Are you dying for some music while riding your bike and wondering if you can do so with headphones? Many cyclists prefer riding with headphones, allowing them to listen to some music and possibly take calls while driving to work. However, as this may seem like a safety hazard, you might wonder if you can ride a bike with headphones.
Research suggests that cyclists can still hear everything they need when cycling with headphones. Therefore, riding a bike with headphones isn’t deemed dangerous. However, another consideration is the legality of riding a bike with headphones. The laws differ between countries and states.
Before determining if you can and should ride a bike with headphones, you must first consider whether it is safe. Furthermore, you must find out if it is legal to ride a bike with headphones where you live. We will discuss the safety and legality of riding a bike with headphones. In addition, we’ll also consider which headphones are best for cycling.
Is It Safe To Ride A Bike Wearing Headphones?
The first and most important consideration when riding a bike with headphones is whether it is safe. Because headphones are designed to drown out ambient noise, the common thought is that you cannot hear your surroundings as well when cycling with them.
But is this true? Australian researchers decided to test this theory using a fake ear, a decibel meter, and different types of headphones. Their studies concluded that riding a bike with headphones doesn’t cause you to hear less road noise or things happening around you. For example, a cyclist wearing headphones could still hear a bike whistle and a pedestrian screaming.
Furthermore, their study also concluded that a cyclist wearing headphones and listening to music at a moderate loudness could still hear more than a motorist could. This is true even if the motorist wasn’t listening to music through their radio.
Therefore, it’s unlikely that wearing headphones will cause a cyclist to be in more danger because they can still hear everything needed while on the road. Another concern, however, is that riding a bike with headphones distracts you from your environment, making you less alert to the dangers on the road.
While this may be true in some cases, another study has found that music intensifies your focus and puts you in a state of mental alertness. Just like motorists put on some music to get them in a positive mood while driving, listening to music with headphones can have the same effect on cyclists.
The final safety concern regarding wearing headphones while cycling is the risk it poses to your hearing. Music playing loudly in your ears for extended periods contributes to hearing loss and may affect your hearing later.
The contribution of headphones to hearing loss has also been studied at length. Research suggests that sounds above 85 decibels, which isn’t even when your headphones are set to their loudest, can cause hearing loss. Therefore, to avoid sustaining hearing loss while wearing headphones, we recommend setting them only to about 50% loudness.
As you can see, while many people think wearing headphones while cycling is dangerous because it distracts you and impairs your hearing while cycling, the research on the topic proves the opposite. However, what do the laws say about wearing headphones while riding a bike?
Is It Legal To Ride A Bike With Headphones?
Even though it might be safe to wear headphones while riding a bike, this doesn’t mean you can. There is one other aspect you must consider before deciding to do so, and that is a legal one. Because of the perceived risks of riding a bike while wearing headphones, many countries and states have banned the practice.
For example, in America, the laws differ between states. However, it is illegal to wear headphones covering both ears in most states. On the contrary, in the United Kingdom, there currently aren’t any laws banning headphones while riding a bike.
To ensure that it is legal to ride a bike with headphones, you must check the laws on this topic for the state or country you live in. It is also worth researching the penalties for riding a bike with headphones, as fees and other consequences may follow.
Are these laws banning the use of headphones while cycling necessary? According to the research, cycling with headphones doesn’t place cyclists or people around them in more danger than cycling without them.
However, surveys suggest that most people agree that cycling with headphones is more dangerous. Therefore, the laws don’t seem to bother too many people, making the general public feel more at ease. As such, we don’t suspect these laws to change soon, despite the evidence that suggests that cycling with headphones isn’t dangerous.
What Are The Best Headphones For Riding Bike With?
The Australian study discovered while researching whether cycling with headphones on is more dangerous than not wearing them that the type of headphones used makes a significant difference in how much you can hear while cycling.
They found that headphones that sit on one’s ear let in far more surrounding noise than in-ear buds or earphones. Furthermore, earbuds with active noise canceling let in the least outside noise, meaning that cyclists would hear less of their surroundings while wearing these headphones.
Although the traffic noise might be frustrating, cyclists must be able to hear everything around them for the safety of the cyclist and the safety of others. Therefore, headphones that let in more external noise are preferred when cycling. Fortunately, there are many headphones specifically designed for cycling.
These are the best headphones for riding a bike. Our top picks are determined by comfort, security, function, and of course, sound. Here are our top picks for headphones to wear while riding a bike.
- Shokz OpenRun bone conducting headphones (Available on Amazon below). These headphones don’t go into your ear at all and therefore don’t obstruct the traffic noise.
- Adidas FWD-02 Sport Wireless Earbuds (Available on Amazon below). These earbuds have a secure fit and allow ambient noise, ensuring you can hear everything around you.
- JBL Endurance Peak II sport Headphones (Available on Amazon below). These headphones offer excellent sound quality with a secure fit.
Apart from these headphones, plenty of others are great for cycling. So it ultimately boils down to which style of headphones you like to use. However, even if these headphones allow for external noises, they aren’t legal everywhere when cycling. Therefore, you must always check the laws in your state before cycling with both headphones in.
Research suggests that it is safe to cycle while wearing headphones. They don’t block traffic noise or other sounds, and they don’t distract you while cycling. However, listening to music with headphones can lead to hearing loss. In addition, it’s illegal to ride a bike with both headphones on in many countries and states.