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Headphones for Riding?(45 posts)

Headphones for Riding?mark_2811
Sep 4, 2002 12:44 PM
Question for those who listen to music when they ride... What style of headphones work best with a helmet, and wind noise, etc? I'm going to get a pair but not sure if the in-ear small ones or the over the ear ones (with the band behind the head) would work better? I wonder if the over-the-ear ones would interfere with helmet straps? Suggestions?

The best ones are none at all. NMDave Hickey
Sep 4, 2002 12:48 PM
Sep 4, 2002 12:52 PM
Dont do it is my a trained safety professional the idea of riding on streets using any kind of headphones, ear plugs,or whatever playing music and blocking street sounds is STUPID. You need your sense of HEARING on the streets, its very important in helping avoid accidents. Now, you could make a case for using such if you are on totally protected paths with no motorized vehicles, but, still you will not hear people saying "bike on left" or similar as they pass. You will be a hazard both to yourself and others when you ride. Listen when you get home.
Suggestion? Don't wear headphones while riding. n/mfracisco
Sep 4, 2002 12:52 PM
What's wrong with headphones for riding? (more)Fez
Sep 4, 2002 1:00 PM
You can be like all the walkers and runners on MUTs who walk on the wrong side of the trail or on the center line and when you say "Pass" they won't even hear you.

Except you'll be the guy going 20mph on a bike and you will be missing your sense of hearing. Cycling on a trail or on the road is dangerous enough with all your senses intact. Don't compromise your hearing. Save the headphones for the gym.
Common sense is an oxymoron.grzy
Sep 4, 2002 1:25 PM
It dulls your senses - might as well ride drunk too.

The deck is already stacked against you on a road bike.

If that's not enough it's is illegal in some states.
What's wrong riding when drunk?Iwannapodiumgirl
Sep 4, 2002 3:41 PM
Some of my greatest rides have been the morning following a night on the juice... very colourful you might say ;o)
This has got to be a joke! nmMXL02
Sep 4, 2002 1:22 PM
Helmets and headphones of any stylecyclinseth
Sep 4, 2002 1:27 PM
are totally incompatible. So don't wear a helmet at all. The straps will keep knocking out the "in-the-ear" type and the strap lock at the back of the helmet will interfere with the "around-the-back-of-the-neck" style.

Besides, helmets are 100% useless in anything worse than a 5 mph accident, and very freddly as well.
I couldn't agree more...Dave Hickey
Sep 4, 2002 1:35 PM
When I'm riding on the wrong side of the road, at night without lights, I like nothing better than blasting AC-DC on my headphones while not wearing my helmet.
Dude! -nmSnowBlind
Sep 4, 2002 1:44 PM
Would that be "Highway to Hell"? (nm)Gregory Taylor
Sep 4, 2002 3:53 PM, "BIG BALLS" (nm)Spunout
Sep 5, 2002 3:44 AM
Yes! Bon Scott was a poet (snerk, snicker) NMGregory Taylor
Sep 5, 2002 6:00 AM
Obviously riding the road with headphones is frowned uponPack Meat
Sep 4, 2002 2:14 PM
what about on MUTs? On my early season rides it's difficult to make it through 7 hour rides without music. Should I be like the guy that mounts the 1970's am radio to my upturned handlebars?
Try this:fbg111
Sep 4, 2002 2:40 PM
What song do you sing in your head to keep your cadence?

Or listen to your headphones while on the trainer.

Have to agree with everyone else otherwise, headphones while riding is a bad idea. There must be a million hate threads on this forum about joggers, rollerbladers, and dogwalkers on roads and MUTs, obvlious to the world (and bikers) due to their headphones.
re: Headphones for Riding?mark_2811
Sep 4, 2002 3:05 PM
Wow I had no idea this question would generate this kind of response! This is what I think ... where I ride the roads are not busy and have nice wide shoulders. I would be able to listen at a low volume and still hear everything going on around me. No big deal!

