There’s nothing better than riding in the summer, feeling the wind across your body and the power of the engine beneath. There’s only one catch: wind noise. It’s awful to listen to, harmful to your ears, and even the most insulated helmets somehow let it in. That’s why we suggest motorcycle ear plugs.
A few years ago, we published a very popular guide to the best motorcycling ear plugs, but it’s 2021: time to update for a new decade. In this guide, we’re counting down the Top Five Motorcycling ear plugs for 2021. There are three things we’re looking at:
- Value for money: is this something that’s affordable, but reliable? Are you going to have it for a long while without feeling like you’ve broken the bank?
- Filters: are the filters specific to motorcycling or are they general use? Are they still going to preserve those exciting engine sounds while removing harmful wind noise?
- Comfort and fit: how well are these going to fit, particularly over long rides? Are they going to cause irritation in sensitive ears?
Coming in at #5 is the popular Flare Isolate Black. Unique to Flare’s ear plugs is the solid metal core: in contrast to ordinary plugs, these have a dense metal core which physically blocks sounds from entering the ear. The plugs have no filters and are expected to block over 30 decibels of sound when properly worn. As such, the major advantage is that they block a lot of sound, while they are slightly let down by the lack of a filter – you hear less of the sounds you want to hear with a pair of the Isolates on.
Still, these are a comfortable set of plugs that will do a great job of protecting your ears from motor noise. As an added bonus, the Flare plug is a multi-use set: you can use it for power tools, for meditating, for loud work, or even just for drowning out the kids. We hear of some people even using them to sleep! Each set of Flare’s plugs comes with three different sized memory foam ear tips, great for finding the right size and ensuring a proper fit.
Coming in at the fourth spot, we start to see how important an effective set of filters is in keeping your ears safe while riding, without destroying your hearing awareness. Surefire make a remarkable series of plugs, their Sonic Defender series, mainly targeted at shooters. However, the filters have shown to make light work of all loud noises, doing a great job of protecting your ears from motors or traffic noise, while still allowing you to retain your situational awareness.
These are expected to block about 28 decibels when properly fitted, higher than the Radians and competitive with almost all reusable ear plugs on the market. They have a removable filter cap, allowing you to almost ‘turn off’ the plugs and hear as normal: great for when you want to just leave the plugs in when entering a service station or other stop on the road. They come in three sizes, with a sizing guide available on the product page, making these one of the more customisable off-the-shelf solutions available.
The main room for improvement with the Surefire is that their filters are just not-motorcycling optimised. If you’re a rider who happens also to like shooting, or wants the highest level of protection for your ears, this might be a great solution for you, but as we move further in the guide we will see that the best motorcycling plugs are designed for riders first and foremost. To this end, the filter is not as good at targeting wind and engine noise as other plugs we’ll look at, and the large amount of the plug that sits outside the ear can cause fit problems particularly for slim helmets or larger heads. All in all, it’s a strong performer, though not enough to crack the top three.
One complaint that a lot of riders have is related to fit. It’s difficult to comfortably fit a set of ear plugs if you’re also wearing a slimline helmet. Worse, they find that their plugs start dislodging once they’re riding, totally undermining their attempt at protecting their ears. A do it yourself mold kit is exactly that: you mix the material, insert it in your ear, wait for it to set, and voila! You have your own, molded, custom-fitted ear plugs, reusable and ready to go.
Radians is a good motorocycling solution, they have an NRR of 26, so we’re expecting about 26 decibels of sound blocking when properly worn. Like the Flare, they’re a multi-use plug: we’ve had customers use them for construction, riding, flying, even swimming! They’re made of a non-toxic, hypoallergenic silicone, so good for sensitive ears, and can be paired with a lanyard from Got Ears? to make for easier wear when riding.
The main issue with the plugs is that they don’t have filters either. While they’re going to block a lot of sound, and give you the kind of custom fit that an off the shelf solution typically cannot provide, they are not going to give that authentic ‘filtered’ sound that some riders love. If you're someone who just cares about a fit that suits your ear, or you've had trouble fitting off the shelf solutions in the past, the Radians is a good bet.
Okay so you’ve tried the All Rounder but what you really want is something that’s built and optimised for motorcycling. The Earasers pride themselves on the clarity of their filter, they boast that you’ll be able to hear music from your stereo or have conversations at the shops while wearing them, without detracting from the protection necessary for your ears.
They’re rated NRR 16, which means they’re going to block around 16 decibels of noise when worn properly. This is lower than that of the Earjobs All-Rounder, but remember that NRR is only one test for sound, what’s important is the frequency of sound blocked. These are optimised to stop the harmful high pitched wind noise but, particularly if you have a louder bike, you may want something stronger (keep reading).
In terms of fit and comfort, unique for this list the EARasers comes in multiple different sizes. The vast majority of users will fit a medium, but they also offer Small and Large for individuals with narrow, shallow, or wide and deep ear canals. This makes them an excellent choice if you’ve found yourself disappointed by one-size-fits-all solutions in the past, it can help avoid you having to seek a custom moulded solution. The main drawback for these ear plugs is the price. They’re quite dear for an ear plug you would exclusively use for motorcycling.
But the champion for 2021 is…
The undisputed champion for 2021, the best motorcycling ear plug on the market is the Alpine MotoSafe Pro. It remains one of our most popular products and one of the most commonly remarked on, we’re always hearing from users who have found it the first truly great solution for wind noise and comfort.
The main distinguishing feature of the Alpine MotoSafe Pro is the thermo-fit material, designed to passively shape to the ear when worn, shaped by the natural heat given off by the body. Unlike most one-size-fits-most ear plug solutions, the MotoSafe Pro is going to comfortably adapt to your ears with use, giving you a comfortable experience that will only get better the longer it is worn. In addition, it’s hypoallergenic, containing no silicone: great for sensitive ears or individuals who have found their ears irritated with other plugs.
In terms of filters, the Alpine MotoSafe Pro comes with two separate filter sets, which can be used in different circumstances as necessary. The medium filter set (SNR 17) is good for quieter bikes, shorter rides, or situations where your helmet is sufficiently insulated to protect from noise. By contrast, the heavy filter (SNR 20) is great for long rides and loud engines. These filters do an excellent job of preserving your senses while still removing disruptive wind noise.
Along with the ear plugs, you also receive a luxury pouch (that’s keychain attachable) and a sample of Alpine’s cleaning spray, allowing you to keep the ear plugs clean between uses. At $48.95 it’s right in the middle of pricing for a reusable ear plug, though for the amount of functions and the quality of fit it represents excellent value for money. The Alpine MotoSafe Pro deservedly retains its crown as the best motorcycling ear plug for 2021.
Earjobs-In-Brief (We know you’re busy)
- Flare Isolate Black: Metal core blocks more sound than almost all competitors in a body that’s fit for many purposes, but a lack of filters makes these less effective for anyone seeking a motorcycling-first solution.
- Surefire Sonic Defenders EP7 Ultra: High level of sound protection from a shooting-optimised set, but too much of a body for slim helmets.
- Radians DIY Custom Molded Ear Plugs: A self-made custom set that mirrors the shape and size of your ear, no filters hold it back but unmatched for individuals who have previously suffered with off-the-shelf fits.
- EARasers Motorcycling Ear plugs: In second, high quality filters promise crystal clear rides without the wind. A great choice for large or small ears due to unique sizing options, though a little pricy..
- Alpine MotoSafe Pro: The king of the highways for 2021, a comfortable, high performance plug that comes with two separate filters for different levels of protection. Thermofit material is hypoallergenic and fits all ears. Great accessories, some of the best filters tested, and reasonably priced.