To ride with headphones in or not to ride with headphones in? that is the question! Spoiler alert, the answer comes down to personal preference. Some riders will tell you they love riding with headphones in because they can sync their pedal strokes to the beat of the music, or it hypes them up for the perfect run. Other riders will tell you it’s dangerous because the music is too distracting, or it reduces your awareness of your surrounds. Whoever you ask and whatever their opinion, there are a number things that should be considered before whacking a pair of headphones in and pedalling off towards the horizon.
First and foremost, let’s talk about safety. Safety is by far the most important factor to consider when deciding yay or nay. To operate a bicycle safely, three out of our five senses are required at all times – sight, sound, touch. Riders need to be able to see what’s ahead, to hear and be aware of their surroundings and to feel how their bike handles and responds across all riding conditions. With impaired hearing comes the inability to hear other riders, traffic, pedestrians, wildlife and any breakdowns that may occur on the bike, increasing the rider’s vulnerability to accident or injury of not just themselves but others around them.
As a result, noise cancelling headphones are not recommended! However, manufacturers have identified a need for sports headphones that allow riders to still take in their surroundings. This includes the Skull Candy Vert headphones which have been specifically designed for riders allowing you to take in your surroundings with a host of other great MTB friendly features. Headphones just for us action sports people? They’re pretty damn cool.
There is a positive distraction element though. Although we want to be focused and sharp on the descent and with our surroundings, on that fire road slog to the top it can be nice to have a song distract you from the pain your legs are in. There’s a reason gyms blast music all work out long! A good beat can give you that extra bit of energy and motivation you need to crush the next climb and sprint the descent. Professional NZ mountain biker Keegan Wright is an example of a rider who rides with headphones and uses the music to pump him up all ride long and it's safe to say he cracks on at a damn fast pace.
With so many things to think about, the final one should be what type of headphones to use and with so many advancements in technology, riders are now spoilt for choice in terms of headphones that are designed for “sports” use. Bluetooth headphones normally mean more freedom in terms of less wires, whereas some headphones are not wireless but offer easier navigation functions. Some are sweat and water resistant whilst others offer better security or battery life. Whether it be in-ear, on-ear or earbud, riders must do their research and consider whether the design and functionality make the headphones ideal for them.
Although not for everyone if you’re a confident rider who is looking for that extra bit of motivation on your rides maybe it’s time to turn up the volume a little and get that added flow going.
Check out our Skullcandy headphones.