Get Rid of Wind Noise on Your Bicycle

Smiling person with helmet and Cat Ears

Don’t you hate that noise you hear when you pick up speed on your bicycle? Your ride was so pleasant until suddenly SSHSBOWWWIPSPSSHHSWIPSSBOW is going by your ears. Don’t you wish you could ride your bike without the wind noise? How can you get rid of the wind noise on your bicycle?

I figured out long ago that if I turned my head sideways the wind noise would stop, but I’d only have a few moments of peace before having to turn my head back forward to see where I was going. The wind noise was back.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I wanted to listen to some podcasts on my bike rides that I revisited this issue. When I put my headphones in, the wind was so loud I couldn’t understand the conversations on the podcast.

When I found something online called Cat Ears Classic (I got the grey color), the amount of noise reduction was huge! You can still hear the wind, but it’s no longer annoying and loud, it’s just something that’s there but I don’t notice. I put my headphones back in and I can hear my podcasts and music much better than before! Now I can even turn down the volume to make sure I still hear any necessary street noise.

Since buying those classic Cat Ears, a few more options have come on the market, here are most of the popular options you have now. All for less than $20.

  • Cat Ears Classics – The maximum reduction in wind noise, but you will look nerdy and they can get uncomfortable on hot days. 2.5 inches long (6.35 cm) and around 1.18 inches (3 cm) wide.
  • Cat Ears AirStreamz – Slightly less reduction in noise, with a slimmer profile and more breathable fabric. (A little longer than the Classics, but I don’t have them to measure! Anyone?)
  • Cat Ears AirStreamz Slim – Same as the AirStreamz, but an even smaller profile, with less noise reduction of course.
  • Cat Ears AirStreamz XL – Same as Airstreamz but really long at 4 inches (10 cm). If your helmet strap is long enough these could be nice because they won’t slip around.
Helmet with Cat Ears on the straps
The Cat Ears Classics easily attach to your helmet straps.

I like the Cat Ears brand, but there’s another brand if you want to try them out. They have a little rubber bit on the inside which helps with slippage on your helmet, but I’m not a fan of the conspicuous branding on the Wind-blox. Here are the options:

  • Wind-blox Pro – These don’t have the fuzz like the Cat Ear brand. They are lower profile (so they don’t look as funny), but also block a little less noise than my original Cat Ears Classics. These are as long as the Cat Ears AirStreamz XL at 4 inches long (10 cm). On Amazon the measurements are incorrect.
  • Wind-blox Pro Short Strap – Since their normal one is 4 inches long, some helmets don’t fit them well, so they have a shorter 3 inch (7.6 cm) version comparable to the Cat Ears AirStreamz.
  • Wind-blox Pro XL – These are the longest wind blocker available at around 4.33 inches long (11cm) and 1.2 inches wide (2 cm). They’re about the same width as the Cat Ears Classics.
  • Wind-Blox Classic – These were made recently, but they called them “classic” to maybe compare with the Cat Ears Classic, since they are the same size at 6 cm long by 3 cm wide.
  • Wind-blox Focus – These are more like ear warmers, and of course when they cover your entire ear they’ll block more wind noise (and the cold wind!). I personally have normal ear warmers I use over my helmet and they double for use when I’m not riding a bicycle, but if you want your ear warmers to your helmet this could work better for you.

Cons

So I’ve been talking up all the pros on the wind noise reducing Cat Ears, here are the downsides. They aren’t deal breakers, but things to be weary of.

The Look

Straight on shot of a helmet with cat ears
Here’s a straight on look. You can tell they stick out to the sides a bit.

I look pretty funny when I’m wearing these. When I first bought them, I put them on and enjoyed the wonderful silence of riding my bike downhill without realizing how nerdy they looked. I noticed that every time I saw someone when I was wearing my helmet, they would start with “What’s on your ears?” or “What are those things on your face?” This prompted me to look at myself in the mirror, and wow they stick out a lot.

Side shot of someone wearing a helmet with Cat Ears
The Cat Ears have slid down a little here. After looking at this picture, I realized I’m wearing my helmet tilted too far back. It should be slightly more parallel to the ground. It took a perfect side shot photo for me to realize this.

I don’t mind the look. In fact I like an easy excuse to tell people how much I love them. But if you are concerned about the look, maybe the Cat Ears AirStreamz Slim are for you.

People also ask me if they’re ear warmers. They are not, but of course since they direct most of the wind around your ear instead of into your ear, they do have the side effect of keeping your ears a little warmer when the wind chill gets low. Which leads us to…

Heat

Usually this is not a big deal, but if I’m riding for a long time on a hot day, I sometimes take them off during a break. They aren’t too comfortable when you get sweaty (but then again what is?). Since I mostly commute for relatively short distances, this isn’t a problem for me very often. Perhaps even less of a problem with the newer AirStreamz version or with the Wind-Blox (because of the more sweat wicking material).

Using With Glasses

Cool. Not cool.

If you put your glasses on over your helmet straps, you might have to push the Cat Ears down and they will be less effective. I like to put my glasses under my helmet straps. Wearing them under the helmet straps creates a little more space for wind noise to come through, but that difference is less noticeable.

Helmet Required

If you don’t like wearing a helmet, these wind blockers will motivate you to do so! Sometimes I wear a different helmet, and it’s only then I realize how much wind noise the Cat Ears or Wind-Blox are reducing.

It’s worth noting that not all helmet straps are configured the right way to fit the Cat Ears. According to the Cat Ears website: *Not recommended for Specialized fixed clip helmets, or skater style helmets such as Nutcase or Bern. (See FAQ for more information)

The Wind-Blox brand has a specific wind blocker for the Specialized fixed clip helmets (it’s their shorter version).

Conclusion

If you want to hear the difference in wind noise, the Wind-Blox website has some good audio clip examples. Of course a microphone does not pick up sound quite like your ears do, but it’s a good comparison of the noise difference (if not a bit exaggerated).

Now that you can ride in peace, check out some of my other posts, like why riding a bike with headphones is fine, how to secure your bike for any kind of excursion and different ways to safely turn left on a bicycle.

Photos by Andrew Finch featuring me & my gear. I have no affiliation to the companies mentioned.

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