Best headphones for cycling – Earphones, Earbuds and AirPods for Biking

If you're looking for a good pair of headphones for cycling, this guide shows which cycling earphones are best and how to safely use them.

A guide to the best headphones for cycling

Can Cyclists Wear Headphones? What are the best cycling headphones? What do you need to know before buying headphones for cycling?

In this article, we take a look at the pros and cons of wearing headphones when cycling outdoors. We've also got a selection of the best wireless headphones to wear when riding your bike.

Any of the above selection would be good headphones for biking in the outdoors or on your bike trainer

There are some considerations when wearing headphones for mountain biking, road biking, or cycling outdoors though.

Should You Wear Cycling Earphones?

Wearing headphones when cycling is a contentious issue. As with so many things to do with bicycles and bike riding!

It's not my job to be judgmental on the issue of biking headphones. Some people will choose to wear headphones when riding their bikes, others will not.

The Airpods Pro 2 allows for mono listening. This means you can just use one airpod in one ear so you can still hear traffic with the other one. They also have adaptive transparency, allowing some background noise to some through the Airpods Pro 2 while cycling. Note the Airpods Pro 3 release date may now have been put back until 2025.

My own personal experience from bike touring in different parts of the world, is overall I prefer to enjoy the sounds of nature and cycle without them.

Getting ready to cycle up a steep road

On occasion however, the road might be boring, the wind insane, or mountain so steep I need the motivation of something like Slayer to get to the top! In those cases, I wear headphones when cycling to listen to music or perhaps a podcast.

I've never bought into the ‘you can't hear traffic coming behind you' argument. That type of thinking must also mean that deaf or hard of hearing people shouldn't be riding bicycles. I hope no one is genuinely suggesting that!

Group of Cyclists

That said, it's probably not a smart idea to wear cycling earbuds with noise cancellation on! The same for listening to something at max volume of course.

I still remember that time a road cyclist passed with a snarky comment about me wearing headphones while cycling, only to nearly get splatted by a truck 5 minutes later after he deliberately ran a red light. So what was more dangerous? Me using earbuds for cycling and listening to a low-key podcast, or him ignoring traffic signals?

Exercise a little common sense. Wear them, don't wear them… It's really up to you.

Read more here: Things to think about before buying headphones for bike riding

Types of Headphones for Cycling

The best headphones for cycling fall into three broad categories. These are Wireless Earbuds, Wired Earbuds, and Bone Conducting Earbuds. I would not recommend Over Ear Headphones for cycling for obvious reasons.

Here's a closer look at some of those cycling headphones mentioned earlier in the article.

Apple AirPods / Apple Airpods Pro 2

Let’s start off with the ubiquitous Apple Airpods. As of writing this in December 2023, the airpods come in 3 different types that will appeal to cyclists. These are the Airpods (2nd generation) which is the basic model) Airpods (3rd generation), and Airpods Pro (2nd generation). The latter are often called Apple Airpods Pro 2.


In my opinion, the Apple Airpods Pro are the best suited for cyclists they have two features the other models do not. These are Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode, and Conversation Awareness. They are sweat and water resistant, and have about 6 hours of listening time per charge.

Jabra Elite Active 65t Earbuds

If Apple Pro 2 cycling earbuds are just out of your price range, take a look at the Jabra elites. Some people mention that they had problems connecting with Apple products – somehow doesn’t surprise me as they prefer you to buy their own products! A good choice for Android phone users who want to listen through headphones when cycling.

  • Sweat resistant and weather-resistant rating against dust and water
  • 2 Hours Charge Time to Full / 15 Minutes Rapid Charge for 1.5 hours use

Find our more here: Jabra Elite Active 65t Earbuds

Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 True Wireless Earbuds

I love Anker products, and I have probably a dozen powerbanks from this company! Their earbud offering is significantly cheaper than the Airpods Pro cycling earbuds and the Jabra. Sure, you probably lose some of the bells and whistles, but it’s a good solid product.

  • Sweatproof and Waterproof
  • Compact Fit
  • Thumping Bass

Find our more here: Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 True Wireless Earbuds

AfterShokz Aeropex Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones

Open-Ear Design – Unique bone conduction headphone technology delivers audio through the cheekbone

  • Open-Ear Design – Patented bone conduction technology
  • Headphones are completely sweat and waterproof
  • 8 Hours of Music & Calls

Find our more here: AfterShokz Aeropex Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones

Bose SoundSport Free, True Wireless Earbuds

Sweatproof Bluetooth Headphones for Workouts and Sports

  • Sweat and weather resistant
  • Up to 5 hour battery life of play time
  • Find My Buds' app feature

Find our more here: Bose SoundSport Free, True Wireless Earbuds

Sony Wireless Bluetooth In Ear Headphones

Noise Cancelling Sports Workout Ear Buds for Exercise and Running – Cordless, Sweatproof Sport Earphones, Built-In Microphone, EXTRA BASS

  • Digital noise cancelling
  • Up to 9 hours playback
  • Extra Bass

Find our more here: Sony Wireless Bluetooth In Ear Headphones

Things to think about before buying headphones for bike riding

There's a few practical considerations to keep in mind before buying some earphones for cycling:

  • Headphone Battery life: If you're using wireless headphones for cycling, the battery life might be an issue, particularly if you are on a bike tour. Not only will the headphones themselves be using power, but so also will your phone or media player.
  • Headphone Design: A cycling or sports headphones is more likely to stay in your ear. Choose a design which fits you best.
  • Sound Quality – You might as well have the cycling headphones with the best sound quality you can. Keep in mind though, that if you choose to listen at low volumes, the sounds quality may be negated to a certain extent.
  • Bone Conduction Cycling Headphones: This style of bicycling headphone has many advantages that it might be worth paying that little bit extra for.
  • Water Resistance: If you're cycling any great time wearing headphones, you are going to want them to be as water, and sweat resistant as possible.

Tips for using bicycle earphones

Here's some tips about how to more safely use and wear headphones when biking.

  1. Just use one earbud: Sure, it's nice to be fully immersed into a world of stereo Slipknot (?), but when out cycling, you might want to appreciate what's going on around you. Wearing one earbud will enable you to listen to your favourite song or podcast, but also keep you tuned in to what's going on with traffic etc.
  2. Turn down the volume: There's a sweet spot between having music loud enough to listen to, but low enough to still be aware of traffic. Find that, and you can more safely wear your headphones when using your bicycle.
  3. Wireless headphones for cycling are better: Wired headphones always run the risk of getting tangled around something.

FAQ About Cycling with Headphones

Here are some commonly asked questions about using headphones when cycling.

Is it dangerous to cycle with headphones?

There have been no conclusive studies that show wearing cycling earphones is more or less dangerous than not wearing them. Providing a cyclist is still aware of their surroundings, their safety is unlikely to be impaired by wearing them.

Can cyclists wear headphones?

In some countries and certain US States such as California, it may be illegal to cycle whilst wearing headphones. Check the local and national laws in the country you intend to cycle through.

Is it safe to cycle with AirPods?

The AirPods Pro have a Transparency Mode which picks up outside noises through an external microphone. Effectively, this enables a cyclist to hear music and also be able to hear sounds such as nearby cyclists around them when using the Pro airpods while biking.

Can you listen to music while biking?

Yes, you can listen to music while cycling, but it is better to do so at a volume level where you can still be aware of traffic and the environment around you.

Best Headphones For Cycling

Do you have any comments or questions about biking headphones? Please share them with the cycling community by leaving them in the comments section below. 

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Now you've read this information about cycling earbuds, you might also want to check out these other articles about cycling gear:


A guide to the best headphones for cycling


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