This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)

Cycling and enjoying music? A contradiction in terms!?

Who hasn’t experienced this? Either the wind and ambient noise are so loud that you can hardly hear the music, or you block off your ears, really turn up the volume and can no longer hear your surroundings or the traffic … which can be life-threatening.

Shokz Openrun Cycling Blog

There is no compromise! Or is there?

I myself have experimented a lot in recent years, because I spend many hours a week on my bike. But no matter whether with “In Ear”, “Over Ear”, with “Noise Cancelling” or without … no headset managed the balancing act between enjoying music and paying attention in traffic.

Then I came across the topic of “bone-sound headphones” and bought the OpenRun model from Shokz.

Shokz … the company and its products

To start with … I have nothing to do with Shokz or its products, neither professionally nor privately. But after I got stuck in my search for the ideal “bicycle headphones”, I took a closer look at this somewhat different way of listening to music… or rather “listened” to them.

On its homepage, Shokz says of itself:
“Shokz is the world’s leading pioneer of bone-conduction technology, which transmits sound directly to the inner ear via the cheekbones. Because the ear cups are left exposed in the process, ambient sounds remain ever-present, allowing unimpaired awareness of the environment for increased safety while running.”

That sounds tempting. The question remains how it works in everyday life! I would like to report on that here.

Ordered, delivered, unpacked and switched on

I bought these bone-sound headphones on the web for 139 euros; for the dealer around the corner, the part was probably too special. But it can be even more expensive; the “Pro” version is 189 euros! Delivery was within 2 working days. The packaging reminds me somehow of Apple products; high quality and yet only the bare essentials are included:

– OpenRun bone-sound sports headphones
– Magnetic charging cable
– Carrying case
– user manual

On the negative side, I immediately notice that the USB charging cable is absolutely individual … unfortunately not a standard a la USB-C or something. It’s magnetic and clips right onto the headphones. I only charge them for a few minutes; that has to be enough for a first, short test! The quick charge function promises 1.5 hours of music enjoyment after only 10 minutes of charging!

Shokz Openrun Cycling OVP

Other interesting facts:

Once the Shokz Openrun are fully charged, they are supposed to last 8 hours. Of course, this value depends very much on the volume; so far they have easily lasted 8 hours; they even felt longer … maybe because I didn’t have them so loud and the smartphone was close by!

Even though the OpenRun Sport earphones are explicitly not suitable for swimming (if you need that, go for the OpenSwim model), they are waterproof according to IP67. That means they can withstand “… temporary submersion in water up to a maximum depth of 1 metre for a maximum of 30 minutes”. So you can ride in the rain, wear them in the shower or simply sweat all over them.

They weigh only 26 grams and are equipped with the latest PremiumPitch™ 2.0+, which is currently the most advanced technology in terms of sound quality & bone sound. The only thing left to mention is that there is also a “mini” version with a shorter band.

Oh yes … you can of course also make phone calls with it!

In everyday life

The most important thing first: the sound! The OpenRun can’t compete with “normal” headphones! Because the sound is transmitted via the bones, the bass is particularly lacking. It is also unusual that the bone-sound headphones do not seal off the ear from external noise; this is a completely different listening experience and one that takes some getting used to!

So if you can’t do without your typical bassy sound a la AirPods or comparable models, you need read no further.

I had already informed myself in advance and it was clear to me that the bone-conduction technology has this disadvantage. However, I was therefore positively surprised by the sound, or rather, by this completely different way of listening to music! The music sounds really good, apart from the slight bass weakness! And yet it is somewhat irritating to perceive environmental sounds at the same time. Podcasts and audio books are also really easy to understand! I would not have thought that!

Without taking the smartphone out of the pocket, the most important commands can be carried out directly via the headset: Louder, softer, next track, previous track. The only thing you can’t do with the headset is fast-forward, which I can get over. However, operating the headset is a bit fiddly when wearing gloves.

My personal conclusion after several weeks of intensive use:

Especially on longer bike rides, beyond 3 hours, the OpenRun are really fun! They push me when I’m not motivated enough and sweeten the day when the weather isn’t good or I’m just not in a good mood. But I also use them all the time for shorter workouts, jogging or walks with the dog!

You can wear them without any problems under a bicycle helmet and also with glasses! Another advantage: they don’t hurt your ears and you don’t sweat like with other In Ear or Over Ear headphones!

The sound is not hi-fi, but absolutely OK … and in return you can perceive your surroundings without restriction, which has already saved me as a cyclist from worse in one or the other dangerous situation in road traffic!

Pro Contra
+ Ambient noise can still be perceived! – Sound! Weak bass
+ Compatible with bicycle helmet and goggles – Individual charging cable / no standard USB!
+ No sweating – Operation of the volume up and volume down buttons with gloves difficult