The frequent and long-term riding of the motorcycle hurts the hearing capabilities as time goes by. The effects are caused by the wind turbulence and the vibrations created while on the move. A rider must find ways to reduce the noise for health and safety purposes. However, some factors may affect or determine how much noise reduction can happen in a motorcycle helmet.
Some Factors Affect To The Noise of Motorcycle Helmets
1. The Type of Helmet
There are two types of helmets. The first is the open-faced helmets that include three-quarter open-faced helmets, skull caps, and half-faced helmets. Owing to their design, these types of helmets allow so much wind to sneak inside, causing so much noise. By all means, such helmets should be avoided as a health precaution.
The other type of helmet is the full-face helmet. As the name suggests, they cover the whole face and are quieter. With such helmets, adjustments using fleece, scarfs, and balaclava reduce the noise further.
Venting refers to an opening in the helmet in which air or wind passes. Different helmet models have different vents and outlets. The design of the vent and the number of vents will determine how the air flows.
Full-face helmets tend to have fewer vents. The number and design of vents will inform you on what adjustments to make.
3. Helmet Aerodynamics
Aerodynamics refers to the outward features of a motorcycle helmet. How the protrusions are designed largely affects the turbulence and the generation of noise. The fins and ridges’ design will determine how easy, hard, and how effective the noise reduction in the helmet will be.
4. Level of Seal by the Visor
It is an adjustable part of a helmet normally transparent and made of plastic material. The visor’s coverage and how tight it is will block the wind from getting into the helmet, this reducing noise and turbulence.
How Can I Make My Motorcycle Helmet Quiet?
1. Purchase Fitting Helmet
A helmet that fits eliminates a lot of noise making it quieter. Even if one is wearing a $2500 helmet and it is one to two sizes too big, there is a significant drop in its ability to protect you than a $100 helmet that is firm.
When it comes to buying a helmet, the aim is not only one that will protect your head from injury in the event of an accident but one that reduces the amount of wind noise.
Similarly, to caps and hats, heads come in different shapes and sizes, and so do helmets. Finding a helmet that is not only appealing but comfortable is a task that should not be undermined due to the safety they provide in the event of a crash and “rescuing” your ears from the noise.
It is for this reason in the quest for a quiet motorcycle helmet; riders ought to take head measurements to make a correct selection of the helmet that will be the right size.
A helmet that does is loose generates a lot of rustling sound due to the gaps around the neck that allow air to flow through them. High amounts of helmet noise not only affect hearing but also compromise a rider’s focus and vision.
A quiet motorcycle helmet should be firm such that when one is tossing it, the head moves in the direction of the toss, and it cannot roll off the head of the rider.
2. Using Earplugs and Earmuffs
Even with a well-fitted motorcycle helmet, it may not be possible to reduce wind noises during high speeds. The noise can lead to a misjudgment resulting in life-threatening injuries or even fatalities.
With average levels of motorcycle riding noise around 85-95 decibels at 35 mph and 110-116 decibels at 65mph, it is thus important to use earplugs or earmuffs to protect your ears.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, often and prolonged exposure to sound beyond 85 decibels can lead to permanent hearing loss. Well and properly fitted earplugs or earmuffs attenuate noise by 15-35 decibels.
Earplugs and earmuffs are designed in such a way that damaging frequencies are isolated, but you can still hear what is happening around you. Eliminating harmful frequencies makes riding not only a pleasurable experience but a safer one.
Earplugs are tailored for the outer ear canal and come in various sizes for the individual ear canal. They are mostly silicon or rubber and have airtight seals to enhance their effectiveness. The advantage of earplugs over earmuffs is that they will not take up any space in the helmet.
Earmuff covers the entire outer ear in forming an airtight seal blocking the ear canal, and has movable bands that clench them in position. They require some space and can be a little uncomfortable in hot and humid conditions.
For riders that are exposed to high speeds for a long period of time, it is recommended that they use both earplugs and earmuffs to protect their ears from hearing loss. It is also important to take care of the earplugs and earmuffs, ensuring that they are clean and replaced, if need be, to avoid ear infections due to bacteria buildup.
