5 Best Earplugs For Motorcycle Riding: Reviews and Buying Guide for 2020

The different kinds of noises you experience while riding a motorcycle can cause both temporary and permanent hearing loss, and studies show that earplugs can protect your hearing. There are a lot of models on the market, but the best earplugs for motorcycle riding have some very specific features in common.

Learn more about the best earplugs to wear when riding your motorcycle and some of our top recommendations.

The Problem: Wind Noise and TTS

Motorcyclists experience two different types of noise: wind noise and TTS, or Temporary Threshold Shift. Both can damage your ears in different ways.

Wind Noise

You might think a helmet would provide adequate protection from the wind. After all, it covers your ears. While not wearing a helmet definitely makes noise damage worse, wearing one won’t protect you from wind noise.

This is because wind noise is created by the turbulent flow of air around your helmet. Even the moderate speed of 50 miles per hour can expose you to wind noise of 110 decibels -- that’s the same as the noise from a chainsaw.

110 decibels is enough to cause fatigue in the short term, as well as hearing damage in the long and short term. In fact, according to OSHA, it only takes 85 decibels over time to cause permanent hearing loss.

Another Problem: TTS

TTS stands for Temporary Threshold Shift. This is a temporary hearing loss caused by noise exposure. You might have experienced it after leaving a concert or noisy nightclub. You might also have experienced it after a ride.

But while a single instance of TTS generally clears up after a few hours, repeated instances can cause permanent hearing loss. TTS produces four specific kinds of physical damage. And over time, that damage adds up.

The Solution: Earplugs

Earplugs are scientifically proven to reduce the noise damage caused by motorcycle riding. The great news is, earplugs are inexpensive, readily available, and come in a variety of designs and materials. All you have to do is find the ones that work for you.

But it’s essential to choose the right kind of earplugs and to use them correctly.

How to Choose the Best Earplugs for Motorcycle Riding

If you’ve ever been to the drug store, you know how many different kinds of earplugs there are. Different materials, various designs, and something called NRR. How to choose?

Noise Reduction

You might think your earplugs need to block out all noise. But that’s not the case. Some sounds, like that of approaching traffic, are essential to hear.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend earplugs that will reduce your noise exposure to between 75 and 85 decibels.

This means that the best earplugs for motorcycle riding will block 20 to 35 decibels of noise.

Alternatively, you might see a product’s NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). NRR is a scale of zero to 30, with a higher number representing a higher level of noise reduction.

Which Material?

The two most common materials for earplugs are silicone and foam. Some people prefer silicone plugs because they make a secure seal to keep out the noise. Other people find foam earplugs more comfortable. Also, silicone plugs tend to be more expensive, though they last longer. Foam plugs are cheaper and semi-disposable.

The material works best for you is the one that’s most comfortable for you, and which you find easiest to wear correctly. 

Are You Using Those Right?

Earplugs can only help you if you use them correctly. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get them wrong. 

The CDC has an easy online tool to help you check to see that your earplugs are doing their job.

The Best Earplugs For Motorcycle Riding Under $20

Two of the best earplugs for motorcycle riding show that hearing protection doesn’t have to be expensive to get the job done.

Brison Reusable Silicone Earplugs

Brison Reusable Silicone Earplugs are soft, flanged silicone plugs. The design means they make an unbroken seal in your ear. At the same time, they’re easy to remove: just twist and gently pull. Cleanup is easy with soap and water.

You get two pairs in this package. One blocks noise completely and the other dampens loud noise, while allowing you to hear the full spectrum of environmental sound. Both can attenuate up to 25 decibels of noise.

You also get a handy keychain-sized aluminum storage case, which is good, because, with no connecting cord between the plugs, the individual plugs are easy to lose.

Pros:

  • Suitable and comfortable for longer periods
  • Two different types of noise protection
  • Handy waterproof storage case

Cons:

  • Not for smaller ear canals

Alpine Motosafe Tour Reusable Earplugs

Alpine Motosafe Tour Reusable Earplugs are reusable earplugs with a motorcyclist-specific ergonomic design. This design means you can wear them for longer periods with little to no ear discomfort.

