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Best headphones for cycling: Earphones for cyclists riding indoors

Included in this guide:

Kasper Asgreen riding a bike whilst wearing headphones
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best headphones for cycling aren't necessarily specifically designed for the job of accompanying us on the bike, but a combination of selected features and qualities make them ideal for the rigours of two-wheeled adventure. They will typically offer a combination of sound clarity, waterproofing (and thus sweat-proofing), comfort, access to controls, and durability. However, the pair of cycling headphones that perfectly match your needs will undoubtedly differ from one person to the next.  

Some will want to listen to music at the highest volume possible during Zwift races and indoor sessions, while others will prefer a quiet audiobook or podcast during an easy spin along the bike path. Many will turn to headphones to shut out their surroundings, while those of us cycling among traffic will likely want nothing less. 

Many would argue that the best cycling headphones for riding outdoors are no headphones at all. Being unable to hear your surroundings whilst riding on a road is not something we'd recommend, but that doesn't mean you can't still listen to your entertainment of choice whilst indoors or off-road, and there are a few options that allow external noise alongside the sounds coming from the headphones. 

If you're looking for the best cycling headphones for riding indoors, then the primary requirement will likely be sweat proofing, whereas for riding outside, you might want something that uses bone conduction technology instead of plugging your ear canals, or you may simply put more value on sound clarity and ease of volume control.

Wherever you ride, a pair of headphones can make the difference between enjoying or enduring your ride, and completing or failing your workout. So here are a few suggestions for the best cycling headphones to add a musical tailwind to your next workouts. 

The best cycling headphones available today

Aftershokz Aeropex review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Best heapdhones for cycling outside: The Aftershokz's bone conduction technology leaves your ears open

Specifications
Battery Life: Up to 8 continuous hours
Waterproof: IP67
Noise Cancelling: None
RRP: £149.95 / $159.95 / €169,95 / AU$249
Reasons to buy
+Keeps you aware of your surroundings+Lighter than previous bone conduction options+Impressive real-world battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Very loud environments can drown out the music

Along the same lines of one pair of headphones that work in a lot of situations, you might need to stay aware of your surroundings. While it's okay to be completely sealed off from distractions inside that's not the case outside. If you also ride, or run, with music outside then you should be able to hear your surroundings. Aftershokz is a company known for bone conduction technology and the Aeropex is its latest option. Instead of a speaker that sits near your ear, Aftershokz directs vibrations up your cheekbone. The result is that you can hear the music but also the environment. As they don't plug into your ears the Aeropex are extremely secure and comfortable, so no matter how hard or long you go they won't get irritating. 

A pair of black Jaybird Vista 2 wireless headphones

(Image credit: Jaybird Sport)

Jaybird Vista 2

Best headphones for cycling indoors: Absolutely will not fall out and they sound amazing

Specifications
Battery Life: 24 hours
Waterproof: IP68
Noise Cancelling: ANC & SurroundSense
RRP: £189.99 / $199.99 / €209,00 / AU$N/A
Reasons to buy
+More secure in your ear than any other true wireless earbud+Active Noise Cancellation with SurroundSense to allow noise in
Reasons to avoid
-Can make your ears sore after a while

True wireless earbuds are a great way to handle music while riding indoors. There are no wires to get in the way and being able to ride with only one at a time can extend the listening time. Not all true wireless earbuds feel secure in your ear though. There's nothing quite as annoying as an earbud that feels like it's going to fall out when you are sprinting for the win in a Zwift race.

The Jaybird Vista true wireless earbuds are totally secure. They will not move, even a little bit, no matter what you are doing. That security comes by way of a tight seal in your ear and that has its own advantages. They are so well sealed with Active Noise Cancellation that if you need ear protection, they can pull double duty as earplugs, however, if you want to let the outside world in, double tap to switch on SurroundSense. 

