Mountain biking with headphones is a touchy subject. I’ll admit I personally love riding with headphones. I’ve been riding with the Jaybird Run True bluetooth headphones and they work really well.  I don’t use them every time. If I’m out on a cruiser ride, or riding with some buddies, I’ll leave them at home. But if I’m out on a hard training ride, I love to pop in the ear buds and put on my favorite playlist.

In this video, I share some tips for using earphones on the mountain bike trail. Also, I want to ask you: how do you feel about music on the trails.  Be honest: Do you sometimes wear headphones when mountain biking?  Or, do you think they should be banned from the trails?  Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think.


# Comments

  • Robert Dobbs

    I am not a headphone/earbud on the trail fan. The trails in my neck of the woods are twisted with dense tree and brush vegetation; line of sight rarely exceed 20 yards and is often much, much shorter. Just to make things more “interesting” all of the trails in my area are “shared use” – so you might run into XC runners, hikers or a 1,000 pound American Quarter Horse with rider. So IMHO you really, really need exceptional “situational awareness.”
    Still, I see mountain bikers, hikers and runners on these trails with earbuds or full blown, over the ear headphones (haven’t seen a horse with earbuds yet). 😉
    That said, what is my opinion about a severely hearing impaired person riding or hiking these trails?…. honestly I will have to sit and mull that over for awhile.
    The trails in your video look wide open and practically deserted and you certainly explained, quite well, your list of conditions for riding with, and without, entertainment. It’s a good common sense list; the problem is many people don’t possess common sense.

    • Chris Bonsall

      Well said Robert Dobbs, I whole heartily agree.

  • WhipSnap

    I don’t see a problem with headphones on the trail and view it as incumbent on the rider to have the volume at a level that does not impede their awareness of other trail users.

  • mongwolf

    If you are out in the middle of nowhere, well maybe. I would prefer the sounds of nature, but to each his own. If you are on a more high use trail, definitely not. I can count how many times I have come up on other riders, and runners and walkers, and they have no idea I was there. Finally, you have yell at them and sometimes they act pissed because you yelled. Not a fan at all. If you are going to use buds or head phone. One ear in and one ear out. PLEASE.

  • Hbs

    Leave the headphones st home. They prevent you from hearing what is going on around you, both potential hazards and other trail users trying to alert you to their presence.

  • wareagle4130

    I say depends on the earbuds. I have some Jaybird X3’s, and they basically block out all ambient noise due to their in ear canal design. I also have some Bose and Yurbuds that sit in the ear but not in the canal and I can hear my surroundings just fine (with the volume at a moderate level). I wear those if I just plan on grinding out some miles on a local trail by myself, but when riding with a group or on a new trail I leave them at home.

  • Scott V

    I like to have music while I ride, but need to hear other riders, hikers and horse back riders. I always ride with a bike bell (Timber) so I don’t startle other on the trails. Trekz Air are bone conduction headphones that allow you to hear your music without obstructing your ears from the ambient sounds. This is by no means an add for their product, but I’ve tried many different headphones and these are the best balance between sound quality, comfort and situational awareness.

  • Slow Leak

    One earbud in, one earbud out. I don’t know why it has to be more complicated than that.

    • AARP MTBer

      +1 to what Slow Leak said.

    • thomas_purdy

      Well said. Simple and easy

  • jmonahan54

    If I’m in the mountains all I want to hear is what is around me, not music. I save the music for other things, but not mountain biking.

  • streighty

    I came upon a guy with earbuds just this past weekend. I ride with a Timber mountain bike bell and he couldn’t hear it ringing when I was 2 feet from his rear tire. I yelled and he barely heard me and of course, was startled. This was in an area where a young cougar sighting happened two weeks prior. Not very smart on his part was my immediate thought. I love music, but there are a time and place and the trails are not the place.

  • m@frit

    I use a single Bluetooth earbud only on one side. Lets me listen to music/podcasts, answer the phone if needed from the trail and still hear cars, other riders, lions, tigers and bears.

    I don’t think I would ever block both ears.

    • m@frit

      I don’t use any if riding with others.

  • tonylapy@aol.com

    It’s what I tell every runner and hiker that has earbuds in, leave one ear open or you and I may have a meeting neither one of us wants.

  • aes5455

    Never will wear headphones while on any bike. Apart from the obvious safety issues, your ears let you know when the bike needs more maintenance than you thought.

