Wind noise and bikes. On the verge of giving up riding.

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Alexander B, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. Alexander B

    Alexander B Long timer

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    Waking up today, my ears still ringing from the 4 hour ride yesterday. :bluduh Totally unacceptable, and it seems motorcycles and my ears do not get along well.

    I have owned a number of bikes, and test ridden quite a few, specifically looking for the least noisy model. So far it seems naked bikes, Schuberth S1 Pro (supposedly more quiet than the C3) and either custom moulded or 3M foam plugs is best combo. Still insufficient, though.

    I have ridden many bikes in my quest for non-damaging wind noise. Below are some examples of non-naked bikes in order somewhat reflecting wind noise: VFR800F and CBF1000FA (one of the best fairing bikes, still slightly more noise than naked bikes), Tracer 700, TDM850, F800GT, DL650/V-strom, down to awful FZ6R/XJ6 Diversion F and ear splitting helicopter turbulence Harley Switchback and Yamaha XV1100 Drag star with barn door screen.

    I am about 6' 1", have gone through four helmets in six years (now down to Schuberth and one Arai Axces), every type of ear plugs, wrapping cloth around my neck etc. While a lot of my riding is on the highway, I do NOT ride at excessive speeds, just the 110-120 km/h (75- ish MPH) needed to go with the flow. No other noisy activities; no guns, heavy equipment, loud clubs, big concerts etc. (By the last sentence, I am apparently quite a boring person... :snore)

    Is there any current/recent model bike I should try before I give up?
    Although I have three naked bikes (XJR1300, FZ8N and XT660R) they are all slightly blocky/square/angular. Some cruiser style nakeds I have ridden have still slightly less "swirling" around tank, radiator, mirrors etc, but no big differences.

    What about the "hyper bikes" - engineered for low wind drag, like Hayabusa or ZXR1400? Or touring bikes? But I would probably hate to be "forced" to ride a Goldwing - too big and cumbersome.

    Any ideas?
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  2. ID650rider

    ID650rider MC enthusiast

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    Go ride the bmw r1200rt - sportier than you might think and with the adjustable wind screen - it can be quiet
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  3. Alexander B

    Alexander B Long timer

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    Thanks! I will give it a try.
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  4. No Coast Rider

    No Coast Rider Been here awhile

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    I always used ear plugs when riding highway, until I got my 2011 BMW R1200RT last year. Now whenever I hit the highway I just raise the electronic windscreen and is super quiet, no more ear plugs, I can actually listen to music while I ride.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
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  5. Jimmy the Heater

    Jimmy the Heater Dirt Farmer

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    My former BMW K1200LT was pretty quiet with it's adjustable windscreen in the right position. But it's in the same category as a Goldwing as far as size goes and I wouldn't recommend it for numerous other reasons.
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  6. Alexander B

    Alexander B Long timer

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    Thanks guys.
    I "feared"the BMW would score high here. "Feared", given the less than rock solid quality reputation and complicated maintenance reqirements. Still, I will give the R1200RT (but maybe not the K1200RT...) a try, as the option of not riding any longer distance AT ALL is bleak, to say the least.
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  7. IronJackWhitton

    IronJackWhitton Chasing my Trunk to the next adventure

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    You asked for "any ideas" so here's mine. This idea is worth exactly what you paid for it so, buyer beware :D

    As a Canadian, I spend WAY too much time on the internet reading about bikes rather than riding them (Pretty much November through March...and I live in Edmonton, so I am quite committed!). I've heard of people with wind noise problems, and typically it's a matter of finding the right combination of one or two things, but it's rare for anyone to complain of more than a 'two tweak fix' for wind noise -- i.e. the following

    - Ear Plugs and a Good Helmet
    - Helmet and a Good Aftermarket Screen
    - Screen and Custom Ear Plugs
    - Fairings and....whatever

    It could be a matter of changing multiple variables; you made no mention of screens in your OP so perhaps trying that would help?

