The 9 best headphones for cycling in 2023

As an ardent cyclist and bona fide gadget junkie, I’m often asked: “What’s the number one accessory every cyclist should own?” Before you start picturing high-end carbon fibre wheelsets or aerodynamic helmets, let me stop you right there. It’s something far simpler yet inexplicably vital – the right pair of headphones. Intrigued? Stick with me, and by the end of this article, you’ll see why. 

Cycling, for many of us, is more than just an exercise, it’s a lifestyle, full of freedom and joy. What could possibly enhance this experience? The answer— a perfect playlist and a comfortable pair of headphones. Imagine going down a breezy cycling path on a warm day, with your favourite tunes creating the perfect soundtrack for your journey. Sounds like an ideal day, doesn’t it? But, imagine if the headphones keep slipping out, or the wind noise drowns out the music… that’s got to put a damper on things, right? Hence, the importance of choosing the right headphones for cycling. 

“The right pair of headphones can transform your cycling experience from an everyday activity into an epic auditory adventure.”

Yet, the dizzying array of choices available today can make this task seem more daunting than conquering Alpe d’Huez! Fear not, though. In this piece, we will simplify the puzzle, provide you with a review of the top-ranking models, and guide you on the path to choose the headphones that most perfectly fit your cycling needs. Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Importance of Choosing the Right Headphones for Cycling

Ever cycled down a country lane, pedalling in harmony with your favourite tunes? There’s nothing quite like it, right? But let’s face it, not all headphones are cut out for this job. Some refuse to stay in your ears when faced with a gust of wind or a bead of sweat (how rude!), whilst others blanket out the charming chirrup of the birds or the much-needed hear-them-before-you-see-them car horns. That’s why it is critical, dear cyclist, to choose the right headphones for your two-wheeled adventures. 

The importance of choosing the correct headphones for cycling cannot be overstated. From a safety perspective, you need to remain aware of your surroundings even as you groove to your music or take in the latest episode of your favourite podcast. You don’t want to be obliviously pedalling into danger, do you? It’s a literal case of sound judgement! 

Moreover, the right headphones can enhance your cycling pleasure manyfold. Imagine crisp, clear music notes enveloping you as you navigate traffic, or the soft whispers of a thrilling audiobook accompanying you through tranquil morning rides. And let’s not even get started on how a metabolic rock beat can coax out those much-needed extra miles! 

Then there’s the small matter of comfort. A great pair of cycling headphones should cling on to your ears, just as a best friend would, throughout those sharp bends and bumpy terrains, yet remain as comfortable as a feather. Trust me, having your headphones perform an impromptu escape act, or worse yet, chafing your ear lobes whilst you’re powering up a steep incline is as pleasant as a cold shower on a frigid day. 

So let’s grab our bikes, a notepad (or just leave some tabs open on your browser), and take an engaging ride through the landscape of different types of headphones for cycling. Ready, steady, ride!

Understanding the Different Types of Headphones for Cycling

As a seasoned pedaler, one of the most significant discoveries I’ve made, besides the comforting fact that Lycra is indeed your friend, is the importance of the right pair of headphones while cycling. Behind their simple exterior, a world of distinction exists. So, let’s tear that curtain and understand the different types of headphones from a cyclist’s perspective, shall we? 

On-Ear Headphones 

On-ear headphones, as their name implies, sit directly on your ears. They’re generally lightweight and offer a great balance between audio quality and portability. “Why not?” you might be thinking. However, their one downfall? They might slide around on a vigorous ride. Imagine you’re furiously pedalling up a hill, your favourite power ballad kicks in, and, whoosh! Your headphone slips off – not the most pleasant of experiences, I’ll tell you. 

In-Ear Headphones 

Now we have in-ear headphones, those little buds that nestle within the confines of your ear canal. They’re compact, non-obtrusive, and excellent for noise isolation. But here’s a word of caution – you don’t want to block out all the external sounds while cycling, do you? The tuning honk of a truck or the stray dog barking warnings are sounds essential for your safety, no need reminding! 

Open-Ear Headphones 

Ever heard of open-ear headphones? These beauties use bone conduction technology to deliver sounds, leaving your ears open to environmental noises. You can enjoy your tunes while also staying aware of your surroundings. It sounds like a win-win, doesn’t it? Then, why isn’t everyone using them, you ask. Well, the audio quality isn’t quite as high-end as other options. And let’s face it, we all want the best audio experience even while panting our way through a cycle lane. 

