Cycling and Hearing Damage?

The subject of hearing loss from wind noise has always played on my mind. When you’re bombing around at 20+ mile an hour in the paceline, flying down your favourite descent or just battling a strong headwind – the noise from the resulting wind rush can get quite loud. Sometimes you notice it, sometimes you don’t, but it’s there. Should we be worried about it?

Huh? What did you say? Time for cake?

Ever been sitting somewhere and seen a bunch of cyclists ride by having a good old chat to each other? They need to raise their voices quite a lot just to be heard clearly by one another! Here’s an interesting article from Cycling Tips discussing the issue:

About to head back down the mountain, should I pop my earplugs in?

On my motorbike I always wear hearing protection (disposable foam earplugs rated at 30 decibel reduction). Even with a full-faced helmet the wind noise can easily reach damaging levels, enough to cause permanent hearing loss as well as increasing fatigue and distraction levels.

Wearing earplugs is not something I plan on doing while out cycling. I haven’t heard any reports of pro cyclists suffering hearing damage, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Maybe future helmet technology will focus on reducing wind noise? My aero road helmet (Bontrager Ballista) is noticeably quieter than my heavily vented Specialized Propero, so there’s definitely something in it.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. bgddyjim says:


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve Hellaby says:

    Good point Klem. Wouldn’t ride my motorbike fast without hearing protection. I once asked this very question on the GCN facebook page hoping it would be responded to on the ‘Ask GCanything’ Friday broadcast but got a dismissive reply from one of the production team. I think there is something in it but, like you say, there isn’t much evidence of deaf old pro’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 2bikesborg says:

    I’d be worried about the loss of information with ear plugs–same worry as when I see riders with headphones. You ride much harder than I do, but for me, even though I already have some age-related hearing loss, I’m not really worried about wind noise contributing to it.

    On a separate health-related issue, I think I’m having an repetitive strain injury from cycling: tingling in my hands, like my hands are cold. This worries me, because it could limit my cycling!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could never ride with headphones and music as I love hearing the world around me. Earplugs would detract from that I guess. I recon there’s some genius out there working on earplugs that eliminate wind noise but still keep environmental sounds clear.


      1. 2bikesborg says:

        Actually, there is some genius out there. The headphones work on bone conduction, so your ears are not blocked and you can hear environmental sounds. Here’s an Amazon link to AfterShokz headphones (not sure this is the only supplier):
        I was intrigued, but actually, I like focusing on my ride, so I decided against them.


  4. alexmwilkins says:

    Good point. Never thought about that. Then again I guess ear plugs would be more dangerous as traffic awareness would be compromised?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I recon so. And we’d have to talk louder to each other!


  5. stuwj_velo says:

    I use Buffs under my helmet all the time. I pull the sides down over my ears because it blunts the wind noise while still allowing me to hear other road users. It’s nothing to do with protecting my hearing, it’s because I find wind noise really irritating like I’m hypersensitive to it or something. It’s bizarre. Buffs really work though and they’re great for winter riding too.

    Liked by 1 person

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