Cycling is now more popular than ever in the UK, with many of us picking up a new bicycle over the last few months. A bike gives us the ability to travel much further, compared with walking alone and is ideal for both leisure and commuting. While cycling is great with friends, many occasions we love to cycle on our own and go on our own little adventure. This is when we look for the best earphones for cycling.
We know many readers will have different views on using earbuds when on a bike. For some, it just won’t fly. But for others, earphones can take a workout to the next level by providing a constant stream of motivating music. We recommend taking a cautious approach and only using earphones for cycling when you can be sure it’s safe to do so.
When it comes to purchasing earphones for cycling, there are many features to look out for which go above and beyond what the standard consumer will be looking for. As an example, water resistance is an essential feature for all cycling earphones. You never know when you are going to get caught out in the rain unexpectedly in the UK. Battery life is also very important if you are cycling regularly such as commuting every day. We look for earphones that will provide at least a week’s worth of battery life with regular use. Anything less could leave you frustrated with how often the earphones need charging.
A snug fit is also essential for any cyclists earphones. Dropping out during a ride could lead to disaster if they get damaged. Also, once they are in position at the start of a ride, you do not want to be frequently stopping to adjust them. Many earbuds will include different tips to fit various ear sizes.
Best earphones for cycling
With so much choice when it comes to finding the best cycling earphones, we have compiled our favourites for 2021 below.
For many consumers looking for new earphones, Jabra may not be the first brand which jumps to mind. In fact, you may be more familiar with Jabra headsets from Zoom calls at work. However, the Jabra brand actually produces a full range of high-quality headphones for personal use. The Active 65t earbuds are truly wireless earphones which are ideal for a range of sports and activities, not just cycling.
We love that these earbuds include a charging case which allows for convenient charging, even on the go by taking the case with you. No more carrying wires around. The design also includes three sets of ear tips, which should make it easy to pick out a comfortable size that stays firmly in place, inside the ear. The battery life is decent with 5 hours per session But the charging case improves this to 15 hours, before they need to be plugged into a USB charging point. The quality of these earbuds is great and the 2-year warranty also covers protection against sweat and dust. A range of colours is available including blue, red and black. Our favourites are the blue design.
The Beats by Dr Dre range of earphones and headphones is extremely popular. Since being purchased by Apple several years ago, the range has increased substantially and now includes a lot of exciting Apple tech built into the earphones. As with all Beats earphones, we love the design of these. The super-stylish matt black looks great and is not going to age any time soon.
PowerBeats feature secure-fit ear hooks which are adjustable to keep the earphones comfortably in the ear when cycling. Just because these are Apple earphones, they are not limited to just iPhones. The Bluetooth technology ensures they can be connected to a full range of devices including Android mobile phones. A single charge provides 15 hours of listening time which is plenty even for regular cyclists. The earbuds feature sweat resistance to stay protected during even the most intense cycles.
It wouldn’t be a headphone roundup without featuring at least one pair of Bose headphones. The Bose brand produces a full range of some of the highest quality headphones on the market. Perhaps most well-known for their noise cancellation over-ear headphones, the range goes much further than that. These SoundSport Free earbuds are designed to produce a truly wireless experience.
If complete flexibility is the aim, these wireless earphones make a great choice. The SoundSport Free earphones are designed for those on the move and come packed with some of the latest technology. This includes IPX4 water resistance for resistance from both weather and sweat. The included case allows for the earbuds to be charged without any wires and the case can easily be placed in a bag for on the go charging. Battery life is up to 5 hours from a single charge, but the case can provide an additional 10 hours. The quick-charge feature is great, providing an additional 45 minutes of music from a 15-minute charge.
When it comes to great value technology, Anker is a brand which comes frequently recommended. You can most commonly find Anker on Amazon, producing a full range of exciting products including speakers and portable chargers. Anker produces a lot of headphones but our favourite for the best earphones for cycling is the new Soundcore Spirit X2.
These earphones come packed with technology and provide great value at sub £100. The package includes a large collection of ear-tips to find a comfortable fit for any workout. The bass-heavy speaker is ideal for powering through an intense cycle and providing a motivation boost. IP68 water resistance protects against sweat and also if you are unlucky enough to get caught out by the weather. Battery life is great with 9 hours on a single charge and up to a huge 36 hours provided through the charging case. We struggled to find any sports headphones providing as many features at this price point.
You may not have heard of Aftershokz before, but they produce a large range of wireless sports headphones. Unlike traditional earphones, these use bone conduction technology and the headphones don’t actually sit inside of your ear. Instead, they attach on the side, keeping your ears clear to hear any ambient noise happening nearby. Great for safety and remaining aware of surroundings.
