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headphones and riding(26 posts)

headphones and ridingjack daniels
Mar 29, 2001 6:45 AM
Do any of you listen to music while riding? Wear headphones? I am just getting into road riding (mostly do MTB but am building a road bike for train and just for somethign different to do) and I was thinking that to make my rides more enjoyable and intreasting I could listen to music. What kind of headphones do you recomend? I was thinking of the ear bud type so I could only wear one and use and still be able to listen to what is going on around me and it will also be able to be worn while wearing a helmet. Do you use a CD player? Mini Disk? MP3 player? I was thinking a MP3 player or mini disk because its much smaller and can fit in a jersey pocket? What are you thoughts on this? Is it safe while riding on the road? Do you turn your music off or take off your headphones when the trafic gets busy? Thank you for any of your input.
Two Words...Greg Taylor
Mar 29, 2001 6:59 AM
Please don't.

Riding on the road can be dangerous enough without taking away or hampering one of your sources of sensory input. Because I don't have eyes on the back of my head, I depend on sound to warn me, for example, if a car or another rider is coming up on my tail. If someone is passing you, you might not catch a gasped "On your left!" or "Passing!" You can also miss those delightful aural warnings of mechanical failure if you are getting your groove on with Lawrence Welk or Buckcherry or whatever...
asking for troubleColnagoFE
Mar 29, 2001 7:11 AM
you need your hearing on the road. listening to headphones will make you a prime candidate for a darwin award.
That makes it 3-0 againstRetro
Mar 29, 2001 7:34 AM
Don't do it, man. You need your ears for all the reasons described above. Besides, if riding isn't entertaining enough, you've got the wrong attitude.
Please don'tpmf
Mar 29, 2001 7:34 AM
Its dangerous to you and the people around you. I know it sounds great, but its not worth the risk to yourself and others.
Mar 29, 2001 7:42 AM
It would be extremely dangerous to ride on roads without being able to hear cars approach from behind. Most of the best routes have very little, if any, shoulder. As you ride you must be able to hear approaching vehicles so you can maintain your line correctly depending on the circumstances.

It's interesting that using headphones while riding is discouraged in the US, many european pros train with headphones listening to music. Perhaps because cycling is much more popular in Europe the drivers are also more aware and respectful? Certainly not the case in Spain.
Nice thought, butmuncher
Mar 29, 2001 7:52 AM
Couldn't be further from the truth in the UK - roads awful, drivers awful, everyone hates you - drivers, pedestrians the lot. Why oh why do we do it.....
re: headphones and ridingHap
Mar 29, 2001 7:45 AM
Would you ride blindfolded? No difference in my book. You need all of your senses on the bike for your safety and the safety of others. But on the trainer go ahead and crank the tunes.

re: headphones and ridingdonalson
Mar 29, 2001 8:08 AM
i agree...

only at home on the trainer/rollers,

but i did used to take my backpack along w/ my walkman (this is before disckmans) and my powered speakers (small computer type) and blast it while i was riding along, this is also when i was only a pre-teen and my main steed was a roadmaster MTB (man how big of an oxymoreone is that?), i also would rollerblade w/ my music cranked like that,

Mar 29, 2001 8:13 AM
I saw an ad a while back for "riding 'phones". The went around the neck and rested on the collar region, and the ear-pieces sat below the ears some distance away pointing upwards and slightly inwards. Idea being that you can hear the music or whatever, and what's going on around you too. If you must do it, then I suppose this is as good a way as any. Anyone else seem them? I think it was in a cycling mag, but could have been one of these "inventions" freebies that fall out of the paper - handy if you need an electric pepper-grinder with build-in light etc....
NopeMel Erickson
Mar 29, 2001 9:07 AM
Even if you could find these things they would still be unsafe to use, in my book. Tunes do two things - they take your mind off what you're doing, which can be dangerous, and they can prevent you from hearing whats happening around you, whether you are wearing full earphones, one earbud or the type of speakers you describe, this is also dangerous.
do you have a hard time ...Bosephus
Mar 29, 2001 9:36 AM
chewing gum and walking ???

Do you use the stereo in your car?

By your logic you shouldn't????

