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Thread: Ear Plugs (do you or don't you?)

  1. #41
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    Thumbs down ear plugs

    I have tried ear plugs and they are uncomfortable and hurt my ears.
    I use cotton and now I also use head phones for my MP3 player.
    I don't care for the ringing in my ears unless it is from some GOOD OLD ROCK and Roll . Now lets not call this C----- today music but some Doobies,Golden Earring ,ETC can't be beat while enjoying the super ride of a BMW...
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  2. #42
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    Wearing them is a personal choice, driven as much by personal feelings of "freedom of the road" as your desire to protect your hearing. If you are behind a big fairing with an electrically-adjustable huge windshield you probably don't need them, if however you prefer a smaller sport windscreen or none at all you should seriously consider them. Remember, hearing damage is cumulative and it is permanent. It creeps up a little at a time so unlike a broken bone it is hardly noticeable, yet unlike a broken bone it won't and never will get better.

    There are a wide variety of earplugs available, some provide the barest of protection and others work so well they block everything out. Some are so large as to be uncomfortable for most, some so small they simply won't stay in for most. Note that paying close attention for the proper procedure to insert them makes a big difference in comfort and effectiveness. I bought the Howard Leight variety pack from Conney Safety Products (call and ask for it, they sent me mine for a nominal cost) and after trying each of the wide assortment chose the middle ground with the very comfortable Lazer-Lites - sufficient to screen out the extremely damaging wind roar yet still allowing me to hear most everything, even allowing me to carry on a normal conversation with a helmet on. The two 200-pair boxes of Lazer-Lite's I have bought guarantee that I will always have a fresh pair for every ride (buying them by the box drives the cost down to pennies a pair.)

    Again, much like wearing helmets, it is a personal choice that should be driven by your style of riding (ie whether behind a fully protective adjustable windscreen or, like me, with the wind in your face.) Regardless of your riding setup, if you can hear the wind roar or get a ringing in your ears after riding, it is a choice you should seriously consider and not ofthandedly dismiss with a trite "might as well be riding in a car". Consult an audiologist if you would prefer a more in-depth explanation of hearing loss.

    Links:
    Howard Leight - In my opinion the finest manufacturer of disposable earplugs
    Conney Safety Products - A company that sells Howard Leight products and with whom I have had excellent service both in price and customer support.
    Bob Weiss - A BMW rider who markets excellent reusable, custom earplugs (he is often a vendor at BMW rallies.)
    Hearing Loss FAQ - An excellent and simple FAQ on the cause and result of hearing loss.
    Ted
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
    Moto Pages

  3. #43
    Right Wing Conspirator Grey_Matter's Avatar
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    I wear ear plugs 99% of the time. If I am riding less than 5 minutes I may not bother with them. I was an audio engineer for many years & I literally made a living with my ears. I agree with what many of have already stated ear plugs are the cheapest piece of essential riding gear IMHO.

    I use the EARsoft SuperFit plugs. You can get them at any safety supply store. I like the 33dB rating. Keep in mind you are not going to get much better than that. Even with custom molded plugs. You are still going to get acoustic energy penetration though your nasal cavity, eyes, nose & throat.

    I have had several custom fitted plugs over the years & they are supper comfortable to be sure. I still have my IEMÔÇÖs (in ear monitors) from back in my monitor mixing days.
    Euelle: Hey, these blow up into funny shapes at all?
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  4. #44
    Stronger, Faster, Tougher iRene's Avatar
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    Ear Plugs

    I wear ear plugs at work and play, I spend my workdays in a class 100 clean room.
    The noise that the ventilation system makes is a dull roar.
    I was the one who started giving all my co-workers plugs,
    now EVERYONE uses them. It made it possible to hear the radio
    while we work, which was a plus.

    Any time I mow the lawn or put on my helmet, plugs go IN, and I don't ride without my helmet.

    Period.

    That kind of hearing damage is insidious, cumulative, and irreversable. Plugs are cheap insurance.
    BMW MOA Ambassador
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  5. #45
    Buzzed and Belligerent gambrinus's Avatar
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    I started out only wearing my earplugs when I was shooting or riding the bike. Now I've found that I enjoy wearing them around the house to make my wife more tolerable.

    RW
    "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" B. Franklin

  6. #46
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    iRene, you should check out noise reduction headphones. They're unbelievable. I used to work in a duplicating/printing center and the headphones made it possible to actually hear other people during a conversation. They just mask out the white noise. On airplanes, they're amazing.

