and you will have to remove some internal padding to fit them.
On my Nolan helmet, I was amazed at how much padding I had to remove. This makes me extremely concerned about the integrity of the helmet in a crash, so I’ve now retired this old helmet to the trophy shelf.
I can’t recommend you butcher your helmet to fit them, but Quiet Ride Helmets also sell full-face carbon fibre and fibreglass road and motocross helmets ($295-$450US) already fitted with these ear muffs and/or a Bluetooth headset ($US148).
However, they are only DOT approved for America. In Australia, they would only be legal in Queensland.
I later found that the ear muffs are made of a hard plastic shell, with a soft gel and memory-foam oval that goes next to your ear.
I peeled this soft part off, discarded the hard shell and placed the ear muffs inside a couple of helmets without having to butcher them.
They don’t have the bladder to push them against my ears, but it’s a firm fit anyway.
The gel and memory foam seem to form a seal over your ears and reduce a lot of background noise. You can place headset speakers inside the gel oval and you don’t have to turn them up as loud to hear phone conversations or listen to music.
However, the sticky backing won’t adhere too well to the felt liners in most helmets, and as you squeeze the helmet on, they get pushed out of position so you have to fiddle around with your fingers for a while to get them just right.
I then stuck some velcro on the back of the gel ovals and they stayed in place much better. It’s a shame you can’t buy these gel oval muffs separately.
It’s a lot of messing around and it still isn’t as quiet or as convenient as a set of specially made Earmold earplugs or their earphones with attached speakers.