For years, I didn’t bother with earplugs when riding a motorcycle. It wasn’t that I was against them. It was more that I was ignorant of the effects that riding had on my hearing.
I’d never suffered from tinnitus or ringing in my ears. And after thousands and thousands of miles of riding, I’d never suffered from headaches, lack of concentration, buzzing, or difficulties sleeping.
The above symptoms are commonly experienced by riders who choose not to wear earplugs. Yet I didn’t seem to be affected by any of them.
Fortunately, I realised that just because I wasn’t currently suffering the ill effects of riding without earplugs, that doesn’t mean I won’t fall foul of them later down the line.
So in an attempt to preserve my hearing health, I pledged to look after my ears from now into the future.
Foam Motorcycle Earplugs
Like most, I started off with foam plugs – simply because they were given away on stands at all the bike shows I was visiting. And when they ran out, I realised I could buy about 467 billion of them for not much more than £1.99 on Amazon or eBay.
For the pennies they cost, it seemed disrespectful not to wear them. But after a while, I began to notice just how hot my ears were getting on extended rides.
And when I took them out, my ears felt sore. Okay, maybe sore is a bit strong. But there was certainly an irritation on my ears that persisted for a few hours after use.
On tour, those hours turned into days as I spent weeks at a time blasting across the luscious mountain passes this planet has to offer us.
A change was needed. So I upgraded to some filtered earplugs.
Pinlock Motorcycle Earplugs
After speaking to a few fellow riders, researching online, and reading through forums, it became evident that many people revered Pinlock Earplugs.
At around £30 for a single pair, I assumed they would be infinitely better than the foam earplugs, which literally cost pennies.
And whilst they were definitely better quality, I must concede that they weren’t much better considering the massive price difference.
The worst thing about the Pinlock earplugs was they clearly let in more noise than the foam plugs.
And I know that’s kind of the point with filtered earplugs – they block some frequencies whilst allowing others, whereas foam earplugs block everything.
There is no clever trickery with frequencies in foam plugs – they simply do their best to block out all sound.
But I found it disconcerting that more noise was reaching my ears with the more expensive Pinlock earplugs than the cheap foam ones.
Also, I found it quite annoying that the Pinlock’s didn’t come with a convenient pouch or box to store them in. As you would expect, I lost them pretty quickly – which means that they needed replacing at yet another £30.
Related: Pinlock Earplugs Long-Term Review
Decibullz Custom Moulded Motorcycle Earplugs
I was beginning to think that the only way to get sufficient (and comfortable) protection was to bite the bullet and pay for custom earplugs.
But with prices in the multiple hundreds, this seemed like a lot to pay. Considering they are 10 times the price of the Pinlock earplugs, would they really be 10 times better?
Because let’s not forget – the Pinlock plugs were 10 times more expensive than the foam ones. And they weren’t 10 times better, either. If anything, they let more sound in!
So I decided to take a punt on the do-it-yourself moulded earplugs by Decibullz.
At £29.99 on Amazon, they were a similar price to the Pinlock earplugs. But the reviews were varied, to say the least!
The Decibullz seemed to be a love/hate product. With mainly 5-star reviews, they looked promising.
But the 5-star reviews were very closely followed by 1-star reviews from customers who were clearly very unhappy with their purchase.
I didn’t know if I would like them or not. So I ordered a pair in bright red and waited for them to arrive.
In The Box
In the box, you’ll find:
- One set of thermoplastic earplugs (the bits you mould)
- Two back plugs
- Three pairs of flange tips (the cones) and,
- One set of Max Protect foam tips
There is also an instruction pamphlet – although, from experience, I would recommend watching the instructional video on Youtube rather than trying to decipher the manual.
Finally, there is a drawstring bag to store the plugs. According to the reviews, some people receive a little case rather than a pouch.
I guess it’s the luck of the draw, but for me, the drawstring pouch works better for my needs than a case.
A pouch is easier to store in a tank bag, but I can also hang it from my bars to stop me from forgetting to put the plugs in before putting my helmet on!
The Molding Process
The moulding process is simple enough, although (as mentioned) watch the YouTube video before you start.
Pop the back plugs through the holes in the earplug and then fit a silicon tip on each plug. (Be sure to use the silicon tips and NOT the foam tips.)
From here, drop the plugs into a cup of hot water, and leave to soften for five minutes.
Note – be sure to use separate cups (one for each plug.) I put both of mine in a single cup. And as they began to soften, they stuck to each other, and it was quite a faff to get them apart again!
Once they’re warm and pliable, stick one in your ear and press it in firmly. Keep the pressure attached for a few minutes until the plug hardens up.
Repeat with the other ear, and you’re done!
The good thing with these plugs is they’re re-mouldable. So if you mess it up (or find they don’t quite fit right), you can pop them back in hot water and remould them.
Related: A Guide To Motorcycle Earplugs
Choosing A Tip
Due to my own experience, my initial intention was to use the foam tips rather than the silicon ones. This was based on my experience of foam plugs being better than filtered ones.
However, once they were moulded, I found the silicon plugs to fit more comfortably than the foam tips. So now I wear those instead – and I actually can’t tell any difference in noise reduction.
Noise Reduction Levels
Understanding noise reduction with earplugs is quite complex. But suffice it to say, noise protection is measured in decibels. And the higher the number, the better. So plugs that block 20dB of sound are better than plugs that block 10dB of sound.
Looking into the stats of the Decibullz, we found that when the plugs were independently tested, they blocked 31dB of noise. To put that into context, the Pinlock earplugs block out 24dB. And foam plugs are usually in the 30s.
I can’t tell you with any scientific accuracy, but the stated 31dB sounds about right to me. Riding with these plugs appears to block out around the same noise as standard foam ones.
Riding With Decibullz Motorcycle Earplugs
First impressions are pleasing. It seems like these earplugs provide the protection levels of foam plugs but with the comfort of silicon ones – which (for me) is a good mix.
On extended rides, I don’t find my ears get hot (like they do with foam plugs). And they’re also significantly easier to retrieve than silicon plugs!
In terms of comfort, Decibullz motorcycle earplugs fit me better than foam plugs. And they don’t hurt my ears even on longer rides.
On the whole, I’m very happy with the performance and comfort levels of these earplugs.
With all that said, I did get some irritation in my left ear after wearing them every day for our month-long trip to Norway. However, I blame this on my ear (or my helmet fitting) rather than the plug, because when I swapped the earplugs for Bluetooth earbuds, the irritation persisted.
Decibullz Motorcycle Earplugs: Conclusion
I’m very happy with the Decibullz motorcycle earplugs. The protective qualities are up there with foam plugs – but they are much more comfortable.
I particularly like the customisable nature of the plugs. Not only are they mouldable, but they also come with small, medium, and large silicon flanges, plus foam tips. Simply choose whichever works best for you.
The plugs are also available in five different colours – red, blue, green, orange, and pink.
Finally, I love that they are re-mouldable. So if you find they’re letting sound in (or becoming uncomfortable), you can pop them in hot water and remould them until they’re right.
On the downside, I would have to question their value for people who already find foam plugs perfectly adequate. If you get on with foam plugs and can buy hundreds of them for just a few pounds, I’d stick with the foam plugs.
Not only are they cheaper, but you don’t have to maintain them, worry about losing them, or remould them!
But if (like me) you find foam plugs uncomfortable and silicon plugs unsuitable, then these re-mouldable plugs from Decibullz are a fantastic alternative.
All Decibullz images: Decibullz
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