I don't know I'm of the mentality that moderation and good common sense goes a long way.
and your point is?Mel Erickson
Mar 29, 2001 12:01 PM
Hardly a fair comparison. I have a hard enough time hearing cars from behind without music. I think we can agree that being able to hear them is important. Why risk it?
California -- against the lawSnyderman
Mar 29, 2001 10:06 AM
Here in California I believe it's against the law to ride with headphone/earbuds. I don't think you would have to worry about being caught or ticketed. Personally, I would never do it. I want to hear as much traffic noise as possible. If you feel safe, go for it.
bad idea.....rt
Mar 29, 2001 9:02 AM
you're looking to get run over by a car you don't hear coming up behind you.

headphones while on the trail is ok (though i'm not a big proponent of that either) but on the road it is an undeniably bad idea.

consider this...eam
Mar 29, 2001 12:18 PM
You're riding on a typical desolate country road with little or no shoulder. Two cars approach from behind. One is on a course to pass harmlessly, the other is on a course to run you over. Do they sound any different? Except in the extreme case (skidding, swerving driver) they all sound the same. So, unless you turn your head (or use your third eye mirror) to look at every car approaching from behind, your normal reaction will be to ride as straight a line as possible, as safely toward the shoulder as possible. You put your trust entirely in the driver. We all do this all the time, blind faith.

How will you react if you hear a skidding, swerving driver? They're going 60 mph, you're going 25. Are you going to dive into the rock filled ditch beside the road, or just grip tight and pray?

Will listening to music, not turned up to 11, but at a low volume comparable to that of ambient wind noise, cause or prevent you from reacting differently? I think not.

OTOH, in heavy traffic situations (auto, bike, rollerblade, jogger, whatever), I think all involved will be safer by not listening to music.
consider this...bestT
Mar 29, 2001 3:52 PM
This was the best post here. Everyone talks about hearing cars from behind, but what do you do when you hear them, move over? Ride in a straight line.
I often wear headphones on the road with a mp3 player. I wear them to and from group rides. I think wearing them in a group ride is rude, but not necessarily unsafe.
Hate to Buck the tide here but...Bosephus
Mar 29, 2001 9:28 AM
I have an MP3 player and I use it when I ride ... not a lot but I do use it. I mainly use it on my rollers and trainer, but I have used it on the road and on the trail (mtb). When I'm on the road I generally leave the volume low and only use one earphone (right side). This seems to work for me and I've never had a problem hearing oncoming vehicles. I don't use it when I'm riding in traffic or in "urban" areas, but I hate riding there anyways and usually get out to the country as quickly as possible.

MP3 players are the way to
- Download time is superquick - whole new set of tunes in less than 5 minutes without having to buy new media - also minidisk records in realtime
- Will not skip - unlike minidisk which will skip
- smaller than minidisk
- Cheaper than minidisk when you start figuring in media purchase
- Quality is more than acceptable for earphone use (main complaint about mp3 is low quality vs. minidsik) especially if you keep the bitrate high (no less than 128 kb/s)

I actually use it alot when I mountain bike alone. Not too much to worry about on one way single track trails in the middle of the woods.
Gosh...I just gotta chime inKristin
Mar 29, 2001 10:16 AM
I can't help myself. I played music on the Prairie Path for 2 years. I agree with the basic logic that headphones can put you in danger, but in some situations its acceptable. Turning it off and on seems to be an automatic reaction for me. Just like I automatically turn off the car radio when I am in a difficult traffic situation. I NEVER play music while on a street (of any sort) or when the path is busy.

I currently (well, sorta) ride to a multiuse loop 4 miles from my home. I take my walkman, but don't listen on the way there. Once I cross the street and enter the loop, I put on the tunes. So far, no problems. Many racers workout here in the morning, so I just focus on holding a line--cause I get passed a lot. If I was doing some of the passing, I might change my tune... no pun :)
ARRRGGHHH!!!Greg Taylor
Mar 29, 2001 10:49 AM
Nothing personal, but you have just described one of my pet peeves. Just because a bike path is not the street doesn't mean that safety (or courtesy) rules don't apply. You wouldn't skip wearing a helmet on the path, so why bend the rule about no headphones?