    Wind Noise usually comes in one of two ways: buffeting (a sound of "womp womp womp womp womp" as you ride) or the more traditional wind noice (a sound of "shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" that is loud and constant). The first speaks to the way wind flows over the bike -- the aerodynamics are creating a vortex effect. The second speaks to protection from the wind, which is more an issue of windscreens or fairings.
    #7
  8. flinders_72

    flinders_72 Long timer

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    Probably agree with the R1200RT, not having ridden one. I have the 1150RT with a VStream High Touring screen, am exactly 183cm (6') tall and wind noise and buffeting totally disappear with the screen in the raised position. I have no problem wearing ear plugs - wear them to bed every night - but if I ride with the screen up they're overkill.

    PS. I wouldn't be too concerned with BMW reliability issues, they're on par with your average Japanese bikes but the problem is you usually pay more so expect them to be better than they are.
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  9. MODNROD

    MODNROD Pawn of Petty Tyrants

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    I needed a new FF helmet (track compliant) so went to try some on. I asked for the AGV, only to find it pivoted front-to-rear.......huh?!?!?! They always used to fit really nicely. The parts-lady, herself a 600 track pilot, handed me a Shoei to try out.
    "WOW! It's damn quiet in here!" thinks me, they have changed the shape, and bought it.
    My first ride on the little Duc 696 it was just bliss, really really nice on the little naked twin.
    My first ride on the CTX700 was just awful, major buffeting and screaming headache after only an hour.
    I think it is to do with the angle-of-attack of the front of the helmet.

    For what it's worth though, I have had the quietest ride over the years with big old naked UJM 4s, and also the super-jets you mention with slippery everything (I have a '05 Daytona now, similar style).
    Leaning forward to drop-bars (not stock upright stuff) on nakeds or clip-ons on Supers seems to suit the design specs of most FF helmets to give the quietest results for me.
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  10. OzRider64

    OzRider64 Friggen slow Adventurer.

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    Earplugs are your only option.
    I made the mistake like that years ago, Cairns to the Gold Coast, 1799K's in 19 hours 40 minutes.
    My ears were ringing for two days.
    Besides the ringing in the ears, it's takes it out of you physically.
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  11. GPrairie_Rider

    GPrairie_Rider Dirt Junkie

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    Fjr1300? Pretty sporty, good wind protection.

    My service manager has the f800gt. He SWEARS by this bike.
    #11
  12. Alexander B

    Alexander B Long timer

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    Great comments!
    IME, naked bikes create little to no buffeting, and instead allow the "clean air" to hit you full blast.
    Top fairing / small windshield re-direct some of the air, reducing force on the chest but accellerate the airflow speed at the helmet. Less strain on the muscles (which is sort of irrelevant to me), but more (clean) wind and more noise in the helmet. So, worse than naked.
    Full fairing or "barn door" screen. These were the worst, IME. Very little to no air pressure felt on the upper body, but noise and buffeting spanning from "loud" to "nuts". Disclaimer, I have only ridden a handful of models in this category, as I am mainly looking for the lighter and more compact option, when possible. It seems the BMW RT really stand out here...
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  13. Alexander B

    Alexander B Long timer

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    There are endless discussions about buffeting problems with the FJR, but sure, it could suit me. I doubt it, though, given my experiences with Yamahas with fairings so far.
    I have ridden the exact F800GT. As much fun as a dentist appointment, bad hadlebar vibrations and neither better nor worse wind management than VFR800 or CBF1000FA, in my experience.
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  14. GPrairie_Rider

    GPrairie_Rider Dirt Junkie

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    Ive ridden the fjr and the buffeting is no worse that what i get on my Tiger.

