I have never been a fan of using earplugs, as I only wear them about 10% of the time, I could never find any with a balance of comfort and effectiveness, but also practicality. Plugs that are great at blocking out road noise, can be extremely annoying when stopped, paying for fuel or before actually getting on the bike. Sometimes they caused me earache and often once taken out at a stopping point, they didn’t get put back in, exposing me to dangerous noise levels.
I know I’ve abused my hearing over the years, a constant barrage from loud engines, loud music and industrial noise due to my job, all of this damage is irreversible but preventable. Even at 28, I sometimes get ringing in my ears and quite severe headaches and having a loud bike doesn’t help with this. Over the course of writing this, I’ve spoken with quite a few people, to find out their take on hearing protection, and it was alarming how many said they wished they started using it sooner. The thing is hearing protection always seems a bit of a taboo subject, and I feel a bit of a nerd talking about it to others, although it’s a wrong feeling to have.
Auritech Biker plugs feature a ceramic filter insert into the plug filtering out damaging levels, while still allowing other other road noises to be heard. The documentation says there is an attenuation level of 29.6dB at higher frequencies, which is comparable to the heavy duty foam disposable plugs. Time to actually test them.
Inserting the plug is easy, pulling the earlobe up slightly and pushing the plug in with a slight twist. A little prod and wiggle, once they were in to get optimal comfort, worked for me. The soft silicone material easily flexes and contours to the shape of the ear and provides a good seal. At first, I couldn’t really tell a difference, everything sounded normal. I could still hear people talk to me, could hear my footsteps walking along the pavement and could still hear the birds singing. As I started the bike up, I immediately noticed the lower volume from the can, it seems a lot less bassy compared to normal but the best bit, I could still hear the birds tweeting away.
When out on the road the difference is alarming, not just exhaust noise but also wind noise on the helmet. That buffetty constant wind noise drone, has the volume lowered to a comfortable level, the exhaust bass note that reverberates through my head is lowered to a bearable level, but the best part is crackles and pops from the exhaust are still audible. Even when riding stock bikes without loud cans on, it’s still a great relief to not have the constant wind drone. Music and sat nav directions are clear through my in helmet speakers.
Another unexpected bonus is that I have found myself less tired after a long days riding. Presumably from my brain (yes I do have one!) having to do less work in filtering out the useless background noise to focus on the important stuff.
The supplied aluminium case is a quality piece, it looks the part, protects the plugs and acts as a reminder to store them away properly. Storage and loss is another problem, how many times have you lost a plug, or it fell out of your pocket as you’ve been walking around? Well, I have used the keyring and attached the canister to a zip pull inside my leathers, I don’t leave home on the bike without my leathers, so can’t forget my earplugs now. Pricewise the RRP is £19.99, so roughly 130 pairs of disposables. The quality of the Auritech Plugs are high and provided the plugs are kept clean and washed regularly I can see them lasting a long time. £19.99 is a cheap price to pay in my opinion. I’m definitely a convert to wearing plugs now!