    I wish they made a pair that would work on motorcycles. Imagine being able to eliminate ONLY the wind noise.

    Until then, I'm solidly in the "with plugs" department. My hearing is bad enough from all the rock and roll I listened to. Hearing some people's voices is difficult in some circumstances because of damage I've done to my ears.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  7. #47
    Slowpoke & Proud of It! BRADFORDBENN's Avatar
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    Actually the noise cancelling headphones are not as effective in protection as ear plugs.

    They are incredible, I have a couple of sets and they do work really well, Sony has also come out with some in ear ones that work well.

    The way they work is by producing noise that is out of phase with the ambient noise. However studies have not proven that they are true protection as they do involve the injection of additional acoustic energy.

    Having said that, I do use mine a lot on airplanes. Just to cut down on fatigue and to listen to music. I know that they are not real protection.

    Having said that iRene you may want to ask your employer if they will provide hearing protection for you. If the ambient noise is more than 85dBa there are some OSHA regulations that require the protection.

    Having worked designing sound systems that could cause damage to hearing, I have learned and studied the rules and guidelines for noise exposure and protection. I must say that the views expressed are my own and should not be treated as legal advice.
    -=Brad

    It isn't what you ride, it is if you ride

  8. #48
    Stronger, Faster, Tougher iRene's Avatar
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    Plugs

    Now THERE's a thought...
    Instead of raiding my riding stash of plugs for WORK, I can
    raid the working stash for my RIDING!
    Yeah! THAT'S the ticket...
    BMW MOA Ambassador
    Sled Dog Touring Team | RSMaine | MOVermont
    '08 R1200GS | '60 R60

  9. #49
    dlearl476
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    Ear, Inc.

    Another reason I love my 3 year old "Competition Sports Monitors" from Ear, Inc.:

    After being spotty for about six months, the right side just gave out on a trip to Panguitch, Utah a couple of weeks ago. I just received them back from Ear, Inc. Repaired at no charge to me, not even return shipping.

  10. #50
    El Dookey loves to ride. 99007's Avatar
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    Put a few miles in on the slab

    and got to thinking that maybe that is why I don't wear earplugs much, because I don't ride the highways much at all. Once every two weeks or so I get on I-96 for 10 minutes to downtown Grand Rapids.
    The slabs are a heck of a lot noisier. On the two lanes I usually am traveling 60-70 with occaisional bursts of 80 mph. But even at my slab speed of 75-85 a two laner is much quiter than the highway.
    Don't winterize; Rounderize!
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  11. #51
    67-year-old Teenager indygt's Avatar
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    A vote for earplugs

    I've been riding with earplugs since 1986 when some friends gave me a pair on my first long tour from Indiana to California.
    There was a short period of strangeness, but I soon found I could hear everything I needed to hear. It was just muted.
    The value, for me, is in how the plugs reduce the stressful wind noise and keep me from feeling as jangled after several hours in the saddle. I think plugs easily add 100 miles to my day when I'm on the road.
    As others have mentioned, there is also the cumulative damaging effect of noise on your hearing. Even with the plugs, I have a bit of tinnitis - a constant ringing - but my doctor says it would be much worse if I didn't use earplugs. Once you've killed those little sound-sensing hairs in your inner ear, they're gone forever and won't regenerate. Just ask Pete Townshend.
    I've tried several types over the years and learned a few things about what works for me and what doesn't. I used to have a problem getting a good seal on compressible foam plugs - they tended to bend and wad up - until one day when I emerged from the hot springs swimming pool at Glenwood Springs, Colo., with water in my ear canals. I discovered that the water made for a slicker insertion of the plugs and a better seal. From then on, I would wet my pinkies, give myself a Wet Willie and slide the plugs in for a perfect fit.
    A couple of years ago, I had custom plugs made at a rally by audiologist Marilyn Navia. She added stereo headphone speakers to them, which makes it possible for me to have quiet comfort or the best musical reproduction I've ever experienced on a motorcycle. I use a Sony MiniDisc to record several hours of MP3s on a single disk, then set the player to "shuffle," so I don't get used to a particular sequence of songs.
    Before I got the custom plugs/in-ear monitors, I used a Walkman with a Boostaroo amplifier running full blast and could barely hear the music through my foam plugs. Now I run the MiniDisc volume at about 3 on a 10-point volume scale and hear every note.
    Since then, I've also had a pair of speakerless custom plugs made for those times when I don't want music or speaker wires.

