Indeed, making your helmet quieter not only shows that you are a noise-health-conscious personality but also makes your trip pleasant and safe. Noise, especially helmet-related noise is daunting and it distracts your attention leading to crashes. Motorcycle crashes are more disastrous than bus, truck, and car accidents. As per NHTSA (US Department of Transportation-National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) report, 80% of victims in motorcycle accidents either die or get seriously injured than the bus, truck, and car accidents which is 20%.
Helmets play a crucial role in protecting your life when it comes to accidents and accidents are always unpredictable. Most people die due to head and brain injuries in motorcycle accidents and the only hope to save yourself is a safety-certified helmet. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), in its 2016 report says that 1859 people who met with motorcycle accidents survived due to the helmets. But an additional 802 who died in the accident could have survived if they wore helmets.
If you are a frequent long-root rider you should be more careful of your helmet and make it quieter for ear-safety reasons. The sound caused by the vibrations, turbulence, and wind can be hurting and can drastically reduce your hearing capacity. On the other hand, wearing a quieter helmet while riding can give you a flying sensation inside a deafening wind tunnel. Know how to make your helmet quieter and things associated with a quieter helmet.
How Helmet Noise Reduces and Affects Hearing?
If you are riding the motorcycle at an average speed of 35 mph you will get 85 to 95 decibels of wind noise. When the speed of your motorcycle increases to 65 mph the wind noise increases up to 110 to 116 decibels. While this is too high a noise for your ear this can be potentially dangerous in terms of accidents and for your ear. Below are a few things associated with helmet noise and hearing complications.
- As per the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, prolonged and frequent exposure to noise of more than 85 decibels leads to permanent deafness.
- The NHTSA in its report says that highway traffic noise can reach up to 70 to 80 decibels which are potentially harmful to the ear.
- Both NHTSA and other numerous reports claim that the noise produced by a motorcycle can reach up to 95 decibels. Some motorcycles in some circumstances can produce as high as 115 decibels while riding on the roads.
- As per the CDC, exposure to 95 decibels of noise for more than 50 minutes is enough to cause heavy damage to the ear. This can eventually lead to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.
The above statistics prove how dangerous it is to ride a motorcycle while wearing a helmet that is not made quieter. Secondly, it is an unfortunate and more dangerous fact that no helmet manufacturers provide any noise-related precautions to the users. They neither speak on this aspect in their advertisement programs nor provide any information in the user instruction. You even do not find helmet noise-related harmfulness precautions on stickers on the helmet while they do it for other purposes like DOT and SNELL certifications.
As a result, you do not know or do not get any opportunity to choose a safe motorcycle helmet based on its noise-safety characteristics. The only thing a conscious helmet buyer or a motorcycle rider can do is to choose a helmet that fits appropriately to the head. Besides this, a rider can only check the noise level of the helmet by examining and assuming the wind and roaring traffic while riding. So, it is almost impossible for you to choose a helmet that is safe for your ear in terms of noise. The only way is to make it quieter by following different methods depending upon the noise level of the helmet.
What to Know about Helmets that can Produce Reduced Noise?
As stated above, no manufacturer focuses on the helmet noise level and is least bothered about providing any information on this. Almost all helmet brands prioritize safety certification, safety features, the weight of the helmet, aerodynamics, etc. However, some helmet manufacturers are getting more interested in the noise-reducing capabilities of their brands in recent times. In the process, they are trying and investing their time and energy to incorporate designs to reduce the level of noise in their products.
Numerous research and studies are conducted to understand how noise is created in the helmet and how to reduce them. One such study conducted in 2011 by the University of Bath in England reveals the following facts.
- Helmet noise is primarily produced by the flow of air into the helmet through different openings, especially near the neck. More air moves into the helmet at the neck of the helmet in comparison to other openings including the surface of the helmet.
