Helmets hazardous to your health?

Until the researchers' findings bring us quieter helmets, you may want to pack ear plugs.
Until the researchers' findings bring us quieter helmets, you may want to pack ear plugs.

A motorcycle helmet can keep your brains intact in a crash, but your skid lid may hurt your hearing, a recent university study says.

Almost two years ago, researchers from the University of Bath and Bath Spa University started studying helmet-caused wind noise, which they said exceeded legal limits for workplace noise.

Their results weren’t exactly encouraging. Science Daily says the researchers used microphones fitted inside helmets to find that a considerable amount of noise was generated around by air rushing a helmet’s chinbar area, as well as underneath the helmet. The increased noise level was a problem even at legal highway speeds.

They’re continuing the research to determine how wind speed and helmet angle affect the noise volume. They hope their research will be used some day to build quieter motorcycle helmets, but until then, you might want to keep packing ear plugs on road trips.


  1. The only time I don’t wear ear plugs is when I am staying in town, below 70kph (that seems to be when the wind noise gets pretty loud)…if I am going to be hitting speeds above that, I put in my ear plugs…and I have an HJC helmet as well, and it is quite noisy…I’ve never ridden my bike without my helmet and never owned a different one…but I have heard that some helmets are quite a bit quieter…I’ll still wear ear plugs…it would feel weird without them now…


  2. I call bs on that research.  Yes, helmets cause noise but my experience has been that *without* a helmet wind noise is far greater.  I also wear earplugs on any non-local ride, such as my recent 6600 km ride to MotoGP races at Laguna Seca.

  3. Helmets protect your head ! 
    Ear Plugs protect your hearing !
    If you bought your helmet to protect your hearing I guess you screwed up. Check your shorts at the same time.
    Geesh ..Darwin was right.

  4. I’m almost ALWAYS plugged up….
    But I know my budget (HJC) lid is TOO LOUD… And thats not like “loud pipes”.

    • I had custom earplugs made last year. Unfortunately, in 23 years of riding, I only started wearing them seriously about 10 years ago. Guess I really didn’t feel the need before that.

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