How do you choose the best headphones for safe cycling? I was concerned that I would be less safe cycling with my ears plugged up. So, I did some research, and was happy to find that there are safer options for headphones while cycling. Not all headphones are the same – some plug up your ears and so are potentially dangerous; others are much safer because they enable you to be completely aware of your surroundings.
In this post I compare some of the best headphones for safe cycling. This post starts off with a chart that compares the best headphones for safe cycling. Then, I review the various headphones, focusing on open ear headphones. Note that these are all great options – it all depends on your needs!
Related Post: Review of Shokz OpenRun MINI Headphones – Ideal for Safe Cycling
Chart Showing the Best Headphones for Safe Cycling
|Best price on Amazon right now:|
|Weight||26 g (0.9 oz)||30 g (1.06 oz)||30 grams (1.06 oz)||380 grams (13 oz)|
|Battery Life||8 hours||8 hours||8 hours||Up to 12 hours|
|Waterproof?||IP67 (Waterproof. Completely sweat and waterproof for intense workouts and extreme weather. Not for swimming)||IPX8. Fully waterproof for all moisture exposures, including extended swims||IPX 67. Sweat-proof and water resistant. Not for swimming, but fine for cycling in the rain||Sweat-proof|
|Designed to let in all noise, some noise, or no noise?|
|What keeps them from falling out of your ears?|
|Corded or cordless?|
|Ability to safely control headphones handsfree while cycling|
|Bluetooth?||Yes, Version 5.1||No, because they are designed to be worn in a pool. Bluetooth does not work in water. You need to copy your music or podcasts onto the headphones - and this is easy to do||Yes, Version 5.2||Yes, Bluetooth Long Range|
|Can you make handsfree phone calls?||Yes, with two dual noise-canceling microphones||Yes, with two dual noise-canceling microphones||Yes, with two dual noise-canceling microphones||Integrated built-in speakers and microphone|
No. 1: Shokz OpenRun MINI Headphones – Ideal for Safe Cycling
Shokz offers a premium range of open ear headphones that enable you to listen to music or podcasts while keeping your ears wide open to your surroundings. They work by conducting sound waves through your cheek bones, with nothing at all plugged into your ears. Bone conduction headphones enable cyclists to listen to music or podcasts on long commutes without compromising our ability to hear what is going on around us. They are obviously a safer option for cyclists and runners than ear phones that plug your ears. That’s why Shokz have been designated as the Official Headphones of England Athletics!
Since their debut a few years ago, Shokz have got better and better. They are now on their 8th generation of bone-conduction technology. And they and now offer a range of choices. The entire range is constructed of lightweight, very strong titanium.
Our top pick are the Shokz OpenRun Mini open-ear, bone conduction headphones, because their small size makes them ideal for wearing with a cycling helmet. You can wear them for hours, and they are so lightweight you will forget you are wearing them.
Related Post: Review of Shokz OpenRun MINI Headphones – Ideal for Safe Cycling
All Bluetooth Shokz products are compatible with your iOS and Android Bluetooth-ready smartphones or tablets, and Mac and PC computers. I always find the connectivity to be excellent. All offer integrated dual noise-canceling microphones for hands-free phone calls. However, one has to be realistic. You cannot expect to enjoy a perfect phone call while the wind is whistling past your head as you cycle at 20 miles per hour!
Titanium for Strength and Comfort
Shokz chose titanium for strength, durability, and infinite flexibility. It took me a little while to get used to them, because the titanium is a little stiffer than rubber. However, I find I can drape the neck band down towards my neck, so it does not have to be under my bike helmet, and this works just fine. In terms of comfort, these head phones are super comfortable to wear all day, as you don’t have to put up with having objects wedged in your ears. You also don’t have to wrestle with cords getting tangled, as there are no cords. And you don’t have the annoyance of ear phones falling out of your ears!
These headphones are also waterproof enough to easily survive sweat and rain. I have even accidentally swum with them for a couple of minutes, and they were fine.
No. 2: Shokz OpenSwim Headphones – Open-Ear, Bone Conduction, Safe Headphones for Cycling AND Swimming
We picked these open ear headphones as our no. 2 choice for safe headphones because they are multi-use – you can use them for swimming and for cycling and for running. And we do! Note that because they are for swimming, they are not Bluetooth. This is because Bluetooth does not work underwater. So basically, you need to copy the files you want to listen to, to the device. I download MP3 files. The process is super easy (unlike the nightmare of trying to copy music files to an Apple device).
Related Post: Shokz OpenSwim Headphones – Open-Ear, Bone Conduction, Safe Headphones for Cycling AND Swimming
Related Post: Shokz OpenRun Pro vs. Shokz OpenRun Bone Conduction Headphones: What’s the Difference?
No. 3: Haylou PurFree Bone Conduction Open-Ear Bluetooth Headphones for Cycling and Running
If the Shokz range is a bit too expensive for your taste, there is a similar product that costs a little less, but can still offer you a decent choice in premium headphones for safe cycling. These are also bone conduction headphones, and are equipped with the very latest Bluetooth 5.2 technology for a very stable connection.
The Haylou PurFree Bone Conduction Open-Ear Bluetooth Headphones for Cycling and Running feel and sound premium, and have extremely good connectivity. They are comfy for all-day use, and of course, they leave your ears wide open.
Related Post: Our Review of the Haylou PurFree Bone Conduction Open-Ear Bluetooth Headphones for Cycling and Running
No. 4: Sena R1/R1 EVO Smart Communications Cycling Helmet
And now for something completely different … instead of headphones, imagine having stereo speakers discretely embedded inside your bike helmet! These marvelous things are called smart helmets. I have tried them out extensively, and really loved having the speakers streaming my podcasts, while my ears were totally open. Of course, if others are really close, they can hear your music too, but that is not a big deal for me.
Best of all, you can also communicate with your cycling partner, if he or she also has a Sena helmet!
Bottom Line on Choosing the Best Headphones for Safe Cycling
If you want to find the best headphones for safe cycling, it comes down to what your own comfort level and budget are. Personally, I have tried all kinds, and it turns out that I need the safest option possible: open ear, cordless, bone conduction headphones. For these, all of the above choices meet my needs, and I recommend them all.
With all of them, I can hear my surroundings perfectly, but I still get to listen to my music. Plus, there are no cords to catch on my brake levers, so I will not accidentally jerk my phone onto the road, and crush yet another smart phone. Instead, my smart phone is safely tucked away in the padded pocket of my favorite Two Wheel Gear Pannier.
Finally, all of these selections are Bluetooth and extremely tough, which are necessary features if you are using them for an activity like cycling (or if, like me, you are just plain clumsy).
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