    Im only speculating in the Bimmer. Not being a Bmw fan myself havent really ridden many.
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  15. haggis mctavish

    haggis mctavish Adventurer

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    my personal experience. Bought a Suzuki c50 a good bike at a good price. was fitted with a factory screen and the turbulence was that bad it rendered the bike close to unrideable. time spent on the informative c50 owners forum suggested a set of Harley fork winglets would help. purchased a set of overpriced and poorly chromed Harley winglets and the transformation was amazing.
    My advice peruse whatever owners forum for the bike you own or desire and follow their advice. The cost of the solution will likely be a fraction of the cost of the bike.

    cheers and good luck
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  16. dddd

    dddd Long timer

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    You obviously don't know how to place ear plugs properly because they almost all remove 29dB or more, and the 3M ones are the best I have used (small and soft, super comfort).
    Roll and squeeze in fingers, insert while tight, all the way in, let expand. (reminds me of something else too...)
    Youtube can help you.
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  17. MHaz01

    MHaz01 I Used To Be Faster

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    I always wear earplugs - the inexpensive foam kind that lower noise by about 30db. And a modular helmet.

    My experience is that every motorcycle produces different noise profiles. My current BMW K1600GTL is noisy, even with aftermarket windshield. My previous BMW K1200LT was far less noisy. The Victory Cross Country Tour was noisy. The BMW R1200GSA I borrowed for an afternoon was blissfully, shockingly quiet. Didn't even need earplugs. The Indian Roadmaster I demo'd was acceptably quiet, as was the 2017 HD Ultra Limited.

    I rode a friend's Road King and the wind noise was awful. He installed a pair of $50 aftermarket wings on the fork and the result was a very quiet motorcycle. Wind noise comes from multiple places, not just the windshield or fairing.
    #17
  18. ddavidv

    ddavidv Dark web dangerous

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    I've had a few bikes (see sig) and the wind noise varied greatly on all. Had to wear ear plugs on several of them. I've also changed helmets 3 times so far. I believe it is possible to hit upon the winning combination.

    Helmets can make a difference, certainly. I replaced my HJC with a better fitting Bilt cheapo from Cycle Gear simply because it fit my oddball head better. Wind noise went down.

    Wind noise on my Wee Strom wasn't too bad (Madstad windshield). I'd often forget to put my earplugs in but wouldn't be bothered except on long highway rides.

    My Tiger came with a Madstad on it and it is, by far, the quietest thing I have ridden. I don't even bother with plugs.

    Everyone will be different depending on their size and how they sit on a bike. It may be hard to find that combination but it is possible. I found mine by accident.
    #18
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  19. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    How bad is your hearing? Have you taken any measurements on what is damaging noise for your ears? Have you talked to doctors?

    I have is-max with MRA Vario windshield and good set of mushroom foam plugs give me good protection, but it may be not enough for you.

    Here's a review good luck:
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  20. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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    I would give my rt very high marks. Try one and even if a little shorter or taller screen is needed you will see how effective the overall design is for weather protection with the range of the electric windshield adjustment being the icing on the cake. I've owned a bunch of naked, sport touring, "GS" platforms over the years from most OEMs and naked is my second favorite for clean air and an add on barn door on my Bonnie was the worst as it actually had dirty air so bad I couldn't focus my eyes over 55 MPH. As others have pointed out simple adjustments in angle or adding "winglets" be it on a GSA or a Road King offer incredible impact on dirty air. Your helmet is universally thought to be one of the quieter ones, but for me my long oval head is definitely only happy in an Arai and I find just cracking the face shield to various degrees helps quiet things down at certain speeds (they are so friggin noisy). Anyway, when riding any bike to assess where the dirty air is sourced I often cross my arms (one at a time) across my lap and slowly raise them up my torso to above my helmet and also try closer and farther away from me as well as a little side to side. It's not very scientific, but you can quickly see if it's coming from underneath, around the sides, etc. as the impact and noise at various speeds is easily noticed.

    Don't give up riding and for the $ spent on helmets you might want to explore high end hearing protection that may be available. I would bet many tradesmen, military, etc., end users may have found a need for something beyond "over the counter" options that most of us use.

    Good luck.
    #20