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Motorcycle helmets hard on hearing

Date:
July 30, 2011
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
Motorcycle helmets, while protecting bikers' brains, may also be contributing to hearing loss. Scientists mapped the airflow and noise patterns to find out why.

Motorcycle helmets, while protecting bikers' brains, may also be contributing to hearing loss. Scientists mapped the airflow and noise patterns to find out why.

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The distinctive roar of a Harley's engine is loud, but studies have revealed the biggest source of noise for motorcyclists is actually generated by air whooshing over the riders' helmets. Even at legal speeds, the sound can exceed safe levels. Now, scientists have identified a key source of the rushing din. Researchers from the University of Bath and Bath Spa University placed motorcycles helmets atop mannequin heads, mounted them in a wind tunnel, and turned on the fans.

By placing microphones at different locations around the helmet and at the mannequin's ear, the researchers found that an area underneath the helmet and near the chin bar is a significant source of the noise that reaches riders' sensitive eardrums. The team also investigated how helmet angle and wind speed affected the loudness. Future tests will move beyond the wind tunnel to real-life riders on the open road.

The findings, described in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, may one day be used to design quieter helmets, saving riders' ears for the enjoyment of hard biker rock, the researchers say.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Kennedy, O. Adetifa, M. Carley, N. Holt and I. Walker. Aeroacoustic sources of motorcycle helmet noise. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 2011

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Motorcycle helmets hard on hearing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110729175559.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2011, July 30). Motorcycle helmets hard on hearing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110729175559.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Motorcycle helmets hard on hearing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110729175559.htm (accessed January 30, 2015).

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