Recommended Ear Plugs? - Harley Davidson Street Forum - Street 500 and 750
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post #1 of 16 Old 10-21-2017, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Recommended Ear Plugs?

Any recommended ear plugs that work with helmet headset/intercom? Since I installed a gauntlet fairing on my Street, the wind noise at high speeds has been elevated to unhealthy levels which necessitated ear plug use. I tried using foam ear plugs but they render my communication headset useless. I am currently using NoNoise Motorsport ear plugs which work so I can hear on my communication headset, but wind noise is still loud. I use the headset primarily for navigation. Would like to hear from anyone who's had success with this.
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post #2 of 16 Old 10-21-2017, 05:22 PM
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Been down that road...

I use a SENA 5 for headset/communication. I found that with the unit set on maximum volume, I could hear it fine over the wind, but when at a stop the volume was suddenly so uncomfortably loud that I just knew it was damaging my hearing. So I had to go for earplugs, like it or not.

I tried foam earplugs, couldn't hear a bloody thing. I mean, I could hear a trickle of sound, but at speed it just wasn't good enough. So I went to the NoNoise plugs. I thought they were great -- plenty of sound got through, I could even hear traffic, but yes the wind noise was still quite loud, just -- managed, somewhat.

Then I added a windshield. And the sound was horrible. The windshield added so much extremely loud, sharp, harsh wind noise that it hurt to ride without earplugs at all. That set me on a quest to see if I could fix it. I went through three different windshields to try to find one that didn't make such an alarming increase in noise. I finally found a combination of settings on the National Cycle DX windshield that provides relief from the fatiguing wind pressure against my chest, while not increasing the sound level -- at all.

So that's the way I rode for a while -- windshield, with NoNoise plugs, and I thought it was fine -- sure, lots of wind noise, but I could hear the headset and it was definitely less wind noise than without the earplugs. So, all was fine... Until I lost one of the NoNoise plugs, and at $15 apiece, I wasn't happy with that. So I substituted in a foam plug for one side, the NoNoise for the other. And that worked fine for a while, until one day the NoNoise was inserted a little too deep -- and that was a nightmare. It got stuck, and there's no way I could get it out. I was out on the road some sixty miles or so, and it hurt like ****, and it was stuck, and I couldn't reach it no matter what, it was too deep. I eventually rode to a mini-mart/gas station and bought a pair of tweezers and managed to yank that sodding thing out.

So that was the end of my NoNoise experiment. Don't want to go through that again.

So I tried a foam alternative: Mack's Acoustic Foam Earplugs. They have a hole down the center, they claim it's for concerts, you're supposed to hear a lot more high-frequency detail and fidelity in the music, but still cut down the overall level of noise. They were expensive (for foam), I think close to $1 per pair. And they didn't work acceptably to me -- way, way too much wind noise, more than the NoNoise plugs for sure.

So I finally said "screw it", and stuffed regular cheap Hearos Ultimate Softness foam earplugs in my ears, cranked my headset up to max volume, and cranked my phone output to maximum volume, and -- it's fine. Very nice, actually. I can hear the music or phone calls or map directions or whatever with just sufficient volume, but -- there's no constant roaring wind noise. There's no hearing damage. It's pleasant. It's very nice. The foam earplugs are MUCH more comfortable than the NoNoise ever were.

So I don't know why it works fine now, when my first trial was unsatisfactory. Maybe I swapped types of foam plugs, I don't know. Or, maybe I only tried them with the noisy windshield? But with my windshield properly adjusted to provide no increase in noise, I now find that the soft Hearos plugs combined with the SENA at max volume provide the ultimate in comfort and utility. I do wish I could crank the SENA up just a little more (to 11, maybe?) but as is, it's perfectly acceptable.

So that's my first suggestion -- see if you can adjust the windshield (either in rake, or height) so it doesn't add that horrific sharp cutting wind sound. If you're getting that nasty hard sharp noise, then I don't think there's a satisfactory solution out there for you -- any earplug that blocks enough noise to overcome that windshield noise, is probably going to block too much of your headset's volume too. Get rid of the windshield noise (if at all possible) and you'll make it infinitely easier to arrive at a headset/earplug solution that protects your hearing and provides sufficient volume.

Last edited by Gaijin; 10-21-2017 at 05:26 PM.
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post #3 of 16 Old 10-24-2017, 04:16 PM
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I went to wearing ear plugs after the first couple of rides with my cheap 3/4 helmet with a bubble face shield. I used the cheap orange foam plugs that I had bought in a bulk pack for use while target shooting:
https://www.menards.com/main/mainten...926156&ipos=29
I didn't find them to be all that comfortable, as they are a dense foam that doesn't compress easily. I kept looking for something with a little better noise reduction and was more comfortable.

Next I bought some more expensive, reusable ear plugs:
https://www.menards.com/main/tools-h...8926156&ipos=5
These seemed better at first, but their effectiveness quickly tapered off to the point they aren't doing any perceptible good. The plugs kept coming off the connecting string, which was a tad inconvenient. I went back to the orange foamies.

I went back to the home improvement store and found some softer foam ear plugs:
https://www.menards.com/main/tools-h...926156&ipos=14
These are a lot softer than the other foam plugs, thus are more comfortable for me to wear. Noise reduction is pretty good as well.

The only ear plugs that I've tried with a headset are the original orange foam plugs. I'll make a point of trying the latest foam plugs tomorrow. The problem I had wasn't so much hearing the headset through the ear plugs as all was well up to 50 MPH, assuming the headset and phone were cranked all the way up. Above that speed the wind noise gets to be enough that I'm not really making out much of what is being said. My testing was done with audio books played on my phone to simulate the navigation feature, which I hadn't gotten working at the time.

