By Don Lindich
Week 47, 2021
Q. You recently responded to a reader’s question about headsets and earphones to wear while operating an e-bike. You emphatically told the reader to exercise caution while using any kind of headset while riding, and then made recommendations that are helpful.
My family and I are avid cyclists. I also ride a motorcycle. It’s not uncommon for us to encounter individuals riding, walking, and driving using headphones or headsets. I’ve been hit by a distracted e-bike rider on a local canal trail, and we’ve all had too many close encounters with riders, joggers, and walkers on local trails and roadways who cannot hear what is going on around them. We’ve seen others run into distracted individuals, and some tense moments when people don’t hear a call-out and then shout at others as they are safely passed. There is never a conversation post-ride when we don’t discuss several, near-mishaps created by individuals using headsets and headphones.
This issue needs greater awareness (a bit of a pun) and we wish everyone exercised caution. The trouble is, everyone doesn’t. As an individual like yourself who has an audience, would you please let everyone know it is an unsafe practice? It leads to injury and sadly, deaths.
-J.K., Pleasant Hill, CA
A. I am happy to pass along your message about distracted riders, joggers and walkers. In a perfect world no one would use devices under such conditions, or would at least exercise proper awareness when using them. Obviously, we don’t live in a perfect world and never will. Short of making it illegal combined with the authorities exercising strong enforcement, I think we are going to continue to see people using potentially distractive devices on the go. Given this I have some additional suggestions and ideas to pass along, one of them graciously provided by a reader like yourself.
My own personal preference is to not use any electronics when riding a bicycle. If I did, it would be something like the Tribit StormBox Micro Speaker I have reviewed in the past, because it attaches to the handlebars and radiates sound into the open air. Still, I’m sticking to my guns here and leaving the electronics at home when riding.
Reader R.C. of Fremont, California wrote to me expressing her satisfaction with Sena bike helmets. “I wanted to let you know that my husband and I also have e-bikes and use Bluetooth smart bike helmets made by Sena. These helmets have ear speakers and mics built into the helmet and can be paired together so that we can talk to each other while we ride. It also has the ability to pair with your phone and other Bluetooth devices so that you can make calls or listen to music. I believe newer models have a “Hello Sena” ability so that you can control all functions hands-free, including volume control. The ear speakers also allow for outside noise, so it is compliant with California state law.” sena.com
Soundcore has new audio eyeglass frames, aptly named the Soundcore Frames, that are a promising new option with a lot of potential. The radiate sound softly from outside the ear so outside sounds are not obscured, include a microphone for calls and many different interchangeable frame designs are available. I have started a review of the frames and will have more about them in an upcoming column.