I assume none of you drive with the radio on either?
You are not driving!!! There is a difference...nmDjudd
Sep 4, 2002 3:11 PM
You are not driving!!! There is a difference...nmmark_2811
Sep 4, 2002 3:19 PM
Yeah no kidding there is a difference! But driving with music is the same, you miss hearing horns, emerg. vehicles, etc. But I still say that riding while listening at a normal volume so you can hear cars/horns/other riders, etc is no big deal!
Real-world evidence tells me differentlycyclinseth
Sep 4, 2002 6:24 PM
I see people in a closed loop park that I regularly ride in wearing headphones. I ALWAYS announce "On your left/right" These certain individuals register absolutely no response to my exclaimation, while I almost alway get some sort of acknowledgement from people without headphones. I have to assume that the headphone wearing population does not hear my alert.

Now why would this be. Is it because they have a physical obstruction blocking thier hearing? Well they do, but I don't think this is the reason. I think it's more likely that they are concentrating on what is coming out of thier headphones than what is going on in the world around them. I'm no different. If I'm listening to Ravi Shankar or Cypress Hill or Agnostic Front on my headphones, it's because I don't want any interference from the outside world. You can't help but be drawn into what ever it is coming into your head from your headphones.

Do this little experiment. The next time someone calls you on the telephone, put one headphone and listen to what you listen to while riding and try to carry on a conversation. I will bet that you can't.

Leave your headphones at home
IMO - Seth has the answerklay
Sep 5, 2002 7:51 AM
Also, isn't driving with headphones on illegal?

But you don't stuff the radio in your ear when driving.swvegg
Sep 4, 2002 7:45 PM
According to one source, Mark is right.czardonic
Sep 4, 2002 3:26 PM

I have always been in the "don't ride with headphones" camp. Anyone have any data or studies that back up its contingent assumptions?
Yeah, I read this tripe,MXL02
Sep 4, 2002 3:45 PM
and no I don't have any studies...all I have is what everyone else has on this board...bad experiences with cyclists, joggers, walkers, skaters, who can't hear you when you scream, "On your left!" at the top of your lungs, and then they jump out of the way and give you the finger because you startled them as you passed. Additionally, we have too many instances where cars endanger us because we can't hear them, even when we
b aren't
wearing headphones.

Zoning out to music is just not part of road biking. A roadie must be alert and aware at all times, to protect him/herself and their fellow riders.

If Mark wants to wear headphones, let him, just make sure it is nowhere close to my riding area.

End of rant, sorry about the toxic mood, but I've had a crappy day, and this thread was the last straw...
Note the distinction,czardonic
Sep 4, 2002 4:07 PM
between wearing headphones (or earmuffs) and BLASTING music through them loud enough to drown out everything else. I still think that it is a bad idea to wear them while riding. Partially because of the loss of hearing (however statistically insignificant), but mostly because of the unquantifiable "zone-out" effect. Even if it doesn't block your hearing, music is a distraction.

Then again, all the reasons for not listening to music while riding could (and probably should) be applied to driving. In a sealed car, specifically designed to reduce road noise, you are already less able to detect and respond to outside noise. Add a stereo, and you are completely impaired as far as hearing goes. Again, there is also the "zone-out" effect. I'd wager that more cyclists/pedestrians have been injured as a result of drivers distracted by their car stero (or because they subconciously drive 10 mph faster when "Born to be Wild" comes on) than vice-versa.
I note the distinction...MXL02
Sep 4, 2002 4:19 PM
but unlike driving a car, which uses mainly visual cues for upcoming danger, in cycling we use auditory cues, especially when riding in groups. For instance, what's often your first cue that a dog is chasing you? Unless he's in the street in front of you, it is usually the sound of his claws on the pavement. Often you can here a car or truck coming up behind you rather than see them. Calling out turns and road hazards is a very important safety feature of road biking. Auditory distractions are much more dangerous for cyclists than motorists.
But the point seems to be. . .czardonic
Sep 4, 2002 4:32 PM
that listening to music at a reasonably low volume does not significantly reduce your ability to hear other sounds. The headphones themselves do not block a significant amount of sound, so it is just a matter of how loud the music is.

Obviously, in high traffic areas or group rides, headphones are a bad idea. But if you are cruising on a lonely country road, headphones may be no more a hazard than coasting on a Chris King rear hub.
Sep 4, 2002 6:35 PM
It's the fact that listening to your favorite band/shock-jock/news radio program neccessarily draws your attention away from your immediate surroundings.