Ear Hook Headphones 

Last but not least, we have ear hook headphones. These stay securely on your ears, even in the presence of sweat, rain or vigorous pedalling. While these are a cyclist’s dream being both sturdy and durable, you might have to compromise a bit on comfort. But as they say, no pain, no gain, right? 

To sum up, each type of headphone has its pros and cons, and it’s all about choosing what suits your needs the most. Cycling is a beautiful journey, and the right set of headphones can make your ride melodious. Choose wisely, and your headphones might just be your most steadfast companion on those solitary rides!

Our Picks For The Best Cycling Headphones

1. Haylou PurFree BC01 Bone Conduction Headphones​​

Let’s kick things off with the Haylou PurFree BC01 Bone Conduction Headphones. You might be wondering, why bone conduction, right? Well, these snazzy little devices work by transmitting sound waves through your cheekbones, rather than blasting music directly into your ears like traditional headphones. They leave your ear canals open, which allows you to remain aware of your surroundings while pedalling away – a godsend for safety! 

Connection Type: Bluetooth 5.0
Battery Life: 8…full hours! Yes, you read that right!
Weight: Feather-light 33g, won’t even know they’re there!
Waterproof Status: IPX5 water resistance; a sweaty cycle or drizzle won’t bother these bad boys!

In simple terms, the Haylou PurFree BC01 is like a superhero (for your ears), specifically designed for cycling enthusiasts like us. With an excellent battery life, lightweight design, waterproofing, and most importantly – allowing you to stay tuned into the world around you – what is not to love about this piece of tech? 

In addition to these salient features, the sound quality is top notch, as you would expect from a Haylou product. The bass notes are impressively well defined, and the mid-range is clear and precise. Plus, these headphones just hug your head and sit snugly over your ears, staying put even on those rocky terrain rides. 

And the price? Let’s just say it won’t leave your wallet sobbing in the corner. So, if safety and sound quality are your top priorities, the Haylou PurFree BC01 Bone Conduction Headphones are definitely worth a look. 

2. The Jabra Elite Active 75t 

First on our impressive list of cycle-friendly headphones might be a name that’s puzzled over more than a cryptic crossword on a Sunday morning. The Jabra Elite Active 75t. Fancy name, right? But fear not, these are just as practical as they are tech-sounding.

What makes them good for cycling you ask? Well, for starters, these beauties are completely waterproof. Come rain or shine (or sweat, for that matter), the Jabra Elite Active 75t comes up trumps. Branching out for that outdoor cycling workout in the midst of a torrential downpour? Fear not, my brave fellow, your tunes will continue to belch out your favourite headbanger anthems.

Sporting a sleek design and a customisable fit, these headphones nuzzle themselves comfortably into your ears. It’s like they were born to be there, a perfect combination of style and function. Oh, and did we mention the top-notch sound quality? It’s like having a live orchestra blissfully playing in your ears while you break those mph barriers. 

So, to cut the long story short, the Jabra Elite Active 75t ticks many boxes for a cyclist looking to enjoy their ride while staying tuned into their favourite beats. Waterproof, stylish, and with outstanding sound quality, what’s not to love?

3. Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation

They offer ambient awareness, which is crucial for cycling to stay aware of your surroundings​1​​3​.

Do you recall those days when we wondered if Apple would step foot into the headphones realm? Well, they did just that in a pretty grand way, I must say, introducing us to the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation, which earns the prestigious third spot on our list. What’s noticeable in these petite devices is their ‘ambient awareness’ feature. When the world is zipping past you on your bike pedal by pedal, this feature really does make an impact. 

Why, you ask? Well, let me explain with a bit of a technical dive. The ambient awareness feature allows the headphones to adjust the audio based on your environment. You could be whizzing on your cycle down bustling city streets, or quietly cruising through a leafy park; this feature adjusts the sound in your ears to match your surroundings. In case a rogue squirrel decides to dash in front of you or an impatient driver honks behind you, you’ll hear it all just fine. Oh, yes, it’s that smart and safety-oriented for those of us who live life in the cycling lane, quite literally. 

That’s not all. High-fidelity audio quality, noise-cancelling capability, and a comfortable fit to boot, the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen brings to the table a beautiful blend of style, functionality and technology. Their only Achilles heel? The price might seem a tad steep to some. But then again, you’re investing in a quality piece of tech that enhances your cycling experience while staying safe. Cheers to that, right? 

