According to Health Day news, researchers in Florida did a survey of 33 motorcycles and found that almost half of them produced sounds over 100 decibels. That's equal to a loud rock concert or a chainsaw--The test was part of an effort to identify recreational activities that may harm hearing.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety says that exposure to levels over 100 decibels is safe for only 15 minutes. And permanent hearing loss can occur with prolonged exposure to levels over 85 decibels or higher.
The researchers found that almost all of the motorcycles tested reached sound levels that would require ear protection in the workplace. The loudest bike weighed in at a whopping 119 decibels, which is safe for only 11 seconds! And for people who ride motorcycles, helmets don't offer any protection against the noise. Foam earplugs can help, but usually not enough. Your best bet is to get a quieter bike, or limit your riding time.
So how can you tell if your bike is affecting you? If you hear ringing in your ears immediately after riding or voices sound muffled, you may have permanent hearing loss.
If you're unsure, go see a specialist before you get on your hog again.