Best cycling headphones: Anker Soundcore Life P2

(Image credit: Anker)

Anker Soundcore Life P2

Best budget headphones for cycling: Budget-friendly, lightweight and IPX7 rated

Specifications
Battery Life: 7 hours continuous, 40 hours with charge case
Waterproof: IPX7
Noise Cancelling: None
RRP: £49.99 / $49.99 / €49,99 / AU$N/A
Reasons to buy
+Double microphone for background noise supression on calls+Each can be paired individually
Reasons to avoid
-Case is slightly bulky for pocketing-Can work their way loose over the course of a ride

The Anker Soundcore Life P2 is a budget-friendly pair of cycling headphones that punch well above their weight in performance terms. 

They promise up to seven hours of continuous playback, although at the loud volumes we like for our indoor cycling setting, we found this time ran closer to around five hours. With the charging case, this time extends to offer 40 hours of battery, and a fast charge means little downtime between listening. 

You can choose to use either ear on its own - useful for outdoor riding - or both together. You can even pair each ear to separate devices, and whichever comes out of the case first will become the 'main' ear, and the second ear will mimic. So if you like to flit between listening via a laptop and a smartphone, just pick up the corresponding ear first. 

They do tend to work their way loose over the course of a sweaty ride, however this is noticeable enough that you can nudge them back into place before they fall. We've tested them over bumpy gravel terrain, long road days, indoor races and more and we've not managed to lose one yet, however with their diminutive size and a lack of a find-me beacon, don't expect to find them if you do accidentally drop them out in the wild. 

Best cycling headphones: Jabra 85H

(Image credit: Jabra)

Jabra Elite 85h

Best over-ear headphones for cycling: If you aren't a fan of in-ear or want to completely isolate yourself in music and your workout

Specifications
Battery Life: Up to 36 continuous hours
Waterproof: Nano-coating of the internal components
Noise Cancelling: Active
RRP: £219.99 / $249.99 / €249,99 / AU$379.99
Reasons to buy
+Long battery Life+Great warranty+Superior noise-cancelling and sound isolation
Reasons to avoid
-No actual IP rating-Over ear headphones means extra sweat

While some headphone uses need to allow outside noise, some don't. Riding indoors you probably don't need to hear what's happening around you. The Jabra 85H noise cancelling is second to none. That amazing active noise cancelling also comes with plenty of battery life. If you want to be completely focused while you tackle a virtual Everest ride then the 36 hours of useability should do the trick. On the other hand, if you need to call a friend during that event the 6 of 8 onboard mics dedicated to voice calls will keep you clear to the other person. 

Best cycling headphones: Adidas RPT01

(Image credit: Adidas)

Adidas RPT-01

Runner-up over ear headphones: Sport focused with washable fabric covers

Specifications
Battery Life: Up to 40 continuous hours
Waterproof: IPX4
Noise Cancelling: None
RRP: £119.99 / $169 / €169,00 / AU$270
Reasons to buy
+Long battery life+Washable fabric covers
Reasons to avoid
-Can cause discomfort from how tight they are

If you like the idea of an over-the-ear headphone for your workouts but you need something more workout focused than the Jabra, Adidas has an answer. There is an IPX4 rating and the ear cups, as well as the inner headband, feature fabric covers that can be removed for washing. Without any active noise cancelling you won't stay completely isolated. The controls on the headphones will help keep you from needing to fiddle with your phone while working out though. 

Best cycling headphones: Sony

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony WI-SP510

Best in-ear headphones for cyclists who have a habit of losing things

Specifications
Battery Life: Up to 15 continuous hours
Waterproof: IPX5
Noise Cancelling: None
RRP: £70.00 / $79.99 / €80,00 / AU$179.95
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive+Included mic for phone calls+Cable hangs around neck to prevent loss if one is taken (or falls) out
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best sound quality

Sony has been the king of inexpensive, quality headphones for years, and that hasn't changed. While you can spend a lot of money on amazing headphones not everyone wants to do that. If you want something that is both good and inexpensive the WI-SP510 is a perfect choice. 

They aren't true wireless, the two earbuds have a wired connection, but there's no wire to your device. Along with that extra wire, you get longer battery life and the ease of hanging them at your neck, making them harder to drop and lose, while also reducing cost. These are the kind of headphones that just work. 

