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 5 of the best headphones for safe cycling. This post starts off with a chart that compares 5 of the best headphones for safe cycling. Then, I review the various headphones, including open ear headphones, Bluetooth headphones, corded headphones, and even a set of headphones contained within a smart helmet! Note that these are all great options – no. 5 may be better for you if you prefer smart helmets, while no. 4 might be better for you if you are on a tight budget. No. 3 is a budget option that will work well for those who don’t mind cords, and don’t need to make phone calls on their bikes!
Chart Showing 5 of the Best Headphones for Safe Cycling
|Best price on Amazon right now:|
|Weight||26 g (0.9 oz)||36 g (1.3 oz)||42 g (1.5 oz)||Undisclosed||309 grams (10.9 oz)|
|Battery Life||8 hours||6 hours||12 hours||5 hours||Up to 10 hours of lights / 3-6 hours of light + music|
|Waterproof?||IP67 (Waterproof)||IP55 (Water-resistant)||IP55 (Water-resistant)||Sweat-proof||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 5.0||Yes, Version 4.1||No||Yes, Version 5.0||Yes, Version 4.1|
|Can you make handsfree phone calls?||Yes, with dual noise-canceling mic||Yes, with dual noise-canceling mic||No||Yes||Yes, wind-break mic|
Aftershokz 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 Aftershokz have been designated as the Official Headphones of England Athletics!
Since their debut a few years ago, Aftershokz have got better and better, and now offer a range of choices. The entire range is constructed of lightweight, very strong titanium.
Best Premium Choice: Aftershokz Aeropex
At the top of the range are our no. 1 choice, Aftershokz Aeropex, which are cordless, Bluetooth, amazingly light, and also waterproof. They will cost you around $160. In the middle of the range are our no. 2 choice, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, which I have used for years (and they are still going strong). They will cost you around $90. At the bottom of the range are our no. 3 choice, Aftershokz Sportz Titanium, which are corded, have no microphone, and can be yours for less than $50. All of these are excellent choices, depending on your needs and budget.
All of the Bluetooth Aftershokz 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 except the bottom of the range 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
Trekz 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 (except at the bottom of the range). And you don’t have the annoyance of ear phones falling out of your ears!
We have chosen Aftershokz Aeropex as no. 1 simply because they are the lightest and best of the range, and they are waterproof (the other models are sweat resistant). That said, I have never had water-related problems with any of my Aftershokz products, even after years of use in a rain forest. So if you want a cheaper option, you cannot really go wrong with any of the Aftershokz products.
Buy Aftershokz from Amazon, or Direct from Aftershokz
You can buy Aftershokz Aeropex Titanium Air headphones from Amazon, and use their easy return policies to return them if you discover you don’t like the sensation of bone conduction sound. Alternatively, you can see the full range, and buy them directly, from Aftershokz. Either way, I make a small commission (which does not impact the price you pay at all).
Aftershokz offers Open Ear Headphones in a Range of Colors
One of the cool things about these open ear headphones is you are not forced to choose from basic black or basic grey. Aftershokz offers these headphones in a range of colors, even PINK!
Aftershokz have partnered with a company called Brilliant to incorporate Brilliant Reflective Strips into the design. This increases your visibility when you are wearing them at night.
We picked Aftershokz Trekz Titanium open ear headphones as our no. 2 choice for safe headphones because they offer all the benefits of premium Bluetooth bone conduction headphones, but at a lower price point than our no. 1 choice. They use Bluetooth V4. 1.
Mini Aftershokz Trekz Titanium for Smaller Heads
Aftershokz has responded to consumer demand by coming up with a mini version for people with smaller heads. I notice from comments that many women find these to be a more comfortable fit. I found the smaller version available on Amazon in grey and red, as in the ads below. Right now (time of posting) the price on the grey version is excellent.
Related: My review of Aftershokz Trekz headphones here.