3. Get a Windscreen
A windscreen that is interchanged with a windshield requires no brainer that it is designed to shield the rider from the wind. However, it plays so many other roles, including but not limited to rain, debris, heat and cold protection, reduced tiredness, and noise reduction.
A windshield that is elevated to match the rider’s height is a perfect remedy for helmet buffeting. Helmet buffeting is irregular vibrations on your upper torso, primarily on the helmet. During a ride, the motorcycle’s direction is normally against the wind, and the gusts that you get from cars passing by decrease or increase the pressure that you feel on your chest.
The variations in wind pressure are what cause buffeting. Buffeting is a big cause of fatigue for both experienced and novice riders due to neck and shoulder pains associated with it.
Installing it changes the airflow, and instead of the wind being directed to your head and chest, it moves above. Note, however, the windshield does not eliminate the noise caused by buffeting, but it reduces it significantly.
Adjusting an existing windscreen so that it is just raised above your head helps in noise reduction by deflecting the wind and removing the pressure from the chest. However, that is taller results in higher wind resistance and may slow down the acceleration at high speeds compared to the smaller ones.
4. Ensure that the Visor is Closed while Riding
The visor is the face shield of the helmet. It is designed to ensure that the debris kicked up by vehicles along the road does not crash straight into your face.
Therefore, the materials used to make visors should be strong to withstand the impact pretty significantly, especially when you are riding down the road. Moreover, visors can remarkably reduce the amount of helmet noise.
Opening it while riding results in turbulence that creates a lot of noise. A small opening lead to a huge vent that runs the face opening’s whole width.
Located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the MXL industries are one of the largest manufacturers of visors. Beads are heated to their melting point, and pressure is injected into precision molds that make visors for various helmets.
It should be airtight and closed during riding. A badly fitting one will cause whistling noise. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you always completely close it when riding, as it will save your face from being hit by debris or insects, it shall protect you from sunshine, and importantly, save you from noise.
The latest visors use fog-free technology to avoid reduced visibility due to moisture content and humidity differences in different environments, especially in very cold places.
5. Using a Scarf
A scarf is a modern-day accessory used to make a fashion statement or protect from cold. However, it can also be used alone, or it can be paired up with other motorcycle accessories to reduce the noise in the helmet while riding.
The scarf is carefully tucked around the neck into the helmet to block out any air that may get into the helmet. One of the greatest advantages of using a scarf is that it is cheap. Scarves come in different colors, shapes, and sizes and are easily affordable.
While using a scarf for noise reduction in a helmet, it is advised able to pair it up with a balaclava to create an effective noise barrier.
6. Get a Wind Blocker
While it provides a bit of extra warmth, the extra padding around the neck area reduces the amount of wind that enters the helmet from beneath. The padding offers great support while riding and neck protection in the event of an accident. By sealing the spaces below your helmet, the wind blocker acts as an excellent turbulence noise blocker.
7. Get a Balaclava
Most noise winds arise from the neck area, and it is no doubt that a balaclava will immensely reduce this noise and even better keep you warm. The goal is to ensure that the helmet is insulated from the air that enters from the bottom.
A good balaclava should come with a breath deflector to help keep the moisture down to avoid your goggles from fogging up as you ride. The balaclava should keep your face, head, and neck warm even in the most extreme weather conditions, including cold, windy, and dusty environments.
It is a no-brainer that a balaclava will protect you from dirt, debris, and bugs, but it will also restrict the amount of air that moves into the helmet, resulting in a motorcycle helmet that’s quiet.
8. Consider the Design of the Helmet
The aerodynamics of the helmet is determined by the shape and overall design of the helmet. The aim is to come up with a quiet motorcycle helmet that has the least aerodynamic drag. Aerodynamic drag, in this case, refers to the air resistance shoving in the opposite direction to the motion of the motorcycle.
In simple terms, the helmet of a motorcycle improves aerodynamics by its pointed front shape. The aerodynamic shape not only helps to overcome drag force and propel the bike at great speeds but also helps to counter the noise.
