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BUYER'S GUIDE

Best headphones for cycling 2024 — stay entertained safely on the bike, whether you're riding indoors or outdoors

The best headphones for cycling allow you to listen to music or podcasts safely without blocking out sounds from the outside world

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Cycling while wearing headphones often sparks a debate – sadly a lot of it misinformed, because what many people don't seem to realise is that there are now many products designed specifically for listening to music on the bike. So, we've put together a list of some of the best headphones for cycling that let you listen to music or podcasts safely, without being acoustically isolated from your surroundings. 


Opinions are often varied on whether or not you should ride with headphones in, but in the United Kingdom there is no legislation prohibiting cyclists from wearing headphones while cycling. This isn't the same for every country, state and province though, and riding with earphones in could result in a costly fine in some parts of the world. It's always best to check on the local laws and customs if you plan on cycling abroad, of course.  

Some would argue that the problem with wearing earphones when you're riding is that you're isolated from your surroundings, which is potentially dangerous on the open road. So, most brands that produce headphones for cycling go down the bone conduction or air conduction route. This leaves your ear canal open, ensuring you remain aware of your surroundings. 

The best headphones for cycling will also fit seamlessly with your helmet and sunglasses, stay in place over rough terrain, have a long battery life and include some degree of waterproofing. 

How we review headphones for cycling 

Our reviewers put all products through at least a month of rigorous testing before delivering their verdicts. When it comes to headphones, this ensures that they undergo use across a range of conditions to gauge their overall quality. 

Our cycling headphone reviews assess various factors such as the sound quality, battery life, quality of construction and comfort, while also ensuring they don't drown out surrounding noise. We believe that this provides a comprehensive evaluation and valuable insights into what the headphones are like to wear regularly, rather than just evaluating based on a spec sheet like some naughty publications might do to cut corners. 

Why you can trust us

When it comes to road.cc buyer's guides, we will only ever recommend products that fared well in reviews. All the cycling headphones featured here scored 4 out of 5 stars or more overall from our reviewers, indicating very good or excellent quality according to our reviewers' opinions.

Our reviewers are all experienced cyclists, and so are the road.cc team members who put these guides together. That means you can be sure the product selections are our genuine top picks, not just a round-up of products we can make commission from.

Now, onto our recommendations! Whether you're looking to blast those tunes whilst on the turbo or listen to a podcast to get you through a long ride, here are our top picks. 

The best headphones for cycling: our top picks

Suunto Wing bone conduction headphones

Suunto Wing bone conduction headphones

9
Best bone-conduction headphones for cycling
Buy now for £169 from Suunto
Lightweight
Added safety features
Hands-free control of music and calls
Quality build
Case extends battery life
Pricey

Bone-conduction headphones have become a hot commodity in the cycling and wider sports market over the last couple of years. In case you haven't ever worn bone-conduction headphones: it's the buds that sit in front of your ears that conduct sound to the inner ear through vibrations. The Suunto Wing Bone Conduction Headphones are the Finnish company's first attempt at entering the market.

The Wing comes in what has become a standard look for bone-conduction headphones: two buds that sit just in front of your ears, joined together by a band that loops over your ears and behind your head. The main material in shaping the Wing is titanium alloy, which is then layered with soft silicone so it's soft against your skin. The battery life promised on these is 'more than eight hours', which tester Suvi found to be accurate, and in practice the carry-case extends the battery life to more than 20 hours.

If you're looking for a good quality, well-designed headset that allows you to hear your surroundings while cycling, the Suunto Wing is an excellent choice. It is pricey, but you do get features such as the head-movement controls, the integrated LED lights, and the charging dock, which really set these headphones apart and go a long way to justifying the higher price tag.

OneOdio OpenRock S Open-Ear Air Conduction Sport Earbuds

OneOdio OpenRock S Open-Ear Air Conduction Sport Earbuds

9
Best air-conduction headphones for cycling
Buy now for £79.99 from Amazon
Comfortable
Good quality sound
Excellent battery life
Touch controls are fiddly
Case is pretty big

If you like listening to music on your bike then it's a good idea to use an open-ear design so that you can hear other stuff that's going on around you. There are plenty of options, and bone-conduction headphones are a big part of the market, but these OneOdio OpenRock S headphones, which use a more standard audio driver, are better in many respects and easy to recommend.

