Protecting your ears
30 July 2010 14:55
Have you ever listened to your MP3 player on the tube, on a crowded train, or while walking through the city? Try turning it off then listening again when you’re back in a quiet spot.
As you fall to the floor, scrabbling to pull the explosively loud phones out of your ears you’ll have learnt a valuable lesson: sound is relative.
What seems a bearable level of volume in a busy place is quite overpowering, and in fact damaging, when your ears are in a more relaxed state.
This relates exactly to the level of sound and noise that is assaulting your ear drum while you’re riding a motorbike at motorway speeds.
If your ears are tensed and straining to avoid damage for an extended period of time it can lead to a loss of hearing capacity in the long term.
Surprisingly, it’s not the engine noise which is so damaging to a rider’s ears, but the rush of the wind passing across your helmet.
This roaring noise can reach volumes of around 103db, a figure which can begin to cause hearing damage after an exposure of only two hours
The UK’s much maligned Health & Safety legislation even recommends that 80db should be the maximum daily exposure level for workers.
Fortunately it’s extremely easy to prevent this damage, by wearing ear plugs designed for bikers. They’re extremely cheap (packs of 50 pairs selling for around £10), easy to wear and unobtrusive once they’re in.
Riders who aren’t used to riding with ear plugs often find it difficult to ride without them once they’ve tried them out. What was once a bearable noise suddenly feels like a sonic assault as their hearing has recovered enough to regular sensitivity.