So, here’s the scoop. If you’re a cyclist who demands quality and isn’t afraid to shell out a bit for it, the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation is a fine choice. And trust me, I’ve experienced it first hand while manoeuvring those tricky boulevards. It’s lessons learned on these streets that have made me the trusted headphone connoisseur I am, after all!

4. Adidas RPT-01 Sport On-Ear

Here’s a zinger for you: who knew a sports brand would make a solid showing in headphones for cycling? Well, I’ll bring you in on the secret, my friend. I’ve personally cycled through hill and dale, as they say, with these Adidas RPT-01 Sport On-Ear headphones and they are a winner! 

The magic of this pair lies in its practical yet sophisticated design, perfect for those ‘fancy’ cycling pedants out there, including yours truly! It feels like, ‘why not have the best of both worlds, eh?’ These headphones seamlessly marry performance with flair, making you feel like you’re in your personal Tour de France while listening to Queen. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t fancy that? 

Let’s delve a little deeper, shall we? What makes these headphones tick (or should I say tock, given the impeccable sound quality?) is the rich bass that doesn’t compromise clarity. And when you’re cycling uphill, trust me, that bass helps. I speak with authority when I say such headphones need to have a certain ‘oomph’ to carry you through those gruelling bends and ascents, and the Adidas RPT-01 does just that. 

The battery life? Ha, another field where these headphones shine brightly. You could pedal your way from Land’s End to John O’Groats and still have juice left to pump some tracks. And let’s not forget, cyclists need durability, right? Well, rest assured, these headphones have been crafted with materials that can withstand your wildest weather conditions

I hear you asking, ‘Is there a downside, or are these headphones the stuff of dreams?’ I’d say the latter, but with one minor hiccup – the comfort factor. If you’re used to in-ear designs, you might find the on-ear style a bit cumbersome. However, give it a spin for a week or so, and you’ll get used to this loyal companion. 

In sum, the Adidas RPT-01 Sport On-Ear headphones bring a level of panache to your cycling gigs. They guarantee a sound quality that pays attention to the musical details, making every bike ride an unforgettable audio experience. As a confident cyclist who has weathered storm and sun with these headphones, I daresay, they make a worthy addition to your cycling kit!

5. Bose SoundSport

Let me tell you, folks, the Bose SoundSport is a name that’s become synonymous with high-quality audio, and their offering for cyclists doesn’t disappoint. They’re wireless – oh, how I savour the freedom! No cords to tie me down or get tangled in my handlebars, now that’s a breeze! 

Their Active EQ technology is something to brag about too. It delivers lifelike, balanced audio at any volume, meaning you can pedal to your heart’s content and your tunes will keep up. Ever belted out an off-key rendition of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at full tilt on a steep hill with the wind in your face? Trust me, with the SoundSport’s EQ functionality, Freddie would be proud. 

And what about battery life, you ask? Good news, energy misers! The Bose SoundSport provides a decent 6 hours of juice. So, unless you’re planning a Tour De France training session, they should serve you well for most rides. 

To say I’m sold on these headphones would be an understatement. I mean, who could resist being serenaded by crisp, clear audio on a long country ride?

Are they perfect for every cyclist? Perhaps not. But if superb audio and wireless convenience are high on your list, the Bose SoundSport is a worthy contender.

6. Powerbeats Pro

Oh, the joy of Powerbeats Pro! Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you. Beyond their impressive battery life, these beauties offer a stable, comfortable fit in the ears due to their adjustable and secure ear hooks. Have you ever had that annoying moment when you’re cycling up a tough terrain, straining every muscle, and suddenly your earphone falls out? Yeah, that won’t happen with these. They understand us cyclists. 

Adding to its list of charm, the Powerbeats Pro provides top-notch sound quality. And for my safety-conscious friends out there (which should be all of us, right?), these headphones also ensure ambient noise passes through. The world still exists outside our melodious bubble, and we need to be aware of it. 

Being sweat and water-resistant, these headphones are like a dedicated bike member, enduring all journeys with you, rain or shine. As you can tell, I’m all for the Powerbeats Pro. They’ve not only changed my cycling routine but also, I might say, improved my overall riding morale. Can headphones do that? Apparently, they can! 

Now, don’t just take my word on this. Go online, do your research, read those specs, review that audio quality, and then, hopefully, you’ll be as captivated as I am by the prospect of a Powerbeats Pro partnership on your cycling adventures. Because ultimately, this isn’t about just music; it’s about biking better and, heck, living better!

