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Pipeburn Poll: Do you wear headphones while you ride?

Posted on October 16, 2010 by Andrew in Other. 31 comments

We’re all friends here, right? And we’ve known each other for a while now. Well – I’ve got something personal that I’d like to share with you all. It’s… ah, it’s a little embarrassing. You see, sometimes, when I’m riding, I… ummm. Look, it’s like this. Sometimes when I ride I listen to music. On my iPhone. With headphones. Ahem. Yes – you heard that right. HEADPHONES.

Some people find that pretty shocking. One mate of mine (a non-rider) actually gave me a lecture. The kind that finish with the words “oh well, it’s your life” or “I hope your life insurance is all paid up.”

Others, usually the seasoned riders with the full intercontinental touring set-up, don’t bat an eyelid. They’ve been running with an intercom set-up for years and are totally comfortable with them.

When I first started riding, I’d always wear earplugs on any decent trips. Pretty soon I figured I may as well have a side of music with my hearing protection. So I started wearing canalphones under my helmet. Not too loud, mind you. Just enough to be able to hear the music and not drown out the traffic.

So where do you guys stand? Are you wired? Am I insane? Have your say in the first ever Pipeburn poll:

  • It's totally forbiden in Spain. Although some helmets have a bluetooth system, intercom or others. Some people do the trick with wireless headpones or integrated bluetooth.

  • I want to hear exhaust note of my bike. It is also a part of maintenance to hear your bike. I might wear ear plugs if I am riding with an inconsiderate damn ass who has extremely loud and obnoxious pipe on his bike.
    If I want to listen to music or talk to a passenger, I would be riding in a cage. Having those devices, headphones, blue-tooth, and intercom or whatever defeats one of the reasons for riding motorcycle to me.

  • B

    It really is a case of it seeming so terrible until you do it. I thought it would kill my awareness, but it didn't.

  • rafe03

    If the BOXES are not actually trying to kill you, it's only because they haven't seen you yet!

    We only get one asshole! Gotta take care of it! Can't be too careful.


  • rafe03

    If the INSULATED BOXES are not actually trying to kill you, it's only because they haven't seen you yet!

    We only get one asshole! Gotta take care of it! Can't be too careful.


  • Jurp

    Music? We don't need no stinking music! No, but seriously where I live the "Homeboyz" in caddies produce enough music and bass for all.

  • ZachMN

    I don't personally wear them, but I voted "Yes, all the time" since there is no "I don't personally, but I don't think it's that big of a deal".

  • Alex

    Earbuds are actually designed to let outside noises through. Wether you want to drown it out with high volume or not is your choice. I am not 100% against it, but I don't use them myself.

  • Charlo

    honestly I would but I just find it terribly uncomfortable/a nuissance to deal with while you're wearing a closed-face helmet.

    Maybe I'll get a skull cap and start rocking the ear buds haha.

  • Andrew

    Interesting – looks like (at this stage) that headphones are actually winning…

    @kuho Forbidden!? Seems like a hard thing to police. All I know is here, in Sydney, using your mobile/cell phone while driving is the big no-no. Once the government makes that a priority, it's pretty hard to say no to headphones as so many phones have handsfree or headphone kits (bluetooth or not) with them. It's be damn cheeky to say "no phones" and then start hassling people about handsfree…

    Another thing I feel I should mention by way of a little public service announcement; if any of you guys are regularly riding above 80km/h (50mp/h) WITHOUT earplugs, then chances are you're damaging your hearing. The wind noise from inside your helmet can easily exceed 80db @ that speed and frequent exposure to that sort of noise is more than enough to screw your ears. Trust me, mine are…

  • Smalbikes

    I wear the high dollar custom molded earbuds like the rock stars wear. I was a concert audio professional for many years and it was one of the perks. If I am going on a long ride I wear them and listen to music. Short rides I wear foam plugs. On a bike with a full face lid on travelling 70 MPH you are doing your ears a lot of damage without protection. (Unless you're on a Wing or something like it)

  • Eunice

    I want to talk to Andrew. i think he's cute with that cigarello, those dirty, dirty clothes and that ugly bike. Andrew, call me. By the way, there's a fucking parrott on your back!
    Bird strike from the rear tells me you aint goin fast enough!!!!

  • Patrick L

    There's yer ugly for ya.

  • Andrew

    Cigarello my arse. That's a Cohiba Robustos – and the parrot is just there to bite the end off when I start a new one.

    Out comes the Cohiba, parrot bites it, hold it against the exhaust for a while, then start smokin'…

    And don't be callin' my parrot ugly.

  • In my experience, when you're on a bike the effects of the bike's noise, wind noise around the helmet and the direction of wind from movement blowing sound behind you mean that you can only really hear vehicles moving up on you when they have insane exhausts or are blowing their horn, both of which get through earbuds/plugs anyway.

    Ergo, if you complain about "can't hear the cages", then you should have a rubber neck and be using it to see the cages.

