One, if not the major goal I have while cycling is not to get killed.
Another is to become a stronger rider. In order to accomplish the latter one must simply put in the time and miles. As cyclist Greg LeMond has said, “It doesn’t get easier – you just get faster.” This means, in my case, putting in a lot of solo time on the bike. Now this is not a bad thing – it can be a very zen experience – just you, the click of a freewheel, your panting becoming a mantra up a long climb – but eventually one gets tired of the voices in their own head.
Music or a book on tape could sure make the hours in the saddle a bit easier – but, only a lunatic would plug their ears with ear buds out on the open road. Ambient sound while riding not only allows you to hear the insults hurled by tobacco chewing pick up drivers, it is a great part of keeping a rider aware of their surroundings and therefore – alive.
There are blue tooth speakers that go into your water bottle cage, but I find them bulky and on a longer ride I’d sure rather have a second water bottle there. Fortunately I have found what is a good solution for myself. Aftershokz bone conducting headphones. These headphones sit in front of one’s ears leaving your ears open to the outside world sounds.
They are the opposite of noise cancelling headphone – they claim that they conduct the sound directly into your cranium via your cheekbones. I’m not so sure how much of this is true – I find them to be more like little speakers in front of my ears. In any case – they work.
Now while the sound is better than passable it is by no means on a par with in ear or ear covering headphones. IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE – these things are meant to let in the outside sounds to keep you aware of your environment as you pedal or run through it. the headset stays in place perfectly and does not interfere with wearing a helmet. I opted for the wired version with the mic so that i could take phone calls. There is a bluetooth version that is a bit more expensive – but I decided since I had my Garmin connected to my phone via bluetooth already I didn’t want to add the battery drain to my phone.
On group rides I leave the headset home – but if I am headed out for a couple of hours solo – I take my Aftershokz. I did have one small issue with my sets volume controls. I wrote the company and they replaced them via warranty very quickly.
So I have been using these for about three months now and I can easily say that I recommend them – it’s fun to have a soundtrack to my workouts without increasing the chances of being run over by a dump truck.