OneOdio claims a run-time of 60 hours from one charge of the case, and 19 hours just from the internal batteries in the earphones themselves. If you run out of juice, five minutes in the case will give you an hour of play. Tester Dave was impressed with the battery life and he said, "I charged them at the start of the review process and weeks later I'm still on that first charge". 

These are fairly large earphones but they're also very comfortable. There's a bit of adjustability in the loop that goes round your ear to allow you to get a snug fit. They are also IPX5 rated for waterproofing which means they should be fine in light rain. 

JLab Epic Air sport ANC true wireless earbuds

JLab Epic Air Sport ANC True Wireless Earbuds

9
Best cycling headphones for battery life
Buy now for £64.99 from Very
Good sound quality
EQ and controls customisation
Comfort
Excellent battery life
Controls can be hit and miss

The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC True Wireless Airbuds are comfortable, have an excellent sound quality and a seemingly endless battery life. JLab quotes 15+ hours of playing time without charging from the case, with charging from the case giving you another 55 hours. Using ANC will reduce that time a bit, but JLab still quotes 50 hours, or 70 hours with the ANC turned off. Tester Iwein said, "to be honest, I don't know exactly what the actual battery life of these earbuds is – and that's because it's so long that I've not yet found the limits". 

These JLab earbuds come in a charging case with an integrated USB cable. Size-wise, it's about half the size of a glasses case, which makes it easy to fit in your jersey pocket. They are also rated IP66, which means they're protected against dust ingress and jets of water. 

Fit and comfort is good too. Iwein said, "these are the best I've used – and I was happy to wear them all-day long. The ear hooks are firm enough to hold the earbuds securely in place, but they have enough give so that they stay comfortable". 

Sony Linkbuds S

Sony Linkbuds S

9
Best cycling headphones for sound quality
Buy now for £119 from Currys
Impressive transparency
Excellent sound
Good value
Impressive fit
Intuitive and easy-to-use app
Auto-adjusting sound cancelling feature not ideal for cycling
No wireless charging
Quick controls are limited

The Sony Linkbuds S are an excellent pair of earbuds for cycling or everyday use, with a huge amount of adjustability, impressive sound, and one of the best transparency modes for cycling. Sony has designed them to be always wearable and they are marketed at the very thing I feel is most important in a set of earbuds for when you're riding: having the ability to hear what's around you.

Tester George says, "their ambient noise functionality is up there with the top performers I have used, on a par with the Apple Airpods Pro and Beats Fit Pro", which also feature in this buyers guide down below. 

The impressive sound comes partly from the snug and secure fit that means you don't get much sound leakage. This also means they stay in your ear really well on the bike – even on rough terrain. Battery life is dependent on how you're using the earbuds, but for continuous playback with ambient noise they last a claimed six hours, and nine hours with ambient noise turned off. The case itself provides an additional 20 hours of charging before needing to be plugged in.

Oladance Open Ear Headphones

Oladance Open Ear Headphones

9
Best cycling headphones for comfort
Buy now for £149.99 from Amazon
Amazing sound quality
Superb comfort
Low weight
Still being able to hear your surroundings
Expensive
Rain can activate touch control
Lots of wind can make it hard to hear

The Oladance Open Ear Headphones are an excellent way to listen to music while you're riding, delivering incredibly clear sound while you barely notice you're wearing them. Oladance has approaches open-ear headphones differently and created something similar to an open-back headphone. This is effectively a small speaker that sits just in front your ear. Crucially, though, this is achieved without your ears being blocked from the outside world.

Tester Josh writes: "How do these work in the real world? In one word – excellently. The second I put these on, I knew they were very different to bone conduction headphones, with the clarity of music I was listening to immediately impressive."

"The headphones are extremely comfortable, and with a weight of just 12.5g per phone, you almost forget you're wearing them. I was also impressed with how easily they sat around my helmets and glasses, and they paired with every helmet and glasses combo I tried", he adds. The battery life is also very good. Oladance claims a life of up to 16 hours, and in the real world this translated to between 12-15 hours. 

