Riding a motorcycle can be hell on your hearing. It is very noisy.
Most people might find it shocking but the noise is not from the exhaust, it is from the wind. The noise of the wind even in my full face helmet drowns out my exhaust at about 45 mph, and at freeway speeds it can be loud enough to cause damage in about 15 minutes. Luckily when I started riding a friend warned me about the potential damage to my hearing and I immediately started wearing earplugs to protect it. (Which is legal in CA.)
It wasn’t until late in 2006 (I’m not sure which long trip it was) that I was clued into the awesome that is sound isolating headphones. My friend D was wearing some and listening to his iPod and laughed at me when I told him I’d been singing to myself for the last hour to assuage the boredom of the highway miles we were covering.
It was soon after that I got my own set and began enjoying a good road mix as I traveled instead of my own off key warbling. The joy of a pair of good sound isolating headphones is that they block out the wind noise, leaving me listening to music at the same volume I would (and do) when I’m sitting here typing this at the coffee shop. Proving that good things have multiple uses, not only keeping me happy on a long ride, they block out the guy talking too loud on his phone next to me as I write this, and the two families with 6 kids on the other side.
I know that a lot of people might frown on my use of headphones on my motorcycle. It is borderline illegal in CA to use headphones. However, I can hear sirens, horns etc. Personally though, I’m sold. Keeping me happy and actually more focused and awake on longer trips makes it worth the legal risk. The only real downside is it’s hard to have a conversation with them on. Often you only catch 1 word in 3 since people don’t actually talk louder to you when your wearing a helmet… for reasons I don’t understand.
So sadly I miss a lot of complements on how awesome my bike is.
For an update on my thoughts on the Shure Headphones check here.
Another cool link about wind noise on motorcycles.