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Are Motorcycle Helmets Responsible For Hearing Loss?

A few weeks ago we discussed how riding in a convertible can lead to hearing loss. Today we learn that motorcycle helmets, while protecting bikers’ brains, may also be contributing to hearing loss. Scientists mapped the airflow and noise patterns to find out why.

The distinctive roar of a Harley’s engine is loud, but studies have revealed the biggest source of noise for a motorcyclist is actually generated by air wooshing over the riders’ helmets. Even at legal speeds, the sound can exceed safe levels.

Now, scientists have identified a key source of the rushing din. Researchers from the University of Bath and Bath Spa University in the UK placed motorcycle helmets on top of mannequin heads. The mannequins were then placed in a wind tunnel and the fans were turned on. By placing microphones at different locations around the helmet and the mannequin’s ears, the researchers found that an area underneath the helmet and near the chin bar is a significant source of the noise that reaches the riders’ sensitive eardrums.

The team also investigated how helmet angle and wind speed affected the loudness. Further tests will move beyond the wind tunnel to real-life riders on the open road. The findings, described in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, may one day be used to design quieter helmets, saving riders’ ears for the enjoyment of hard biker rock, the researchers say.

Reference: “Aeroacoustic sources of motorcycle helmet noise” is accepted for publication in the Journal Acoustical Society of America.

About Adam Bernstein

Adam Bernstein is the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Milwaukee's premier hearing healthcare facility. As the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Mr. Bernstein has over 20 years of experience in the hearing healthcare industry. He began his career in 1995 at GN Danavox, one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world. After leaving Danavox, Mr. Bernstein opened two hearing healthcare offices in Chicago, IL. In 2001 he moved to Milwaukee, WI and opened The Hearing Professionals. In 2008 he added a second Wisconsin office in the town of Brookfield. Today The Hearing Professionals is the largest private audiology practice in SE Wisconsin. Mr. Bernstein has written numerous articles on hearing healthcare which has appeared in newspapers throughout the country and has been interviewed by news programs regarding advances in the hearing industry. Mr. Bernstein a member of Unitron’s Customer Advisory Board and a graduate of The University of Minnesota. You can email him at adam@icanhearthat.com and you can visit The Hearing Professionals at www.icanhearthat.com.

One response »

  1. Arai Helmets are nothing but the best, I always feel safe in one of them 😛

    Reply

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