The best of the rest: more of our top cycling headphone recommendations

Jabra Elite 7 Pro earbuds

Jabra Elite 7 Pro earbuds

8
Buy now for £144.99 from Amazon
Small and subtle design
Good sound quality
Stay comfortably in the ears
Impressive battery life
Highly customisable via app
Wind rush sounds are not as muted as others

The Jabra Elite 7 Pro is a good set of earbuds that sits well in the ear, provides impressive sound quality, and offer a great battery life. Jabra claims eight hours of battery life, which is broadly what George found when using them. The case then gives enough charging for up to 30 hours of earbud use. 

The sound quality offers clarity throughout the range. Tester George said, "I used these to listen to a lot of music (off the bike) and spoken word (on it), and found no noticeable limitations in sound quality on either". 

he Elite 7s feature a HearThrough mode and noise cancelling. On the bike the HearThrough lets you sense enough of what's happening around you to feel safe whilst riding, and you can also use just a single bud if you prefer. The IP57 dust/waterproofing is also impressive (it can handle actual immersion).

Oladance OWS Sports headphone

Oladance OWS Sports headphone

8
Buy now for £189.99 from Amazon
Excellent sound quality
Great comfort
Good battery life
Can catch on a high collar
Price

The Oladance OWS Sports open-ear bone-conduction headphones have a pair of 23x10mm drivers that provide a crisp, clear, high-quality sound – with an impressive bass – while still allowing you to hear your surroundings. Throw in a great battery life, low weight and a first-rate build quality and you've got a pair of phones with very few down sides.

The OWS Sports is the latest model in Oladance's range of open-ear headphones. The design features a single band that goes around the back of your neck, linking the headphones at either end. Tester Josh recommends putting your helmet on first and then putting the phones on over the top of the helmet straps to reduce the chance of the straps getting tangled. 

The battery life is excellent. Josh managed 15 hours of use after a single charge, so unless you're an endurance rider you're extremely unlikely to run out of battery life during normal day-to-day use. They also come with an IPX8 rating meaning they can survive submersion in water.

Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones

Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones

8
Buy now for £129.99 from Winstanleys Bikes
Great sound
Work well with helmets and glasses
Safe in rain
Easy to use on the move
Excellent connection
Hard to hear with 20mph+ wind

The Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones use bone conduction to leave your ears entirely unblocked, making them ideal for cycling as you can still hear your surroundings. 

These are simple and work really well, and they're extremely unobtrusive as you ride, staying put thanks to the grippy, rubbery covering. They last a good long time too – over nine hours easily.

At 28g they're very light and the low-slung shaping works well with helmet straps and glasses. Tester Steve said, "I had no issues while wearing both, and never had the titanium neck band interfere with collars either". Positively, perhaps related to the headband, the OpenRun Pros seem unaffected by yawning or other jaw movements, like other bond-conduction headphones can be. 

Beats Fit Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Beats Fit Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds

8
Buy now for £139.99 from Amazon
Great fit in the ear
Not too much wind noise
Good sound quality
Case feels a bit cheap
No wireless charging

The Beats Fit Pro are great wireless, noise-cancelling earbuds that offer some of the best bits of the Airpods Pro, and some great sports and fitness features, for an attractive price. These perform in a very similar way to the Airpods Pro, not just in terms of functionality with Apple products, but in how they sound.

Although these don't compare to some of the high-end earbuds, they sound great and are more than adequate for everyday use. That transparency mode is (thankfully) similar to the Airpod Pro's, and works well. As you would expect there is a degree of wind noise as wind rushes past the external microphones, but it isn't overwhelming. 

Beats claim a life of six hours per charge for the buds and 18 hours for the case. This is pretty good, and tops the Airpods Pro buds by 1.5 hours. Tester George felt that the Beats Fit Pros beat the Airpods Pro for security – especially during activity – thanks to silicone wing tips, which help anchor these into the ear very well.

Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro

8
Buy now for £199 from Amazon
Excellent sound quality
Little wind noise
Easy connection to Apple products
Few features for non-Apple devices
More difficult to use with full-finger gloves than others

For those of you with Apple devices, Apple's AirPods Pro are excellent earbuds for use on the bike with effective transparency mode that doesn't suffer too much from wind noise. The AirPods Pro are the first set of Apple headphones with active noise cancellation, which also means they are the first to have the transparency mode that I consider a prerequisite for being safe to use for cycling.