  12. #52
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    I always wear them on any ride going out of town. Remember, they aren't about cutting back on engine noise, it's the wind noise they block, and if you wear them regularly you'll be glad you did. When I first got back into riding in '96, I didn't wear them and put on 250 mile going from the east bay to to the coast and back. At the end of the day, my ears were ringing for hours afterwards. They definitely help, both in lessened fatigues and preventing hearing loss.

  13. #53
    srb
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    I have never been a big fan of earplugs because they reduce the external sounds of traffic, emergency vehicles, screeching tires, etc. I have found that on long drones of highway earplugs do a great job of cutting the wind noise while still allowing me to hear/feel the bike. On my airhead the plugs cut wind, but I can still hear the clatter of the valves, and the exhaust note. I guess they are more valuable to me only on the long hauls.

  14. #54
    Foobeemer mcholt212's Avatar
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    Earplugs? Now here's a touchy subject. I read posts that presented pros and cons to this subject. I think excessive white noise can contribute to fatigue just like fighting wind resistance, sunlight beating down on exposed skin, clutch and throttle gripping, etc. Safety is a concern, also, though. Just like some posters said, blocking out important noises can endanger the rider by increasing reaction times. Here's my deal. I love music. If I'm hitting the turnpike or the parkway, I gotta have my Ipod. But the few times I used it, I realized even with the volume maxed out, I still could not hear the music very well. And forget about the audio quality--the ambient noise from riding just about wiped out any low end frequency response. I looked into helmet speakers, but frankly I could not see myself performing surgery on a brand new Shoei RF-1000 to accomodate them. So after further research, I decided to try these:

    http://www.shure.com/earphones/eseries_e3c.asp

    I got a pair on Ebay for $130. I know that may sound steep to some, but like I've said before....you get what you pay for. Shure has been around for years and their main deal is audio. I love my E3C's and they even come with a cool carrying case and lots of different ear fittings so you can customize your fit. The main thing is these plugs ISOLATE ambient sound from your music so all you're getting is tunes--and that low end performance is right there again, just like I was sitting in my living room listening.

    But safety first! If you want to jam out while riding and cut off all surrounding sounds, get in the right lane and CRUISE--and watch those mirrors! You'll have lots of energy left to do that now that the white noise is gone!!!

    Oh yeah. putting your helmet on without dislodging the plugs is alittle tricky...I solved that by getting a silk helmet liner that covers my ears. Keeps my new Shoei from stinking up from sweat, too! Helmet slides on and off wothout pulling out the plugs! I love killing 2 birds with ONE stone!
    Chris
    Scotch Plains, NJ

    '02 R1100SA

  15. #55
    DZIMBRIC
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    Customs

    I paid a buck sevety-five for my custom earplug speakers and they do everything you said and a exceptional job of protecting my hearing.

    Arizona Al or another vendor should be at the nationals if you want a set.

  16. #56
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    Just added a windshield...now I need earplugs

    I just added a windshield to my R1150R. For th epast two years I rode without earplugs. Once I added the windshield, (BMW sport, med height) the noise increased so much if i didn't use eraplugs my ears hurt. Has anyone experienced such a huge increase in windnoise from the addition of awindshield? I thought windshields would reduce the noise.

  17. #57
    El Dookey loves to ride. 99007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 109949
    I just added a windshield to my R1150R. For th epast two years I rode without earplugs. Once I added the windshield, (BMW sport, med height) the noise increased so much if i didn't use eraplugs my ears hurt. Has anyone experienced such a huge increase in windnoise from the addition of awindshield? I thought windshields would reduce the noise.
    if you have the correct winshield it will deflect the air over and around you. sounds like maybe you are too tall for the one you installed?? You might be right up there in all the deflected air. Are you getting buffeted around a lot more from the wind as well as the increased noise factor?
    Don't winterize; Rounderize!
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  18. #58
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    I think you're right. The air feels like it's deflecting right to the top of my Nolan Helmet. Before the windshield, I could hear my engine just fine. Now, at 30MPH I can't hear the engine at all. So something isn't right. I bought the windshield because after riding 100+ miles of being buffetted by the wind, the fatigue level was too high. I bought it at Cliffs in Danbury Ct. Wonder if he'll exchange it for something more appropriate.

