8 Best Headphones for Cycling [2021]

Cyclist wearing bone conduction headphones (From: Pexels)
Cyclist wearing bone conduction headphones (From: Pexels)

Do you love cycling? Here are the best headphones to suit your active lifestyle.

NameTypeIP RatingBattery LifePrice
AfterShokz Aeropex Best OverallBone conduction headphonesIP678 hours BUY
Coros SafeSound Road Strong Runner-UpHelmet with built-in HeadphonesIPX510 hours BUY
Mpow Flame S Budget Pick #1In-ear with ear hookIPX712 hours BUY
Vidonn F1 Budget Pick #2Bone conduction headphonesIP556 hours BUY
Sena R1 Best for Team CommunicationHelmet with built-in HeadphonesN/A12 hours BUY
Jabra Elite Active 75t Most VersatileTrue wireless earbudsIP575.5 hours BUY
Plantronics Voyager 5200 Best for Calls while CyclingSingle In-ear headsetIPX47 hours BUY
Bose Frames Tempo Best for Wind and Light ProtectionAudio embedded in sport sunglassesIPX48 hours BUY

How to Pick the Best Headphones for Cycling

Listening to music while cycling has been known to give you a performance boost by increasing your endurance and reducing your perception of effort. Music also helps to keep the mind active while on long solo rides. And, for the podcast listeners out there, a pair of cycling headphones may be all you need to make your cycling experience more productive.

In order to pick the right pair of headphones for cycling, you need to know what features to look out for.

For example, you don’t want to go out and buy a pair of bulky wired headphones that are going to slow you down and continuously get in the way. Instead, you want to take your time and look at what features are going to benefit your lifestyle choice.

Cyclist wearing bone conduction headphones (From: Pexels)
Cyclist wearing bone conduction headphones (From: Pexels)

So here’s a list of factors that you should take into consideration when in the market for a pair of cycling headphones:

Can you stay aware of your surroundings?

Many argue that listening to music while cycling can be a hazard. While this can be true, there are ways to mitigate this to keep yourself (and those around you) safe. A good pair of cycling headphones should allow you to hear your music in addition to your surroundings. And this is typically done by unique open-ear designs or ambient sound mode.

A lot of open-ear headphones use bone conduction technology. This sends the audio directly to the inner ear through vibrations against your head and cheekbones, bypassing the eardrums and leaving your ears clear so you can hear what’s happening around you.

However, not all open-ear headphones use bone conduction. Instead, some use unique designs that incorporate speakers outside of the ears instead of over or inside like the usual types of headphones and earbuds.

Headphones with an open-ear design usually have lower sound quality than the usual headphones though. If that’s a major dealbreaker for you, you can go for headphones that feature an ambient sound mode. These use built-in speakers that project outside noise to your ear so you can hear your surroundings and your music at the same time.

Is it compatible with other protective gears?

Cyclists with helmet, safety glasses, and headphones (From: Pexels)
Cyclists with helmet, safety glasses, and headphones (From: Pexels)

Every cyclist needs a safety-certified helmet with tail lights and a good pair of protective glasses that block out both debris and harmful UV rays. These two pieces of equipment are imperative in staying safe while cycling and need to be taken into consideration when shopping for a pair of cycling headphones.

However, wearing a helmet, glasses, and headphones at the same time can be difficult. It can be uncomfortable if there’s little room to fit all of them on your head.

If this is a concern of yours, you might be interested in either a helmet with built-in headphones or sunglasses with built-in headphones. As the names suggest, both come with headphones built-in so that you don’t have to worry about finding a pair that will fit.

If equipment with built-in headphones doesn’t sound right for you, then a small lightweight pair that hugs your head closely will work best with protective gear. Just make sure to stay away from anything bulky.

Waterproof rating

To make sure your headphones are protected from the elements, you should take note of the Ingress Protection (IP) rating. The IP rating of a pair of headphones determines how resilient they are against foreign bodies like dirt and dust, as well as resistance to moisture. The first digit in the rating refers to foreign bodies, and the second digit refers to moisture.

For example, a pair of headphones with an IP55 rating will have good protection against both foreign bodies and moisture.

Since cycling headphones are likely to come into contact with water from sweat and rain, an IPX4 rating should be considered at minimum. If you cycle in areas with a lot of dirt or dust in the air, this should also be taken into consideration when checking the IP ratings of headphones.

Does it stay fit throughout the whole ride?

