I’m a big believer in wearing earplugs. I lost part of my hearing as a result of what could basically be called ignorance on my part. Plenty of rock concerts in the ’60’s and ’70’s, working in a really loud machine shop and riding motorcycles!
But I’m more mature now, so I know better, right? (Right!). And now that I know what it means to lose hearing AND have a constant ringing (tinnitus) in my ears, I sure wish I took better care of my hearing back then.
Because once it’s gone, it’s gone. No getting it back. That’s why I’d really like to keep what hearing I have left, so I always wear earplugs whenever I’m involved in any activity that creates harmful noise.
If you’ve read any of the webBikeWorld helmet reviews, you’ll notice the reminders that I always wear earplugs when wearing the helmets.
I never ride a motorcycle without earplugs (or a helmet!) — it’s just too noisy, no matter what type of helmet you’re wearing, and that’s just the type of noise that can eventually cause permanent damage to your hearing . A good set of earplugs, when worn correctly, can tame the racket inside the noisiest of helmets.
Any helmet with good ventilation will also usually have relatively higher noise levels; increasing the vent area usually means more noise can intrude into the helmet. But earplugs can definitely help mitigate the increased noise.
It may take a while to get used to wearing earplugs and incorporating them into your riding routine, but once you do, I’ll bet you’ll find that motorcycling will become a more enjoyable experience. Because high noise levels also add stress, and who needs more of that?
It’s a fact of nature that ear canals come in all different shapes and sizes, and you’ve probably noticed that earplugs also vary in their size and materials.
So it pays to try different types of earplugs and find the ones that provide the best fit. You may try a single brand and find that it is either uncomfortable or that it doesn’t decrease the noise levels as well as another type.
I’ve also found that some earplugs may either not fit well enough to adequately block the noise, or they may protrude from your ear just enough to touch the helmet liner. Not only can this cause discomfort, it can also actually increase the apparent noise levels, as the earplug becomes a conduit for noise and vibration right to your inner ear.
Which brings us to these Heartech earplugs, which have a couple of unique features. They are available in 3 sizes: small, medium and large (photo left) to fit most any ear canal. They are also designed so that they won’t protrude from your ear, making it unlikely that they will touch the helmet liner.
Also, I’ve found that the Heartech earplugs are much easier to insert than most of the disposable types and you can also insert them without touching the part that goes in your ear. The disposables have to be rolled up prior to insertion into your ear.
Rolling up a disposable earplug with dirty hands is not advisable, because even the smallest amount of dirt seems to get transferred to the earplugs, which then gets a one-way trip into the inner ear. But it’s hard to keep your hands clean when riding, especially if you’ve just completed a roadside repair!
To insert the Heartech earplugs, you grab one of the three “handles”, and twist the earplug as you insert it. As with any other type of earplug, it helps to reach around the back of your head with the other hand and pull the ear to fully open the ear canal.
You may also find that opening your mouth makes earplug insertion a bit easier also. The Heartech plugs go in with about a half-twist.
The Heartech earplugs are available in three models. The “SilentEar” earplugs have the highest noise reduction rating (NRR) of 34. This is about the highest rating you’ll find for any type of earplug. I recommend the SilentEar earplugs for motorcycle riding.
Heartech also makes the “QuietEar”, which has an NRR of 22. The QuietEar allows normal conversation to be heard, but protects from louder noise. The QuietEar has a tiny hole in the end that allows it to “breathe”, helping to make it comfortable to wear.
In the photo (left), the QuietEar is on the left, and the SilentEar is on the right. You can just see the tiny hole in the top of the blue QuietEar.
Heartech also makes a version of these earplugs called the “FliteMate”. They are a patented design that helps reduce the pain sometimes felt from the variation in cabin pressure when taking off or landing, and they also reduce overall cabin noise.
The Heartech QuietEar and FliteMate earplugs are available either as single pairs, or in a “Family Pack” that includes one pair each of sizes small, medium and large. The SilentEar model is sold in single pairs only.
All Heartech earplugs are made from 100% silicone, so they are comfortable and long-lasting. One of the benefits of using the Heartech earplugs is that they can be easily washed with some water and a tiny bit of soap, and they should last a long time.
I’m not too fond of throwing away a pair of foam disposables after every use or two, as they do not readily degrade and so are bad for the environment. The Heartech earplugs also come with a handy little travel case to store them when not in use.
My wife tried the Heartech SilentEar earplugs and she really likes them; she finds that they are more comfortable and fit better than the PuraFit 6800 disposables which we both normally wear. The SilentEar earplugs don’t protrude from her ear like other earplugs she’s tried, so she’s happy.
However, my right ear canal is bigger than my left. I’ve always had problems finding an earplug that will “fill” my right ear canal well enough to block the noise.
The only solution I’ve found so far is to insert a PuraFit (green earplug, photo left) earplug in reverse, and it’s just big enough to work, because the big end is about 13mm (1/2″) wide (think about that — that’s a BIG hole going into my head!).
Having that big, flat end stuck in my ear isn’t too comfortable though. The largest size Heartech earplug is a bit too small for me — they work fine in my left ear, but they don’t quite seal my right ear enough to completely block all of the noise.