Best cycling headphones: Sennheiser Momentum 2

(Image credit: Sennheiser )

Sennheiser Momentum 2

Best in-ear headphones for cyclists who want maximum sound quality

Specifications
Battery Life: 7 hours continuous, 28 with case
Waterproof: IPX4
Noise Cancelling: Active
RRP: £279.00 / $299.95 / €299,00 / AU$499.95
Reasons to buy
+Battery life+Range of ear top options+Noise cancelling
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

These svelte black earphones are just about as good as you can get if you're looking for a pair of in-ear wireless earphones for indoor cycling. Sennheiser is an expert in the audio game, and it shows with these buds.

One improvement on the first edition of these buds is the addition of active noise cancelling, joining the number of premium earphones that offer such a feature. The feature can be toggled on and off via touch control or Sennheiser's Smart Control app, so you won't be oblivious to traffic if you're cycling outdoors.

The touch controls also let you control a range of other functions, including playing or pausing audio, as well as skipping back and forth. Compatibility with voice assistants Siri and Google Assistant is also enabled.

Other features include a seven-hour battery life, which extended to 28 when charged via battery case. There are four pairs of ear tips too, in a range of sizes to fit you, while a USB-C charging cable is also included. If you have the cash, then the Sennheiser Momentum 2 is a great choice.

How to choose the best cycling headphones

When it comes to choosing the best headphones for cycling, you'll need to think about what your cycling usually involves, as there are so many different types of ride and each will have a different set of requirements that will make headphones suitable or not. 

If you're only ever planning on using your headphones whilst riding indoors, look for something with high waterproofing and sweatproofing, and good sound quality. 

If you're planning on using them on the road, proceed with caution and consider headphones that allow you to hear the outside world just as clearly as if you weren't wearing any. The last thing you want is to be deaf to your surroundings when cars are speeding by. 

If riding anywhere outside, you may want to find a pair with numerous controls that allow you to change track/volume/etc without having to fish your phone out of your pocket each time. 

Also consider your other needs for headphones - will you use them in work video calls? If so, you might want a pair that can handle multiple Bluetooth connections so that you can switch between your phone and computer without having to delete and re-pair. 

If you're thinking about over-ear headphones, they might be great on the bike, but will they become cumbersome in other walks of life, such as travelling or commuting, as you can't exactly slide them into your pocket? 

We can't tell you exactly which are the best cycling headphones for you, but spend time considering your needs and you'll be half way to choosing. 

What do IP ratings mean in headphones?

You are working hard, getting a great workout, and sweating a lot. With that in mind, you want to make sure you aren't going to kill your headphones by sweating on them so you check out the IP rating. What is an IP rating though and what do the numbers mean?

IP stands for ingress protection and it's a simple rating that signifies how waterproof, and dustproof, something is. A low IP rating might work for you when you are riding with a fan pointed at your face but it won't work for swimming. Whatever your need is the IP rating just lets you match your needs to what you are purchasing. 

After the letters "I" and "P" there are two numbers. Sometimes instead of two numbers there is an X then a number. The first place is a measure of dust protection. The second place is a measure of water protection. If there's an X in either location it means that the product has no testing for that rating. 

No testing doesn't mean no protection, it just means no testing. Headphones are often not tested for dust ingress. Still, since waterproofing can mean sealing the internals, they might be fine in a lot of dusty situations. Alternatively, no IP rating doesn't always mean no water resistance. Jabra has no IP rating but the internals have a nano protection that will protect them from some water. 

Some people sweat more than others. Decide what you are comfortable with. Also consider the design. A true wireless headphone is more likely to accidentally fall into water while an over-ear headphone is more capable of collecting water. 

Consider sorting music based on BPM

Music is strongly linked to performance. The connection is so strong that studies show raising the beats per minute of your music can positively affect your workout. You can ride farther and faster without an increase in perceived difficulty if you choose the right music. It's also incredibly easy to get the BPM you want.

If you use Spotify, there are a variety of services such as playlistmachinery.com that will help you find the perfect BPM. For YouTube Music, Apple Music, or Amazon Music the best way to handle it is to search for your preferred BPM. A quick search will have you listening to exactly the speed that matches what you are doing that day.

Josh Ross

Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minute details of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer is probably yes.
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 137 lb.
Rides: Look 795 Blade RS, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Priority Continuum Onyx