Revised 16.04.2011 and 25.06.2011. Also see updates below.
Further update – I stopped using silicon type molded ear plugs and change to “no roll” type foam ear plugs which I find superior.
You know I love ear plugs for riding. Besides saving you from hearing loss they greatly reduce rider fatigue. Like most people I never used to wear ear plugs however I noticed sometimes ringing in my ears after a long days ride and discovered that the wind noise when riding is loud enough to cause hearing damage and so started my quest to find comfortable ear plugs for riding.
I cannot wear the regular foam ear plugs. I tried for many months but they simply don’t work for my shape of ears and come loose while riding. Additionally with those plugs being designed for industrial situations you end up with a total sound isolation effect which I and many people find less than ideal when riding as I want to still hear but reduce volume of noise to safe level.
To complicate matters, I like many people also find canal plugs uncomfortable. Be it music canal phones, the reusable canal industrial plugs or custom molded canal plugs. Some people seem to struggle to understand this but everyone’s ears are shaped very different and what works for you may not work for someone else.
By chance one day I tried swimmers soft silicon moldable ear plugs and struck gold. These style of ear plugs are designed to seal water from the ear but also offer medium noise reduction. For the rider they work by cutting the wind buffering but leaving you still able to hear the world around you. Basically think of the perfect quiet helmet that has very low wind noise but allows you to still hear your motor and the road. Seems many people had figured this out before me and soft silicon plugs are very popular with riders around the world. And so I present another soft silicon plug for consideration.
Most recent in use
And the latest the Mighty Plugs
They look like the Hearos swimmer plugs and are soft moldable plugs like the others I have been using however they claim a new highest possible noise reduction rating of 34db – which is misleading as they are no where near that figure. The MAX foam plugs I tested once offer 33db and are recognised as one of the worlds quietest. At that level it is near total isolation where you cannot hear a single sound on a motorcycle as they are made for heavy industry. The mighty plug is no where near that sound reduction level. Regular swimmers ear plugs are around 21 db, these are perhaps 24db which is still a real noticeable improvement.
Similar to all of these style plugs they say reusable and with the mighty plug they actually do last a few outings, much longer than the others I have tried, however after a few days use you will need to throw them away. They are softer than other swimmers plugs once warm and sometimes seem to be almost too soft and can shift and loose their position on the outside of your ear canal and allow noise to penetrate.
Warning – If you are not used to soft silicon plugs then you may wish to purchase just one pair of these or indeed any of the other major brands like Macks or just try what they have at your local chemist shop as a trial to see how they feel in comparison to foam plugs before jumping in. Some people find the feel of these type of plugs unpleasant.
Update 1: On my Easter 2011 holiday tour I took only my Macks clear silicon plugs and noticed in comparison to the Mighty plugs the Macks did not reseal as well by the end of the day as they became more greasy as used whereas the Mighty plugs maintained their slight stickiness to seal however by end of day became softer and sometimes needed a few try’s to get them positioned right.
The Macks are easy to remove whereas the Mighty plugs sometimes break in half when removing however this has not caused any problems so far. I have ordered some more Mighty plugs on the basis they do cut more noise when they are positioned just right.
Update 2. My opinion now after further use is like the other silicon plugs they work best for the first one of two times applied then as you mold and reapply all these styles of plugs seem to loose something. They cut less sound and do not want to sit firm. This applies to all the silicon plugs I have tried so these still are the best I have used but when you need to replace every day or even twice a day if touring and removing often then they are a bit expensive.
Looking back later I think I was bit critical, I was riding a bike with very loud exhaust, if you have factory muffler any of these will be fine.