These headphones are waterproof to provide protection whatever the weather. The enhanced audio provides a superior bass experience for a high-quality listening experience. These headphones are noticeably light at 26g, ideal for wearing for long periods at a time. The battery life is solid with up to 8 hours playing time. 2-years warranty ensures peace of mind that these headphones are going to last.
How to find the best earphones for cycling
When it comes to finding suitable earphones, cyclists have greater requirements than most users. Due to the often harsh and dynamic environments the earphones will be used in, they need to be able to last longer and perform better.
A few years ago, worrying about battery life on earphones was not an issue. But these were wired earphones, which were cumbersome in their own way. When wireless earphones first launched, the battery life was often poor and in some cases would not last longer than a few hours. Thankfully, many wireless earphones these days have great battery life and do not need charging very often at all. Some of the best feature up to 18 hours of battery life before they need charging or even include their own charging case for when they are not being used.
For cycling, we recommend looking for earphones with at least 8 hours of battery life. This should be plenty of juice for not needing to charge them too often. Another top tip is to calculate how many hours you cycle in a week and ensure the battery life of the earphones is enough to cover that time, plus a little extra. The actual performance you get compared with manufacturers battery life estimations can vary depending on how they are being used. We always check our earphones before setting off for a ride to ensure they have enough battery left for the duration of the journey.
IP water resistance
One area that is super important for cyclists, is the water-resistance of earphones. If you are cycling for long distances or at a decent pace, sweat can occur and cause moisture to get inside the earphones. Furthermore, we never really know when we could get caught in a rain shower in the UK. Even if you don’t plan to use them in the rain, that added level of protection ensures you can be confident they are not going to break.
Most consumer electronics, including earphones, use an IPX rating system to classify how water resistant they are, for example IPX7. The IP standard for ingress protection e.g. how much they are able to protect against liquids making their way inside. The rating is between IPX0 (no protection) and IPX8. IPX7 is commonly seen on earphones. This provides protection from being completely submerged under at least 1 metre of water for at least 30 minutes. We know this is way beyond the requirements of a cyclist but demonstrates the earphones are very well protected.
Warranty and support
On many websites online, there are now a huge amount of low-cost earphones which claim to feature a large range of great features. The problem with some less well-known brands is that we often do not know how good the quality will be. If your earphones broke within 6 months of purchasing them and it’s difficult to get hold of the manufacturer, you are going to be annoyed.
We always recommend choosing earphones from a manufacturer that you know can be trusted. Many great earphone brands including Bose, Beats and Anker will have thousands of reviews and lots of feedback online. Be sure to check these out before purchasing. The warranty can vary by manufacturer and individual earphones. Most should have a minimum of 1-year warranty included. Some of the best earphones will include a 3-year warranty. This provides peace of mind that they are going to last.
A snug fit
Finding earphones which provide a comfortable and snug fit is essential whichever the use case, but for cyclists, it becomes even more important. The last thing any of us want is for earphones to fall out partway through a long bike ride.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to finding comfortable earphones. Some include rubber tips and may even include several sizes in the box. Others, such as AirPods, come in just one size, meaning there is not much you can do if you are unlucky enough for them to not fit. Some earphones have on the wires connecting them, bare this in mind when using them with a helmet.
Avoid noise cancellation
For most earphone fans, noise cancellation is essential to block out the noise around them and get completely emerged in the music. But for cyclists, this is the opposite. It’s important that we can hear everything go on around us. When we are out riding on the road, we must be able to hear everything that is going on to keep us safe and avoid accidents. Therefore, cycling earphones should allow ambient noise through, and in some cases can actually amplify ambient noise through the use of onboard microphones.
We recommend avoiding any sort of headphone which may cover the whole ear and instead look for earphones which remain comfortable without blocking the ears. Some newer earphones no longer even need to be placed inside the ear. These work by passing sound through the cranial bones, bypassing the eardrums, whilst still providing high-quality audio. We expect to see these increase over the next few years, but at the moment the technology is still very new.
Overall, cycling headphones are great for those looking to stay focused and motivated during solo bike rides. Cycling is great for fitness and music can often take our workouts to the next level and provide an added boost. There are many key features to look out for when picking the best earphones for cycling. Battery life is essential for regular uses, and a secure fit will ensure they stay in place during a long cycle.
Fortunately, there are lots of brands to choose from that produce great wireless earphones. All of them suitable for outdoor and indoor cycling. We love the Anker brand for value and good quality. Which cycling earphones will you be purchasing next? Let us know in the comments below.
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