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AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

A few months ago I reviewed the AfterShokz Sportz M2 Open Ear Sport Headphones and declared it to be “the coolest gadget I’ve bought this year!” Shortly after the review was published the folks at AfterShockz sent me a note and suggested that I ought to try their new Bluetooth version of these headphones, the AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones. Once I found out there was a Bluetooth version available I immediately ordered a pair from Amazon.com and I am certainly glad I did!

AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

Like the Sportz M2 wired headphone, the AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones uses bone conduction technology so you are listening through your cheekbones—the headphones sit in front of your ears, not in them. The sound quality is amazing and you can ride your bike while listening to your favorite music and still hear ambient noises. I use these headphones with an Apple iPhone 5, but they are also compatible with most other phones and Bluetooth devices.

AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

On/Off Switch and USB Charging Port

The AfterShockz Bluez are wireless headphones and they connect to your smartphone or iPod with Bluetooth technology—and you can still make or take phone calls while they are on. The unit is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery that provides about 10 to 12 hours of use between charges. You can recharge the battery by plugging the device into the USB port on your computer (a USB cord in included with the headphones).

AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

The Headphones Sit In Front Of Your Ears—Not In Them

The biggest questions most cyclists are going to have about this device is how they handle on off-road trails and if you can wear them with your helmet on. I’ve had no problems with these headphones staying in place on rough off-road trails, and I always wear my helmet and sunglasses when I ride.

AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

AfterShockz claims that the range on this device is about 33 feet (10 meters) and that has been my experience as well. While working on my bikes in the garage I usually wear the AfterShockz Bluez so I can walk around while I listen to music and still be able to make a phone call when needed. 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).

While I dearly love this set of headphones they are not perfect. The first time I took them out on an off-road trail I rode for over 60 miles without any problem. However, the second time I tried them there was electrical interference that drove me crazy until I finally figured out that the problem was coming from the key fob for my Jeep Grand Cherokee (it uses Near Field Technology and obviously does not behave well when it is anywhere near the headphones). I’ve also had a problem a few times when I had to stop my bike at an intersection near to a traffic control box (electrical interference again).

The AfterShokz Bluez Open Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones retail for $120, but you can find them on Amazon.com for around $85.

I know what you are really asking yourself right now: What does the All Seasons Cyclist listen to when he is riding his bike? Well, I am decidedly old-school when it comes to music. My iPhone has an eclectic collection of over 5,000 songs that includes artists such as Johnny Cash, Air Supply, The Beatles, The Byrds, Clannad, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Elvis Presley, Loreena McKennit, Norah Jones, and Toby Keith—as well as the U.S. Army Band & Chorus and the United States Military Academy Cadet Glee Club. When I am racing against the clock I like to listen to cadences from the United States Marine Corps (courtesy of my sons). If you can’t reach your top speed with a Marine Corps Drill Instructor screaming in your ears, well, there is no hope for you!

 
30 Comments

Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Product Reviews

 

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BiKase DriKase Smartphone Holder (Product Review and Giveaway)

The main reason I own an Apple iPhone is because I am a distance cyclist and I try to travel as light as possible. The iPhone allows me to record my workouts with the Cyclemeter App (my absolute favorite app for the iPhone) and it allows my wife to track me with the new Road ID App (my second favorite app). I also take photos on off-road trails and always use the iPhone to check on the weather before I leave the house. On rare occasions I have actually used the iPhone to make a phone call. However, carrying a smartphone is sometimes a challenge because I don’t want to permanently mount a phone holder to any of my bikes. A few weeks ago the folks at Alt-Gear sent me a BiKase DriKase Smartphone Holder to review and it is probably the best smartphone holder for cyclists available on the market today. If you would like a chance to win this smartphone holder just keep reading!

BiKase DriKase Smartphone Holder

BiKase DriKase Smartphone Holder

The BiKase DriKase Smartphone Holder is made of urethane and is highly water-resistant (in my opinion your phone is safe in a thunderstorm, but don’t use this holder when you go scuba diving). The sealed construction on this holder makes for a very durable phone case. This holder mounts to your bike with a sturdy Velrco strip—you can attach it to either your handlebars or the handlebar stem. While the Velcro is very secure it is still easy to remove it when you want to.

The clear window on the back allows you to still use your camera

The clear window on the back allows you to still use your camera

Unlike most of the other iPhone (or other smartphone) holders on the market, this one has a clear window on the back so you can use your camera with having to take the phone out of the holder. I shot a few photos through this window and was pleasantly surprised at how well the photos looked! Photos shot in full daylight were nearly perfect, but I could see a bit of blurring in low-light situations. Another surprising thing about this smartphone holder is that you can still use your phone when it is in the case—the sound is slightly muffled, but still good enough to use.

BiKase DriKase Smartphone Holder

BiKase DriKase Smartphone Holder

By the way, I keep my iPhone 5 in a very thin polypropylene case and it fits in the DriKase holder with ease. This case will also hold a Samsung Galaxy 3 or 4 and several other smartphones. BiKase also has holders available that will accommodate larger phones and even an iPad Mini or Kindle. The BiKase DriKase Smartphone Holder retails for $25 and is available from the Alt-Gear website , CambriaBike.com, OutsideOutfitters.com, and Amazon.com.

Regular readers know that I seldom keep the products that are sent to me for review. If you would like a chance  to win this BiKase DriKase Smartphone Holder then leave a comment below telling me why you need it. The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, August 23, 2013. After the contest closes I will read through the comments and choose a winner based solely on my subjective mood at the time. I won’t respond to the comments left below, but I promise to read and consider every one of them. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail at my expense. Good luck!

 
15 Comments

Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Product Reviews

 

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AfterShokz Sportz M2 Open Ear Sport Headphones with Microphone

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

AfterShokz Sportz M2 Open Ear Sport Headphones

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).

AfterShokz Sportz M2 Open Ear Sport Headphones

Wear the unit in front of your ears

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).

AfterShokz Sportz M2 Open Ear Sport Headphones

Control box with microphone, volume buttons, call button and charging port

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.

AfterShokz Sportz M2 Open Ear Sport Headphones

Comes with a carrying case, charging cord, extension cord and instruction manual

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).

 

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