I’ve spent tens of hours researching more than 20 models of earphones, bone-conduction headphones, and earbuds to put together this list of the very best headphones for cycling. If you want great sound, excellent battery life, sweat, and water-resistant wireless earphones, get the Powerbeats Pro ( Link to Amazon ). But we also have recommendations if you need bone-conduction headphones or maybe a pair of more affordable earbuds.
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|Jabra Elite Active 65t|
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Best for iPhones
|Apple AirPods 2|
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Best Sound Quality
|Bose SoundSport Pulse|
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|AfterShokz Trekz Titanium|
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Best Overall: Powerbeats Pro
Type: in-ear | IPX Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 9 hours | MSRP: $199
+ High-performance wireless in-ear earphones
+ Excellent battery life
+ Fast Fuel is excellent for quick charges
+ Sweat and water resistance is great for longer rides
– Connection issues can be problematic
– The case is big, bulky, and heavy
Powerbeats Pro is Apple’s latest iteration on the Beats line, this time in a compact, in-ear wireless form.
Shipped with a case that’s bigger and bulkier than almost anything else Apple has made in years, these headphones are nonetheless a compact (.78 ounces) candidate for being called the best Bluetooth headphones for cycling.
Apple claims that these headphones are built for elite athletes, and the technical specifications certainly back that up.
These are long-lasting, well-engineered headphones that provide excellent sound quality without sacrificing utility.
The earbuds automatically detect when they are not in use to conserve battery life. You can even control whether one or both earbuds are working at a time. The only downside is the connectivity.
Despite working well with most iPhones, there are some real issues with the connection holding. On the other hand, they do work well on most Android devices.
Best Value for Money: Jabra Elite Active 65t
Type: in-ear | IPX Rating: IPX6 | Battery Life: 5 hours | MSRP: $149
+ Good companion app
+ Snug fit for earbuds
+ Solid connectivity
+ Warranty against dust and sweat
– Battery life is mediocre
– Uncomfortable design
– Doesn’t turn off automatically after repeated use
Jabra is a company that makes some excellent wireless headphones. They are part of GN Audio which is part of GN Group.
You can read more about the history of this company on its Wikipedia page.
These small but surprisingly heavy (2.4 ounces) earbuds testify how much power you can put in a small package.
A solid choice for anyone looking to get good sound quality with a low profile, the Jabra Elite Active 65t Wireless Sports Earbuds is excellent for anyone who owns a bike.
Though the earbuds are small, they fit surprisingly well in most ears. They can be uncomfortable if you aren’t used to earbuds, but the snug fit ensures they won’t fall out.
It’s the kind of fit you want from one of the best wireless headphones for cycling, especially if you are the type of rider who tends to lose things on the road.
What’s surprising, though, is how good the sound quality is. Though it doesn’t quite compete with the very top of the market, it’s more than one would expect from wireless earbuds of any type.
The companion app for the earbuds is also great. Though companion apps are becoming more popular across the board, few works as well as this one.
There are a few downsides to the earbuds, of course.
The battery life isn’t great, clocking in at only five hours, but the earbuds only take two hours to charge fully.
The fit takes some getting used to, but that’s often worth the trade-off for stability.
Best for Apple Users: Apple AirPods 2
Type: in-ear | IPX Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 5 hours | MSRP: $159
+ Awesome integration with iPhones
+ High-quality product
+ Amazing look and feel
– A little bit expensive
– Could fall out from ear
– Sound quality is average
Priced at $129, they stay a little bit on the expensive side of the spectrum here, but you get the standard Apple high-quality product as ever.
They come with wireless charging case buds, which are smarter than ever. If you are into the Apple ecosystem, you have to consider the AirPods ( also the Powerbeats Pro ).
They are super lightweight and easy to use for cycling.
The sound quality is good enough, but nothing special. I would say an average comparing it to the other headphones on this list. They are perfect for listening to podcasts or casual music.
I love the AirPods because they are super easy to use; integration with iPhones is outstanding. Unfortunately, though, it has a few quite essential drawbacks.
The first one, which could be a deal-breaker, is that they can fall out of your ears during a ride.
The thing is that they are not meant to be sports headphones.
Luckily, I know some cyclists who claim Apple’s AirPods are perfect for cycling.
Best Sound Quality: Bose SoundSport Pulse
Type: in-ear | IPX Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 5 hours | MSRP: $129
+ Great noise cancellation
+ Buds come in 3 sizes included in the package
+ Delivers unparalleled sound quality
– Not consistent battery life
If just the utterance of the brand Bose raises your pulse higher than the thought of an exhilarating ride, the $119 you plunk down for a pair of these SoundSport wireless headphones won’t phase you a bit.
