Do you listen to music on the road?

One of the things I like most about spinning classes is the up tempo music played throughout. Music with a beat that matches the cadence of the effort;  faster when sprinting on the level; and, slower when climbing.  The music seems to energize and motivate at the same time.

I have never listened to music while cycling.  I thought it was too dangerous.  Too distracting.  Besides, it seemed enough to simply be outside on my bike.  What other motivation did I need?

When I am at home and the office, I listened to, a free music streaming service in Canada with playlists of all genres prepared by music experts.  It is clever.  And, it’s free like so much that is available on the web these days.  Free apps.  Free streaming services.  Free news.  Free weather forecast.  These business models are changing the way we do business.  But I digress.

I enjoy Songza but never considered listening to it while cycling.  Well, that is until observing cyclists listening to music wearing only 1 earpiece, leaving the other hanging out so that road noise is still audible.  Still, I was reluctant to give it a try.  It seems like a distraction.  Well, this week I decided to try it.

I was surprised to learn it is less distracting than I imagined.  I can hear the road noise and enjoy the music at the same time.  And, the up tempo beat helps with the ride.  I am careful to ride on the bikeways and roads with little traffic.  I think if I was on a busy street, I would remove both earpieces.

Now, I have another worry.  The sound is much superior when bot earpieces are used.  Will the day come when I want to use them both while cycling?

I am curious what you think.  Do you ride wearing an earpiece?  Do you think it is safe?  Or, do you simply not bother?


22 thoughts on “Do you listen to music on the road?

    • This is the way I have always thought. I am planning several longer solo tours and thought music might keep me company and motivated. It has never been a problem for me in the past but I began trying it. So far – it has only been a week – I have mixed feeling, primarily because of safety.

  1. I used to ride with music a lot. Now I only do it very rarely. Mostly because I now cycle tour rather than train for racing so I want to be in the moment more. But I found it helpful when I was training to race because it did exactly what you say… helps with tempo

    • That’s interesting Andrew. I have become interested recently in cycling with music as I am planning some longer solo tours and thought having music along might help keep me motivated.

  2. I thought it was dangerous until I found outer ear headphones. They work via bone conduction as used in the military. They are by a company called “after shokz”

    • Thanks Michelle.

      I just had a look at and their Bluez 2 stereo headphones. The solve a could of problems for me. They are wireless. I keep getting my headphones tangled in something. Ambient sound is not blocked out making them much safer to wear. And, I suspect the sound quality is better given you are listening from both sides.

      I am curious. Do you have a pair and, if so, what is the sound quality like? Before I spend $100 I would like some reassurance that they work as well as their website reads.

      Thanks again.

  3. i often use headphones when i ride not only for music but to keep in touch when I’m on call for work, i only ride with one ear bud in so i am still aware of whats going on around me, if i don’t have music i can sometimes get to lost in thought it actually keeps me more focused on just riding and not thinking about other things like what bill need paying or what time i have to wake up the next day, i can really just zone out and ride

    • I am warming to the idea. And, I like Michelle’s suggestion above – the Bluez 2 stereo headphones. Yesterday I was out for 2 hours but found I did not like the playlist and turned it off half way into the ride. For me, it has to be the right mix.

  4. I also wear them, 2 in. It’s usually for long rides (12+ hours) and it’s not really music, but I catch up on my podcasts. I only do it for part of my ride when I start to need something else other than the bike and road. Never at night or on super busy stretches.

    I’m definitely going to look at the AfterShokz. Actually, I’m pulling the trigger….wired though – I don’t need anything else draining batteries more than they have to be.

  5. The ones I have are wired, I saw them at a bike show so decided to get them. They are pretty good sound quality and it is weird being able to hear your music /take a call whilst also being able to hear what is going on around you. I suppose that is an element to get used to and it’s so much safer

  6. Neither he nor I listen to music when we cycle. And that’s the last 23 yrs. He’s gone on solo bike trips across Canada and U.S. He doesn’t listen to music. It probably is easier on him..he has tinnitus, sinus problems and actually needs to stay alert since he has mild narcolepsy.sleep disorder.

    I just don’t feel the need. At home, I forget to play music …so time to tune in to baroque music. 🙂

    • That’s interesting Jean. I would have thought your partner would like music on his long solo trips. That is the reason I am experimenting thinking it may be helpful on longer rides. I too have managed for a long time without music – 35+ years.

      You raise an interesting point. I also have a case of tinnitus. Mild I am told. When I am listening to music it is less noticeable. I would have thought it might also help your partner.

