Listening to music is a favorite pastime for most people in the world and it can be done while doing most activities. Studies even show the benefits music can have on a person, their mood, and their mental health.
But there are a few activities that may raise some eyebrows at the thought of listening to music while doing it. Riding a motorcycle while listening to music is one of those instances.
Can I listen to music while riding a motorcycle? Motorcyclists are permitted to listen to music while riding a motorcycle. There are certain ways that are more safe, reliable, and legal to do so including using a stereo system on your motorcycle and using a Bluetooth helmet. It is not advised to use headphones while riding because of certain laws and dangers that could follow.
Listening to music while riding can really enhance the experience. I often listen to music while I take my motorcycle out for a spin and find it quite enjoyable. This is what I have found throughout my research about the safety regarding listening to music while riding.
The Rules Of Listening To Music While Riding
Whether you like to use the stereo system on your motorcycle for everyone to hear your music or keep it to yourself within your helmet, listening to music is a little bit more tricky than it is listening to it in other vehicles. With a car you simply turn on the radio and you’re good to go for hundreds of miles. That’s not necessarily how it is with a motorcycle.
There really haven’t been many laws regarding motorcycles and listening to music. But there are a few laws regarding what you can and can’t do while operating a vehicle in general and these laws also apply to motorcycles.
Headphones and earbuds specifically are always a question among drivers and motorcycle riders. That’s mainly because there are several states in the U.S. that completely ban the use of these devices while operating a vehicle, whether that be a motorcycle or a car. The AAA (American Automobile Association) is able to describe each state and their specific laws concerning headphone usage.
While listening to music during a motorcycle ride is permissible, certain ways of listening to music could cause additional dangers. The use of certain headphones and headsets could deprive a rider of some of their senses while riding because of increased technology on these headsets. Some of them come with features that cancel outside noises which is extremely dangerous for a motorcycle rider.
There are also helmet inserts that you can purchase and place inside your helmet. They don’t actually go into your ears like earbuds do, rather they sit on the inside walls of your helmet giving the sensation that you have a Bluetooth helmet. Though this is a better alternative to using headphones, these can also cause some distraction to the motorcycle rider if the wiring gets caught or if one of the speakers becomes loose.
The rule of thumb I like to follow when it comes to listening to music while riding is to use a method that doesn’t require wires or anything that could potentially become lose and cause distraction. Helmet inserts and headphones can easily come apart, cause discomfort, and cause unneeded distractions.
The Best Ways To Listen To Music While Riding
Now that we’ve discussed the ways you shouldn’t listen to music while riding a motorcycle, let’s talk about the best and most effective ways you can listen to music. These are the ways I have found to work excellently while still enjoying a ride with no distractions.
The first safe and legitimate method you can use to listen to music while riding is using the stereo system on the motorcycle. Some people like this method, others find it annoying because everyone else can hear what they’re listening to.
The only thing you have to do while driving is push a few buttons that are close to the handlebars. If your motorcycle doesn’t have a stereo system or any speakers, you can easily install some that can hook up to your phone or iPod.
The second most effective and safest way to listen to music while riding is using a Bluetooth helmet. These are helmets that have built in speakers that will automatically hook up to your phone or MP3 player. The nicest thing about these is that you don’t have to worry about wiring or anything sliding around inside your helmet or falling out of place.
Bluetooth helmets usually have some external buttons you can easily push for volume control and to skip songs. You’ll need to memorize the buttons before you put it on though. Bluetooth helmets also have the capability of hooking up to your GPS so you can get directions without the distraction of looking at your phone.
I’ve been using a Bluetooth helmet for the last six years now. I absolutely love it and I feel I can hear the music as well as hear surrounding sounds that I should be aware of.
Pros And Cons To Listening To Music On Your Motorcycle
If you’re still deciding whether or not riding your motorcycle while listening to music is something you’re going to do, I’ve made a pros and cons list to help make your decision a little easier. This is what I have found during my riding and listening experience.
A lot of riders, including myself, have found themselves to be a lot more alert while listening to music. The sound of the wind and motor on your bike for a long period of time can get a little redundant and boring, so listening to music can make your experience a little more pleasurable which in turn makes you more alert.
Listening to music while riding can also improve your mood. Studies have shown that the fact that you’re outside on your motorcycle is enough to improve one’s mental health. Adding music you love to the mix will improve your mood that much more.
Though listening to music shouldn’t drown out all of your surrounding sounds, it can block out some of those noises that come along with riding a motorcycle. Listening to my motorcycle rumble can be fun for a few minutes, but listening to it for a long period of time gives me a headache. Music breaks that up and helps me enjoy my ride more.
On the flip side, listening to music too loudly can drown out important sounds. If you have your music too loud you may not be able to hear what’s going on around you which causes potential danger for you.
If you listen to music using the stereo system on your bike, you will probably annoy someone along your way. Pedestrians and other drivers around you may not appreciate what you’re listening to, especially if you have the volume way up.
No matter how safe you can be while listening to music on your motorcycle, music does cause a slight additional distraction. Even if all you have to do is take your hand off the handlebar for a second to skip to the next song, that’s one second that off your handlebar and one second less control of the bike.
A Word About Volume
I can’t write an article about riding a motorcycle and listening to music without mentioning the importance of volume of that music. The volume of your music should always be considered while listening and riding.
As I had mentioned before, don’t listen to your music so loudly that it comes to a point where you can’t hear anything else. This is distracting and dangerous because you need as much awareness as possible while riding.
Having such loud music can damage your hearing as well. Riding a motorcycle is loud enough, so adding music to the mix puts more stress on your ears. You may not think your music is loud until you use your MP3 player later while you’re at home only to have it surprisingly blast your ears because you forgot to turn it down.
The sound of a motorcycle is usually around 70-80 decibels. Listening to music adds additional decibels to that. Heartsmart reports that listening to anything over 100 decibels for more than 30 minutes could potentially cause hearing damage.
That’s not to say that you can’t listen to music while you’re riding. Just be smart with the volume and that you aren’t listening to your music at the loudest it can be.
What are the best ways to find motorcycle friends? You can find motorcycle friends by locating motorcycle clubs, using social media, going to car/motorcycle shows, contacting motorcycle dealerships, using cyclefish.com, and taking a motorcycle safety course. Click here to see my article for more information.
Are motorcycles good for college students? Motorcycles can be beneficial for college students because of the initial cost to get one, the cost to maintain one, and that they are easier to work on. It may be difficult for a college student to deal with the weather as well as increased theft of bikes on college campuses. For more information, see my article here.