Recently a friend told me his ears were ringing after he rode his motorcycle, and that he has noticed a change in his hearing since he has been riding. Also he mentioned that he should wear his helmet. However wearing a helmet may only lower the noise by 3 decibels, not an adequate amount to reduce the risk of hearing loss.
Not only do the loud pipes of a motorcycle cause a threat of noise induced hearing loss, but so does prolonged wind noise. On the highway, even with a helmet you are at risk of prolonged exposure to dangerous levels of noise that PERMANENTLY damages the ear.
Noise induced hearing loss can occur instantly, as with explosions or in as little as 15 minutes with prolonged exposure to high decibel noise pollution. This noise induced hearing loss can continue to worsen over time with additional exposure.
You should wear a snug, properly fit helmet to reduce noise exposure and ear plugs or earmuffs(inserted inside the helmet), if the law allows it in your state, when riding at high speeds for prolonged periods of time.
There are several types of ear plugs available for purchase including Westone Model 4RT custom fit motorcycle ear plugs that allow you to hear traffic sounds and remain aware but help eliminate wind noise. Any protection is ideal though to avoid permanent, irreversible hearing loss!