Wind and motorcycle engine noise can be damaging riders’ hearing.
Attune Hearing audiologist Sarah Downing says most people experience some degree of hearing loss.
But she says riding a bike can cause harmful noise levels of 100dB which can lead to deafness.
She advises riders to get a hearing test and take preventative measures such as wearing ear plugs.
Many riders wear ear plugs, but even the personally moulded variety can be uncomfortable on long trips.
They are also fiddly to put in and take out and are easy to drop and lose at the side of the road. They’re also quite expensive.
Here’s a solution that is probably more expensive, but a lot less fiddly and uncomfortable – noise-cancelling helmets.
I’m not sure whether anyone is working on the technology, but several years ago I spoke with an engineer at the University of Adelaide who had just begun a project to build a noise-cancelling helmet.
I recently found out that he had not continued with his research.
Maybe it was too expensive.
The technology is already used in headphones. It consists of a microphone that records background noise and a set of speakers that play a mirror-image soundwave which cancels out the existing background noise.
If you’ve ever used noise-cancelling headphones you’ll know that they work.
They are only slightly heavier than normal headphones mainly because they require batteries.
However, batteries are getting lighter all the time.
A noise-canceling motorcycle helmet would not only save your hearing but reduce background noise so you could play music or make phone calls without having to turn the volume up to harmful levels.
Critics of ear plugs say that riders need to be able to hear what’s going on around them so they can react in an emergency situation.
However, noise-cancelling headphones only eliminate constant droning background noise which actually accentuates sudden noises such as screeching tyres or an ambulance siren.
So noise-cancelling headphones would not only save your hearing, but probably your hide, too.
If there is a sound engineer out there willing to have a go at the project, I’m sure there would be a market for them.
Meanwhile, riders will have to put up with the discomfort of ear plugs if they want to protect their ears.