Motorcycle Ear Plugs
2009 Motorcycle Non-Disposable Ear Plug Review
by Glenn W. for webBikeWorld.com
| Owner Comments (Below)
Alpine MotoSafe Hearing Protection System
Motorcyclist Ear Plugs
Perfect Fit Custom Noise Reduction Ear
Blockade Noise Isolating Earbuds
been a while since the last ear plug review was
webBikeWorld, so I thought it might be time for another.
I had a new batch of non-disposable ear plugs that
I've been trying out over the last several weeks, and I offered to write
an article that would take a quick
look at some of these new and different ear plug styles.
The importance of ear plugs for motorcycle riding has
been covered ad infinitum on webBikeWorld, so I won't get
into it again here, other than to say that motorcycle
riding is a very noisy sport and it's absolutely crucial
to protect your hearing.
Once it's lost, it's lost for good. So
protecting your hearing (and your eyesight) is
essential. More on this on the webBikeWorld
Helmet Noise page and the
Ear Plugs page;
also be sure to read the various ear plug reviews,
listed in the right-hand column.
Like everyone else I've met who are involved in the webBikeWorld reviews,
I always wear
ear plugs when riding. We literally have dozens of
boxes of ear plugs of all different shapes and sizes
that we can choose from. But most riders find a
favorite type and brand that fits well and is
consensus here is that the high-quality disposable ear plugs
with high Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR) of 30 or more are the
favorites and, dare I say it, overall these type are the best
we have found at reducing noise -- when they fit
We have tried many, many different types of ear plugs
and so far none of the non-disposable, or what I
sometimes call semi-permanent types come anywhere close
to the noise protection (i.e., attenuation) that is
provided by the best of the disposables.
Favorite disposable ear plugs used frequently here
include the Moldex Pura-Fit 6800 (the
all-time favorite and the benchmark used for this
article); Silencio ear plugs; Hearos; EAR E-A-Rsoft Grippers
and others (all reviewed via the links in the right-hand
By the way, the uncorded EAR E-A-Rsoft Grippers are
unfortunately no longer made; Rick bought a case of 4
boxes some time ago and when they're gone, that's the
end of a really fantastic ear plug. What a shame!
But, I suppose one could buy the corded Grippers and cut
the cords off. I have not tried this though.
I'm not sure if there will be another disposable ear
plug review on webBikeWorld this year, but in the meantime, I
have this batch of unusual ear plugs that I purchased
recently, and I wanted to see if
any of these non-disposable
ear plug styles have improved. A couple of us have
tried this type on the past but haven't really found one
that compares well to the disposables.
There was no particular strategy to my purchases; I
just searched around and bought a few different types.
I also bought an at-home, do-it-yourself ear plug
molding kit that I intend on using, and I'll report back
on that. It's a bit fussy so I just haven't taken the time yet to mix
the compound and take my ear impressions, then send away
the package to get the ear plugs molded. It's kind
of a hassle, but one of these days I'll get to it.
Now before I get started on the reviews -- and note
these are just a quick take on each particular type --
I'll steal my own thunder here and say that none of
these non-disposable ear plugs come anywhere close to the noise protection or
attenuation that I desire. That's just my opinion on
it; I'm coming to the conclusion that the semi-permanent
type ear plugs just don't cut it when it comes to noise
And besides, most of them are uncomfortable for me.
They may work for some people, but I haven't found a
pair of non-disposable ear plugs yet that both reduces noise to the levels comparable to
the best of the disposables and are as
Plus, the non-disposable ear plugs must be cleaned
often. I think it's much better to have a few
pairs of disposables when on a trip, so if one pair gets
dirty, another clean pair is readily available.
Remember to dispose of these carefully, or at least
don't throw them on the side of the road!
too easy to lose a pair of ear plugs or drop them on the
ground, so depending upon a single pair of
non-disposables can be a problem. And finally, they're expensive. Other
than that, they're fine!
The non-disposable ear plugs I'm reviewing here
include the Alpine MotoSafe Hearing Protection System;
Skull Screws (by the makers of Hearos); the WindTamer
Motorcyclist Ear Plugs; and something a little
different, the Blockade High Fidelity Noise Isolation
Earbuds, which also act as speakers.
Here are some product photos:
Blockade Noise Isolating Earbud Speakers and MotoSafe
Hearing Protection System (L).
Perfect Fit Ear Plug Mold Kit (R).
Skull Screws (L). WindTamer Motorcycle Ear Plugs
► Alpine MotoSafe Hearing Protection System
The Alpine MotoSafe ear plugs were suggested by a few of our European visitors. MotoSafe ear plugs are made by Alpine International BV
(aka Alpine Hearing Protection) in The Netherlands.
They make several types of ear plugs, each labeled for
different activities, but they all look similar.
These are the "Professional Driver's" ear plugs.
Their distinguishing feature is a removable and
replaceable central "wind noise" filter insert, seen as
the yellow and green parts above. The MotoSafe ear
plugs are supposed to allow the wearer to hear ambient
noises, while they "guarantee optimum protection".
