This article was originally published on Make the Sound Better. I have edited this content, updating the recommendations to be more relevant for 2023 and making the recommendations more suitable for outdoor cycling, where you need to have some environmental awareness.


There’s nothing quite like a long, focused bike ride. One of the best ways to enhance your cycling experience is through the power of music. However, not all headphones are well suited for the task.

For one thing, you have to be very vigilant to make sure that your headphone cord doesn’t accidentally get caught on your handlebars while riding.

While zooming across your local bike trail, you’re bound to be affected by wind and a variety of other factors that may affect the sound quality.

Below, we’ll dive into some of the best headphones for cycling available. We understand that serious biking comes with unique challenges, so we took those factors into consideration.

After all, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice listening to music while out on the trail. Here are some of the headphones for cycling outdoors or at the gym.

Best Headphones For Cycling Buying Guide

For this recommendation list, I have focussed on headphones that provide good environmental awareness. If you are not riding on roads, you may be fine with normal fitness earbuds, but I don’t want to recommend earbuds that could potentially put people at risk. Some (or all) of my recommendations below may still not be ideal for road cycling, and it is up to you to act responsibly.

1) Shokz OpenRun Pro: Check Price On Amazon

This recommendation list is going to have a few Shokz headphones. They are the market leader for bone conduction headphones, and this style of headphones is the best option there is for outdoor fitness and environmental awareness.

I have already recommended the Shokz OpenRun Pro as the best headphones for running. They are what I personally use, and these are the closest you will get to in-ear sound quality. I was particularly impressed with the amount of bass they were able to produce while also minimising the vibration sensation from the bone conduction.

These are also IP55 rated, which is significantly better than the IP54 on most earbuds, and the battery lasts up to 10 hours, which will see you through everything other than ultra marathons.

Pros:

  • Bone conduction provides superior environmental awareness vs normal open-fit design

Cons:

  • High price

[amazon box=”B09BVXT8TJ”]

2)  Shokz OpenMove: Check Price On Amazon

The Shokz OpenMove are half the price of the Shokz OpenRun Pro, and therefore, my recommendation if you want something more affordable.

I was impressed with the sound quality of these, the were still able to produce a good amount of bass. I found that these have a significantly greater vibration feeling than the OpenRun Pro, which feels quite unusual when you first wear them. I got used to it, but some people may not like it.

Pros:

  • Bone conduction provides superior environmental awareness vs normal open-fit designs
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Bone conduction produces quite a bit of vibration

[amazon box=”B09BW29FJS”]

3) Shokz OpenFit: Check Price On Amazon

I haven’t had a chance to test the new Shokz OpenFit, yet. They have only just launched, and they ditch bone conduction in favour of what Shokz calls DirectPitch Air Conduction Technology.

With this open-ear configuration, you stay aware of your surroundings, making them an ideal choice for office, home, or outdoor activities.

From my experience, open fit headphones get drowned out by wind noise much easier than bone conduction.

Thanks to the ear hooks and absence of in-ear pieces, these headphones remain comfortably in place on your ears without any concerns. The unique fit might require slight adjustments during activities, ensuring the main earpiece sits snugly inside your concha for optimal audio performance. While this might require minor tweaks mid-run, rest assured they won’t easily fall out, granting you peace of mind.

With a battery life of 7 hours per charge, they may not match the impressive longevity of OpenRun headphones. Additionally, the sweat resistance has been reduced from IP55 to IP54, meaning they still offer decent protection against moisture.

Overall, OpenFit earbuds offer an enhanced audio experience compared to bone conduction models, though they may not quite match the sound quality of traditional in-ear earbuds that utilize silicon tips to create a secure seal. Nevertheless, they strike a balance between awareness and audio performance, catering to those seeking an open-ear design with satisfactory sound capabilities.

Pros:

  • Better sound quality than bone conduction, making them more usable for day-to-day use rather than just fitness

Cons:

  • Air conduction gets drowned out by environmental noise easily
  • Price

[amazon box=”B0BYSQDWRT”]

4) Sony LinkBuds: Check Price On Amazon

The open-ear design (or open-ring, as Sony calls it) of the Sony LinkBuds is ideal for outdoor activities like cycling. The ability to hear ambient sounds while still enjoying my favourite tunes ensures a safer and more enjoyable experience on the road. It’s reassuring to remain aware of approaching traffic or other potential hazards, making the LinkBuds an ideal companion for urban rides or scenic routes alike.

The fit is excellent; even during intense rides with bumps and vibrations, the LinkBuds stayed firmly in place without causing any discomfort. However, the true wireless design is not really ideal when cycling on the roads, if one falls out, then there is a good chance you will lose it.

