I just started riding with earbuds this year. Let me tell you, it makes a world of difference. Having music makes the low parts of the ride (wind, rain, slab-time) way more bearable, so you're in a much better mood for the places where the ride is enjoyable. In southern ID, you're an hour of straight road through featureless land in almost any direction before you get to some hills or forests or something. Not so bad early on, but the same stretch of highway (93, I84, 30) sure can get dull if you ride it as part of your road trip 10 times a season.
As for the safety, well, most MSF courses recommend earplugs when you ride to protect your hearing from wind noise. I can actually hear better through the earbuds, music and all, than I can through earplugs.
You got it!
My brother in law (who doesn't ride, but always 'thinks' about it) said (when I installed my speakers) "Ah man all you need is a speedometer and a windshield!" commenting on my extra luggage, cupholder, speakers, aftermarket seat, etc.
Well, for an around-towner or a weekend warrior? Sure! But man, I put 20,000+ miles a year on my machine. Some of that (too much) is highway, in the rain, in miserable weather, etc. For those awesome twisty roads on a beautiful day? Oh yeah, don't need anything but a good throttle hand! But these nay-sayers shouldn't knock it until they try it! Long slab stints, or otherwise, are much more enjoyable with some tunes, some ice cold water in the cupholder, and your feet up on the highway pegs! Actually, before, I prefered to be on the interstate in the car. Now, I prefer it on the bike! (Maybe that's why my poor car hasn't gotten any attention!) Gotta love it!