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Wireless earbuds, or earphones, are becoming increasingly popular for athletes and casual listeners on-the-go, and cyclists are turning toward them to enhance their rides.
The best earbuds for cycling are resistant to sweat and wet weather, stay comfortably in your ear as you move, and allow you to hear what is going on around you.
When searching for the best earbuds for you, consider what kind of riding you’ll be doing. If you commute through busy city streets, buds that bring in ambient noise or conduct sound through your bone and leave your ears open would be great options.
If you cycle indoors on a stationary bike, good sound quality and noise cancelling might be the way to go. And if you do long-distance cycling, durable earphones that can stand up to the elements and have long battery life are a good fit.
In this article, we explore the legality of wearing earbuds while cycling, the safety considerations to make when doing do, some tips and tricks to maximise your experience, and 5 of the best earphones for cycling currently on the market.
Can You Wear Earphones While Cycling?
Wearing earphones while cycling is a universally controversial topic. In most places, you are legally allowed to, but sometimes countries or state outlaw earphones completely, or place restrictions on them. Wherever you’re riding, it’s important to research the region’s laws.
In the UK, it is legal to wear earphones while cycling. However, it is possible to be persecuted because of reckless and dangerous riding, so give your ride due care and attention to ensure yours and others’ safety.
In the US, laws surrounding wearing earphones while cycling are determined state by state. California, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia allow for only one earbud in, while Florida and Rhode Island prohibit headphones completely. Everywhere else, it is legal to wear earphones on a bike.
In European countries such as Belgium, Germany, and Sweden, it is legal to wear earphones during your ride, but outlawed in France and Spain. Italy and Portugal mandate earbuds in one ear only while cycling.
Is It Safe to Ride a Bike While Listening to Music?
The safety of your ride while listening to music depends on your ability to hear ambient noise, as knowing what’s going on around you is vital. Reduce the volume of the music, turn off noise-cancelling mode, and pay attention to your surroundings for a safe ride.
Music can enhance mood, and may lead to over-confident or too-fast riding. Your favorite songs can pump you up, but also cause you to lose focus on what’s around you. Be wary of making careless movements on the bike, especially in urban areas. What’s more, with the increasing prevalence of near-silent electric cars on the road, being able to hear and react to traffic is necessary for staying safe.
Pro-headphoners attest the dangers posed to cyclists are from motorists blaring their own music and driving distractedly, or pedestrians with noise-cancelling headphones of their own stepping out in front of cyclists. According to a study by cycling charity CTC, only four out of 440 cyclists killed on the road over a four-year span were wearing headphones.
No matter your stance on the matter, a safe bike ride is one where you are in control and can proceed amidst all the potential hazards of the road or trail.
If you can hear what’s going on around you well enough while also listening to audio through earphones, there are risks that come with fiddling with your phone or smartwatch to change the song, figure out navigation, or answer texts and phone calls. To mitigate these dangers, you may consider a smart bicycle helmet that takes your ride completely hands-free, or prioritise an earphone with a voice control mechanism.
Cycling with Earphones [TIPS + TRICKS]
When cycling with earphones, wearing only one earbud on the non-traffic side can help you keep aware of vehicles moving by. The ability to control the volume, skip songs, and play/pause what you’re listening to via touch control on the earphones is a great feature to look out for. If you’re wearing buds and worried about them falling out during your ride, there are over-ear sheaths available from many third-party sellers.
There are many things to do while cycling with earphones, including listening to podcasts, phoning a friend, or recording ideas you may have during your ride. Remember to compensate for any lack of hearing with increased visual awareness. Consider installing a handlebar mirror to monitor traffic around you.
Why You Can Trust Us
Discerning Cyclist’s expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing cycling products so you don’t have to.
Testing stylish gear since 2012
Hundreds of hands-on product tests
Unfiltered opinions from experienced cyclists
Best Wireless Earbuds for Cyclists [Top 5]
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro [REVIEW]
- Jaybird Vista 2 [REVIEW]
- Shokz OpenRun Bone Conduction Earphones [REVIEW]
- ESC Sounds Series 3 [REVIEW]
- Soundcore Life A1 [REVIEW]
- Apple AirPods Pro [REVIEW]
1. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
✅ Touch controls
✅ IPX7 Waterproof rating
✅ 5 hours non-stop play
✅ 28 hour battery case
- 🇬🇧 £150
- 🇺🇸 $130
- 🇪🇺 €140
Samsung have had some major success with their Samsung Galaxy Buds range.
They have a minimal footprint, whilst maintaining very good battery life, solid sound performance, a tiny but decent performing microphoning, plus – Apple users take note – touch controls on the earphones themselve.