My home turf, the GW Parkway bike path, has a fair amount of traffic, and nothing is more annoying (or dangerous) than to come up on bike-path users who just tool along with the tunes cranked up, oblivious to their surroundings. They can't hear you when you come up on them (no matter how low the volume is) and get startled when you pass. Granted, the trail is a multi-use path, but the ability to mix users doesn't work if you don't keep an eye out for each other. If you want to enjoy music in the great outdoors, do it while sitting under a tree.

My motive here is only partly altruistic: I'm more worried about ME getting taken out in the inevitable accident than I am about the idiot with the headphones.
Okay, okay...Kristin
Mar 29, 2001 12:18 PM
Point taken. A similar thread went through a while ago and I came close to giving up on the headphones thing then. Since almost everyone is against it, I it's prudent to throw in the towel.

Just so its clear about the multi-use trail... I ride this path between 5-7:30am on weekdays. There are only cyclists at this time and most of them are doing some serious training. I like it cause I can watch and learn. One guy can lap me up to 3 times on the 8 mile loop--eegads. But its quiet and safe. Everyone rides in one direction, I've never been startled by a cyclist passing me and was always aware as someone approached. However, I agree, it's a good idea to forgo the phones... so I will. I hate to think that I'm pissing off the people I'm trying to learn from.

A side question: what about those gortex headbands (or any cold weather ear covers)? I have one and its pretty hard to hear anything with all that crinkling going on. However, when its only 35 degrees out, I need it.
Didn't mean to dump...Greg Taylor
Mar 29, 2001 3:46 PM
...but this is a general subject area that makes me all twitchy.

My commuter route is also a multi-use trail, and I too use it around 7:30 a.m. on weekdays. (Good luck on weekends -- there is less traffic on the Beltway than on the trail). I commute in with a group, and while most of us only race occasionally, we also use it as a training ride. If conditions permit, we keep a pretty good pace.

Can't help you with the Goretex. I use a lycra headsock that doesn't make noise.
re: headphones and ridingWayne
Mar 29, 2001 10:35 AM
It seems like a real bad idea from a safety standpoint, like not wearing a helmet. But if your doing it by yourself, I can't see why anyone would object. If your riding in a group, it's just plain dangerous to others as well and that's where the line should be drawn. I did see a guy do this once on a casual group ride, at least he stayed toward the rear, someone said something to him at the end of the ride to the effect that it was pretty inconsiderate to do what he was doing. Never saw him again. Also had a guy on a time-trial bike with disc rear and front wheels come out on a very windy day, he was also told how unthoughtful this was, despite the fact that he controlled his bike better than some riders do on their regular bikes. He also never came back.
Point CounterpointMarlon
Mar 29, 2001 3:07 PM
I agree with most of the responders to the thread - riding with headphones IS stupid, especially on busy roads.

But then again , let's play devil's advocate: let's say that it's illegal to jaywalk at certain intersection that's busy at most times during the day. If you needed to cross this intersection at night however, at 4:00am in the morning when car traffic drops down to zero, and you're barred from doing so because the light is red for you, would you still wait at the intersection, or would you ignore the light and jaywalk?

Point is, we shouldn't be TOO draconian about forbidding headphones. I can see where, if someone was continuously riding a short, 1km or 1 mile circuit that's closed to traffic, pedestrians, other amubulatory people, and other cyclists, then I would say ok to a set of headphones.

Another point to consider: if someone wears earmuffs or an ear-warmer during the winter while riding, I'd say that the use of such devices is also a detriment to one's hearing. Should we ban earmuffs, ear-warmers, or caps that cover the entire ear while riding?

Having said all this, I say let common sense prevail. And let those without common sense be erased from the gene pool:) Last but not least, if you still insist on wearing headphones on a group ride or while riding down a street with heavy traffic, you're still a moron in my eyes.
one size doesn't fit alllonerider
Mar 29, 2001 6:49 PM
why is it so hard to believe that it is inappropriate and dangerous to all in some situations and harmless in others? i ride in alaska where there are no other people around. in some places, my biggest concerns are animals, not people. what's the problem?
Go for it.Cool Hand Luke
Mar 30, 2001 12:11 PM
Ignore these sissies. They act like riding a bike is brain surgery. These same squares would tell you humming and whistling are dangerous because they distact you. They need to lighten up. If you can turn your head, you can see what's happening.
Enjoy your music and let these other saps work themselves into a nervous breakdown while they're riding, supposedly for their "health".