Last updated: 10 December 2022
If you don’t look after your teeth and gums, you will, at some point, have issues with your mouth. In the same vein, if you don’t look after your ears whilst riding a bike, you will, at some point, have issues with your hearing.
Many of us put any concerns to the back of our minds and hope we’re unaffected. But, of course, we usually are.
And because we didn’t put preventions in place early enough, we then have to suffer the consequences.
However, there are steps we take to prevent our ears from causing us trouble later down the line. And it’s a good job. Because unfortunately, the damage we do to our hearing is, so far, irreversible.
The bad news is that your bike is hurting your ears. Whether you know it or not (or accept it or not) is irrelevant. Your bike is hurting your ears.
The good news is you can stop it from preventing any further damage with minimal effort. And for pennies – literally pennies – you can start future-proofing your hearing right now.
Why Should You Wear Earplugs When Riding A Motorcycle?
There are clever, scientific answers to this question. But the simple answer is that riding a bike is flipping loud!
And it isn’t necessarily the sound coming from the engine. It’s the wind noise.
If you’ve ever got off your bike and had ringing in your ears, that ringing is due to noise exposure. In other words, damage.
And surprisingly, it doesn’t take too much exposure for noise damage to become an issue. (Source: Alpine Hearing Protection.)
Related: Windshield vs No Windshield On A Motorcycle: Your Ultimate Guide
What Are The Best Motorcycle Earplugs?
Ears, like people, are individual. And what works for me won’t necessarily work for you.
I have friends who swear by cheap, disposable plugs that cost pennies. Conversely, I have friends who have spent hundreds on custom-made earplugs only to find they hated them.
I also have friends who have found custom earplugs that work for them. And they are happy to replace them every two or three years despite the heavy burden on their wallets.
That said, there are only really three types of earplugs to choose from:
For each category (disposable, filtered and custom), we compiled a list of the best-rated earplugs from Amazon and SportsBikeShop.
Then we ran a forum topic on The Motorbike Forum and collated over 30 responses and recommendations. These suggestions are from real riders who are not endorsed or sponsored.
Disposable Motorcycle Earplugs
Disposables are the most commonly found earplugs. They’re cheap, they do the job, and companies at motorbike shows give them away like sweets.
They’re not the most scientific of contraptions on the market, but if bought in bulk, they cost pennies.
Disposable earplugs are meant to be worn once and then disposed of – although it’s common practice for most people to wear them more than once!
When they start looking manky, throw them away and start again with a fresh set.
In essence, disposable earplugs are squidgy bungs you shove into your ear. Generally, they provide around 30 dB of hearing protection.
But crucially, they aren’t selective about what noises they block – they just block everything. And that can cause issues with communication or missing environmental factors.
Best Disposable Motorcycle Earplugs
Filtered Motorcycle Earplugs
Filtered earplugs are a step up from the squidgy options above. But they are still relatively cheap to buy.
Unlike disposables, filtered plugs are reusable. And in comparison, the technology and design of filtered plugs are a little more advanced.
For a start, the filter part of the plug allows for clearer communication.
They allow certain sounds to enter the ear canal (like voices or GPS) whilst preventing unwanted noise from the wind or environment.
The attenuation of filtered earplugs varies. But they generally block anywhere between 23 and 29 dB.
You can find a link to the Pinlock filtered earplugs we tested here.
Best Filtered Motorcycle Earplugs
Custom Motorcycle Earplugs
These earplugs are usually worn by riders who prioritise their hearing. Or by people with existing hearing dispositions/injuries who can’t find comfortable plugs.
On the cheaper end of the spectrum are DIY moulded earplugs, which you do yourself at home.
The other option is to have them professionally moulded, designed, and manufactured – bespoke to your requirements.
At around £30, DIY moulded plugs won’t break the bank. But custom plugs with in-built speakers and Bluetooth can cost upwards of £300.
DIY moulded motorcycle earplugs are generally more comfortable than the cheap disposable ones above. However, they don’t necessarily block out any more harmful noise.
If you want custom earplugs, you’ll be best off biting the bullet and getting them made professionally.
You can find a link the Decibullz custom-molded earplugs we tested here.
Best custom motorcycle earplugs:
Considerations Before You Buy Motorcycle Earplugs
If you’re new to the world of earplugs, start with disposable plugs. For a start, they tend to be the most comfortable of the bunch.
And they’re certainly the cheapest!
They might be a quick and cheap fix for what you need.
I tend to lose or forget stuff, so cheaper earplugs are usually the better choice (for me.) I can throw a few pairs in my tank bag or tail pack and a few in my top box or roll bag.
And I don’t have to worry about cleaning them because I throw them away and start again.
If you don’t mind looking after reusable ones, filtered or custom plugs may suit you best.
Think about where you ride before purchasing plugs.
If most of your rides are taken up by half-hour commutes in the city, then you probably don’t want to minimise every single sound.
You need to be aware of what’s happening around you (pedestrians, sirens, etc.), so filtered plugs that allow some ambient noise may suit you best.
If you’re doing 7-hour rides on the autobahn, I’d be tempted by all-out noise cancellation!
Again, if the majority of your rides are half-hour commutes, do you need to spend £300 on a pair of plugs? Probably not.
If you tour extensively and have more requirements from your plugs, a step up from disposables might be the better choice.
Motorcycle Earplugs: Conclusion
If you haven’t yet prioritised your hearing when riding and touring, then now is the time to start.
As seen above, you can pick up disposable ones for pennies. In fact, I’ve just done the calculations, and the Howard Leight Max Lite’s come in at 11p a pair!
If you’re going to a motorbike show this year, you’ll be able to pick up handfuls for free.
So go ahead and fill your pockets!
Top image: Earpeace