Any protrusions may generate turbulence, and that causes noise if not properly designed. It is, therefore, important to make a helmet that is smooth to reduce the wind resistance as much as possible and channel off wind noise even at high speeds.
9. The Riding Position
In a wrong riding position, the vibrations of a rider’s bones reverberate throughout his body, which interferes with hearing. Sitting on the cushioned area absorbs and obliterates the vibrations from the motorcycle.
The riding position also determines the amount of airflow and the drag that it brings with it. An upright posture will increase the aerodynamic drag and cause more buffeting and more helmet noise.
10. Fit a Chin Curtain
Sometimes wind always goes up through the chin space, making the helmet a bit noisy, which can hurt a rider’s ears, especially after riding for prolonged hours. At night especially, this wind can result in blurry vision.
The chin curtain takes minimal time to install because there are holes made for the chin curtain right through the helmet. There is also a strip of Velcro on the side, so all you have to do is to push so that it catches the side of the foam.
The chin curtain is designed to improve the aerodynamic capacities and improve the airflow around the chin area. A small plastic frame creates an air channel from the mouth area to exhaust moist and dirty air from the mouth area and improves the free flow system. The chin curtain improves the airflow under not only the helmet but also the noise level.
When properly installed, the retractable spoiler creates more space around the chin bar, which helps you breathe more easily. The chin curtain may not completely reduce the helmet’s sound, but it definitely helps in noise reduction and turbulence associated with high ride speeds.
11. Covering the Helmet Earholes
Filling the earholes with foam can limit the amount of sound getting into your helmet from the engine or the wind. Stuffing memory foam involves chopping a memory foam tailored to fit exactly into the ear pockets. The foam is then pressed by hand and swiftly gliding over your ears so that it can enlarge and cover your ears having no room for the wind.
The advantage of this is that the foam is custom-fit, comfortable, and easy to wear as it does not lean against the ears.
12. Use of Noise Cancellation System
This is a new technology that is limited to helmets made by a particular company. The noise cancellation system works by neutralizing sound frequency before the waves reach the ear using a Bluetooth system or headsets.
Helmets made of this technology also incorporate features such as a fiberglass shell, advanced ventilator, and a breath guard. This kind of system has not been fully exploited by other companies and is limited to Sena momentum INC.
13. Choose a Quiet Helmet
One way to ultimately reduce your helmet’s noise without having to go through many struggles is by purchasing a quieter helmet. The market makes it easy for the riders to have a good road experience by offering various helmets with features that can block wind and turbulence. Some of the most reputable noise-resistant helmets include:
Shoei RF 1400
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The Shoei RF-1400 helmet boasts excellent shell aerodynamics that effectively reduce wind noise while riding. The inclusion of Vortex Generators on the shield’s sides further minimizes wind turbulence. The helmet’s all-new window beading creates a wind and waterproof seal for added protection. Additionally, the helmet’s voluminous cheek pads and removable ear pads effectively block out wind noise for a quieter ride.
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This is a full-face helmet with a high-quality neckroll and various shell sizes, and a ventilator for enhanced protection. It is also on the list of the most expensive helmets. However, its features and warranty are worth the investment.
The HJC RPHA 11 Pro
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This helmet is a good preference as it is quiet and very affordable. Its aerodynamically designed shell and the special gadgets installed between the shell and the face shield allow it to control sound.
It is made of glass fiber and has a complex ventilation system. Additionally, it has a chin curtain, breath guard, and inbuilt speaker pockets.
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This helmet is ranked among the most preferred by riders. The size varieties of this helmet give the users a wide range of choices. Its shape and design are streamlined; thus, a rider finds it easy to navigate the roads without noise.
It also has the best ventilation and visibility.
A common feature shared among these helmets, and one that makes them credible is that the transportation department certifies them. They are made using the required standards and protocols required by this board.
Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative Government, educational, corporate, and nonprofit organizations:
Hearing loss in motorcyclists: occupational and medicolegal aspects
The United Nations Motorcycle Helmet Study