  19. #59
    looking for a coal mine knary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliffy777
    if you have the correct winshield it will deflect the air over and around you. sounds like maybe you are too tall for the one you installed?? You might be right up there in all the deflected air. Are you getting buffeted around a lot more from the wind as well as the increased noise factor?

    Not necessarily. A windshield is just that, a shield from the wind. To get a perfectly quiet bubble of air, you usually need a BIG windshield. My GS is noisier with the screen in place, but without it I'm getting a chest full of wind. Unless you're prepared to go for the pope mobile look or to buy a full on touring bike (RT, LT, etc), you're going to be busy trying to find a balance between wind and noise management. Sometimes you can take care of them both, but it is often an elusive solution.

    Either way, you should wear earplugs.

    I just got a fresh box of 200 pair of disposable Howard Leight Max Lite plugs. $26 including shipping.
    scott conary - BMW... err...umm... bikes are dangerous
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  20. #60
    HODAG
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    never wear them on the bike
    tried, hated it
    wore them alot when I was a machinist,
    won't wear them on a bike.

  21. #61
    looking for a coal mine knary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marK11LT
    never wear them on the bike
    tried, hated it
    wore them alot when I was a machinist,
    won't wear them on a bike.
    What didn't you like?
    scott conary - BMW... err...umm... bikes are dangerous
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  22. #62
    Stressed Member jmerlino's Avatar
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    I already have a fairly decent case of tinnitus (damn rock and roll), and I find that if I don't wear them, after as little as 10 or 15 minutes on the bike and I'll have a really nice ringing in the ears when I stop. So, earplugs. Every ride.
    --Joe Merlino - Modified '82 R100RT

  23. #63
    Slowpoke & Proud of It! BRADFORDBENN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knary
    What didn't you like?
    Speak up Scott when you talk with Mark....

    Mark WHAT DON"T YOU LIKE ABOUT WEARING EAR PLUGS?
    -=Brad

    It isn't what you ride, it is if you ride

  24. #64
    Kool Aid Dispenser! jimvonbaden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marK11LT
    never wear them on the bike
    tried, hated it
    wore them alot when I was a machinist,
    won't wear them on a bike.

    Really into silence huh?
    Jim

  25. #65
    SUV Rider
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    Tough to ride without them now...rode years without and then tried them...I am sold. I can get more distance without feeling tired from the wind noise...of course when wifey rides shotgun I wear thicker ones....hehehehee

  26. #66
    ian408
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    I've got a set of Al's plugs and wear them except when tooling around
    town. Plugged into the iPod they are.

    Ian

  27. #67
    Miserable Mark MarkF's Avatar
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    They come in handy sleeping at rallies too - block out snoring, music and carnal knowledge.
    MarkF

  28. #68
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    Ear plug use

    I always use them when doing an extended super-slab ride. Wind noise will fatigue me and my ears ring for hours after I stop riding. Short trips or slow tooling around back roads I rarely wear them.
    Roy G.
    85 K100RT Ol Ruby "Gone but not forgotten"

    02 K1200LTC Hoss

  29. #69
    I Used to Be Someone sheridesabeemer's Avatar
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    Earplugs are great to have camping!

    I wear them most of the time. I find my new Shoei RF 1000 is much noisier than the RF800. There is no padding in the ear area! Swell ventilation, lots of noise. I even talked the kid into trying them out, even though she has a Mom faring to hide behind. They worked well for her too.
    Gail Hatch
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  30. #70
    HODAG
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradfordBenn
    Speak up Scott when you talk with Mark....

    Mark WHAT DON"T YOU LIKE ABOUT WEARING EAR PLUGS?
    funny guys....

    I've always tried the sponge type ones.

    I would get a dull thudding headache when I wore them, worse than if I didnt.
    Also my ears would really itch when I had them in. I would change them every stop but didn't like it.

    also couldn't hear the radio as well

    I've had on some newer soft plastic plugs at a few shops i've been to, and may give them a try next time.

  31. #71
    BUBBAZANETTI
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    anything longer than my 40 mile commute to work, i wear them, but it is very rare that i don't have either my headpones or my ear plugs in while i'm riding, mostly just while around town or doing errands.........

