Review: AfterShokz OpenMove headphones

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AfterShokz has holds over 500 patents. It is a technology leader in audio (Photo: AfterShokz)
AfterShokz has holds over 500 patents. It is a technology leader in audio (Photo: AfterShokz)
  • The latest headphone technology from AfterShokz.
  • These enable you to ride with full awareness, whilst listening to audio.
  • They work brilliantly on the indoor trainer, too.

The portability of digital music has made it an essential part of life. But cycling with your favourite music or podcast playing, can be fraught.

For road cyclists, the issue is that you are part of the general traffic network and must adhere to the same expected level of awareness. Mountain bikers have less vehicular traffic risk, but your sense of hearing is important on trails, to be mindful of animals and other riders.

What if you enjoy the idea of a three-hour solo ride with your tunes or podcast, but wish to retain a responsible level of situational awareness? AfterShokz now offers a more affordable solution, in the latest version of its bone conduction headphones.

Instead of placing sound transmitters in your ear, AfterShokz OpenMove’s sit on the skin surface just ahead of it. Incredibly sensitive and attuned vibration from these headphones, conducts sound by pulsing the skull bones.

The appearance and sound sensation of these headphones are peculiar, at first. Although AfterShokz’s industrial designers have done a credible job with the OpenMove ergonomics, it feels odd having headphones that aren’t adjustable for size. The hooped shape is big enough for the largest head, and for any size smaller than that, it simply sits at an angle, behind your upper neck.

Once you realise that appearance is superseded by function, the befits of AfterShokz bone conducting technology is clear: all the entertainment of headphones, with the awareness of open ears. It takes a few rides for acclimating to having so much aural stimuli, but there is no safer way of enjoying music or podcasting, on the bike.

waterproof headphones
OpenMove headphones are robustly water resistant, which means you can ride in the rain (Photos: AfterShokz)

Light and comfortable 

At only 29g of mass, these AfterShokz OpenMove headphone’s are terrifically light and the user interface is charmingly simple. It pairs swiftly with a Smartphone and battery endurance is six hours.

In the South African cycling environment, the best possible use for these would be on gravel or in front of your virtual training screen. With the enormous amount of quality gravel riding available in South Africa, you can spend hours rolling along through the Karoo, listening to whatever fulfils your requirement for mindfulness, whilst retaining the sensory awareness to know when a bakkie or truck is approaching you from the rear.

If you have ridden on a sweltering day with conventional headphones, or spent time on your indoor trainer wearing them, you’ll know that discomfort that sweat can generate. With AfterShokz's OpenMove that irritation is greatly reduced, as the headphones are not in your ear, where they are exposed and interact with sweat in a constrained space. 

Do these bone conduction headphones look odd? A bit. Are they much safer to ride in than conventional earphones? Inarguably.

I have legacy ear issues from a lifetime of diving and surfing exposure to cold water and blustery Cape Town winds. As a result, normal in-ear headphones are painful to wear and these OpenMove’s were a revelation in terms of comfort.

The AfterShokz OpenMove headphones retail for R2499.

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