Headphones that don’t fit properly can rattle around during wear and cause discomfort. Having to continuously adjust them can be problematic, especially on long rides. A good pair of headphones will fit just right and can be adjusted if necessary.

  • Size: Seeing as you’re going to be wearing them alongside a helmet and protective glasses, cycling headphones shouldn’t be too large. A good pair is lightweight and discreet so that they’re not putting pressure on your head.
  • Adjustability: Being able to adjust your headphones to your liking is always something to consider. Headphones aren’t always one-size-fits-all, and the ability to adjust the fit to your head shape is a welcomed feature.

Battery life

Wireless headphones are the popular choice for cycling, thanks to their cordless design. But, having your headphones die while you’re cycling can be disappointing.

To give you an indication of how long the battery will last, manufacturers often include an estimated charge time and battery duration in the specifications of their product. You can use this as a reference so that you’re not left discouraged if the battery dies halfway through a ride.

Look for headphones that have a battery time that lasts longer than your average ride in case the ride goes on longer than expected.

Audio and mic quality

Of course, with any pair of headphones, audio quality is a factor.

Even though bone conduction headphones are the most common type of headphones for cycling, they’re not exactly the best when it comes to audio quality.

Because bone conduction technology works with vibrations through your bones instead of air, it’s a less natural experience. And, because your ears are open, wind and ambient noise can also be very noticeable.

Because of the importance of ambient sound, you may need to set your expectations when it comes to the sound quality of cycling headphones. At best, cycling headphones should be able to deliver sound quality that’s still enjoyable despite audible disruptions.

Moreover, for those who would like phone call functionality, a mic is a great addition. This helps you have the ability to take phone calls without having to take your phone out or break from your ride.

If you’re someone who’s always on calls even when cycling, make sure to go for headphones with wind noise reduction on the microphones. This ensures that the person on the other line can hear you loud and clear despite the noises around you.

8 Best Headphones for Cycling [2021]

AfterShokz Aeropex

Best Overall
Close look at AfterShokz Aeropex (From: Amazon)
Close look at AfterShokz Aeropex (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Battery life: 8 hours
  • Type: Bone conduction headphones
  • IP rating: IP67
  • Connectivity: Wireless (Bluetooth 5.0)
  • Multifunction button

The AfterShokz Aeropex bone conduction headphones are built to deliver exceptional audio quality while also allowing for optimal cycling awareness. Their bud-free design ensures comfortable listening during long cycling sessions. The combination of these features makes them the perfect choice for cyclists.

Thanks to their wireless capabilities, you can cycle without the worry of cables being a hindrance to your movement. In addition to this, their battery is rated for 8 hours of playtime so you can enjoy them even on longer rides.

The slim and lightweight design makes them perfect for wear with any helmet, as they wrap closely around the back of your head. With an IP67 rating, these headphones work great in wet conditions so you don’t need to worry about them breaking at the slightest touch of water. And, thanks to the built-in moisture detection alert, you’ll know when your headphones are completely dry and ready for a safe charge.

Calls while on-the-go are made easy with the multifunction button that allows you to answer phone calls using the built-in microphone without breaking your stride. This same button can be used as a music controller and a trigger for your voice assistant. Hands-free control has never been easier.

The headphones aren’t perfect for those who have large heads. The plastic band inside the silicone casing can easily snap if too much tension is applied. If the band is continuously stretched, it can also cause discomfort if worn for too long.

For more information, check out our detailed review on the AfterShokz Aeropex.

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Coros SafeSound Road

Strong Runner-up
Close look at Coros SafeSound Road (From: Amazon)
Close look at Coros SafeSound Road (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Battery life: 10 hours
  • Type: Built-in headphones
  • IP rating: IPX5
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • Integrated safety features: Automatic LED tail lights, collision sensor, open-ear audio set-up, smart remote
  • Safety certifications: CPSC standard in US, and CE, EN 1078 in Europe

The Coros SafeSound Road is a safety helmet that comes with an integrated sound system, superior safety features and a battery life that will last you on even the longest rides. Created with both safety and audio functionality in mind, it’s easy to see why this is our second pick.

In terms of safety, this helmet has everything you need. The helmet itself features LED lights that can be set to automatically trigger when the sensor detects ambient lighting.

If an accident occurs, the SafeSound helmet will detect impact using its collision sensor. This immediately notifies your emergency contacts with your location. Plus, the LED tail light will also begin to flash S.O.S. in Morse code to alert those nearby.

The built-in open ear headphones allow you to hear everything going on around you in addition to your music.