Their flanged shape means a firm seal, and their soft, silicone-free materials make them a good choice for people with a silicone allergy.

Most importantly, these powerful earplugs reduce wind noise to 28 decibels while allowing you to hear traffic and other environmental sounds.

Pros: 

  • Motorcycle-Specific
  • Powerful noise reduction
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Reusable

Cons:

  • No hard storage case
  • May be difficult to insert and remove

Best Earplugs For Motorcycle Riding Under $50

If you don’t mind paying a bit more, the perks of these earplugs might surprise you.

Howard Leight by Honeywell Disposable Foam Earplugs

Howard Leight by Honeywell Disposable Foam Earplugs are simple and easy to use: just pinch, roll and insert. They expand to fit both large and small ear canals, and their soft shape and closed-cell, dirt-resistant materials make them hygienic and comfortable.

While they might look similar to other disposable foam earplugs, these are designed to protect your ears from noise levels above 85 decibels, and have an NRR of 32. The 200 plugs come packaged in pairs, so they’re easy to grab and go. The bright colors help you spot them more easily if you drop them when taking them in or out.

Pros:

  • High-quality foam construction
  • Disposable
  • Expands to fit both large and small ear canals

Cons:

  • It takes a bit of practice to position them correctly

Ear Dial Hi-Fi Earplugs

If you’re a bit of a techie, Ear Dial Hi-Fi Earplugs might be right up your alley. Not only do you get an excellent set of noise-attenuating earplugs, but you can also track your real-time sound exposure on your phone.

The soft silicone and ergonomic flanged design make a firm, comfortable seal against loud noise. At the same time, the sensitive filters allow you to hear the sounds you want to hear, such as traffic and conversation.

The nifty mobile app lets you keep track of the noise level around you. There’s also a handy aluminum carrying case.

Pros:

  • Powerful, non-distorting noise attenuation
  • Noise-detecting phone app
  • Purchase includes donation to a hearing loss charity

Cons:

  • May not fit larger ear canals
  • Some users report difficulty with removal

Best Earplugs for Motorcycle Riding Overall

Earpeace Professional-Grade Motorcycle Earplugs

Earpeace professional-grade motorcycle earplugs may cost a bit more, but their versatility and powerful noise attenuation make up for that.

First, these earplugs provide professional-level noise reduction -- between 13 and 27 decibels -- while preserving environmental sounds. You can adjust the level of protection using the three detachable filters, which provide three different kinds of noise reduction.

Sometimes you want to hear the crucial sounds clearly, like approaching traffic. Other times, like when you’re trying to get some sleep, you might prefer to block all noise completely. Earpeace’s three-level filters allow you to do both.

These are also built for comfort. The head is a flanged plug made from soft, hypoallergenic silicone. Earpeace has designed them to be ergonomic, as well as to fit comfortably under a motorcycle helmet. They also come in two sizes and a variety of colors.

Two pairs of premium earplugs come in a gift box, along with a keychain-sized aluminum carrying case. This is a good thing, as all of those small, detachable parts are easy to lose and difficult to replace.

Pros:

  • Ergonomically designed with the motorcyclist in mind
  • Up to 27 decibels of noise attenuation
  • Comes in two sizes
  • Adjustable noise protection
  • Handy storage/carrying case

Cons:

  • Complicated design with numerous parts

Final Thoughts

A helmet will protect your head, but it’s not enough to safeguard your hearing. Earplugs are scientifically proven to reduce the two kinds of noise exposure that can damage your hearing in the short term and over time.

Earplugs come in a variety of shapes and materials. Both of these are a matter of personal preference. The most important thing is that your earplugs bring the noise level to below 85 decibels.

All of the earplugs in our survey will get the job done. But for our money, you can’t do better than the Earpeace Motorcycle Earplugs.

Earpeace’s adjustable noise attenuation, which allows you to choose how much sound to block, is second to none. 

We also loved these plugs’ motorcycle-specific ergonomic design -- as do Ford Racing and Red Bull’s GRC Rallycross, who have made these their riders’ official earplugs. The best earplugs are the ones you’ll wear. And if they don’t feel great under your helmet, then there’s just no point.