      • No, he’s never been interested. He’s has had tinnitus caused by sinuses for past few decades. He is very sensitive to air pressure changes (weather changes) and is allergic to perfurmes, pollutants and heavy natural floral scents, natural moulds (can’t be in greenhouses) which causes tinnitus, headaches, etc.

        I think it’s the opposite for him –cycling helps his tinnitus by having him focus on visually and hearing traffic, nature around him while keeping him awake since he’s pumping the pedals.

        He hates driving because he falls asleep at the steering wheel after an hr.

        As for me, I dislike ear buds in my ears.

        There will be blog post about he and I as a cycling couple in a few months. He is 70…. he is a father of 2 adult children. He wishes his children did bike. But well,….

      • Driving doesn’t put me to sleep but I much prefer to cycle.

        He is lucky to have you to cycle with. I am 67 with 3 grown children. One of my sons is an avid cyclist and, thanks to him, he has rekindled my interest. We ride together sometimes (he is much stronger than I am), maintain our bikes in my shop and build news ones when we can.

        I will look forward to your post.

  7. Good to have son that enjoys cycling also. Jack is trying to help his 12 yr. grandson bike. He’s the faithful father in Toronto at this time…who’s running around helping his son set up and open his first sandwich shop, set up the e-commerce blog, etc. He keeps bikes in different cities. And so do I: I left my first bike of 14 yrs. of use, at a sister’s home in Toronto after I moved to western Canada. I always have a bike to pedal around when I visit family in Toronto.

  8. I think listening to music is probably dangerous, but isn’t just about everything dangerous on some level?

    Our brains are the fastest processors that we know of. Many things run on a subconscious level–we aren’t even aware that our brain is perceiving things and using that information to guide our reactions. It makes me wonder — can we accurately gauge the degree to which something doesn’t distract us? If you don’t hear or notice something…how would you know that? Also, energy your brain spends on listening to music is energy and attention it’s not focusing on your surroundings. There are still limits to what our brains can perceive at any given moment.

    However, I have listened to music while biking on a separate path because sometimes it’s just nice and helps keep me motivated. I used my phone’s speakers from a handlebar bag. Because even though I know it’s taking some of my attention away, I just stay to right and look around frequently because it’s already a low risk area. I also always look first before passing or changing my position.

    I also have hearing problems. If I didn’t, I’d probably just wear the headphones on a path.

    But when riding with traffic? Nooooo way!!!! Never!

    • When I wrote this post, I was experimenting (and always on bikeways, never in traffic). I have never done it before. Always thought it would be a distraction and dangerous. Since then, I have stopped. I think it is a distraction. At least it is for me. And, besides, I don’t need more motivation. I am just glad to be out on my bike.

      I am considering a lengthy solo bike tour and was wondering if a little music would help pass the time and keep me company. As it is, I spend a lot of time on my bike and never get lonely or bored. I don’t think that will change, particularly when I am on new roads.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      • I probably sounded mean and judgmental in my comment (I was really tired). But I Promise that the tone in my head was curious and reflective!

        As much as I love riding, sometimes my lazy bones take over and I want to lay on the couch all day 😀 plus, We don’t have great scenery here, at least not where I’ve ridden yet. There are some places I’ve ridden where the scenery was lovely and serene, music would’ve ruined it. I hope to change that and find better views locally.

        I also get very lonely when I bike alone. I think it’s great that you can bike forever solo though. Your mind must love that!

        Very exciting about your solo tour! Can’t wait to read about how it goes.

      • On the contrary, you didn’t sound mean or judgemental. I thought your comments were insightful.

        I am fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the world. Most of my routes hug the seashore and our climate is temperate so we can ride most of the year. I have always enjoyed riding alone. I guess I have never found anyone with the same enthusiasm for a ride. Ride-time is my-time – time to relax and sort out the issues of the day. When I return home, I feel relaxed, content and spent.

        I haven’t tried a long solo tour in a long while. I plan to start with a few shorter trips partly to make certain I have all the necessary equipment and to ensure I still like it. I am certain if the weather is descent, I will enjoy it.

        Thanks again.

  9. Well you know me, so you can probably guess my answer. For me, riding without music takes something away from the ride. Most often than not, I ride for the experience and I need music to complete the mood – whether it be an epic soundtrack to get me pedalling faster or a smooth jazz piece for the leisurely rides…
    As to how dangerous it is… Yes, I can’t disagree. But I try to make up for it by being twice as cautious and looking right and left then once more before I do any kind of movement…

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