The helmet comes with a smart remote that attaches to the handlebar and can be used to control your audio and call functions, all without having to take a break. You can also pair up the helmet with the COROS app to get in-depth information on your distance traveled and route information to get a full overview of all your rides.

Because these headphones can only be used with the helmet, there’s not much use outside of cycling. And, seeing as everything is integrated, repairs can be costly. But, if you prefer helmets with integrated headphones, the SafeSound Road Helmet by Coros is the best option for you.

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Mpow Flame S

Budget Pick #1
Close look at Mpow Flame S (From: Amazon)
Close look at Mpow Flame S (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Battery life: 12 hours
  • Type: In-ear with ear hook
  • IP rating: IPX7
  • Connectivity: Wireless (Bluetooth 5.0)
  • CVC 8.0 in microphone

Popular thanks to their competitive price, the Mpow Flame S is a good choice for cyclists on a budget. Their design allows you to hear clear audio while also remaining attentive to your surroundings. Paired with an energy-efficient battery that lasts a whopping 12 hours, these headphones are great for those who are on-the-go often.

The headphones come with four sizes of silicone earbuds and a medium pair of memory foam ear tips to ensure you can tailor the fit to your liking. Their lightweight design mixed with a wireless connection makes it easy to forget they’re even on your ears.

The IPX7 rating is a surprising but welcomed feature for these headphones considering the already low price. Since they’re sweatproof, they’re ideal for all types of activities, not just cycling. Their nano-coating prevents any sweat from entering the device at any time so you don’t need to continuously wipe them down.

Equipped with a CVC8.0 noise cancelling microphone, the headphones will automatically filter out any intrusive noise to leave your phone calls loud and clear. And, thanks to their on-ear controls, taking phone calls or adjusting your sound is super easy. With the advanced aptX & AAC audio codec compatibility, you can enjoy crystal clear audio with consistent highs, mids, and lows.

The provided hook gives them an extra secure fit so they don’t easily fall out during a ride, but is not very flexible and can be a problem for those with large ears. Also, those who wear glasses may find that it’s difficult to wear them at the same time as the headphones.

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Vidonn F1

Budget Pick #2
Close look at Vidonn F1 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Vidonn F1 (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Battery life: 6 hours
  • Type: Bone conduction headphones
  • IP rating: IP55
  • Connectivity: Wireless (Bluetooth 5.0)

The Video F1’s are an affordable pair of bone conduction headphones that feature a lightweight open-ear design to deliver audio straight to your ear without causing a distraction. Their ergonomic fit lets you wear them for hours without discomfort.

With an ultralight high-quality titanium construction, you can rest easy knowing that these headphones aren’t going to break easily. And, thanks to their comfortable secure-fit design, they’re less likely to fall from your head during your rides.

The headphones make use of a single button for controls. The on-ear button makes answering phone calls and changing music a breeze. And, thanks to CVC noise reduction technology, your phone calls will be crisp and clear.

Although their battery life and IP rating are lower than other headphones on this list, there’s no doubt that these headphones offer some great features at an affordable price.

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Sena R1

Best for Team Communication
Close look at Sena R1 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Sena R1 (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Battery life: 12 hours
  • Type: Built-in headphones
  • Connectivity: Wireless (Bluetooth 4.1)
  • Safety certifications: CE, FCC, IC, CE EN 1078, CPSC 1203
  • Additional features: Intercom with up to 4 people, built-in FM Radio function,

The Sena R1 is a robust helmet with built-in headphones backed by multiple safety certifications. The Sena smartphone app offers easy customization of the features offered by the helmet. Stay in contact with your group using the mesh intercom and listen to your favorite radio stations with the integrated FM radio.

Intercom functionality allows you to stay in constant communication with 3 other riders up to half a mile away from each other. Advanced noise control technology helps keep your voice transmissions clear and free of disturbance.

The integrated sound system allows you to safely listen to music or podcasts straight from your phone via Bluetooth. And for the radio lovers out there, you can tune into your local FM stations using the Sena app on your smartphone. You can even save them for easy access in the future.

You’re in full control of your helmet with the use of hands-free verbal control. Verbal commands can be used to take advantage of the helmet’s features without ever having to move your hands from the bar.

Pairing doesn’t seem to be an easy feat, especially for those who are pairing as a group as the intercom feature intends. The pairing process isn’t user-friendly and can become frustrating after many failed attempts. But, when the connections are made, the intercom feature works great.