  32. #72
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkF
    They come in handy sleeping at rallies too - block out snoring, music and carnal knowledge.
    Where, exactly, are you inserting these ear plugs?
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  33. #73
    Das Cooool ITSBOB's Avatar
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    I always have two or three pair in my boxes, and a pair in my pocket.. I work within 100 feet of a Launch and Catch for navy airplanes, so always have a pair handy for when i have to go outside. I retired from the Army and during my retirment physical the doctor was amazed at how intact my hearing was after a career of firing tanks and Bradlee's.. I could sleep on the top of a turret while the tanks around me were doing night fire!!

    Problem I have is remembering to put them on. I usually notice about 5 minutes into a ride that I forgot, then I'm too lazy to stop to put them on.
    2009 R1200RT
    2002 R1150RS (Sylvia) (sold *sniff*)
    2006 JD2305

  34. #74
    Living the Legend bigrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsbob2
    ..... I could sleep on the top of a turret while the tanks around me were doing night fire!!

    Problem I have is remembering to put them on. I usually notice about 5 minutes into a ride that I forgot, then I'm too lazy to stop to put them on.
    I'm with itsbob2, most of the problem is remembering to put them in at the beginning of the ride. I survived my military career with hearing intact also. Nothing like Vulcan Live Fire in the morning to start a good day (but at a distance.)

    Dave H
    Colorado Springs

  35. #75
    Brrr YB in IN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBasa
    Where, exactly, are you inserting these ear plugs?
    I believe that information can be found on another website.



    Garth Eppley
    1990 K75s
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  36. #76
    looking for a coal mine knary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marK11LT
    funny guys....

    I've always tried the sponge type ones.

    I would get a dull thudding headache when I wore them, worse than if I didnt.
    Also my ears would really itch when I had them in. I would change them every stop but didn't like it.

    also couldn't hear the radio as well

    I've had on some newer soft plastic plugs at a few shops i've been to, and may give them a try next time.
    What kind of "sponge types"? The yellow cylinders? Those are horribly painful evil little things. After much searcing, I found the Howard Leight Max Lite plugs work best for me. All earplugs take some getting used to. If you've never used them, and then try to use them on a 14 hour ride, it very well may hurt.



    Find a local safety supply store. They should have a selection of samples of different kinds of plugs for you to try.
    scott conary - BMW... err...umm... bikes are dangerous
    portland, oregon
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  37. #77
    HODAG
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    yep those yellow cylinders.
    I didn't mind them while at work, even wore an added headset when working with stainless.

    same with shooting guns.


    I just don't care for earplugs, when I ride. I'm an atgatt kinda guy but we all have our personel level of protection that we feel comfortable with.

  38. #78
    Dang! RatSnake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marK11LT
    funny guys....
    I would get a dull thudding headache when I wore them, worse than if I didnt.
    Also my ears would really itch when I had them in. I would change them every stop but didn't like it.

    also couldn't hear the radio as well

    I've had on some newer soft plastic plugs at a few shops i've been to, and may give them a try next time.
    I don't know about that radio of yours. I could hear it from 50 feet away with my ear plugs tightly installed.

    I use custom ear speakers and Max Lite's that I get from Uline in boxes of 200 for $26. Also, I use lubricant from the ear plug store. That seems to help with comfort and the itching.
    RatSnake
    Dennis Murphy
    Third Lake, IL
    2013 R1200GS BMWMOA, IBMWR, AMA Rounder #43

  39. #79
    Miserable Mark MarkF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBasa
    Where, exactly, are you inserting these ear plugs?
    Have you ever seen the packaging printed in French?
    MarkF

  40. #80
    Minnesota Nice! braddog's Avatar
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    On my last long ride...

    I had side winds, rather brisk ones. The wind pounded my right ear on the way to the destination, and pounded my left ear on the way back. I didn't have the soft foamies in correctly, so they didn't provide much help. I also tried the waxy ones that seal your ear...yuck, no good.

    I still say my primary problem is my Nolan flipup. The wind was roaring from the side directly into my ears.

    So, I think the answer for me is the following:

    - Try a new helmet (non flip-type, I don't benefit from that added functionality anyway.)

    - Practice with the foamies (Max-lites) to make sure I get them in right.
    - Try some new designs, see what works best for me.

    I'm an advocate of earplugs. I don't listen to the radio, and I really don't want the wind roar, I don't care where it's from. After my last trip, it took a couple of days to get my hearing back to a reasonable level of use.
    -----------------------------------------
    Brad D. - Member #105766
    '77 R100RS - Black Beauty (big pipe, baby!)
    '94 R1100RS - Sylvia

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