The touch controls are a massive bonus for people who want to cycle without having to look at their phone. With the touch controls, people can change volume, skip songs, answer phone calls and more – just by tapping the bud in their ear.
What’s more, they’re highly waterproof (can even be submerged in a metre of water without a problem) and they have a very reasonable price tag for all of this functionality.
2. Jaybird Vista 2
✅ SurroundSense Mode
✅ IP68 Waterproof rating
✅ 8 hour battery
✅ Secure fit
- 🇬🇧 £140
- 🇺🇸 $150
- 🇪🇺 €140
These earbuds are specifically designed for sport, with a secure fit for even the most energetic movements and in-ear comfort. The SurroundSense feature amplifies the world around you, perfect for rides outside where awareness of others is key. Noise cancellation eliminates background noise when it’s time to double down and focus.
Vista 2s are known for their durability, and are mega-protected against dust, water, sweat, and weather with military-grade ratings. An accompanying app lets you customize your sound experience and keep track of your buds. The battery lasts 8 hours, with an additional 16 hours stored in the charging case.
Occasional connectivity issues have been reported.
3. Shokz OpenRun Bone Conduction Earphones
✅ Bone conduction technology
✅ IP67 Waterproof rating
✅ 8 hours battery
✅ Universal fit
- 🇬🇧 £130
- 🇺🇸 $130
- 🇪🇺 €130
With these earphones, bone conduction technology vibrates your music through your jawbone. This keeps ears open, allowing you to stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you. Lightweight and comfortable, these offer a universal fit, great for those with small ears who often find themselves pushing their earphones in.
The quick-charge mechanism provides 1.5 hours of charge in 10 minutes, perfect for when you’re planning a ride but forgot to plug in your earbuds. When you do have the foresight to charge them up, the battery offers 8 hours of play time.
They are Waterproof and sweatproof, for intense workouts and inclement weather. Sound quality isn’t sacrificed despite not being in your ear, and while noise cancellation won’t be possible with these earphones, they deliver clear sound and powerful volume with minimal leakage to your surroundings.
4. ESC Sounds Series 3
✅ Ergonomic Sport Fit
✅ IPX7 Waterproof rating
✅ 7 hours play time
✅ Impressive sound quality
- 🇬🇧 £100
- 🇺🇸 $120
- 🇪🇺 €110
The Series 3 is designed with the contours of the ear and boasts solid security of fit, allowing for dynamic movement and peace of mind that your earphones will stay put. Its Ergonomic Sport Fit is great for multisport and gym use.
The battery lasts for 7 hours from fully charged, and comes with a charging case with up to 21 hours’ worth of battery to recharge on the go. What’s more, a multi-function touch button keeps controls at your fingertips. These earphones come with a high waterproof rating for wet and sweaty sessions.
5. Soundcore Life A1
✅ 3 Audio Modes
✅ IPX7 Waterproof rating
✅ Multi-function touch control
✅ 9 hours play on full battery
- 🇬🇧 £40
- 🇺🇸 $50
- 🇪🇺 €50
These earphones offer clear and powerful sound, customizable between three modes to suit your audio tastes—Signature produces balanced sound, Bass Boost intensifies workouts, and Podcast gives clear sound for the spoken word.
The Life A1s give 9 hours of playtime on a charged battery, with an extra 3 charged from the charging case. When you’re in a rush, a 10-minute charge will provide 1.5 hours of listening time. Charging is also available wirelessly by setting the case down on a charging pad.
They are watertight, suitable for use in a sweat session or rainy weather. They are comfortable and reliably stay in the ear. On-ear control switches between the 3 modes, and toggles volume, fast forward, play/pause, or voice assistant. According to reviews, slight problems arise when being used for calls.
6. Apple AirPods Pro
✅ Transparency Mode
✅ Customizable fit
✅ 4.5 hours play time
✅ Only suitable for use with Apple devices
- 🇬🇧 £240
- 🇺🇸 $250
- 🇪🇺 €250
These earphones are best for use with Apple devices to get seamless automatic pairing. This feature is a relief for the technically challenged or annoyed, who are tired of manually Bluetooth pairing all their devices.
AirPods have any features, including active ambient hearing or total sound immersion, which you can easily toggle between. Touch controls also include play/pause and fast forward/rewind.
With Siri voice commands enabled, you can change what you are listening to, as well as its volume. Incoming texts and calls are read aloud to you, and you can voice-reply easily. Battery life lasts up to 5 hours, but just a five-minute quick charge in the accompanying case will provide an additional hour of use.
Overall, these are suitable for moderate exercise, but can easily fall out with dynamic movement. If using for intensive exercise we recommend buying an over-ear hook that fits onto the AirPods stem, available for under £10 from Amazon.