Just as I’ve always worn a full-face helmet to protect my entire head, I’ve always worn earplugs to protect my ears from the potential damage caused by wind noise. Even with a windscreen, a fairing and a full-face helmet, wind noise can be unpleasantly loud at highway speeds. Whether from attending too many loud concerts during my misguided youth or from the wind noise that still creeps in through earplugs when riding, occasionally I suffer from tinnitus (ringing of the ears).
Twisted Throttle recently started carrying NoNoise Motorsport Hearing Protectors, and I received a pair for evaluation. According to the NoNoise package insert, wind noise on a motorcycle can reach 95 decibels (dB), and permanent hearing damage can occur at 85 dB. With its hearing protectors (aka earplugs) tested using the European EN352-2 standard, NoNoise reports average sound attenuation of 17-30 dB, depending on frequency, which should reduce wind noise well below the 85 dB threshold.
My earplug of choice has always been the inexpensive, disposable kind. I buy them in bulk at the drug store, or I cadge them from the dyno room at Jett Tuning when we do power runs on test bikes. They’re easy to use, they work well at reducing wind noise and, since they’re cheap, it’s no big deal if I drop one in the dirt or lose one. I’ve got extra earplugs stashed everywhere—in the pockets of my riding gear, in my backpack, at the office and in my garage.
With foam earplugs, you squeeze and rotate them between your forefinger and thumb, insert them into your ears, and they expand to fill each ear canal. NoNoise earplugs are made of silicone-free, hypoallergenic thermoplastic. They have a central, hollow shaft with three soft, concentric, mushroom-like caps on one end that fit inside the ear canal. The other end of the shaft serves as a small handle so you can push the earplug into your ear canal and pull it out back out again.
Designed and manufactured in Europe, NoNoise says its hearing protectors were “developed over 20 years by leading experts” and “use patented ceramic sound filters to ensure maximum protection…without a muffled effect.” Inside the hollow shaft there’s a Venturi-shaped sound channel and a precision-tuned ceramic filter that, NoNoise claims, sits deeper in your ear than conventional earplugs. After years of using conical foam earplugs, it took practice to insert the NoNoise earplugs to the appropriate depth—not so shallow that they were ineffective and not so deep that I had trouble getting them back out (one time I had to use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to grab the end of the shaft and extract it).
Comfort is comparable to conventional earplugs—when they’re inserted properly, you forget they’re there. And NoNoise earplugs are very good at cutting wind noise, at least as good as the best foam earplugs I’ve used (Howard Leight MAX) while eliminating the dulling, muffled effect that some earplugs produce. You need to be able to hear horns, sirens and other traffic noise to maintain situational awareness, and NoNoise earplugs offer more sound clarity than foam earplugs.
NoNoise earplugs work very well, but they have two downsides. One, at $29.95 per pair, they’re expensive. If they last long enough and provide the superior hearing protection that NoNoise claims, the investment might be worthwhile. But if you’re the type that loses things easily, the cost may be prohibitive. NoNoise does provide an aluminum canister to store the earplugs in, and the cap has a small keyring that can be affixed to a zipper pull.
Two, because they’re not disposable, you have to clean NoNoise earplugs regularly. Those three mushroom caps collect a fair amount of earwax, and you’ll need to be careful that the sink you wash them in has a screen so they don’t accidentally go down the drain. Also, NoNoise says that if the hearing protectors become cracked or damaged in any way, they should be replaced and not reused. I’ve been wearing them on a daily basis for a few weeks and they’re still in good shape, but I don’t know how long they’ll last. If I care for them and they last a year, then $29.95 is a reasonable amount to pay for top-notch hearing protection.
In addition to the motorsport-specific NoNoise earplugs, Twisted Throttle also carries the company’s hearing protectors that are tuned for other activities such as work noise, music, travel, shooting, etc.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit twistedthrottle.com/nonoise-motorsport-precision-noise-filtration-hearing-protection