There’s a lot of debate about whether cyclists should or shouldn’t wear headphones – much criticism comes from those who believe they rob the cyclist of the ability to hear things like an approaching car. This assumption is generally flawed as motor vehicles are noisy as heck, the majority of said noise coming, not from their engines but from tyre noise. Add the effect of wind rush and you’re lucky if you can hear anything around you, let alone the words to ‘Copacabana’ through a pair of ill-fitting earbuds at anything over 8 miles per hour.

Tests have been done that actually prove that the sound levels inside a car are higher than that experienced by a cyclist wearing headphones. People also make the false assumption that riders listen to their music at full volume in an attempt to drown out the world, like a lot of drivers do. 

See here for the noise comparison test

As a kind of compromise, there’s been a rise in popularity of bone-conducting headphones, where pads in front of the ears vibrate and pass on the music to your inner ears, rather than blocking your lug holes with foam or rubber and keeping those vital ear drums free to hear the roar of diesel, tyre tread, hatchbacks with bass-heavy boom boxes and men in white vans shouting ‘get in the cycle lane, Bradley’

Julie, star of the Parts & Accessories Home Delivery Team is a very keen runner and cyclist, and she’s in training for her first 70.3 (for those unfamiliar with the term, this is a Half Ironman that is unaffiliated with the brand but runs in a similar style), coming up in September at Hever Castle. She trains a lot anyhow but, being ultra-competitive, she’s upped her regime even more over the last 9 months and goes out running, cycling, or swimming 3 or 4 times a week.

Long hours hitting the roads or trails can be dull so she also listens to music on a combination of wireless earbuds and bone-conducting headphones, the latter being preferred for running as there’s less chance of them slipping out. The problem is her hat size – all that running and cycling has made her head skinny, so there’s an excess of headband on her ‘phones, presenting first-world problems like Pony Tail Tangle and Cap Disruption.

Her headphones are made by AfterShokz. They have recently changed their name to Shokz and offer a newer range of devices, including the OpenSwim that are 100% water resistant and store music onboard (rather than stream using a phone) and a Mini version that has a shorter headband.

The Shokz OpenRun Mini have the most up-to-date version of Bluetooth on them, ensuring a good connection to your phone and a better-connected range, they’re IP67 rated for sweat and water resistance, and have a magnetic power connection. Battery life is seriously impressive, giving up to 8 hours of playback (or up to 10 hours on the Pro version).

What did Julie think of the newer ‘Shokz OpenRun Mini? 

“The Shokz OpenRun Mini‘s have a great sound quality and the fit is perfect on my smaller head, much better than my old Aftershokz. The band goes around the lower part of my head meaning it’s out of the way of my hair and headgear, whether that be a helmet for cycling or a cap for running. I haven’t had to charge them often even though I wear them on my short commute to and from work and when I am running. 

Wearing them with a helmet, cap and glasses made it difficult to navigate the control buttons at first, I even managed to call my partner twice without realising. We had a practice when I got home & at one point I had the Shokz, my Wahoo GPS, Garmin watch, and iPhone ringing all at the same time – the sound quality on calls is very good and the microphone cuts out any background noise so it’s not like I’m phoning from inside a car wash. After a few rides, I found them easier to operate, and using them running without the added headgear is a breeze.

My usual go-to headphones for running & riding were Apple AirPods but since trying the Shokz Mini’s I haven’t used the AirPods at all and don’t think I will again – there’s no chance of losing them like the pods due to the small band, the controls are close at hand & I’m told they only weigh 26 grams so you don’t know you’ve got them on. 

I highly recommend the OpenRuns – a great bit of kit”

Big thanks to Julie for sharing her thoughts – please join us in wishing her good luck for the rest of her training, and the event in September! (Thanks also to Andy Lulham for the opening write up).

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