7. Shokz OpenRun 7

Now, let’s talk about the Shokz OpenRun 7, shall we? Straight away, you’ll be impressed by the peripheral awareness it offers. What’s the secret sauce, you ask? Well, it’s all thanks to its incredible open-ear design. You may be flying down a hilly trail with the wind slicing through your helmet, but you’ll have no problem hearing the rush of an approaching cyclist or that cheeky car honk. It’s as if you’ve got your very own personal radar! 

And, oh, let’s also talk about comfort – like a feather resting against your ear, it’s easy to forget you’re wearing them! Not feeling like a headpin wearing bulky bowling balls for headphones is a nice change, isn’t it? 

Weather bothering you? Pah! The OpenRun 7 laugh in the face of troublesome weather! With an IP67 rating, rain, dust, or sweat, these headphones can take on all conditions like a seasoned Tour de France veteran. 

But, let’s not forget, we live in an age where the tech comforts matter. Charging is easy-peasy with OpenRun 7’s snazzy proprietary port. But (and there’s always a ‘but’, right?), the buttons might deliver a bit of a challenge. Like trying to spot identical twins in a sea of people, discerning one button from another might prove tricky once you’re out there, pounding the pedals​. 

However, it’s a small inconvenience that you’ll overcome with a bit of practice – trust me on this. And the rewards? Well worth the effort, I assure you. All in all, the Shokz OpenRun 7 is a worthy device to consider among the very best headphones for cycling. But don’t just take my word for it, try ’em out for yourself and experience the ‘wow’!

8. AfterShokz Aeropex

Have I mentioned you’re in for a wild ride? Well, buckle up – let’s talk about the AfterShokz Aeropex. In my years of cycling and testing headphones, I’ve come across no better candidate. Granted, their price tag might make you flinch, but trust me, they’re worth their weight in gold. 

The AfterShokz Aeropex come equipped with bone conduction technology, helping you stay aware of your surroundings while you listen to your favourite tunes. How’s that for safety? 

Another major factor contributing to their top-of-the-line status is robustness. These babies are armed with an IP67 rating, making them a perfect choice for those adventurous souls out there. Dust or water, bring it on!

The cherry on top? The battery life – boasting an 8-hour longevity, these headphones ensure that you will never find yourself chasing after power outlets mid-ride. No more panicking about your jams cutting out when you’re ramping up that hill! 

Last but not least, no need to worry about tricky cables tangling you up – the AfterShokz Aeropex connect via Bluetooth 5.0, supporting an unfettered rhythm in your ride.

After testing a whole spectrum of headphones, finding the AfterShokz Aeropex was like finding a pot of gold at the end of a long and winding cycling trail. So, if you’re on the prowl for the best, look no further. Why settle for less when you can have the best, right? 

9. Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2

Now, let’s break it down, shall we? The Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2, not to be confused with any frivolous polka dot design, offers excellent sound quality and a decent battery life. Imagine, you could be cycling to Bach or Bon Jovi for a whopping five and a half hours! That’s longer than it took me to finish the last mountain stage of the Tour de France on my exercise bike! 

The ‘Spirit’ in the title, I presume, is referring to the unbound freedom you feel when you don’t have wires dangerously tangling around your handlebars. It’s a bit like riding headlong down a hill with the wind in your hair—electrifying! 

But what really makes them stand out is their superb fit. These little ear gems come with ‘AirWings’—comfy, flexible bits that tuck into the contours of your ear. Now, stick with me here, it’s a bit like finding the perfect seat for your bicycle—one that fits you just right, offering the comfort and stability you need for those long, arduous rides. 

And what about that price? In the world of cycling headphones, the Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 is the equivalent of a sturdy, reliable hybrid bike. Sure, it might not come with all the fancy trimmings of a high-end racing model, but it gets you from A to B, and it does so with style, without poking a hole in your wallet! 

But of course, remember folks, the headphones are only as safe as the cyclist wearing them. To maintain our safety on the road, we should always make a point to understand what traffic laws apply to wearing headphones while cycling in our area. It’s a wonderful symphony out there, whether in your ears or the world around, and it’s up to us to tune in responsibly!

Neil Curtis

Neil has contributed to over 156 articles on TurboBikeTrainer. An avid cyclist and road bike enthusiast, Neil understands the allure of fresh gear, shiny upgrades, and the thrill of the ride. Whether it's a leisurely cycle through the park, an intensive indoor session, or an exhilarating outdoor adventure, cycling has become his go-to form of exercise. Neil's passion for cycling is evident in his detailed reviews, tips, and insights shared on TurboBikeTrainer, making him a trusted voice in the cycling community.

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