Ear plugs, I think are like marmite, you either love them or hate them. I have tried various ‘off the shelf’ ear plugs over the years but have never really got on with them and found them to be uncomfortable or not very effective.
As a motorbike rider, I felt I should be wearing ear plugs as I was conscious of the noise you experience when riding a bike and the potential damage that they could be doing to my ears.
When my local bike shop, BikeStop, advertised that they were having ACS Custom visit offering custom ear plugs, I thought I would check it out.
I spoke to Andy who founded the company, he used to be a professional musician but his ears were damaged in the studio when he was just 19 years old and as a result he now has tinnitus which has, unfortunately, stopped him playing music.
Andy needed another career path and trained as an audiologist. In the late 80’s Andy found an American company had invented a custom ear mould for musicians which Andy looked into and started making his own custom ear plugs. In the early ‘90’s ACS Custom was formed and the company has grown from there, with his largest customer being the MOD.
Andy realised that it was not just musicians who suffer with hearing problems, the highest risk for personal injury now is hearing and many companies now provide ear plugs for their employees.
The Dutch police force approached Andy as they needed ear plugs which could be used with communication devices. ACS developed filtered ear plugs for them to use and these proved a great success.
In the early ‘90’s, a friend of Andy’s, Gary Taylor, was team manager for Suzuki’s MotoGP 500 team and ACS supplied ear plugs for the team. This was the start of ACS developing and supplying ear plugs in the motorsport industry.
One of the guys who worked for ACS used to race bikes and Andy ended up running the team for a while which he really enjoyed. This gave Andy and ACS a great insight into what worked, didn’t work, needed more development etc in the use of ear plugs in the world of motorsport.
I asked Andy why you should wear ear plugs when riding a motorbike. He said the longer you ride a motorbike, the more damage you do to your ears. Wind damages hearing on a bike, the faster you ride into the wind, the more damage is done to your ears as the wind gets under the helmet.
Sound pressure impacts on the nerve cells in your ears, the more sound you are exposed to, the worse the hearing gets. This is an avoidable problem with the use of properly fitting ear plugs.
Custom ear plugs protect your hearing and maintain your awareness when riding a bike and as they are moulded to the shape of your ears, they are really effective. Each ACS ear plug is a one-off item as each customer is completely unique.
I made an appointment for some ear moulds. The first thing Andy does is check your ears are okay. A small foam pad is inserted into each ear and then silicone is squirted in. I then had to sit there for three to four minutes to let the silicone set. The moulds are then removed followed by the foam pad and that’s it. Ear plugs are then made using the moulds.
You can choose different colours and some luminous colours are available too – this is great as my o/h and I each have plugs so there is no chance of getting them mixed up. The plugs come in a handy little pouch to keep them safe when not in your ears too.
A couple of weeks later I had a call to say the plugs were ready to collect. As the plugs were ordered through BikeStop, they come with the BikeStop logo on them – how cool is that 🙂
I was with my o/h when I collected the plugs and as we use an intercom when we are riding I went for the filtered ear plugs (although sometimes I feign that my battery has gone flat when he starts getting chatty but don’t tell him that 🙂 )
I put the plugs in when we rode off. Immediately I could tell the clarity when we talk to each was so much clearer. On motorways it is often difficult to hear each other properly due to wind and other noises, but at 70 mph we could hear each other clearly. The plugs filter out the “bad” noise but not the intercom.
Because the plugs are moulded to my ears, they are very comfortable to wear and I forget I am wearing them. I personally feel that I am being pro-active in looking after my ears and am pleased that I got some ACS Custom ear moulds made.
If you haven’t got ear plugs yet, they are definitely something you should be thinking about, you’ve only got one set of ears, you need to be looking after them.
The next ACS Custom ear moulds day at BikeStop is Saturday 30th April.
Here’s a run down of the ACS PRO Series Custom Earplugs. Earplugs require impressions of your ears to custom make them for a perfect fit. The ear impression service is available throughout the UK and is provided free of charge when you purchase a custom-made product from ACS.
ACS Pro 10: Their lowest sound reduction hearing protectors. Great for acoustic musicians, small ensembles, and anyone who isn’t exposed to high noise levels for long periods of time.
ACS Pro 15: A subtle filter with a medium attenuation. Suitable for unplugged musicians including vocalists, wood and brass musicians, and orchestras.
ACS Pro 17: The most versatile and natural sounding hearing protector in the world. The standard for amplified musicians, DJ’s, vocalists, sound engineers, clubbers and gig-goers.
ACS Pro 20: Designed to soften harsh high frequency sounds. Ideal hearing protector for drummers and some industrial uses.
ACS Pro 26: For use in very loud and challenging environments. Used in a wide variety of industrial environments, as well as by sound engineers, amplified musicians and venue staff.
ACS Pro 27: Exceptional attenuation in dangerously loud high frequency environments. Used in extreme industry environments, and popular with sound engineers, event staff and seriously loud amplified musicians.
ACS Pro Impulse: New addition to the PRO range designed specifically for shooting. Two modes of operation allow this filter to give a constant mid-level of protection, as well as reacting to give high level protection against sudden impulse noise such as gunfire.