The sound quality is impressive, albeit they lack the bass that normal in-ear earbuds provide. They have clear and balanced audio despite the open-ear design. While they may not match the audio immersion of high-end closed-ear headphones, the LinkBuds deliver enough clarity and bass to keep me motivated during my rides. I appreciate that they strike a fine balance between sound quality and situational awareness, which is essential when cycling in traffic or busy areas.

Battery life has been more than sufficient for my cycling needs. With approximately 7 hours of playback per charge, they easily last through extended rides, and the included charging case offers additional power on the go. I’ve never had any issues with battery depletion during my rides, which is crucial for long cycling sessions.

In terms of durability, the Sony LinkBuds have proven to be reliable companions. The sweat resistance, rated at IPX4, provides adequate protection against sweat and light rain, ensuring they remain functional in various weather conditions.

Pros:

  • Good for daily use, not just fitness
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • Air conduction gets drowned out by environmental noise easily
  • True wireless earbuds can fall out which would not be good while ccling

[amazon box=”B09QMMHL3H”]

5) Creative Outlier Free Pro: Check Price On Amazon

I felt I had to at least offer one alternative option to the Shokz bone conduction headphones. I chose the Creative Outlier Free Pro because they have an MP3 player built in, and they are IPX8. These are designed so you can use them while swimming as well as in other sports. For cycling, you can still listen to audio without being connected to your phone.

These won’t sound quite as good as the OpenRun Pro, but they should be better than the OpenMove.

I have noticed that some people have criticised the fit of these. It seems that the titanium band doesn’t fit around some people’s heads very well, and they want clear audio from them, they have to press down on both sides lightly to make proper contact with skin, which you can’t really do when cycling.

The price is a bit steep on Amazon, but at the time of writing, if you buy them directly from Creative, they are just £90.

Pros:

  • Bone conduction provide superior environmental awareness vs normal open fit designs
  • IPX8 rated making them suitable for swimming as well
  • MP3 player built in

Cons:

  • Some people have issues with the fit of these

[amazon box=”B0BRZJJK45″]

6) Oladance Open Ear Headphones: Check Price On Amazon

I haven’t used these, but they filled the void when Bose discontinued the Sport Open earbuds. They are incredibly well-reviewed on Amazon, which hopefully justifies the high price. The success of these is likely why Shokz launched their OpenFit headpones.

Similar to the OpenFit, these have an around-the-ear hook, so you should have to worry about them falling out, unlike the Sony earbuds.

These have a dual 16.5mm driver design which should be able to provide superb audio quality.

On Amazon, one reviewer stated:

I’m a cyclist and was looking for something wireless, light, with intuitive controls and decent sound quality. In all these regards, these headphones are superlative. Everything I was looking for is here, and I like the fact that because they’re open stereo – I can still hear the outside world as much as the music. I also use these for when I work from home, and they work brilliantly, with a decent mic and calls being clear.
It’s early days, and it’ll be good to see how they perform over time, but for now, they are 5 stars all the way. Simply brilliant!

The 16 hour battery life is something that caught my eye. Plenty of people will do a full day cycling and many headphones will struggle to do more than 8 or 10 hours at moderate volume.

These do not come supplied with a charging case, that’s an extra £50 which is a bit of a rip off

Pros:

  • Best reviewed open fit / air conduction headphones I can find
  • Outstanding battery
  • Large dual drivers for superior audio quality

Cons:

  • Air conduction gets drowned out by environmental noise easily
  • Price
  • Additional £50 for charging case

[amazon box=”B09TXC37XT”]

6) Mu6 Ring Open Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headphones: Check Price On Amazon

I reviewed the Mu6 Ring, and I really liked them at the time. The audio quality is much better than bone conduction headphones.

In my review, I said these were not great for cycling as don’t fit very well under cycling helmets, and wind noise will easily drown out the audio. However, I think they deserve a place on the list because they are so cheap at around £28.

I’d say that these are better for running and walking, and I wouldn’t buy them specifically for cycling, but they still useful for the occasional bike ride.

Pros:

  • Price

Cons:

  • Air conduction gets drowned out by environmental noise easily.
  • Fit doesn’t work well with bike helmets.

[amazon box=”B08ZXYWPNX”]

Conclusion

My personal recommendation, as in the ones I use, is the Shokz OpenRun Pro. They are the best bone conduction headphones I have used so far as the sound quality is excellent and they don’t have too much vibration.

I am eager to try either, or both, the Oladance Open Ear and Shokz OpenFit to see what the sound quality is like and how well they handle wind noise. I expect the general sound quality will be much better but more prone to being drowned out.

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