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.
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.
Best Cycling Headphones
Here's our selection of the best headphones for cycling you could consider buying:
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.
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.
At other times, 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!
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.
- 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
Active Noise Cancellation with Transparency Mode, Sweat and Water Resistant
- Active noise cancellation
- Transparency mode
- Three sizes of soft, tapered tips for a customizable fit
- Sweat and water resistant
Find our more here: Apple AirPods Pro
Deep Bass, IPX7 Waterproof, Sweatproof, 16H Playtime, Fast Charge, Comfortable AirWings, Bluetooth 5, Mini Sports Earphones, Workout, Gym, Jogging
- Sweatproof and Waterproof
- Compact Fit
- Thumping Bass
Find our more here: Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 True Wireless Earbuds
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
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Bike Touring Gear
- Best Bike Touring Tires
- Best Pedals for Bike Touring
- Touring Panniers vs Bicycle Touring Trailer
- The Best Panniers for Bike Touring
- Choosing the best handlebar bag for touring
- Bike Touring Tool
- Best saddles for bike touring
- Is the Brooks Cambium C17 good for bike touring?
- Brooks B17 saddle