Wheels Of Grace Magazine

Volume 11, Issue 6

Issue link: https://cp.revolio.com/i/1298026

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20 | WheelsOfGrace.com | Issue 52 Quietest Motorcycle Helmets: How Quiet Are They Really And How To Shop For One? I hear you loud and clear. Unless you get a chance to try out every motorcycle helmet available on the market, figuring out which ones are the "quietest" can be quite the challenge. Add to that the fact that no two riders are alike, and have different percep ons of what is loud, and things just got more complicated. The problem is that we don't get to test the helmets we're interested in on the road. Most retailers won't let us take a demo out for a test ride to figure out if it works for us or not, and manufacturers don't usually publish or even test their products' decibel measurements. So, we have to compensate for the lack of informa on by reading professional reviews and users' opinions on forums, and hope for the best. We decided to do some digging to figure out what makes a helmet noisy and came up with a few sugges ons of features you can look for to help keep the decibels to a minimum. Why Do You Want a Quiet Helmet? Riding is a pre y noisy affair. Between the wind, the engine, the road, and the traffic, things can get loud enough to damage your ears. It might not sound like it, especially if you're used to cathar c chaos, but a motorcycle engine alone can reach a sound level of up to 95 decibels (dB). According to the Centers for Disease Control and By: Sabrina Giacomini Preven on (CDC), that's enough to cause permanent hearing damage if the exposure lasts longer than 50 minutes. That means that your weekend joyride can cause more damage than you imagined—damage that is irreversible. Despite that very real problem, few manufacturers adver se their products' ability to protect a rider from prolonged exposure to road noise, let alone their decibel readings. We don't know for sure how quiet or not helmets are unless we test them for ourselves. Companies such as Schuberth test their lids in wind tunnels and gladly share the results, but they're the excep on to the rule. Schuberth even took things a step further when it inaugurated its upgraded aero acous cs wind tunnel and climate tes ng facility in 2015. As far as we know, it's the only manufacturer to include a decibel ra ng in its sales pitch. Quiet Comfort On The Road In 2018, the results of an in-house study by Dutch motorcycle magazine Promotor suggested that most motorcycle helmets are pre y useless against the road noise. The magazine tested a selec on of ten mainstream helmets at 50 km/h (31 mph), 100 km/h (62 mph), and 150 km/h (93 mph) to find out just how noisy mainstream products they can get. It turns out that the best-performing (uniden fied) helmet the team tested got a reading of 85 dB at 31 mph. At 62 mph, the sound level reached 100 dB. The average sound reading for the en re sample was of 88 dB at 31 mph. What Makes a Helmet Noisy? Ok, so helmets aren't exactly good at the whole soundproofing thing, but why? What makes motorcycle helmets so noisy? We turned to a Bri sh study to try and find the answer. In 2011, researchers at the University of Bath in England published a study about "aero acous c sources of motorcycle helmet noise" or, simply put, where helmet noise comes from. The researchers considered the following factors: the helmet's wake and boundary layer—or, how air flows on the helmet's surface and the resul ng turbulence it creates—as well as the chin clearance and opening at the neck. "The helmet wake, while being shown to contain turbulence over a wide frequency range, did not prove to be a significant source of at-ear noise," sates the University of Bath study. "An inves ga on of the helmet boundary layer was conducted at several loca ons around the helmet surface. These regions did not measurably contribute to the at-ear noise." Keeping You Cool And Comfortable It turns out that the helmet's design and the presence of aerodynamic components such

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