The Best True Wireless Cycling headphones
Much of the world’s population is currently relegated to riding inside. One way to make the indoor experience more palatable is to do it with friends. Fire up the voice chat service of your liking, Discord is a good one, and chat away while you ride. In some ways the experience is even better than riding outside. There is one thing you’ll need though and that’s a good set of headphones with a good mic. I spent some time reviewing three of the best true wireless headphones for cycling and here’s what I found.
Indoor riding is like a torture test for a chosen headphone and mic.
Riding inside is actually one of the most challenging scenarios I can think of for headphones. I have a high powered fan pointed at my face and the noise of the bikes drive train and trainer joins the chorus. There’s also plenty of sweat involved. It’s akin to someone designing a torture test and it requires an exceptional mic.
I took a look at three sets of true wireless headphones for cycling. There are tons more options out there but I was looking for true wireless because I find that style to be the most convenient. I also like true wireless headphones because they work well in a variety of situations outside of riding my bike indoors. This stuff is expensive so the more useful they are the better.
True wireless headphones are the most convenient and useful.
The first set of headphones I checked out are the Jabra Elite 75t. When talking about true wireless headphones for cycling, or exercise in general, the Jabra option is always at the top of the list. Each of the products I took a look at ended up having their own advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to the Jabra Elite 75t the biggest selling point is comfort.
The Jabra units seal outside noise out and are comfortable to wear for hours on end. In the box Jabra provides provisions for different sized ear canals and it’s easy to get a good seal without much effort.
The other highlight to the Jabra Elite 75t is the app experience. All three of the products I looked at included an app that helped set them up, adjust the equalizer, and adjust settings. The Jabra app is well designed, easy to use, and includes provisions for a feature called “hearThrough.” HearThrough uses the mic to pipe ambient noise into the headphones. It’s not something I use in the context of this review but in normal use it allows for good sound quality without leaving you unaware of your surroundings.
All three products I compared offer a companion app but the Jabra is my favorite app experience.
Somewhat hand in hand with HearThrough is a feature that automatically pauses your music when you take a headphone out of your ear. These features do come with one quirk though. The Jabra Elite 75t headphones don’t work for sharing. Remove a headphone from your ear and the music pauses. It will only start again once the two headphones are roughly the same distance apart as most people’s ears. I don’t know if this is going to be an issue for a lot of people but I often share a set of headphones with my wife when watching movies during travel. The Jabra Elite 75t won’t work at all for this.
The Jaybird Vista is the quintessential competitor to the Jabra Elite 75t and they were the next unit I checked out. Of the three products I looked at the Jaybird Vista had the most sensitive mic. Compared to the Jabra Elite 75t the other person heard everything, background noise included, at a higher volume. The background noise always had a presence even though my voice was clear enough to understand.
The Jaybird Vista mic is extremely sensitive but it doesn’t filter background noise.
I wouldn’t say that the Jaybird Vista mic is definitively better. A more accurate description would be that it’s different. What the Jaybird Vista does better is stay in your ear. The Jabra Elite 75t does a pretty good job of staying put but from time to time I felt myself needing to adjust them and push them back into the ear canal. Not an issue in regular use but when I’m really sweating it was sometimes an issue. The Jaybird Vista is way more secure in your ear but this also makes them a bit less comfortable over hours of use. Jaybird uses a wing design to stay secure and after a while the pressure gets to be a bit much in your ear.
If audio quality is your highest priority the Jaybird Vista is just a little bit better than the Jabra Elite 75t or the Huawei Freebuds 3.
I’m not much of an audiophile but I do think the Jaybird Vista has slightly better audio quality than the Jabra 75t. It’s a small difference though and both allow for lots of customization via their app. Those that are more sensitive to audio quality could spend some time playing with the equalizer settings.
The last set of true wireless headphones for cycling I looked at are the Huawei Freebuds 3. These were the curve ball I threw in on a hunch. My hunch was that not being exercise specific they would have more focus on the microphone quality. Turns out I was right. The Huawei Freebuds 3 have far and away the best mic quality of these three options.
The Huawei Freebuds 3 completely filter out the background noise.
The Jabra Elite 75t provided passable audio quality through the mic. Nothing exceptional but they were usable. The Jaybird Vista made everything louder but the background noise was still there. The Huawei Freebuds 3 were at a whole other level. The background noise is nonexistent and my riding partners always requested that I switch back to the Huawei headphones.
It would seem that this is the point where I would unequivocally recommend the Huawei Freebuds 3 but they had other drawbacks. The mic quality is fantastic but they have the lowest water resistance rating, IPX4, the shortest battery life, 4 hours of playback, and they are uncomfortable. I actually dread putting the Huawei Freebuds 3 in. Although once they are in they aren’t reasonably comfortable and they do stay put.
Each of these true wireless headphones have a slightly different selling proposition.
What it comes down to is that each of these options has carved out it’s unique niche in the market. Depending on what appeals to you there are reasons to choose one over the other. None of them are better in all situations. I prefer the Jabra Elite 75t most of the time because they are so comfortable. I also like the HearThrough technology. The drawback is their mic isn’t as good and the other two allow use of either ear bud individually. The Jaybird Vista offers a louder mic but it doesn’t filter background noise. They also have the best sound quality but aren’t as comfortable as the Jabra offering. The Huawei freebuds 3 have the best mic but they offer less battery life, less options in their app, and they can be very uncomfortable until situated.