The wind noise problem may be a function of the helmet. I thought the wind noise would be substantially reduced when I ditched the cheap 3/4 helmet with face plate. Unfortunately, the HJC CL-II Max turns out to be a notoriously loud helmet. One reviewer, I forget which, actually says it's as bad as a 3/4 helmet with face plate. I guess it has to do with the foam padding being cut away at the ears to make it "Blue tooth ready". That is, of course, right where there is a lot of turbulence along the outside of the helmet due to the hinges.


The quest for quiet continues.

Paul
Central and SW Iowa
2016 xg750
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post #4 of 16 Old 10-25-2017, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am back to the Uline green foam plugs which have an NRR of 33, unless I need to use navigation then it's the NoNoise.

I have two helmets, a 3/4 HJC and a full face Schuberth. I did not perceive any difference on the wind noise level between the two.

I will try and adjust the fairing. Though the only thing I can adjust is the rake angle. Taking the fairing off does cut down on the wind noise considerably, but fatigue sets in after a long ride. I like to enjoy the miles I ride, so the quest continues.
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post #5 of 16 Old 10-25-2017, 02:46 PM
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I tried the second type of foam ear plugs with the headset today. No problems listening to the phone up to 65 MPH. Those ear plugs have a NRR of 32.


My bike has a Slipstreamer windshield that really isn't quite tall enough, thus it directs wind towards my neck and helmet.

Paul
Central and SW Iowa
2016 xg750
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post #6 of 16 Old 10-25-2017, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by PugslyCat View Post
My bike has a Slipstreamer windshield that really isn't quite tall enough, thus it directs wind towards my neck and helmet.
Directing it towards the neck and helmet is the key to getting it quiet. If you have a reasonably modern, reasonably aerodynamic helmet, then it was designed to ride in the wind. I adjusted the DX to where the airflow is pretty much exactly hitting the very top of my shoulders. That makes an excellent wind-free zone all around my chest, but it keeps the noisy wind below the ear level. The net result is that it's as quiet to ride as with no windshield, but all the blast and pressure is removed from the chest. I wish I could get it off the shoulders too, but I haven't found a way of mounting that will accomplish that, and I've tried everything -- moving it close, moving it further away, moving it high, moving it low, standing it up vertically, raking it steeply horizontally, and even mounting it upside down. In every case that I've gotten the wind off the shoulders, it's moved the turbulent wind up to ear level and I get the awful noise again. And these windshields are too small to throw the wind entirely over the helmet (and even if they did, you'd probably end up with backpressure at that point).

I've probably tried at least 50 combinations, and I think the current layout is as good as it's going to get.
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post #7 of 16 Old 10-25-2017, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Gaijin View Post
Directing it towards the neck and helmet is the key to getting it quiet.
Other places say to get the windshield to about nose height so the wind gets deflected over the helmet. As you point out, though, our windshields are a bit small for that. I can tuck down to that level for short periods of time and it really helps, but being an old fat dude I find that uncomfortable. I'll try putting the windshield lower for the ride to work tomorrow and see if that helps by moving the deflected wind down a little bit.

Paul
Central and SW Iowa
2016 xg750
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post #8 of 16 Old 10-26-2017, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by PugslyCat View Post
Other places say to get the windshield to about nose height so the wind gets deflected over the helmet.
It depends on many more things than just that though. I had the Harley windshield, by far the biggest of the windshields, and it hit at nose height, and it made the same level of noise. I liked a lot of things about the Harley windshield, but I couldn't cope with the noise so I sold it. The Harley windshield is a (comparatively) gigantic flat slab, and as such the wind coming off it was turbulent and noisy.

The things that enter the equation are the height, the angle (rake), and the distance from the rider to the shield. All three things have to be working in concert to get it "right". The non-adjustability of the Harley shield meant that I couldn't change the rake at all, or the distance to the rider at all, and the height could be varied only about an inch. Now, for a tall guy it might be fine, the guy I sold it too seems very happy with it but he's over half a foot taller than I am. That difference may have been all it took.

With a small shield like the Slipstreamer or National Cycle DX, I adjusted them in every possible manner to find something that would work, I even cut down the Slipstreamer's height a few times until I broke the darn thing (and moved on to the next windshield...)

I finally found success with the National Cycle DX. In my experience, it took getting the shield as close as it could possibly be mounted, reasonably high so there's windflow underneath (like a MadStad), and angled quite steeply to get the airflow to be as quiet as possible at helmet height. Doing so, I was able to get the wind entirely off my chest and it's much more comfortable to ride, while not increasing the noise level at all.

With a bigger windshield, it's entirely possible you could get one to throw the wind up over you and have it close up the envelope trailing behind you cleanly. Or, perhaps something like the Laminar Lip would work. I'd certainly be interested in trying them out, although after buying and using three windshields so far, I'm a bit over the urge to spend more money on more windshields and accessories...
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post #9 of 16 Old 10-26-2017, 09:08 PM
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I use cheap orange rubber ear plugs from Home Depot. I wear a half helmet and they cut the wind noise without cutting you off from traffic noise or the rumble from your bike. Stupid cheap solution that just work
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post #10 of 16 Old 06-08-2018, 11:16 AM
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I am getting noise while riding my motorcycle. I haven't found any earplugs that can help a lot. Can anyone share me the best earplugs?
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