Not content to serve only as a music and communications delivery conduit, cyclists get a heart rate monitor that could come in handy if you want to keep track of your ticker while pedaling.
This product could become your favorite gear since wireless Bluetooth and NFC pair to interface the devices you count on.
That heart monitor sensor could be a lifesaver because it not only keeps tabs on cardiac activity, but StayHear+Pulse tips offer extra advantages.
There’s a sensor window positioned on the left earbud of the Bose SoundSport that delivers relatively accurate readings when in contact with skin, so if a cyclist fails to get a signal, simply adjusting for more skin contact and checking the Bluetooth connection will restore service.
Best of all, the Bose Connect app is the heart and soul of this system, giving you real-time readings and adding to the headphone’s functionality.
You can expect the wireless range to extend up to 30 feet and the rechargeable lithium-ion battery offers a total of 5 hours of wireless service before it’s ready to be refreshed.
Best for Low Budget: Phaiser FlexCore Gen-5
Type: in-ear | IPX Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 11 hours | MSRP: $49
+ It comes with a lifetime, no-questions-asked, sweatproof Warranty
+ Great Bluetooth connection
+ Amazing battery life
– Sound quality is average
– A bit quiet at max volume
If you want an assortment of features that compete with those found on pricier wireless headphones, but your budget maxes out at around $30, this Phaiser FlexCore Gen-5 makes perfect sense.
It comes with a lifetime sweatproof guarantee, so if your glands work overtime when you ride, that feature alone could be compelling.
There’s a mic to keep you connected to the world, and despite a relatively small price tag, the Gen-5 receives high reviews from consumers who turn to this gear for the price and stick with it for performance excellence.
Available in three colors (Blackout, Limegreen, and Oceanview), you can listen to music all day, communicate with friends and undertake longer rides thanks to 11 hours of battery life when it’s fully charged, doubling the staying power of the aforementioned Bose earphones.
Multi-size ear tips loop over-ears to stay in place, even if you find yourself racing at top speed.
It takes about 2 hours to recharge these headphones, so they deliver on the brand’s promise of 4.1 HD Audio as soon as you’re ready to ride off into the sunset.
Sennheiser CX Sport
Type: in-ear | IPX Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 6 hours | MSRP: $129
+ Powerful design and superior audio performance
+ Sweat- and splash-resist
+ It can be worn around or in front of the neck
+ 3-Button remote operation is great
– Too expensive for most cyclists
If you’re looking for a sophisticated, mid-priced, high-performing sports headphone system, this Sennheiser CX could start and end your search. Sennheiser is awarded the first spot in the poll “the best headphone brands in 2021“.
Available for around $100, if you’re enamored of all things made in Germany because you find exceptional workmanship coming from that nation, give this product a second look.
Expect balanced sound with dynamic bass notes, and since these headphones are sweat and splash resistant, the inner workings of each unit will be protected.
Charge these headphones for around 1.5 hours and glean 6 hours of battery life. In a pinch, if you can spend just 10 minutes recharging and you’ll buy another hour of function.
Bluetooth 4.2 with multi-point connectivity can interface with eight devices or simultaneously with 2.
If you’re a frequency freak, these numbers could trigger your buying decision: 17–21,000 Hertz, Impedance-28 Ohm (Passive); 480 Ohm (Active).
While most of the headphone products in this review come with 3 sizes of ear adapters, the Sennheiser CX Sport offers a 4th: XS.
For cyclists whose tiny ears never seem to be compatible with standard buds, this clever touch pays homage to the attention to detail often found in products made in Germany.
Best Ambient Mode: Sony WF-SP700N
Type: in-ear | IPX Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 9 hours | MSRP: $179
+ Super simple and convenient design
+ Ambient sound mode is handy
+ Bigger than Airpods with a good fit
+ Sound quality is likely to exceed your expectations
– No sweat resistant
– When taking phone calls, only the left earbud will broadcast the call
Leave it to Sony to manufacture high-quality headphones with so many features and benefits; spending that much money on it could be a non-issue.
These noise-canceling earbuds are marketed as cordless sporting gear that rebuffs sweat, offers a built-in microphone.
When cyclists turn up the tunes, they can’t help but notice elevated bass tones when measured against comparable products.
The sound quality is excellent, and the headphones deliver a crisp sound with minimal distractions.
