One aspect of motorcycling that is not often discussed is wind noise, which varies depending on the type of helmet you wear. On average, wind noise in a motorcycle helmet can range between 95dB and 105dB when traveling at 100 km per hour. This substantial noise level significantly influences the rider’s experience during extended journeys, potentially leading to permanent hearing damage. The question then arises: how substantial is the impact of wind noise on motorcyclists, considering its potential long-term consequences?
|Helmet Model||Category||Noise Reduction Percentage||Get Yours|
|AGV K6||Lightest Road||Up to 86%||RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon|
|Shoei RF-1400||Best All-Round||Up to 85%||RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon|
|Schuberth C5||Best Touring||Up to 92%||RevZilla | CycleGear | J&P Cycles|
|Arai Signet-X||Best Track Day||Up to 88%||RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon|
|HJC-RPHA-11 Pro||Best Value for Money||Up to 82%||RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon|
|Shark Evo One 2||Best Sport-Touring||Up to 87%||RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon|
|Sena Momentum INC Pro||Best Bluetooth & Camera Integrated||Up to 91%||RevZilla | J&P Cycles | Amazon|
|Bell Race Star Flex DLX||Best Road Racing||Up to 89%||RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon|
|LS2 Challenger||Best Urban Commuter||Up to 84%||RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon|
Is Wind Noise Normal in a Helmet? The Issue of Wind Noise
Recently, a group of scientists from the University of Florida tested the noise level on 38 different motorcycles. They found that nearly half of these motorcycles produced noise levels over 100 dB. As a point of reference, the US Occupational and Health Administrator warns any exposure to noise at this level should be limited to 15 minutes.
Excessive exposure to noise at this level can have some serious consequences. The most concerning of which is permanent hearing loss. Ongoing noise of this nature can also lead to tinnitus and tiredness.
Related Post: Can Riding A Motorcycle Damage Your Hearing?
Interestingly, recent research from the University of Bath on motorcycle aerodynamics and helmet noise found that while wind noise can have a long-term negative effect on your hearing, it does not necessarily limit your ability to hear sounds such as traffic noise at different frequencies on the bike. At these frequencies, the wind has a paradoxical effect on your hearing making it more acute and sensitive.
The study warned against the use of in-ear devices that aim to muffle the noise from the wind with music, for example. The researchers found that the volume level these need to be set at is high, and this can in fact be just as damaging to your hearing while making you less aware of what is going on around you on the road.
7 Causes of Wind Noise in Helmets
Wind noise in helmets is caused by the turbulent flow of air around the helmet while you’re riding. This is influenced by various factors, including:
- Aerodynamics: How a helmet looks and is designed really matters when it comes to how smoothly it moves through the air. Helmets that have a sleek, aerodynamic design tend to create less resistance from the wind and make less noise compared to those with odd shapes or things sticking out.
- Ventilation: While ventilation is essential for comfort, poorly designed vents may contribute to increased noise. Helmets with strategically placed and designed vents can balance airflow without compromising on noise levels.
- Material: The materials used in helmet construction can impact wind noise. High-quality helmets often incorporate advanced materials and design elements to reduce turbulence and noise. Cheaper or poorly designed helmets may allow more wind noise to penetrate the interior.
- Helmet Fit: It’s super important for a helmet to fit well for both safety and comfort. If it’s too tight, it can cause turbulence and make more wind noise. On the Other hand, if it’s too loose, more air can get in, increasing the noise too.
- Visor Design: The design and quality of the helmet visor can significantly impact wind noise. Anti-turbulence features, such as spoilers and double-pane visors, can help deflect air and reduce noise. Additionally, opting for a well-sealed visor can contribute to a quieter riding experience.
- Riding Position: How you position your head while riding can change how the air flows around your helmet. Sitting more upright can create different aerodynamics than leaning forward, affecting how much wind noise you experience.
- Wind Speed and Direction: The external environment, including wind speed and direction, can significantly impact wind noise. Riding at higher speeds or in windy conditions can increase turbulence around the helmet, leading to more noise.