The sound quality of the Airpods Pro is excellent and they have an IPX4 rating for water resistance, meaning they'll stand up to water splashes and sweat. The AirPods Pro incorporate an unusual stalk design, which puts more weight outside the ear than in, but tester George said, "they felt secure and never like they were going to fall out". 

The battery life is 4.5 hours on a single charge with ANC/Transparency enabled, and 5 hours without, which is pretty good for true wireless headphones, though there are others with more impressive numbers. The Airpods Pro more than make up for the battery life with the speed of charging – a five-minute charge giving an hour of listening time is particularly good.

Aftershokz OpenMove Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones

Shokz OpenMove Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones

8
Buy now for £69.99 from Winstanleys Bikes
Can still hear morons coming
Very light
Comfortable with glasses and helmets
Overwhelmed at speed
Struggle with bass
Can still hear morons coming

The AfterShokz OpenMove bone conduction headphones are extremely light, very comfortable and don't block your ears, leaving ambient sounds unblocked, which feels far safer on the road than plugged-up ears. They are attractively priced too. 

The headband – titanium-sprung for a secure yet gentle grip that weighs next to nothing – is non-adjustable and just lies about on the back of your neck. Tester Steve said, "They have no problem wrapping around helmet straps and cycling glasses at the same time – they're well shaped to loop over specs and sit comfortably without touching them. Plus, the loose-feeling fit and gentle pressure of the headband don't actually struggle to stay put at all". 

Bone conduction headphones can struggle to reproduce bass but tester Steve found the audio more than acceptable. The battery life of around six hours is also very usable, and they have a charge time of two hours. 

Best headphones for cycling: how to choose and what you need to know

faq-icon
Is wearing earphones when cycling allowed?

Opinions are often varied on whether or not you should ride with headphones in but in the United Kingdom there is no legislation prohibiting cyclists from wearing headphones while cycling. 

Likewise, while the Highway Code states you should "avoid any actions that could reduce your control of your cycle" and "be aware of traffic coming up behind you, including other cyclists", there is no mention of earphones. This isn't the same for every country though and riding with earphones in could result in a costly fine. 

> Wearing earphones while cycling — is it allowed? What does the Highway Code say?

faq-icon
What type of headphones are best for cycling?

There's a lot of talk about headphone wearing when cycling but if you're in a country where riding with headphones is permitted, you'll likely agree that a set of headphones that don't block out other sounds would be a good thing, if you are planning to listen to music on your bike. There are many products out there that are designed specifically for listening to music when cycling and many cyclists opt for bone-conduction or air- conduction headphones as these sit outside of the ear, leaving the ear canal open to surrounding noise. 

If you prefer headphones that sit in the ear canal, look for earphones that feature an effective transparency mode like Apple's Airpods Pro or Beats Fit Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds. 

faq-icon
What are bone conduction headphones?

Bone conduction headphones don't sit inside your ear canal like earbuds, and instead, it's a technology whereby the headphones use a vibrating plate that sits on your skull, in front of your ear. The vibrations transmit through to your ear bits (technical term), and you hear them as sound. But because there's nothing in your ear, you can still hear all ambient sound too, or hold a conversation with a work colleague.

faq-icon
What are air conduction headphones?

Like bone conduction headphones, air conduction headphones are designed to leave the ear canal open, allowing ambient noise. Instead of covering your ears, the headphones incorporate a small speaker that sits in front of your ears. Air conduction tends to be superior to bone conduction for sound quality, especially if you want to hear the bass with your music. 

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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1 comments

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Paul J | 4 days ago
2 likes

Personally, having owned a number of "bone conduction" headsets from a couple of different vendors (Shokz and various chinese brands), I am pretty sure they're all air-conduction for sound.

The bone conduction ones may have more of a membrane over the speaker, and I'm sure that does affect the quality of the sound, but it's primarily going through the air to get to your ears. You can easily verify this by comparing sound where you a) lift them slightly off your cheek versus b) close your earhole over.

Edit: Having played a bit more with my Shokz today, following my own protocol given here, I have to say I am wrong in the above. A significant amount of the audio does go via the cheek bone. I think maybe it was less so for other, cheaper, headsets I've had.