If you’re looking for a helmet that is not only safety certified but also perfect for group cycling, look no further.

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Jabra Elite Active 75t

Most Versatile
Close look at Jabra Elite Active 75t (From: Amazon)
Close look at Jabra Elite Active 75t (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Battery life: 5.5 hours
  • Type: True wireless earbuds
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • IP rating: IP57
  • Active noise cancellation

Active noise cancellation, 4 microphones, and up to 24 hours of battery time (with the pocket-friendly charging case) make the Jabra Elite Active 75t a powerhouse without a doubt. These versatile earbuds are lightweight and feature a grip coating that keeps them in place during any activity.

Thanks to their true wireless design, these earbuds are very versatile. Their special grip coating makes it so that they’re not easily dislodged from your ear while you’re cycling. And, they offer an incredible IP57 rating which makes them great for everyday use.

Unlike most true wireless earbuds, they offer active noise cancellation (ANC) that can be activated when you want to isolate yourself from the outside world. While the ANC is highly discouraged during cycling, you can switch to Hear Through mode instead. This lets you actively hear your surroundings in addition to your music.

On their own, these earbuds offer up to 5.5 hours of continuous playtime. But, with the included charging case, this means that you can charge the headphones while on the go to make sure they’re ready for your next cycle.

The largest concerns are the problems faced with the left earbud. Disconnections, static, and volume imbalances are problems that seem to plague only the left earbud. These intermittent problems can often be solved temporarily through a factory reset.

If problems occur more persistently, you can make use of the 1-year base warranty, or the additional 2-year warranty if you register through the Jabra Sound+ app.

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Plantronics Voyager 5200

Best for Calls while Cycling
Close look at Plantronics Voyager 5200 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Plantronics Voyager 5200 (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Battery life: 7 hours
  • Type: Single in-ear headset
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • IP rating: IPX4
  • 6 layers of wind protection

The Voyager 5200 by Plantronics is the go-to headset for those who take seemingly endless calls on the go. It’s a single in-ear piece that features an incredible wind and noise cancellation.

Thanks to the triple-mic active Digital Signal Processing (DSP), you’ll be able to hear audio clearly even though it’s only a single earpiece. And, with an impressive 6 layers of wind protection, those on the other end of the phone call will hardly realize that you’re cycling.

In addition to their lightweight small form factor, this headset offers up to 7 hours of talktime. Control everything about your headset using the buttons built onto the headset. And, using the Plantronics Hub App, you can customize your ringtone, check battery levels and update the firmware.

One thing to note is that the microphone can often have trouble detecting your voice. It’s speculated that this is caused by the 6 layers of wind protection trying to block out what it thinks is excessive noise. While this feature can be useful for cyclists, it can quickly defeat the purpose if the headset doesn’t work consistently.

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Bose Frames Tempo

Best for Wind and Light Protection
Close look at Bose Frames Tempo (From: Amazon)
Close look at Bose Frames Tempo (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Battery life: 8 hours
  • Type: Audio embedded sport sunglasses
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • IP rating: IPX4
  • 99% protection from UV rays

The Bose Frames Tempo are a refreshing alternative to standalone earbuds or integrated headphones. They offer a secure fit thanks to their silicone nose pads and TR-90 nylon construction. Their open-ear design keeps your ears comfortable and promotes airflow during your ride.

The Bose Frames Tempo is not bone conduction. Instead, they use a unique open-ear design, placing the speakers in the flexible temple grips.

Every cyclist needs a good pair of glasses to counteract the sun on particularly bright days. These polarized lenses offer 99% protection against harmful UV rays to keep your eyes free from glare. And, if your lenses ever sustain damage, they can be easily swapped out with another pair of interchangeable lenses.

For a full 8 hours of playtime, you only need a 1-hour charge. The built-in microphone is designed to focus on your voice while mitigating the sound of the wind around you. And thanks to their water-resistant design, they’re great for all types of outdoor activities.

Most people feel like a pair of standalone headphones will be too much of an encumbrance when paired with your helmet and glasses. If you’re one of the, the Bose Frames Tempo is one of your top options. This acts as an interesting alternative that solves both your visual and auditory needs when cycling.

The Bose Frames Tempo uses USB-C for quicker charging and better compatibility with modern devices.

There isn’t a lot of flexibility, though, and if the glasses are too small, they can feel very restrictive on your face and potentially lead to a headache. Before purchasing, be sure to check the sizing to make sure they’ll fit your head type.

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