Speaking as someone who has worked for decades in very close proximity to military aircraft, explosives, pneumatic & heavy equipment, exposed diesel engines, large and small arms fire, I do not take hearing protection for granted. Over those years I witnessed my hearing level shift, despite wearing some of the best hearing protection currently available at the time. This was proven by regular hearing examination testing.
Although some riders would argue that wind noise from a motorcycle is less damaging or not damaging at all compared to jet noise, the truth is they are both just as bad. Hearing loss is insidious and is slow in it's progression, so much so, that it's difficult for a person to detect any drop in hearing from month to month, much less year to year. If you ride the highways for any distance or just at high speeds, you will be better off having worn ear plugs than nothing at all. Not only will wearing earplugs help reduced hearing damage, but on long rides it can help in fighting wind fatigue. Yes, long periods of exposure to listening to wind noise can be fatiguing. Keep in mind: There is no known cure for a hearing loss due to loud noise. There is no surgery, no rehabilitation, no medication that returns a noise-induced hearing loss back to normal.
In a NIOSH field study exploring why noise-exposed workers don't wear their hearing protection, the primary reason given was the workers' fear that it would interfere with communication and job performance. For workers with normal hearing, the signal-to-noise ratio actually improves when wearing ear plugs in loud noise, such that hearing a conversation is easier. But that's not the case for workers with existing hearing loss. For them, wearing hearing protection produces a double hearing loss -- the attenuation of the ear plug overlaid on their existing hearing loss. Some powersport operators go thru this same thing. They feel like they can't or won't be able to hear what is going on around them. If you are a car driver and you really take time to think about it, most times you don't ride with all the windows down in your car, stick your head out the window to hear what is going on around you. In fact it's probably the exact opposite.
provides some very interesting information and facts concerning the common ailment of motorcycle riding, a condition known as "Temporary Threshold Shift,"
commonly referred to as TTS
by audiologists and hearing healthcare professionals.
So if you value your hearing, invest in a dozen pair of 15 cent earplugs. Experiment with them to find out which ones work best for you. In my opinion, by far one of the best and cheapest motorcycling and personal investments you can make.