While we tend to think of helmet safety in terms of crash protection, another aspect, usually overlooked, is considerably important: wind noise. I can tell you as someone who makes his living off riding motorcycles, I am deathly afraid of losing my hearing from bike and helmet noise, and thus always wear earplugs while riding. I have yet to see a helmet on the market that truly eliminates wind noise to a level that can’t cause hearing damage, and of course that comes with a trade-off for ventilation. When given the choice, I’ll take the helmet that breathes, and keep my earplugs at the ready. Louie Amphlett, a recent product design graduate from the University of Brighton in the UK hopes to have a solution for me and my ears though: a helmet with golf ball dimples on its shell, which he calls the Lenza One.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America has published a study titled “Aeroacoustic Sources of Motorcycle Helmet Noise” in which the various frequencies and decibel levels of helmet-generated noise were measured and tested, I became very interested in the study’s findings. Conducted by the University of Bath and Bath Spa University in England, the researchers performed a very intuitive test where they placed a mannequin’s head in a wind tunnel, turned on the wind, and recorded the sound volume and frequency at various points in and around the helmet. The conclusion was that at even normal legal riding speeds, deafening levels of sound were reaching the eardrum, primarily due to the chin bar on the helmet.