Please see my simple little test above. If you don't have anyone calling you on the phone then substitue a television program.
Again I disagree...MXL02
Sep 4, 2002 6:48 PM
Listening to anything at any volume on headphones (except maybe your coach or teammates discussing strategy during the TdF) draws your attention away from the problem at hand, that being riding far and fast, without getting injured. Remember this board isn't named "Huffy beach cruiser" review, it's road bike review..we're not here discussing cruising around the block with a baby trailer on the back. We're talking about serious road biking. And even riding solo on a lonely country road, you need to hear that Ford F350 barrelling down on you from behind, especially if it's the only one you'll meet for 30-40 miles. I don't think you can make any good argument for using anything that will diminish your auditory senses in any way while road is just patently unsafe.
Well. . .czardonic
Sep 5, 2002 9:46 AM
It still seems to be an article of cyclist faith that headphones are hazard.

If an F350 is going to plow into you from behind while you are riding on the "nice wide shoulders" that the original poster described, how is hearing it come going to help you? My mention of the Chris King buzz was only partially tounge in cheek. By your standards, Chris King hubs should be relegated to the Huffy crowd, and "serious" cyclists should be riding fixies so that freehub and drivetrain noise doesn't endanger their life.

Have you considered that over-the-ear headphones may reduce wind noise, and thus give you a net gain hearing ability?
Look, you are still under the misconception...MXL02
Sep 5, 2002 12:17 PM
that I'm talking strictly about hearing...riding with music on also tends to diminish one's awareness and attention. The whole point of listening to music while engaged in an activity is for it to be a diversion from an otherwise boring activity. If you are riding on a wide shoulder and not paying attention, maybe you pull a little too far to the left just when a truck is trying to pass and has no room on it's left to make room for you. Furthermore, if road biking is that boring or tedious for you, why do it at all?

Noise made by your bike is not an issue since it does not impede you hearing other noises as well, and if it does, you probably shouldn't be riding it. I don't see how you can compare a noisy hub to listening to music on headphones!!!???

No I have not considered that "over the ear" phones reduce wind noise and thus give you a net gain, because I am assuming that most people are also listening to music at the same time...if you want to wear them to reduce wind noise, great, just don't listen to music.
No misconception on my part. . .czardonic
Sep 5, 2002 1:20 PM
I already stipulated to the "zone-out" effect. For me (and aparently you) this is a factor, but who are we to speak for others? [As an aside, certain kinds of music (usually techno) actually help me focus at work. Something about a steady beat keeps my mind from wandering.] If you can drive a car while listening to the radio and avoid weaving all over the road, I suspect that one could hold their line on a bicycle.

Why do it at all? Fitness and transportation come to mind.

The article pointed out that, contrary to popular perception headphones themselves do not impeded your hearing of other noises to any significant degree. As such, the only issue is the music, which is noise just like any other, including that which your drivetrain is making. Kept to a sufficiently low volume, neither can be claimed to impede you hearing more than the other.

Note that I said "net gain" meaning that depending on the reduction of wind noise and the volume of music, you may still hear better with a walkman than without headphones at all.

I don't ride with headphones, and I don't think anyone else should either. I just found it interesting that the arguments against the practice seem to absent of scientific merit. Of course, this could simply be due to the absence of relevant scholarship.
Try getting the voices in your head to sing together... nmjose_Tex_mex
Sep 4, 2002 4:43 PM
You're dulling the out of doors experience, dudeBreakfast
Sep 4, 2002 6:22 PM
Enough about the safety aspect, I hope he got it.

What about being a f*&king slave to the mass marketed media and all the crap that commercialism sells you so that you can be like everyone else?

The fact that you are away from TV, radio, computers, internet, magazines, and advertising and are engaging in a outdoor physical experience complete with it's own sights, smells, and sensations that are felt by you as an individual in a certain exact moment ought to give you some pleasure. Why ruin it?