Ways to Reduce Noise
The following are ways to reduce the noise levels when riding a motorcycle:
The Right Helmet
Sounds straightforward, but a proper fitting, the snug helmet is quieter because there are fewer ways for the air to enter the helmet. A bonus is a helmet is safer when it’s properly fitted.
In addition, some helmets are noisier than others. Although this is a useful way to cut down the noise level, the reality is a little different. Studies have found that the noise in fact only falls by 3 to 5 dB. Ensuring there is sufficient padding around the neck and in the cheek region further helps reduce the airflow and improves the level of noise.
In addition, the style of helmet that you choose plays a significant role, with the full-face helmet by far the best at effectively disrupting the wind flow. The impact of a well-fitting visor is essential as the key is to minimize the points on the helmet at which the wind is accessing the helmet.
Unfortunately, vents, while being effective in keeping you cool while riding, are not effective in keeping the noise down. The principle of vents is that they use airflow to keep you cool. Many helmets have the technology to alleviate the issue, so it’s important to find out what effect the ventilation system in your helmet will have on airflow when you purchase it.
Earplugs – Etymotic Research ER20XS
These ER20XS earplugs provide hearing protection to prevent tinnitus and hearing damage from dangerous noise levels, making them perfect for use on motorcycles, sporting events, air travel, etc… The high-fidelity sound quality allows for clear and natural speech and environmental sounds with 20-dB equal sound reduction across the spectrum of hearing.
These high-fidelity earplugs feature a low-profile design that fits comfortably in the ear without protruding, making them ideal for long-term wear under hats, helmets, and other headgear. Additionally, the interchangeable and replaceable silicone eartips provide a cost-effective solution for maintaining optimal sound quality.
Included in the set are ER20XS high-fidelity earplugs that offer a standard fit, along with an easy-to-install neck cord and a compact carrying case that conveniently fits in your pocket or purse. This ensures that you always have hearing protection readily available when you need it.
A windjammer accessory is a unique solution to the wind noise issue. It’s a Neoprene skirt that attaches to your helmet on the outside and sits down over your shoulders, reducing the airflow and as a result, the noise created when the wind hits the bottom of your helmet. Motorcyclists who have tried the Windjammer have been happy with the results.
A balaclava or scarf will also perform the function of a neoprene skirt by blocking the wind from getting in under the helmet and making a noise.
Daal ANC DXL-5 Noise-Cancelling Unit
This product is the latest technology. It combines unique noise-canceling technology with in-helmet Bluetooth technology using active noise to cancel out the wind noise while still allowing you to hear road noise and traffic. The product has just been released in Europe and is available by mail order only in the US at this stage.
Related Post: 5 Best Motorcycle Bluetooth Headsets For Music
Although this is not going to get rid of the noise altogether, adjust your windscreen. This can be more effective than purchasing one of the windscreen spoilers that have been produced with a similar purpose in mind. Often adjusting the windscreen is a process of trial and error to find the position that is quietest for you.
The position that you are in when riding your bike can have a major impact on the tiding noise you experience. On a spot’s bike, your positioning means that the opening is facing away from the direction of the airflow which makes it a lot quieter.
Where the riding position is more upright, such as on the street or on naked-style bikes, the airflow becomes more of an issue for riders.
Wind noise is, to a degree, just one of those things that you can’t help when riding a motorcycle. However, as the products and tips above indicate, there are steps that you can take to mitigate the issue and limit any potential damage to your hearing.
I've diligently categorized my motorcycle gear recommendations into all available categories, with the aim of providing you with a comprehensive analysis that showcases the absolute best options for all your needs. These items are the culmination of in-depth research, extensive testing, and personal use throughout my vast experience of 50+ years in the world of motorcycling. Besides being a passionate rider, I've held leadership positions and offered consultancy services to reputable companies in over 25 countries. To See Top Picks and the Best Prices & Places to Buy: Click Here!
Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, and non-profit organizations: