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!
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.
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).
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.
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!