Motorcycles and Hearing Health

Kevin Franck HLAA Board

Kevin H. Franck, Ph.D
Chair of the HLAA Board of Directors.

On the Road with Kevin

I like to ride my motorcycle. I’m aware of its risks. In part, because the first thing people tell me when they hear I ride is that they know someone who knows someone who had something terrible happen. This is typically when I change the subject or start talking to someone else. But if we can get past this, sometimes I like to mix my interest in hearing with my interest in motorcycles and talk about another risk – hearing.

Kevin Franck motorcycleWind is loud – loud enough to damage hearing. Especially on long rides at highway speeds. I take precautions by plugging my ears. I’ve tried all kinds of technology. I’ve used custom ear protection like the kind many people use for hearing aids. These work the best. They are made of a nice firm material that’s easy to wash and tethered together with a cord so less likely to drop when taking them in and out with gloves. They fit me just right and can be worn for long periods of time. I’ve also tried noise-cancelling earbuds. They work pretty well, but the relatively poor, shallow fit makes it quite difficult to put the helmet on and keep them in place. And they always twist and contort when taking the helmet off. But truthfully, most of the time I just wear the cheap foam ear plugs that come in a box of 100. I keep multiple pairs in storage parts of the bikes for when I lose them, or they get too dirty.

When I use these buds, I risk getting a ticket because in some states, protecting your hearing is against the law! Occasionally on long rides I might daydream about going to court. Given my background as an audiologist, I think I could get the case thrown out. I’d make the case that it’s easier to hear the sounds around me when they aren’t masked out by the wind noise. And I’m less fatigued and concentrate better when my ears aren’t under attack.

Protect your hearing! Have fun.

Did you know? 1 in 5 American teenagers now has some kind of hearing loss — and loud noise is the most common cause. Protect your hearing. Learn more at

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