Quality of Sound of the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Open Ear Headphones
I am not going to tell you the music on bone conduction headphones is the same quality as something like the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones (my current favorites for off-the-bike use, because the sound is simply awesome – but they are not suitable for cycling as they exclude almost all other sound). It’s a different technology, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the quality of the music to be quite as good. However, thanks to Aftershokz’s Premium Pitch technology, the sound is pretty amazing. Even the bass is good.
Our third choice for best headphones for safe cycling are also Aftershokz open-ear headphones, but they are wired, not Bluetooth, and don’t have a microphone – and so they are much cheaper. The Aftershokz Sportz earphones are lightweight, and the battery lasts for ages. Plus – and it’s a big plus – they are very rugged. I am quite sick of expensive earphones that die after a very short time, apparently unable to withstand the rigors of real life. (Starts with B, rhymes with toes!) If you want to listen to music safely, don’t mind dealing with a cord, and don’t need to make hands-free phone calls from your bike, then these are a great, budget option that will last you for years.
These headphones usually cost less than fifty dollars, yet they do what I need, safely, and I have not been able to break them. You can read my full review of Aftershokz Sportz headphones here, and see what you think. They are my no. 3 pick for safest headphones for cyclists. They are shown in the picture above, modeled by Maggie.
I highly recommend that you buy your Aftershokz Sportz Titanium headphones from Amazon – you can return them and get your money back if you find you don’t like bone conduction sound!
The Problem with Wired Headphones
The only drawback with these earphones is they are wired, so you have to do the whole snaking-the-cord-through-your-shirt thing, to prevent the cord snagging on your bike and jerking the phone onto the road – which has happened to me, and resulted in my iPhone 4 being run over by 3 cars and smashed into 4 pieces – that was not a good day for me. Still, I notice lots of cyclists using cords, so apparently, there are many people out there who are much less clumsy than I am!
No. 4: WGP Open Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones Bone Conduction Headphones
If the Aftershokz range is a bit too expensive for your taste, there is a similar product that costs a lot less, but can still offer you a decent choice in good headphones for safe cycling. These are also bone conduction headphones, and are equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 technology for a very stable connection.
With up to 6 hours of playtime, WGP Open Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones Bone Conduction Headphones set you up to be entertained on long training rides. They boast anti-drop technology, which could be useful if you happen to drop them. However, I do find that it is hard to drop bone conduction headphones. You would pretty much have to stop your bike, rip them off your head, and hurl them to the ground to make it happen!
No. 5: Livall Bling BH62 Smart Helmet with Integrated Speakers and Microphone
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. The Livall Bling BH62 is regarded by many as the best smart helmet for cycling. It has many useful smart features, and most importantly, it is a great option for those in search of great headphones for safe cycling.
Apart from the speakers, you also get built-in LED strips on the top and rear of the helmet. The idea is to make you more visible, and even give you the option to use a remote on your handlebars to use the LED lights as turn signals. The helmet works with the Livall app (available on both iOS and Android) to send out an automatic SOS to your designated contact if you fall. There is a windbreak microphone for phone calls, and a walkie-talkie feature to let you stay in touch with others who have the same kind of helmet.
This helmet has won multiple awards including Eurobike 2017, a Technical Innovation Award from IFA, the Design Award 2018 from iF, Tech For A Better World from CES, and Product of the Year from ISPO. The BH62 has improved on previous versions by including a magnetic charging port.
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 headphones: my Aftershokz Trekz Titanium earphones. 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 iPhone. Instead, my iPhone is safely tucked away in the padded pocket of my favorite Two Wheel Gear Pannier.
Finally, most of these Aftershokz titanium earphones are Blutetooth 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). If you want the very best of the range and can afford it, we definitely recommend the Aftershokz Aeropex open ear bone conduction head phones.
If you want to be safe and are on a budget, and don’t need to make hands-free phone calls while cycling, then an excellent choice are the Aftershokz Sportz corded bone conduction headphones.
That said, I also love the smart helmet option. I have tried them as demo products, and they are pretty awesome. You just put them on your head, and don’t have to think about headphones at all. One of these days, I will get myself a great smart helmet – most likely, a Livall Bling BH62.
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