Review
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Apple AirPods for Mountain Biking

Apple AirPods

Having trails near your house is a huge advantage for getting it a lot of miles each week, but it can get mundane because you know them so well that you can almost ride them on auto pilot. When this happened to me I almost wanted to stop riding because I knew it would be the same.

This year I decided to try something different and that was listening to music and Audible books while I ride. We all do it in the car and I feel more comfortable on the trail than having to worry about being a defensive driver and watching out for the crazies on the road.

The first few times I tried to use headphones they either kept falling out or starting hurting my ears after 30 minutes. When I heard about Apple’s new AirPods and had some friends using them that absolutely loved them. I ordered a pair hoping they would work and to my surprise, they have not only worked but work flawlessly.

AirPods with Bike Helmet

AirPods with Bike Helmet

One of the neat features of the AirPods is that if you take one out then whatever you are listening to pauses. So as long as you are listening to something you should now instantly if one comes out of your ear, and with a retail price of $159 you definitely do not want to lose these. So far I’ve used them on a dozen rides and they’ve not once fallen out, not even during a few crashes. I’m not sure how Apple did that, but it’s amazing.

Outside of mountain biking, the AirPods are an excellent pair of headphones. I’ve been using them for hours every day and they are comfortable, even after having them in for three hours or more, they charge fast, and are easy to stick in your pocket to carry around. They work with existing Apple products like your iPhone, Apple Watch, or Mac and once you set it up through iCloud all devices immediately have access.

Another neat feature is the white case they come in, pictured below with the Fox sticker, is actually both a charger and a case. You charge up the case and it holds its own charge so when you stick your AirPods in they are charged off it. This keeps you from being tied to a wall socket and in my tests, it holds a charge for a few days.

You can get a pair direct from Apple but they have a six-week shipping delay, or you can purchase through Amazon. The current price is $159 and they only come in white.

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Web developer by day, mountain biker on the evenings and weekends. Currently riding a neon red 2018 Giant Trance.

3 Comments

  1. While this sounds like a great idea (no pun intended), unfortunately you are blissfully unaware of those around you. People who are trying to pass you, screams of lost hikers, the snapping of branches as a bear runs you down, the noise of another cyclist approaching head on from a blind corner, these are all important things to be able to hear. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more enjoyable than hauling, flat-out, with a silly grin on your face while listening to Poker Face at volume 10 but the better way to do this is with a bluetooth speaker in your bottle cage or back pack. For your own safety and others please don’t encourage the use of headphones on trails.

  2. This is a bad idea on many levels, and without starting a PhD dissertation on the necessity of your auditory senses I’ll keep this short. 1) You can’t hear anything, not the person behind you, nor the person in front of you, not even the person approaching head on from the other side of a blind corner. 2) Not everybody has the same skills on an MTB but damn near everybody loves music, the pairing of limited cycling skills and headphones is a disaster waiting to happen. That’s pretty much it, if you really want to encourage listening to music on while trail riding, I would suggest a bluetooth speaker like JBL flip, it fits perfectly in your bottle cage or back pack and also serves to warn everybody that you are coming. Me personally I love the classics like “ride of the valkeries” by Wagner, feels like I’m simultaneously ripping through the forest moon on endor while battling the empire.

    • Matt Stenson says

      Hey Robert, thanks for your comments. I personally don’t like music or audio of any kind when I ride. I think that’s because riding for me is a time to zone out from all the audio/video in our lives and let my mind rest. As someone who enjoys that peace and sweet hum of my tires and cassette I’ve noticed a downside to the speaker method is noise pollution. On more densely populated urban trails you can end up listening to someone else’s sound track for a good part of your ride. There are some concerns with either method and I think it’s up to us as a MTB community to figure what is safe and respects other users on the trail. One possible solution is to maybe ride with only one ear bud in.

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