You can even operate the buds in “ambient sound mode” if you want to mix music with environmental sounds when you’re cruising on your bike.
Sporting a battery that lasts up to 9 hours on a single charge, this Sony/Sennheiser hybrid comes with a sturdy charging case that’s compact and lightweight.
Activity is enhanced with this gear’s “made for movement” silicon coating, so interior components stay safe from rain, snow, and sweat.
Anker Soundcore Spirit Sports Earbuds
Type: in-ear | IPX Rating: IPX7 | Battery Life: 8 hours | MSRP: $33
+ X-large-size ear tip available
+ The shirt clip is very convenient
+ Submarine-inspired structure and hydro-seal barrier
+ Nice 8 hours of battery playtime
– Complicated 4-step recharging protocol
– Battery life is not consistent
These Anker Soundcore earbuds prove once and for all that an athlete doesn’t have to feed his dog-cheap kibble to afford the great gear.
Anker Soundcore Spirit offers “truly sweat-proof” IPX7 technology, and in fact, the coating can even fight corrosion, so you might say that Anker has doubled down on the sweat threat.
The earwigs and tips offer a comfortable, secure fit, and premium composite drivers are responsible for the crystal-clear quality of the sound.
Product developers have doubled down on ergonomic design by adding a minor but handy feature: a cable clip will keep the wire off your neck, so if you have been annoyed by that distraction while wearing another brand, you can kiss that annoyance goodbye.
Will you use these sports earbuds for gym time, too?
Get a week of workouts from a single battery charge, but you might be more interested in knowing that you can enjoy around 8 hours of playtime before you, your legs, and the battery run out of juice.
Despite the small price tag, you get plenty of bang for your buck: That shirt clip, two cable clips, a micro USB cable, and three earwigs, sized small, medium, and large.
Find four ear tips in the package that accommodate small, medium, large and X-large ears, and there’s a travel pouch to stow everything when you’re not out riding.
Best Bone-Conduction: AfterShokz Trekz Titanium
Type: bone-conduction | IPX Rating: IP55 | Battery Life: 6 hours | MSRP: $99
+ Good for sensitive ears
+ Fairly light
+ Good for those who want to be aware of their surroundings
+ Great for those with hearing loss
– Not sweat-proof
– Average sound quality
At 1.27 ounces, these headphones are a great example of lightweight bone conduction models.
Rather than having to deal with something over or in your ears, you can put on these light headphones and get on the road quickly.
There is a lot to like here for bone-conducting headphone fans.
Though you won’t get the same kind of excellent sound quality that you might get from other models, you’ll still get a reasonably pleasant listening experience.
Sound is one of the best parts of these headphones.
These headphones give users a unique ability to listen to the world around them.
This allows for better spotting of traffic and keeping track of what’s going on when you’re on the trail.
A great deal of what makes these headphones work makes them ideal for biking.
They fit well when you’re wearing a helmet, they allow you to stay aware of what’s going on, but still, stay on well even after a lot of riding.
The only real downside is that these headphones aren’t sweat-proof, and this can be a problem on long rides, especially as the sound will go out intermittently if they get too wet.
Type: bone-conduction | IPX Rating: IP55 | Battery Life: 6 hours | MSRP: $79.95
+ Total awareness of surroundings
+ Bluetooth 5.0 is super reliable
+ Multi-function button is easy to use
+ Best-in-class IP55 water resistance
+ Excellent fit and comfort
– Audio quality is average
I was recently given the opportunity to test out the AfterShokz OpenMove headphones. I have to say that I was really impressed with them!
They are designed for people who want to stay active, and they work really well for that purpose. The sound quality is good enough, and they are very comfortable to wear.
One of the things that I really like about the OpenMove headphones is that they are very lightweight ( at 1 ounce ). They don’t weigh down your head or feel bulky, which is great for cycling.
In terms of battery life, you won’t be disappointed either. On average expect to get around 6 hours of battery life for listening to music, podcasts, audiobooks or simply making calls.
The biggest benefit of all is bone-conduction technology.
The OpenMove headphones are also designed to be used outdoors without much interference from background noise or wind.
They have a patented bone conduction technology that transmits your music through your cheekbones, so you can still hear everything around you while you’re listening to your music.
This is a great feature for people who like to run or work out outdoors because it allows you to stay aware of your surroundings.
Which type of headphones are best for cycling
Before you buy your headphones, you’ll need to know what’s out there.
Headphones come in many varieties, so you’ll always have choices. Knowing what makes each stand out, though, will allow you to find the best option your way.
