Despite the fact that the name of the technology and its principle might sound like science fiction, they have been in existence for around 200 years, and even Beethoven, who had hearing issues at the time, used them. We are going to discuss some of the ways in which bone conduction headphones can be used while exercising in busy circumstances, including cycling in traffic and general urban activity.
In order to begin the discussion of the headphones, I would like to briefly describe the function, mechanics, and areas of use of the bone conduction headphones. In this way, you will be able to understand the answer to the question: are bone conduction headphones good for cycling?
There is an established pattern that for sound to travel inside your inner ear, it must first enter your outer ear, travel through your middle ear, and finally reach your inner ear, transforming it into electric signals for your brain.
With this technology, the sound is transmitted directly to the cochlea and inner ear, bypassing the eardrum and canal altogether, utilizing the jaw and cheekbones to transmit the sound. The technology is widely used in such diverse areas as hearing aids, military, scuba diving communications, and sports such as cycling.
As they need to rest on your facial bones (generally the temporal ones), headphones are usually designed with a band that goes around the back of your head and sits over your ears. Due to their placement on your face, they appear futuristic in design. Listed below are all the pros and cons of these types of headphones, specifically for cycling.
Why are bone conduction headphones good for cycling?
The Bone Conducting Headphones can significantly benefit people with impairments of the middle or outer ear as long as one or more of their cochleae still functions. You can wear your regular hearing aids with bone-conducting headphones simultaneously! People who have normal hearing can get several benefits from bone-conducting headphones.
One benefit is that they allow the wearer to remain aware of the external environment. That is why, there is no doubt, bone conduction headphones are good for cycling.
Unlike traditional earplugs, these do not seal around or even touch the ear canal, so you will be able to hear approaching pedestrians and cyclists, passing cars, or any other possible hazards that might hamper your ability to react rapidly and accurately.
Even though the sound quality isn’t perfect (the most significant con) and you won’t be immersed in the music, if staying awake is your primary concern (which should be during cycling), you will not be disappointed with the experience.
In addition, if you are not a fan of covering or plugging the ears with earplugs, these are a great way of letting the ears breathe. For cycling, it is also good to feel the air.
There is no question that regular earbuds are breeding grounds for bacteria (especially if you get sweaty while wearing them).
Why are bone conduction headphones not good for cycling?
In my opinion, audiophiles are unlikely to like the idea of bone-conducting headphones. They are helpful in that you can still hear nearby sounds (e.g., cars, cycles, bikes, horns), giving you more time to react to any possible danger; however, the sound quality decreases.
There is no way for you to be isolated from outside sounds unless your ears are covered (and you will not be using your eardrums at all). Those looking for a high-quality audio experience and a punchy bass might not enjoy these headphones.
Moreover, because of the fact that the headphones rest on your cheekbones, balancing their weight on a small part of your ear, more demanding activities like running or walking downhill might cause discomfort. However, in terms of cycling, these types of headphones should not cause any discomfort.