At the Progressive International Motorcycle Show going on this weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center, there's an odd sight at a few booths: people with large plastic syringes in their ears, getting shot with globs of colorful silicone.
It's not a new body-modification fad, but instead the making of custom earplugs.
Wearing ear protection while riding is important -- researchers have found that motorcyclists who don't wear some sort of earplugs while riding can suffer hearing loss. The problem is not so much engine noise, experts say, but rather the constant rush of wind across the ear, even under a full-face helmet.
Disposable earplugs are widely available, but they're not very comfortable and are difficult to fit correctly in the ear. Also, they become ineffective after just a few uses.
Custom-made silicone earplugs cost more, but if made correctly, they're far easier to use and can last years.
Florida-based audiologist Marilyn Navia has been offering them for many years at motorcycle shows. She has two models for sale at the Long Beach show -- plain custom plugs for $60 and custom plugs with embedded earphones for $230.