By Gary Coyne
Music or Safety?
I don’t think I’ve ever been on an organized ride where I haven’t seen someone place ear buds or earphones in their ears before starting the ride. Occasionally, I’ve passed (or been passed) by someone with a sound system on their handlebars blasting away so loud that I could not converse with my riding partner. I do not believe that any of these options is wise.
Ear Covers Do The Trick
Invented and manufactured in South Africa, these “ear covers” attach to your helmet straps and cover your ears with a combination of plastic, fabric, and a bit of foam rubber. In the molded contours of the foam rubber, you can add an ear bud. The thing that makes them safer for listening to your music while riding is that the ear bud’s speaker is placed near the top of your ear, not against the ear canal. Thus, it is easy to listen to your music, hear road noises, hear your phone ring, and/or converse with friends.
Slips provide a couple of unintended benefits, as well. Foremost among them is that for the Slips to fit properly, your helmet must fit properly. Using them provides great motivation to get your helmet straps properly adjusted, something that many cyclists never really take the time to do.
I do not listen to music all the time on the bike. Especially when riding with friends, I want to join in on the conversation without music in the background. I’ve had a variety of iPods and iPhones over the years and have found that the ability to easily turn the music on or off (besides setting the volume) is very important in their safe use while riding.