- Helmet noise is closely associated with how the helmet fits the head of a person. The more inflow of air into the helmet the more is the noise. Similarly, the more openings in a helmet the more is the inflow of air into the helmet. Besides this, the level of noise in a helmet is usually determined depending upon the openings in the helmet. For example, the whistle noise in a helmet is usually created by the inflow of air into the helmet through the visor.
- Whistle noise or other uncomfortable noise can be also produced through poor and inappropriate features like chin curtains, neck rolls, cheek pads as well as other features in the interior of the helmet. Noise is usually more in those helmets that have features that disrupt the airflow in the helmet.
- Other studies reveal that aerodynamics remarkably reduces the air inflow and noise in a helmet. This happens because the air moves more smoothly across the helmet surface in the case of aerodynamics.
How to Buy a Helmet that has Reduced Noise?
The first thing to ensure while buying a helmet is how well it fits your head. A loose helmet will not only produce more sound but also can lead to other problems. Similarly, tight helmets have numerous disadvantages too. Take care of the following things while buying a helmet that would produce reduced noise.
Know the Shape of Your Head
You need to determine the shape of your head before choosing a helmet that fits your head. Your head should come under one of the three broad categories of head shapes namely round oval, long oval, and intermediary oval. You can ask your friend to measure your head using a measuring tape. You can also measure your head by a string if tape is not available.
Similarly, you can measure your head in front of the mirror in case you do not find anybody to do the job. Once you know the measurement of your head you can confidently ask the retailer to provide you with the appropriate helmet that fits your head.
Ensure the Features that Reduce the Noise
Over the years, manufacturers have developed features that can reduce the noise in the helmet. These features ensure reduced or small openings in the helmet to block airflow into the helmet. For example, when your finger does not go inside the helmet despite your repeated efforts to insert it in between the lining near your forehead. Similarly, your cheek should touch the cheek pads of the helmet to ensure it fits your head. These are signs of helmets that fit your head.
In the case of a full-face helmet, your nose should not touch the face shield and the chin piece should not touch your chin even if you press it. Move the helmet up and down and side by side after fastening the straps. If the helmet fits your head, then the skin and head should move with the helmet.
Another component that reduces the noise in a helmet is its padding around the neck. Thick padding around the neck reduces air inflow into the helmet and reduces the noise. Check with any air ducts or vents and ensure that they are sealed appropriately and closed.
Determine the Type of Helmet to Ensure Reduced Noise
Helmet types can determine the level of noise in the helmet. There are primarily two types of helmets. First are the open-faced ones that include three different types namely the half-faced, three-quarter open-faced, and the skull caps. The second types are the full-face helmets that come with a full cover of the head and face. The full-face helmets are better in terms of reduced noise in comparison to open-faced helmets.
You should also take the venting into account while determining the type of helmet. Vents are outlets through which air passes. Different models of helmets come with different types of venting and numbers of vents. You need to see how many vents and outlets are there in the helmet and ensure minimum vents to determine reduced noise in the helmet.
Wear the Helmet for at least Half an Hour before Buying it
Ask the retailer to allow you to wear the helmet for a while to ensure you are comfortable with it and it fits your head. Wear the helmet for half an hour and move around or watch the TV or read the newspaper. A new helmet that feels fit initially may lose after some time. If it feels fit for an initial half an hour may be considered appropriate and fit to reduce noise.
Trying the helmet for half an hour will also help you to determine how tight the helmet is for you. If you find red marks over your forehead after half an hour or felt like removing the helmet in the process of trying the helmet, then perhaps this helmet is not for you.
How to Make Your Motorcycle Helmet Quieter?
You can make your helmet further quieter despite buying a helmet that fits you perfectly. The level of noise increases when you ride at high speed despite your fit helmet. Follow the below methods to minimize the helmet noise and make it quieter.