The MotoSafe package includes the single set of ear
plugs shown above, along with the two different noise
filters. The green filter offers "medium"
protection, while the yellow filter is supposed to
provide "high" protection. The package also
includes a small tube that can be placed over the end of
the ear plug stem to insert it or remove it from the
ear. A small red textile case is also included,
which can be used to store the ear plugs and parts.
The double cups on the MotoSafe plugs just don't fit
snugly into my ears. It's like they're too short
and too rounded to grip inside my ear canal. So it
was very difficult to keep them in my ears.
As with most ear plugs, the best way to insert them is
to reach around the back of the head with the opposite
hand and pull the ear up and back to stretch open the
ear canal while the ear plug is inserted. Once the
ear plug is in, the ear canal sort of tightens up over
the ear plug.
But the MotoSafe ear plugs don't feel secure in my ears.
That may be one of the reasons why they just didn't
perform for me. I'd say they only reduced the
noise about half of what a good foam disposable ear plug
is capable of.
The NRR of the MotoSafe ear plugs isn't clear to me;
there's no one single number on the package. But
neither the yellow nor the green noise filters seemed to
do very much. I can hear too much wind noise
inside a full-face helmet. So I can't really
recommend these. The price seems high also; it's
pretty easy to buy an entire box of 200 pairs of, say,
Moldex Pura-Fit 6800 or other nice foam disposable ear
plugs for that amount, and they'd probably last as long
or longer than the Alpine MotoSafe ear plugs anyway,
which are difficult to keep track of and easy to lose or
Price: $24.95 Manufacturer:
Hearing Protection Made In:
► WindTamer Motorcyclists' Ear Plugs
WindTamer Motorcyclist's [sic] Ear Plugs are another
type of semi-permanent silicone ear plug.
These have 6 cones or circles designed to grip the
inside of the ear canal.
There's some type of small insert in the center; it can
just be seen in the WindTamer ear plug on the right in
the photo above, just under the large cup. This is
a Hock's Noise Braker Acoustic Damping Filter, which is
supposed to "use the laws of physics and the principle
of resonant decay" to "reduce all sound approximately to
the volume of normal speech", according to the insert in
The entire body of the plug seems relatively soft and
comfortable, and the 6 cones do grip the ear canal much
better than the Alpine MotoSafe ear plugs. But be
careful -- the WindTamer ear plugs are about 30% longer
than the MotoSafe ear plugs, and it seems relatively
easy to insert the WindTamer ear plugs too far, to a
point where it can cause some pain. In fact, my
ear canal hurt every time I used these, and I still hurt
after I took them out.
WindTamer ear plugs are relatively easy to find for sale
at various motorcycle retailers.
Sorry -- these just don't seem to do the job any better
than the MotoSafe ear plugs. I can hear too much
wind noise inside the helmet and they seem to provide
only about 1/2 the noise reduction of the benchmark
Moldex Pura-Fit 6800 disposable ear plugs. That,
combined with the uncomfortable pain I feel, makes these
I couldn't find any manufacturer's claims on NRR for
Price: $9.95 Manufacturer:
TM Manufacturing, Inc., but unclear who actually makes
these and I can't find a website. Made In:
► Skull Screws
Skull Screws by Hearos are apparently supposed to be
making ear plugs "cool". I've seen them in a few
H-D shops and other cruiser locations. Notice the
photo above -- the ear plug body is actually shaped as a
screw, and the holder that comes out the end looks like
So the idea is that when these are "screwed" into your
ears, the "bolt" hangs out the side and you look like
Frankenstein. They come as one pair in the small
plastic case shown above.
The problem is that the body of the ear plug seems too
soft. It looks like disposable foam ear plug
material, but it feels sort of like soft rubber; they're
supposed to be designed to make it unnecessary to roll
them up before inserting them in the ear. Also,
that "bolt" that runs up the center is made from hard
I can feel it under the softer rubber, and the end of
the bolt sticks out too far, so it touches the liner of
some helmets and dislodges the ear plug as I pull on the
helmet (full-face). Also, these are long and feel
hard and they are uncomfortable with that center plastic
"bolt", so I feel pain when wearing them. Perhaps
these are designed for open-face cruiser helmets?
If the ear plugs are not inserted correctly and if a
part of the ear plug touches the helmet liner, we have
found that more noise can be transmitted to the rider
than wearing no ear plugs at all.
The manufacturer rates these as an NRR of 30, and I'd
say they seem to be transmit about 1/3 more noise than a
properly inserted pair of Moldex Pura-fit 6800 ear
plugs. This is mostly due to the fact that I can't
quite get the Skull Screws to seat correctly; the rubber
seems almost too pliable. The bottom line is that
they just don't seem to work all that well and may have
more style than substance -- if screws coming out of
your ear can be considered stylish.
Price: $5.49/pair Manufacturer:
which is Aero Technologies (Hearos). Made In:
► Blockade Noise Isolating Earbuds
Here's my separate
Isolating Earbuds review. This was moved to
its own page rather than include it with the others,
because these also function as acceptable speakers.
