Motorcycle helmets hard on hearing

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 is actually generated by air whooshing 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 and Bath Spa University placed motorcycles helmets atop mannequin heads, mounted them in a wind tunnel, and turned on the fans. By placing microphones at different locations around the helmet and at the mannequin's ear, the researchers found that an area underneath the helmet and near the chin bar is a significant source of the noise that reaches riders' sensitive eardrums.

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

Provided by American Institute of Physics

4 /5 (2 votes)

Related Stories

Motorcycle helmets keep riders alive, review confirms

Jan 23, 2008

Fewer than half of U.S. states require every motorcycle rider — drivers and passengers — to wear a helmet; and four states have no helmet requirements whatsoever. Around the world, the same patchwork legal pattern exists.

Motorcycle helmets reduce spine injuries after collisions

Feb 09, 2011

Motorcycle helmets, long known to dramatically reduce the number of brain injuries and deaths from crashes, appear to also be associated with a lower risk of cervical spine injury, new research from Johns Hopkins suggests.

Head injuries increase after motorcycle helmet law repeal

Jun 12, 2008

Pennsylvania motorcyclists suffered large increases in head injury deaths and hospitalizations in the two years following the repeal of its motorcycle helmet law, according to a University of Pittsburgh study to be published ...

Recommended for you

The hunt for botanicals

Dec 19, 2014

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Mozambique decriminalises abortion to stem maternal deaths

Dec 19, 2014

Mozambique has passed a law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies under specified conditions, a move hailed by activists in a country where clandestine abortions account for a large number of maternal deaths.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.