You may want to purchase the family pack so that you’ll have a choice of earplug sizes, because if an earplug doesn’t fit correctly, the full benefit of its noise reducing capabilities will not be apparent.
The Heartech earplugs are worth a try, with the only caveat that it’s hard to tell which size will fit your ear canal correctly, and the range of fit for each Heartech size is not as large as the range for a compressible disposable earplug, especially a tapered earplug like the PuraFit 6800’s. The Heartech earplugs are comfortable, will last a long time, they’re washable and they fit nicely under a helmet because they’re designed to fit flush with most ears.
Special Offer for webBikeWorld Visitors!: Heartech has kindly provided a special offer for webBikeWorld visitors, only if you order through Heartech in Israel: mention that you read about Heartech earplugs through this webBikeWorld article:
3 Pairs Flitemate $13.50; 3 Pairs Quietear $13.50; 3 Pairs Silentear $18.75. The shipping and handling charge is now $3.50 (up from $3.25). For more information, contact Heartech.
Every earplug order from Heartech now includes a keychain earplug holder. This plastic earplug holder has a screw-on cap and is perfect for storing a pair of Heartech earplugs. Keeps them handy and clean in between uses.
Suggested Retail Price: $8.75 (pair) to $17.90 (family pack)
Colors: Blue/yellow, orange/yellow
Made in: Israel
Product Comments: Non-disposable (help save the environment!) and washable; easy to insert; available in 3 sizes and 3 types; made with 100% silicone. Heartech now apparently has a secure ordering system now in place.
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 “F.B.B.” (4/10): “SilentEar is a good product but with one big drawback: sizing. I ordered first a medium size and it was perfect for my right ear but too small for my left ear. Got to order an other set of large for having the right size. Being not really versatile is the main problem with this product.
I’m not doing biking but I need hearing protection with no stem. I think it should be a better choice to use a Moldex Comets Reusable Ear Plugs (NRR 25) with an helmet it is much more versatile and it fully hide in the ear.”
From “L.H.”: “In April 2004, I purchased my first motorcycle and immediately noticed the high wind noise levels inside my full face helmet and the associated temporary hearing loss. Having been around firearms most of my life, I realized the need to protect my hearing and began using a pair of disposable foam earplugs that I had lying around the house. I knew I’d eventually have to replace those earplugs, so I began scouring the Internet for more information.
After a little searching, I found and reviewed your web page on hearing protection. There, I learned the proper way to insert disposable foam ear plugs and, for the first time, was made aware of the fact that there were even different sizes of disposable and reusable earplugs.
After looking at all the options on your web page, I decided to try a pair of HearTech SilentEar silicone earplugs and chose the Earplug Superstore from your list of vendors. While ordering the SilentEars, I noticed that the Earplug Superstore also offered a Foam Earplug Trial Pack with 10 different kinds of disposable plugs in various sizes. So, I included a trial pack in my order.
When the average sized SilentEars arrived, they wouldn’t fit in my ear canal and that led me to try a pair of the disposable Howard Leight MaxLite earplugs from the trial pack. The MaxLites are for smaller ear canals and they fit perfectly. So, with a quick call to the Earplug Superstore, I arranged an exchange of the average sized SilentEars for a small pair. The small SilentEars were exactly what I needed!
I am very pleased with the performance and comfort of the HearTech SilentEar earplugs and with the service I received from the Earplug Superstore.
P.S. I also found a use for the average sized disposable foam earplugs in the trial pack. If I happen to be in a noisy environment when trying to sleep at night, I can use a pair of the average sized earplugs and they will block enough noise so that I can fall asleep. Without fail, the earplugs pop out of my ears during the night so that I can hear my alarm when it sounds in the morning.”
From “R.G.”: “Just received my SilentEar from Earplugstore. Not sure how the NRR works —- whether it applies to only selected frequencies but, I could swear that both my cheap foam disposables (NRR-29) and my Mack’s Pillow soft silicone (NRR-22) produce as good or better sound reduction as the SilentEar (NRR-33).
The SilentEar is easier to put in than the foam but harder to put in and take out than the Mack’s. Perhaps the SilentEar is more effective in the frequencies produced by air whizzing by the motorcycle helmet!” I asked R.G. what size earplugs were used: “I got 3 sizes and the small fits best. It feels the same in my ear as when I use the Mack’s or cover my ear with my palms.”
From “B.S.”: “I recently purchased the Heartech Silentear earplugs. I tried them while riding w/out a helmet and was unpleasantly surprised to find that they allowed air to bypass the earplug creating undo noise. I then attempted to use them with a helmet and again was unpleasantly surprised to find that they were uncomfortable (the helmet pushed on the earplugs) and allowed wind to pass these plugs creating wind noise.
I emailed the company and their response was that they are not allowed to ride without helmets in Israel and that maybe the plugs were not placed far enough in my ear. I made numerous attempts at repositioning these plugs without any changes. Unfortunately I cannot use these plugs and am using disposables which seem to work much better.”