- Earmuffs and Earplugs: Earmuffs and earplugs are considered best for reducing sound in helmets by 15 to 35 decibels. Earplugs are usually made out of rubber or silicone and are incorporated with airtight seals. They are effective in reducing noise while still allowing hearing what is going on around you. Earplugs are better in comparison to earmuffs because earplugs do not require space in the helmet. However, earmuffs and earplugs are a bit uncomfortable in humid and hot conditions.
- Appropriately Closed Visor: The helmet visor is the face shield in the helmet and protects the face from wind, debris, etc. They also reduce noise in the helmet. But you must ensure that the visor is appropriately closed and airtight. Inappropriately fitting and bad visors may not close properly and allow openings. This leads to airflow through the openings of the visor resulting in whistle noise.
- Windscreen: A windscreen is designed to shield wind and reduce noise as well as protect the rider from heat, rain, cold, debris, etc. You can ensure the windshield is raised to your height to ensure maximum protection and reduced noise. This way you can avoid helmet buffeting. A helmet buffeting is some sort of vibrations on your torso. The wind variations while riding create the helmet buffeting. A windshield changes the direction of airflow and flows above instead of your chest and face. However, windshields do not eliminate the helmet noise but help drastically reduce the noise.
- Scarf: Scarfs are becoming popular for many reasons. The present trend of using a scarf has become a fashion, especially for the younger generation. The scarf is used to cover the neck into the helmet to block the openings and reduce noise. A scarf also protects the rider effectively from cold. Another reason for the popularity of the scarf is the affordability as they are cheaper in comparison to other methods. You can get different types of scarfs in various sizes and colors. You can further use the scarf with a balaclava to effectively reduce the noise.
- Face Mask: Wearing a face mask works similar to a scarf and is a popular riding trend. A motorcycle face mask effectively reflects the wind that enters from beneath the helmet and thus reduces the noise of the helmet. Besides this, the face mask also protects the rider from dust, bugs, debris, etc.
- Balaclava: This acts as an effective wind blocker that enters into the helmet from below through the neck area. A good balaclava comes with a breath deflector to prevent or minimize moisture and keep the visor and goggles clean. It also helps to protect you, especially the head, face, and neck from cold. The balaclava is a good noise reducer and protects the rider from dirt, bugs, and debris.
- Wind Blocker: A wind blocker is extra padding towards the neck area that blocks the wind from entering the helmet from below. The wind blocker is an essential and useful method not only to reduce noise but also for providing support to the neck while riding and in accidents. It blocks the openings below the helmet and effectively reduces the noise.
- Chin Curtain: Usually the wind moves up towards the chin space of the helmet and creates a lot of noise in the helmet. This uncomfortable noise is not only daunting for the riders, especially during long trips. This wind can also cause blurry vision leading to unsafe riding. The chin curtain is easy and faster to mount as almost all helmets have holes for installing the chin curtain. The chin curtain effectively improves the aerodynamic mechanism in the helmet and reduces the noise. The retractable spoiler creates more space in the helmet if installed appropriately and helps you breathe comfortably.
- Noise Cancellation Mechanism: A noise cancellation system is an emerging mechanism that is limited to a particular brand and functions through headsets and Bluetooth. This mechanism uses neutralization of sound frequency before they reach the ear. Besides this advanced noise cancellation system, the brand also incorporates advanced ventilator, fiberglass shell, and breath guard systems in its model.
- Fleece and Memory Foam: Fleece is another effective wind blocker that reduces the noise in helmets. You can stuff fleece behind the helmet cheek pads. Ultimately, the fleece will act as a tight seal and block the wind that enters the helmet. Similar to the fleece is the memory foam that does well in reducing the noise when filled into the ear holes. You can press the ear foam by hand after stuffing the memory foam. It ultimately gets enlarged and covers the ear leaving no space for the wind to enter.
Reducing noise in your helmet is essential to protect your ear. You can use a suitable method or combine a few methods that are convenient and comfortable for you. Remember, unsafe and frequent riding with a noisy helmet can result in total and irreversible hearing loss.