How I Use the iPhone to Listen to Music While Biking

Originally published at: How I Use the iPhone to Listen to Music While Biking - TidBITS

Given New York State laws against biking with a pair of earbuds, Adam Engst explores other options and settles on a handlebar mount for his iPhone, discovering that it also provides a perfect opportunity for reading song lyrics.

I’ve used that mount before, and once had the same problem - I missed one of the loops and the phone almost fell onto concrete. I don’t do much outdoor cycling, so I now use a MagSafe mount on my bike as it sits on the training stand, but I’d switch back to the Raptor if I took the bike outside again.

One more advantage to using your phone mounted on your bike is that with watchOS 10 you can optionally use it as a bike computer to see live stats from an outdoor bicycle workout started on the watch.

Adam, maybe OT but re. your knee, if you haven’t, I strongly recommend getting a professional bike fitting to minimize any possible damage from, say, a seat that’s too low or misplaced cleats. And don’t forget to keep the RPMs up and the gears low.

Good luck!

Look into Moose Mitts for your glove issue, but they may take up too much room for the phone. You may be able to convert the bike to wider, flat handlebars.


Don’t read lyrics while riding.

Huh! I hadn’t thought of that since I tend to use Strava to record workouts. But I could just as easily use Workouts since it saves to Strava as well. I’m not too perturbed about my stats because biking is more about rehab and recovery than actual training for me.

Always good advice! I can’t remember the details of when I did that, but this bike hasn’t changed in decades, so I think I’m good there. And I betray my (and its) age by the fact that I still use old-style toe clips. I realize they’re less efficient (Tonya giggles at me for not being more modern, but she was a much more serious biker for a number of years), but I don’t like the thought of being attached to the bike, and I worry that the twisting action to remove my foot from the pedal would bother my knee even more.

Whoa, I’d never seen those before. They look really serious, and if I ever get into real winter biking, I’ll check them out.

The iPhone is in the line of sight while looking at the road, and less of a distraction than the the maps I used to display in my handlebar bag’s window when touring. (If I was ever riding an unfamiliar route, I’d love to have mapping software providing directions on the iPhone.) It would be dumb in on busy city streets where there’s a ton going on, but on rural roads where I might encounter a handful of cars for the entire ride, it’s just not a problem.

There are times I’ve had to remove my gloves under the mitts - they are that good! I see there are about a million knock offs out there these days - I’ve had my originals for over 15 years!

About the fit, unfortunately our flexibility and strength change as we age and what worked years ago may not be the same as right now. I went through this about 5 years ago, the fitter shortened my cockpit up a bit - against my many protests - but I have to say in the long run it worked out well. You can obviously do what you feel is right for you but that is my experience. :)



Not sure what that means–in the 70s, when I started riding, they had straps that you had to lean down to release before you could get your foot out. In my case that produced at least one amusing Wil E. Coyote moment at a stop sign. :rofl: Fortunately no one was watching.

But if that’s the kind of toe clip you mean, it has almost no side to side play, and that’s what’s critical to get right for knee protection. There’s also the relationship of the pedal axle to the ball of your foot. As for the rest of your fit, what’s changed (aside from your body–in my case the loss of 2" off my height) are the fit standards–in the day they put the saddle much further back from the bottom bracket à la Greg LeMond (who had very long femurs) than they recommend now, for instance. Time for an update, methinks. You may be surprised; if not, so much the better.

1 Like

The speakers on my iPhone SE are not the greatest, so years ago I decided to try bone-conducting bluetooth headphones while riding, and I am hooked! I use Shoks OpenRun Pro which sound great and still leave your ears open for other sounds. Where I live in Asia, there are cyclists who love to “share” their music with others on the trail by blasting it out of mounted speakers… so I find that using the Shoks is also a courtesy to others. Probably not an issue if you are cycling in a remote park, though.

I wonder if there is a solution to wind noise on a bike. This is what annoys me the most when I listen to podcasts while riding my bike. The only solution I am aware of is a winter hat or ear warmers.

Does anybody has any other solution, especially during the summer when hats are truly awkward? I am surprised this cannot be solved by anti-wind noise cancelling.

1 Like

I mount my phone on the handlebars for some rides but use one or two AirPods Pro with noise reduction on. Even then the wind often made podcasts hard to hear. A friend recommended a product that slips over the helmet straps and reduces wind noise by diverting the airflow — “Cat-Ears / AirStreamz“ ( Very effective. They allow me to turn down my overall sound volume. I love them.


That’s a fairly hostile law! Do they require all drivers to keep at least one windows open too (given that modern cars block out far more external noise than a pair of AirPods Pros do)?

1 Like

Great article about this here: Riding with Headphones: Is it Illegal and What are the Dangerous? - BostonBiking

I think the key point is that if something happens you can be found negligent if you were wearing headphones.

Yes, that sort, but I never tighten them enough that I can’t get my feet out, and perhaps because of that, there’s quite a lot of side-to-side play.

I hadn’t realized fit standards had changed—I’ll have to look into that.

Someone recommended them on Mastodon too. Do they work well with a helmet? My worry was that they’d interfere with the helmet straps. And I don’t love the connecting thing in the back, which just seems awkward.

That would be annoying. There are no pedestrians on the rural roads I ride on, so no one ever notices.

Well . . . he also says (and this to me is the key point): "It is important to hear what is going on around you when biking. Biking with headphones makes this difficult and may increase the risk of accidents.

“Furthermore, biking with earbuds on can also make it difficult to hear the sirens of emergency vehicles. Or it could even prevent you from hearing someone’s warning to you when you are riding. This puts you and those around you at risk for injury or death.”

'nuff said, as far as I’m concerned, and I’m even skeptical of Adam’s approach–country roads are where I rely most on my ears to tell me about what’s coming up behind, including overtaking cyclists, who often aren’t experienced enough to say “on your left.”

But then I’m never bored on my bike, or when I’m running, or even swimming in a pool. Be careful out there!

Yes, it’s a tangled, throbbing web of opinions. Here, for example, is what Peter White has to say on the subject (note all the copyright dates!):

1 Like

I’ve been using a pair of Aftershokz bone conduction headphones while biking for a few years. They aren’t as disruptive, strapwise or connecting-thing-wise, as I thought they’d be. I had those same concerns. They’re not perfect in that respect. Sometimes I forget I have them on and then end up whipping them off mistakenly while I’m taking off the helmet. But that’s pretty rare.

I’ve been very happy with them and the way they allow me to hear the world around me while I ride. I almost never listen to music, though, so I can’t vouch for them for that use. I’m usually listening to a baseball game or a podcast.

1 Like

I find that the amount of noise generated by different cars and trucks varies widely, especially when riding into the wind or after the crest of a hill, so while I would be hesitant to have full earbuds without transparency in both ears, I rely much more on my handlebar mirror to discover what’s behind me. I’m constantly changing where I look from the road to the mirror, which is why my gaze runs over the iPhone easily.

If I biked a lot more, I’ve always wanted to try the Garmin Varia, which alerts you to cars coming up from behind with radar.

Overtaking cyclists have never been a concern for me—while I do get passed on occasion, I’m usually moving fast enough that they can’t come up on me quickly enough to surprise me. :slight_smile:

It IS important to hear what’s around you, but even with headphones I can hear cars coming. Just how loud do they have to be to not hear anything?? I have also found that headphones, even with no music, can reduce wind noise in my ears.

OTOH I can’t hear an electric car coming up behind me with or without headphones so it would be nice if they addressed that.


1 Like

A post was split to a new topic: My iPad’s adventure on the side of the road