Best Headphones For Cycling (From a Mountain & Road Rider)

Corey Philip // 24 Apr 2024

I can’t stand riding without music.  Trance music is my pic.  I don’t know how to explain it -- I just can’t get into a ride without jams in my ear and listening to myself breathing.

So that requires headphones.  Unless you want to be one of those obnoxious people riding around with a speaker.  

With many years of riding both mountain and road I’ve found the best pair.

Sweat just grows on my helmet straps. Notice the over ear position of these headphones.

First here is what I look for in headphones for cycling.

Wireless.  Wires are 2000 late.  The last thing I want is a long wire running through my cycling jersey down to wherever my music playing device is.  My headphones need to be able to able to transmit via bluetooth.  

Able to hear.  While I like earbuds that create a seal and block out all other sounds, for cycling I need to be able to hear outside sounds.  It’s critical for safety and skill.  

On the road sounds of traffic let you know what is going on around you and alert you to danger.  On the trail, you’ll find something unique if you actually seal yourself off from outside sound -- it is harder to ride.  You actually use sounds of the trail to make subconscious decisions when you’re riding.  So hearing the tires on dirt is beneficial.  

Stays in ear.  This is pretty straight forward, you need headphones that stay in.  If they are falling out it is simply annoying.

For this reason I actually DO NOT like the truly wireless earbuds.  I like headphones that have a wire connecting each individual earpiece.  This wire will help hold them in place if one does fall out.  Withe truly wireless earbuds, if one falls out…. Good luck finding it.

Long battery life.  Nothing blows quite like getting ready to ride and realizing your headphones are dead.  I guess a close second would be getting a low battery alert indicated you’ve got about 20 minutes of battery life for a 3 hour ride.  Long batter life is a priority.

Resilient In Conditions (water & sweatproof).  I’m hard on my shit and careless.  I also sweat a bunch.  Mountain biking throws water and mud into the mix.  And I also have been known to throw the headphones into the washing machine.  OOPs.

My headphone for Cycling Pick

I’ve used these for over 5 years now.  

I’ve tested other pairs.  

The Jaybird X2

These things aren’t new and cutting edge.  They actually came out in 2015.  But they are perfect for cycling.  

Why?  Well see the reasons above.  

There’s no wire connecting to my phone.  

They fit in the ear, so you hear the music well, but you can still hear plenty of the surrounding environment sound.  

The battery life is 10+ hours.

They stay in the ear good.  If they do fall out the ‘over the ear’ wearing along with the helmet holds them in place.  

They have survived the washing machine countless times.  

Oh yea, they’re also cheap.  At this point you can pick them up for $20-30 on ebay.

About the Author

Corey Philip

Mountain biker and trail runner. I work remotely and travel around riding awesome trails 66% of the year. Bike: 2020 Specialized Stumpjumper. Youtube | Strava | Instagram