Listen up ladies and gentlemen—I am going to tell you about the coolest gadget I’ve bought this year! I love listening to music when I am riding my bike, especially on long rides. However, wearing headphones in both ears while riding on the road is banned in most states. A few years ago I bought a new pair of Apple EarBuds and cut off one of the ear pieces so I could ride legally (obviously, I kept the side that has the microphone on it). While the modified Earbuds worked, they were far from perfect—the sound quality wasn’t all that great. A few months ago I bought a pair of AfterShokz Sportz M2 Open Ear Sport Headphones and they are simply awesome—now I can ride my bike, listen to my music and still hear ambient noises.
AfterShokz Sportz M2 Open Ear Sport Headphones sit in front of your ears, not in them. They use bone conduction technology so you are basically listening through your cheekbones! The sound quality is better than any headphone I’ve ever tried before and since there is nothing in your ears you can still hear ambient noises (cars, horns, motorcycles, rabid dogs and riding partners).
These headphones also have an in-line microphone that allows your to take or make phone calls—and the sound quality here is also flawless. The microphone is contained in small box (2″ x .75″ x .5″) that can easily clip onto your jacket or cycling jersey. The microphone box also houses the on/off switch, volume control, call button and a micro-USB port for charging the built-in lithium battery. You can charge this unit by plugging it into the USB port on almost any computer, or by connecting it to the same charger you use for your iPhone or iPod (or most other USB chargers).
The headphone unit comes with a sturdy carrying case, USB charging cables, instruction manual, and a 5mm connector (which you probably won’t need unless your phone case has a high-profile). I am able to get about 10 to 12 hours of use between charges. This unit is water-resistant, but not water proof (you can probably safely ride your bike in the rain with these on, but don’t take them swimming). This headphone is also great for skateboarding, hiking, and skiing. I’ve not had any problems using this headphone, even when wearing sunglasses and a bike helmet.
The AfterShokz Sportz M2 AS321 Open Ear Sport Headphones with Microphone retail for around $80 ($60 on Amazon.com) and they are one of the best investments you can make if you like riding your bike while listening to music. AfterShokz has recently introduced a Bluetooth pair of headphones, the AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones. The Bluetooth model retails for around $120 and the microphone is positioned near the left transducer. I have ordered a pair of the Bluetooth headphones from an Amazon.com retailer, but they have not yet arrived (I will post a review of them later).