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My eyesight isn't so good so I'm more reliant on my ears to let me know that there's traffic close by. Normally I'm fine, but at higher speeds, the noise of wind blowing past my ears can obscure the sound of car engines, so I get a bit less warning when there's something near, especially of drivers coming up from behind. As far too many drivers coming up from behind are really inconsiderate and pass too close when overtaking or tailgate you, not knowing that there's someone coming up is something of a problem.

How can I deal with reducing wind noise so I can hear my surroundings more clearly?

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I've found that when I wear a stretchy fleece headband over my ears on cold rides, it cuts down on wind noise while still letting me hear traffic noise. –  Johnny Apr 9 '13 at 20:03
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How bad is your eyesight exactly? Do you have problems with vision in general? Peripheral vision? Do you use a mirror? –  Neil Fein Apr 9 '13 at 21:33
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Vision in general, I'm pretty short sighted so I can't read road signs or number plates. I can objects far enough to be able to avoid them though I couldn't tell you what they were until they got somewhat closer. I never managed to get mirrors to work well, maybe there's some trick to them that I couldn't get. –  GordonM Apr 9 '13 at 21:44
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@amcnabb Wow, that never occurred to me before! Here I was, walking into things my entire life and not being to properly read the menus at fast food joints, when all this time I could have just worn glasses! I'm short-sighted with glasses. –  GordonM Apr 10 '13 at 6:14
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@amcnabb Yeah, sorry for the sarcasm, I just get that a lot and it gets a bit tiring. :) Eyes are a lot more complex than most people like to think about. –  GordonM Apr 10 '13 at 16:08

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There's a product called cat ears (reviewed here) that claim to reduce wind noise. They attach to your helmet straps and disrupt the flow of wind.

I've also found that headbands worn over the ears help a lot. Something like these are good. I even wear them in summer as they help stop sweat running into your eyes.

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Professional ear protection might help you here. I went to an ear protection company recently, and they told me that they offer three types of ear protection:

  • free-time ear protection
  • musicians ear-protection
  • traffic ear-protection

They explained me that traffic ear-protection is designed especially for motorbike-riders, because the wind can get really loud when driving high speeds. They are also certified for use in traffic, because you still hear cars and other traffic sound loud enough.

It seems like they are what you need. Maybe they can also be used for bicyclists? I would suggest you to visit an ear protection company and ask them for their advice.

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As a cyclist and motorcyclist, I think the hearing-protection you're referring to won't help. They attenuate noise to prevent hearing damage, but (IMO) won't really help subdue wind noise and not other noise. To the original poster: I think you'll notice that turning your head makes the wind noise go away, as that prevents the flow of air rushing past your ears like blowing over the top of a soda bottle. The "cat ears" referenced by Mac above are likely your perfect choice. You can even make a prototype with some paperboard and tape to confirm it. –  Tim B Apr 15 '13 at 18:47

The noise in your ears is caused by the turbulent flow of the wind across your ears - you are more hearing this than the wind itself!

There are two types of flow: turbulent flow, and laminar flow. Laminar flow is how wind flows over a smooth, gently sloping object object, such as the nose of airplane.

Turbulent flow is how air flows over rough surfaces, such as your ears - this is what makes the noise!

Therefore, anything you do to smooth the airflow about your ears - even covering it with any kind of headband - will work.

Remember, the shape of your head is a lot smoother than your ears - the flow is more laminar, and thus quieter. So covering up your ears with a conforming band makes the surface more like your head, and thus quieter!

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