    Leave them at home and enjoy the outdoors

  • Ax

    I love headphones when riding
    I ride single track outside of Seattle and don’t run into a lot of people
    Even riding on my road bike when I’m solo I love it
    Puts me in the zone and totally safe as I’m aware of my surroundings and slow down at al intersections, never had a problem
    Do you turn your radio off when you drive your car ?

  • aussieyeti

    I’ve never been a fan of headphones while riding (road or MTB) because I want to be aware of my surroundings, but I’ve always thought the bone conductive headphones could be the best of both worlds, but I thought the quality of the sound would be terrible. It wasn’t til i tried a demo pair in a bike store, and I listened to music while I had a conversation with the guy behind the register that I “heard the light”. I think I’ll pull the pin and get a set

  • mongwolf

    The funny thing is that I see a guy ahead of me, going in the same direction and call out loudly but nicely … no response. Get closer call out again, no response. Get behind him, say nicely no response. Finally, nicely yell out a greeting … … and then they get angry with you for yelling. Geez. One bud/phone in and one out. Or even better on trails where you encounter other users throughout the ride/hike/run, leave ’em at home. Please. And the anger response just shows their self-centeredness and being self-absorbed. A trail in town or highly used is basically a public setting in the woods with narrow encounters, please be very aware of others and courteous of others.

  • Midmoab

    I am not a fan. I have often come up on other riders and runners that were wearing headphones or ear buds and had no idea that I was there. They then act put out when I am finally get their attention to pass. My 18 year old son wears ear buds but I encourage him to keep the volume way down especially if we are riding together in a group.

    • mason610

      I am the aforementioned 18 y/o son. I say get with the times, old man! But seriously, I love my music while I ride even if it means it requires a little more attention spent on listening for crashing riding buddies. If you don’t waste time skipping songs or messing with volume, and don’t deafen yourself, there’s no reason a few tunes can’t add to the riding experience.

  • Phonebem

    When I’m alone I do earbuds but ones that allow enough ambient sound (standard Apple buds) and at a low enough volume to hear my tires on the dirt (on downhills the wind noise drowns-out the music). I basically just want to hear the beat to use as a cadence metronome anyway (my playlist is probably embarrassingly similar to “Katy Perry Guy” in the video, pop/dance music just matches my natural cadence).

    • Phonebem

      Of course I never use headphones when in a group, I’m not a monster…

  • scgpro

    I don’t always ride to tunes. But when I do, I prefer an Altec Lansing H2O Bluetooth speaker. Stay groovy my friends.

  • Joe Strain

    ear bugs are for wussies.. full face with integrated JBL system is that way to go

  • Shane Kweens

    I always wear headphones when mtb riding alone which is most of the time. I use a timber bell and look behind me often. I have had close calls without headphones just as rarely so don’t think it’s a big deal. I would never wear them road biking if I ever chose to road bike again.

  • DPBum

    I like them for wide trails but turn them off on single tracks. Lately haven’t use them at all

  • Juzcuz

    I’m using Aftershocks Trekz titanium bone induction headphones. Amazing product, you can crank your tunes without disturbing anyone and still maintain situational awareness. There’s a bit of a sound quality trade of but totally worth it.

    • Juzcuz

      I was going to say the same thing. I love mine!

  • C-Lo

    I have lost count of the number of hikers and trail runners I have scared because they could not here me coming. I would say if you use them only use one ear. This would be for your safety and the safety of people around you.

  • dpb1997

    Ear phones are dangerous for cyclists. On the road you won’t hear cars and on trails you won’t hear people and carnivores. The latter for those of us that ride in areas frequented by bears and mountain lions.

  • Chris Bonsall

    Hey Colton, just wanted to say there is no right answer. Yes Music does relax you, but hearing is a safety issue while MTBiking….even on Colorado’s Front Range. Plenty of Time for Music during your Post Ride Campfire and Brew gathering with your fellow Riders. I personally don’t have a problem with it, but have seen those that do….so leave the head phones in the car or at home…until someone comes up wit a better solution.

  • Chris Pickford

    Mountain biking time = podcast time (Singletracks, Star Talk, Joe Rogan, WTF, etc.). For some reason I find that I concentrate and listen better when I am mountain biking. I do shut it off during long descents.

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