Believe it or not, these actually seem to work better
than the other non-disposable ear plugs reviewed here.
► Perfect Fit Braker Vented Custom Noise Reduction Ear
I had planned on including the Perfect-Fit
Breaker-Vented Custom Noise Reduction ear plugs in this
survey of non-disposable ear plugs, but
I just haven't been able to make the molds yet. So
I thought I would include a photo anyway.
was purchased from the Earplug Superstore; it's
expensive at $129.95. As you can see, it looks a
bit complicated. The product is mixed together and
a mold must be taken of the ear canal, then sent away in
the included box to get the permanent ear plugs made.
I haven't worked up the ambition to do this yet.
Although I'm interested in trying these,
the problem here will be keeping them clean and not
losing them. Also, the manufacturer specifically
does not list an NRR for these, which is curious.
There are many types of custom ear plugs
available; these are the Perfect-Fit Breaker-Vented
Custom Noise Reduction ear plugs, made with a "Hock's
Noise Braker installed that lets the inner ear breathe
and lets the wearer hear normal speech".
The company claims that "the Noise
Braker acts to prevent hearing damage from extremely
loud noises including gunfire, nail guns, concert music,
wind noise on motorcycles and many noises commonly
encountered in manufacturing environments". We'll
I just haven't experienced anywhere near the noise reduction I feel is safe
with any of these non-disposable ear plug types. I I suppose something
is better than nothing, but I'd much rather use a good disposable ear plug
like the Moldex Pura-Fit 6800 or the EAR Grippers with an NRR of 32, both of
which I think are much more comfortable and offer better and safer noise
Review Date: May 2009
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►Your Comments and
Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details
). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "M.F." (11/09): "I am a
psychotherapist and an ex-music teacher so my hearing
has always been important to me. Thanks for
emphasizing this important little equipment item.
I think that the reviewer's main problem with these
non-disposables comes down to fit. As with other
safety equipment, if they don't fit well they will be
uncomfortable, less effective, and less likely to be
worn. Certainly, lack of a snug fit will
negatively affect the amount of noise reduction.
I have found that the Hocks Noise Brakers work well for
me, but not right out of the box. When I first got
them they stuck out a little too far inside the helmet,
so I cut down the stem a bit. After rummaging
through the garage for a pair of needle nose pliers to
help me get them out of my ears (oops), I ordered
another pair. This time I cut off the smallest
flange and they work perfectly."
From "P.O." (5/09): "I used the
Alpine ear plugs several times. While they worked
OK for me (but then, I’m 64 and surely have some hearing
loss already), the problem I found with them is that
when inserted deep enough to work well, they were then
so far in and firmly planted that it proved very
difficult to remove them by myself.
I have since gone to Etymotics’ hearing protectors,
which must have a similar system to pad the volume down
about 20 dB while preserving the normal frequency
response one usually hears. The Etymotics protrude
slightly farther than the Alpines, allowing both more
control when inserting them and making it much easier to
I just purchased another three pair from Amazon at
about $9-11 per pair, and plan to give a pair each to my
daughter and her fiancée to bring to rock concerts, as
one can still hear the music just fine, it’s just
quieter with the Etymotics in place."
From "D.C." (5/09): "Like you I
tried several disposable style ear plugs. While
most were comfortable I could never get them to stay in
correctly and they usually came out a bit every time I
put on my helmet. I was at a Cycle World show and
decided to buy permanent custom ear plugs from Big Ear.
They work great and seem to reduce the ambient noise
better than the foam ear plugs. They cost around
$70 but well worth it. I would highly recommend them to
anyone and have."
From "B.G." (5/09): "Since you
reviewed the Perfect Fit kit at $129, I would like to
mention custom made earplugs from an audiologist.
I've purchased 3 pairs total in 6 years and love
them. Noise rating is 30Db, and they cost me
$50/pair. You do have to be careful about not
losing them, but I find that getting them in the really
bright orange color helps when you do drop them.
Since they're custom made, the fit is very
comfortable and I can insert them in about 1 second per
ear - no rolling foam between my greasy fingers.
I buy mine from someone who has a booth at a
motorcycle show, but just about any audiologist can make
From "W.J." (5/09): "In regards to
the comment (from W.W. below) that disposable plugs can
be reused, I strongly suggest that as a bad idea.
While I use mine for about a week on my work commute,
which comes out to about 10 times, they are noticeably
degraded at the end of the week. This makes them
both harder to insert properly and also noticeably
reduces their effectiveness.
Also, many disposable ear plugs are constructed of open
cell foam, which means that they tend to harbor and grow
bacteria over time. The foam cannot be sanitized
by washing because you cannot clean all those pores out.
I personally don't think it is worth the risk and I
think it is very bad advice when the whole object is
protecting your hearing."
From "W.W." (5/09):
"Environmentally, disposable earplugs are pretty bad for
the environment. You can wash them and reuse them.
I found out by reusing a couple plugs that I found in
pockets of pants that had gone through the washer.
They work just fine."