    I have used a bluetooth system that attaches to the helmet, but I play music off my phone and it drains the battery horribly. I've tried earpieces connected to my phone, but it's difficult to get enough slack in the wire to be able to comfortably turn your head as much as you need to, and at the same time not have wire flapping about getting annoying or catching on bits of your jacket.

    The solution would probably be a heavily coiled wire, but I haven't investigated that yet.

  • Chris

    Dude, that parrot is hardboiled Piratestyle… where can i buy one?
    Actually, a vulture would be even better, cause when i crash he can draw circles above me, lets just die in grace!

    Nice bike by the way, and the ear plug thing… i personally prefer listening to my boik, do what u want!

  • thom

    when I lived in the UK, I used to attend a lot of the scooter rallies, 7 hrs on a Lambretta can be pretty soul destroying without tunes….

  • s0crates82

    hell yeah. etymotic er6i's. i podcast like a fiend, and i've got a 70 mile roundtrip commute. PRI's the World, RadioLab, This American Life, Car Talk, etc.

  • Damo

    I was talking about this with a mate this mornin after a ride. He rides a Hayabusa and i am on my cx500 which is quite an odd pairing. Anyway he rides with headphones however he cuts one headphone off so he only wears it in one ear. Says he can hear what he needs to hear as well as have a bit of music. If he is going hard in the twisty stuff (obviously well and truely out of my sight) he says he cant even hear the music but when cruising its great

  • MoTo-BunnY

    Naw, no headphones for me. I prefer listening to the machine for both aesthetic and practical reasons (in case suddenly "something doesn't sound right", etc.) Happiness is riding and listening to a well tuned Honda 4 purring on down the road. 😀

    Also seems a bit of a safety issue? dunno

  • Andrew

    @Damo CX500? Ha! Check these out. No wonder you can't keep up…

  • @Andrew Yes, forbiden.

    We have also the cellphone rule (and also is a big no-no, here). Actually you can't use cellphones with earplugs handsfree, either. Anyway, Police look more for drivers with mobiles in their hands, than earplugs, IMO.
    They're quite restrictive with those gadgets.

    Sometimes I miss to listen music while driving. Maybe I shold give a try to one of those bluetooth systems for full face helmets. Don't know.

  • Ola

    I would say the issue is not riding with headphones, the issue is finding headphones that provide good enough isolation when riding at 50+ mph while also being comfortable under the helmet.

  • dead_elvis

    I don't like wearing headphones or earbuds at all, even off the motorcycle. Way back when I was doing quite a lot of bicycling, I did for a while, but I never found it to add to my enjoyment of the ride. On the motorcycle, I wear earplugs & am pretty happy to listen to the machine. Even during a solo 6500-mile trip across the US, I never felt a need for music or radio while riding.

  • I almost always wear good earplugs unless taking short jaunts around town. When commuting on my motorcycle 108 miles per day, I would never go without ear plugs or I'd notice a ringing in my ears after the ride. I could hear plenty good with them in. I've never tried music as I'm too much of a DJ to not be messing with the device all the time.

  • Jay Allen

    It' OK for a deaf person to ride or drive with no limitations, so headphones are completely legal in my part of the U.S. This ADHD adult doesn't need any more distractions than what's already out there. For those bass thumping caddys ( around here mostly Mitsubishi Eclipses ) a set of staggered pipes on a V-twin around 2000 RPM at stoplights will drown them out

  • Damo

    @ Andrew
    Ha ha never thought of that. Every time i am searching for parts etc i always end up with tons of results for bloody earphones.

  • jesse

    Your missing a middle choice – I wear them on long freeway trips to battle the boredom. But in urban traffic, or on a demanding backroad, I can't stand the distraction and/or want to hear what the engine is doing. Same thing in the car actually – when I'm ripping up a canyon road, I usually turn off the radio.

  • SomeRandomGuy

    What if we're hearing impaired? I am.. So regardless of what I decide to wear in or around my ears, it doesn't affect what I'm able to hear.

    Hm. I'll just pretend to click at an imaginary button next to "The sound of silence is my co-pilot." and when you think "I'd better call this guy." I shall laugh at your futile efforts. 🙂

    All in all seriousness, I absolutely love your posts and the bikes you feature. I just wanted to give you a hard time on an unique situation.

  • Yup, no problem with them. If I'm doing a long ride then absolutely they go in and the tunes go on. I use 'Race Quiet' ear plugs that provide protection as well as sound. Thankfully I can use my eyes to see what is going on with traffic. Don't bother on the commute, just use earplugs. If you don't wear earplugs, go and look up tinnitus and see what long term damage you can be doing without even realising it.

  • Raúl Vicente

    my senses are precious to me. riding is much more dangerous so I need all my wits to filter at 200km/h on the SV. and if I heard my kind of music, it would make me want to ram the bike into cars. love music, but love my life also.