When most people think of headphones, they mean over-ear headphones. These headphones have been around forever and were the first to move over to wireless compatibility.
Worn over your ears, they’re bulky but traditional.
The good thing about over-ear headphones is that they provide excellent sound quality and have better battery life if they are wireless. But there is a catch.
However, the bad news is that they can rarely be worn under a commuter helmet and tend to add too much weight to long rides.
They are also a bit dangerous because they block external noises.
At the other end of the spectrum are earbuds. Worn in your ears, these are the direct descendants of the popular in-ear headphones that made their debut in the late 2000s.
They’re small, but they are light enough to be worn anywhere.
Earbuds are great because they can be worn with a helmet and tend to be unobtrusive. This makes earbuds some of the best wireless earbuds for road cycling, but they’re not without their drawbacks.
Earbuds tend to have relatively poor battery life and suffer from sound issues, including wind noise caused by the air passing over the earbud.
There are also bone-conducting headphones.
These headphones rest near your ears, but they conduct sound through your bones.
They’re high-tech and valuable but still relatively uncommon.
These headphones can provide good battery life and are relatively light, but the sound quality isn’t always as great.
You can’t get much sound isolation from these headphones either, but they are suitable for those who want to stay aware of what’s happening around them.
And that’s the most significant benefit of using bone-conduction headphones – you will be like a Navy SEAL listening to your favorite sounds while hearing everything around you.
You can read more about bone conduction technology here: Bone Conduction Headsets: A Safer Alternative to Earbuds?
This is extremely important for cyclists who need to listen to the road sounds. Bone-conducting headphones are one of the best choices for cyclists in general.
What to consider when choosing headphones for cycling
Fit and Weight
For most, this means starting with things like fit and weight. The best earbuds for cycling aren’t always the lightest, but they will never make riding more challenging than necessary.
Read as many earbuds reviews as possible on the subreddit of Cycling on Reddit.
Battery life is also always meaningful. The longer you ride, the longer you want your battery life to be. Short means more charging, which can often mean less riding.
At the same time, we want to look for headphones that can stand up to bike riding. That means staying connected no matter what, not rubbing our skin as we ride, and never shorting out just because we get sweaty.
There are also specific reasons why one set might be better than others — riding a bike at the gym?
If so, you might not mind more weight so long as you can get better battery life.
Are you planning on riding long distances? Better noise cancelation might make a particular headset the best headphone for cycling when there’s wind noise.
Though you should be careful with the noise-canceling headphones because they are not recommended for cycling on the open road.
I personally prefer headphones that provide nice noise canceling but not in full so I can still hear a little bit of the noise outside.
It’s handy to be able to hear some horns, people yelling at you, etc.
Is It Legal to Wear Headphones
Hitting the road with your brand new road bike while listening to your favorite tunes on a nice pair of Bluetooth headphones is definitely on top of my weekend shortlist.
But is it legal to listen to music while cycling?
Here’s the short answer:
Cyclists can’t wear headphones or earplugs in the following states – California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
They can wear headphones in all other states, but they shouldn’t. Listen to music on bike paths, parks, and other safer environments.
Listening to music on headphones while cycling is dangerous, and you should always hear a reasonable amount of road noise.
Is It Safe to Wear Headphones
According to attorney/author/cyclist Bob Mionske, “Although detractors say it’s unsafe, that’s not necessarily true.”
He adds, “if you’re listening at a reasonable volume out of a single earbud–it’s still possible to safely operate a bicycle.”
By 2019, the topic remained contentious, says CyclingWeekly.com’s Richard Windsor.
“Listening to music while riding is controversial, but the evidence regarding safety cuts both ways, and a favorite tune can boost performance,” he says in his article’s lead-in.
Windsor cites a study conducted by Drs. Katrina Jungnickel and Rachel Aldred in which the two concluded that headphones worn by cyclists have the ability to “create a ‘sensory strategy'” that can significantly help cyclists cope with riding in dangerous environments like busy urban streets where sensory overload—noise, honking, yelling, and other street sounds–can assault the senses.
My Personal Tips on Safe Listening
- Enjoy your tunes through one earbud only
- Turn down the volume to 60-percent of max
- Invest in bone conduction earphones if you can
Do Pro Cyclists Listen to Music
Pro cyclists listen to music on headphones, but not while racing. They listen to music while training for races or when they ride casually for fun.
The earpiece you can see on their ears during races is for communication with their team director.
Smart ones, like “Iron” Sally Bingham, only make music part of their pre-performance routine to reduce anxiety, get a handle on her nerves and get motivated.