This reminds me of a neighbor(an adult-lescent)kid who is obligated by family duty to walk their dog in the evenings and always goes out with the Walkman. To me, it looks like he's missing out on enjoying the walk and having a real connection with man's best friend. This stay-at-home twentysomething also used to mow the lawn with headphones, too. How loud does the volume need to be to drown out the sound of the engine, I wonder?

Is riding a bike that boring?
Breakfast, you have nailed itcyclinseth
Sep 4, 2002 6:47 PM
I live in Brooklyn, one of the most congested urban centers there is on the planet. But we have one park that a lot of cyclists and other outdoor-starved enthusiasts use. I was riding my bicycle thru the park one early afternoon last spring. Remember, this is Brooklyn, NY. I saw a flash of feathers out of the corner of my eye swoop across the road and into the bushes and back across and into the tree-tops.

It happened to be a hawk. In Brooklyn's own Prospect Park. "The Jewel Of Brooklyn" It had nabbed it's lunch, a rat. The poor thing was still struggling as the hawk pecked out it's entrail. I just stood there watching this majestic creature consuming its lunch. I'm glad I wasn't distracted by my headphones at that point.
Sep 4, 2002 6:51 PM
we ride in the country to get away from the noise...another good argument against those infernal things.
exactly !dotkaye
Sep 5, 2002 8:08 AM
the last thing I want when running or biking is more FM radio drivel or prepackaged emotion. Far rather hear the first of the red-winged blackbirds in spring, sound of tires on gravel, the roar of an approaching redneck truck..
Whatever is comfortable.Matno
Sep 5, 2002 1:58 AM
Wow. I'm seeing a lot of harsh statements from most of these guys. If you're riding in heavy traffic areas with lots of surprises, then maybe you should turn them off. If, like many people, you prefer to ride where things like cars and dogs are far and few between, listen to whatever you like. I don't recall you mentioning anything about "blasting" music in your ear, but it seems that several of these posts decided to attack that anyway. Common sense says that it's bad for your ears. If you're not concerned with that, blast away. (Personally I'd recommend a good balance between "adrenaline pumping" loud and "can hear other sounds too" quiet). Just keep a good eye out for road hazards and you'll be fine.

On the other hand, if you're riding in a group, leave the headphones home. I rode a century with a buddy who had them on, and it drove me nuts to have to yell or signal for him to remove the phones every time I wanted to say something. Then again, I talk a lot on road rides.
100 miles is a long way...klay
Sep 5, 2002 8:01 AM
"I rode a century with a buddy who had them on, and it drove me nuts to have to yell or signal for him to remove the phones every time I wanted to say something. Then again, I talk a lot on road rides."

Hmmmm... I wonder if there is a connection begging to be made here ;-)

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Good one!Matno
Sep 5, 2002 8:35 AM
Boy did I set myself up for that one! ;-)
re: Headphones for Riding?aliensporebomb
Sep 5, 2002 2:26 AM
I don't know about your bike, but one of the most pleasant
sounds that I know of is when my bike is going between about
18.5 and 22 miles an hour - there's this awesome metallic
thrumming sound that negates any need for any kind of music
since it's music in itself. It almost sounds like a chord.

I'm a musician and a music fanatic, but there's too much
danger riding tuned out to reality.
You are not DRIVING???!!! OF COURSE YOU ARESpunout
Sep 5, 2002 3:42 AM
Fellow cyclists,

If we are to become respected as vehicles(as I am in Canada) with our own rights on the road, we must abide to certain laws and conduct.

Headphones are not included in proper conduct, it blows my mind to have this considered.

OTOH, my coach used to pack a small radio with an external speaker in it, put it in the jersey pocket for those long easy rides. No problem there.
Yo Mark. Please post your ride schedule and routes.MB1
Sep 5, 2002 4:04 AM
So we can all avoid being anywhere near there.

BTW keep your will current.
re: Headphones for Riding?liebejungen
Sep 5, 2002 4:48 AM
Get the bud type headphones and only wear it in one ear... that way you can hear music, or books on tape, and still hear whatn is going on around you.
I used to like listening to music on the subway almost betterbill
Sep 5, 2002 6:30 AM
than listening at home, because the insulation from the nasty subway was so welcome and complete.
It's not just competition for moving airwaves, it's competition for your attention.
I can't see it, myself.