Featured Reviews Tech

AfterShokz Bluez 2 Headphones

AfterShokz Bluez 2 HeadphonesWhen Cyclo first looked at the AfterShokz Sportz 2 Headphones almost two years ago we were suitably impressed by the bone conduction technology that both sets them apart from other sports ‘phones and by the additional safety that they offered. Now though there are the AfterShokz Bluez 2 to consider…


The tech first: unlike conventional headphones the AfterShokz Bluez 2 and their predecessors use bone conduction technology to deliver sound through the user’s cheekbones to the inner ear, a technique that leaves the ears open to ambient sound with obvious safety advantages when it comes to listening to music on the bike. Of course the use of MP3s on the ride is a divisive issue, but if you’re going to do it there’s arguably no safer way than with the Bluez 2.


To use the tech for the first time is something of a revelation – if you’re expecting metallic vibration like picking up radio through a filling you’re in for a huge surprise; the sound – from deep bass to high-ends – is remarkably clear with little discernable difference from in-ear options and there’s really no learning curve when it comes to effectively listening to two things at the same time.


The AfterShokz Bluez 2 are wireless Bluetooth with a charging time of around 2 hours (via mini USB) that promise approximately 6 hours of playback – on test we were certainly getting close to this time, although as with most rechargeable tech this is likely to drop off a little over time and extended use.


The headphones are held in place via a one-piece wraparound headband that sits at the back of the head, drapes casually over the ears without adding pressure, and holds the headphones gently against the cheeks. An optional tension band can be added at the back for both stability and for those with smaller heads. The 45g weight feels heavy in the hand – certainly in comparison to traditional bud earphones – but once on and correctly positioned they proved perfectly comfortable on the bike. Getting everything snug under a helmet (assuming you’re not daft enough to ride sans lid and listening to music) takes a little wiggle but, once sorted, is barely noticeable.


The controls on the AfterShokz Bluez 2 do however take a little getting used to. Volume and power / Bluetooth pairing buttons sit under the right ‘arm’ whilst the multifunction button (MFB) is over the left cheek. The MFB is used for a host of functions from skipping tracks to answering calls on a connected phone, we found that using it for basic functions – like pausing the music – worked just fine, but trying to learn the more complex clicking-combinations (answering a second incoming call, whilst putting the first on hold) was beyond both our ability and desire. Definitely pure user incompetence rather then tech-fail, but as we don’t work in a call centre we won’t sweat the fact that this function will be forever beyond us.


The AfterShokz Bluez 2 pack in a huge amount of technology and innovation from the ‘Audrey Says’ voice prompting to the brilliantly named ‘LeakSlayer’, which helps reduce that annoying (to everyone else) music leakage from headphones – something you might imaging is compounded by bone conduction but isn’t.


Even if you only use the basic functionality of the AfterShokz Bluez 2 there is much to recommend them; beyond the great sound quality, improved aesthetics, and Bluetooth convenience it’s the added safety of ‘open ear’ music enjoyment on the bike that’s really likely to appeals.


The AfterShokz Bluez 2 retails at £89.95 with further details and online purchase at

Read the Cyclo review of the AfterShokz Sportz 2 here.

Extras Reviews Tech

Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones

Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones reviewOkay, here comes that thorny and divisive issue of listening to music whilst cycling again. If you’re of the ultra-safe persuasion it’s a clear no-no, and arguably with excellent reason, but if music helps you through the ride and you’re prepared to take your chances then perhaps the Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones would make for a sensible option?


Coming in at the top of their range the Inspire Pro features the Yurbuds ‘TwistLock Technology’ to keep them in place; in practice this means you plug the bud into your ear and rotate by 90degrees securing it behind the antitragus (the sort of sticky-uppy-bit in your ear). The fit is incredibly snug and, thanks to the soft silicone coating, comfortable – moreover, the chances of accidently tugging them loose is next to zero.


From a safety point of view the Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones deliver what the manufacturers call ‘Ambient Noise Awareness’ – this means that, despite the excellent fit, a degree of ambient sound is still channelled into the ear making for a greater awareness of the surroundings (and potential hazards.) The system works well enough – it certainly doesn’t deliver the safety level of using bone-conduction technology such as that used by AfterShokz Sportz (see the Cyclo review here), but is infinitely better than just plugging the ears completely. On the downside of the ambient noise system, we found that cycling with a direct headwind caused a cacophonous noise akin to holding a seashell to your ear on a particularly windy beach…


The sound quality is certainly more than acceptable, the 15mm dynamic driver delivered admirable mid- and top-range with only the bassier elements sounding slightly muddy. As we expected, the audio was far crisper than bone-conduction options, but that’s the nature of the tech and a clear trade-off between quality and safety. Either way, exceptional audio experience is hardly the thing you would expect (or really need) on the saddle.


For iPhone/iPod users another benefit of the Inspire Pro is the in-line ‘dry-mic’ control which allows not only for volume adjustment, but track skipping, pausing, and call taking (once you have halted the bike of course.) They also work with Siri – although in Cyclo’s experience even Siri doesn’t work with Siri…


Are the Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones really a safety item? Of course not; but safer than blocking your ears completely. So if you like getting miles under your wheels whilst listening to music – or screening your calls – these are a solid option, with decent audio performance and a pretty much rock-solid guarantee that they won’t fall out.


The Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones carry an RRP of £60 and are available from, amongst other places, – more information at or take a look at the video below to see how the ‘TwistLock Technology’ works.

Reviews Tech

AfterShokz Sportz 2 Headphones

AfterShokz Sportz 2 Bone Conduction Headphones - cycling safetyWhere do you stand on the issue of listening to music whilst cycling? It’s a divisive subject, one that splits riders almost as equally as the great helmet debate, but what is certain is that if you do want to while away those saddle-hours to thumping tunes (or some Kenny G) then you’ll be a whole heap safer using AfterShokz Sportz 2 headphones.


The reason for this is simple: rather than plugging into (and therefore blocking) you ears, AfterShokz use bone conduction technology – the kind used by ‘special forces ops’ apparently – to deliver sound through the cheekbones to the inner ear, leaving the way clear for riders to hear traffic and other crucial audio cues. Held in place by a rigid, but perfectly comfortable headband, the buds sit just in front of the ears and the quality and clarity of sound is remarkably good – slightly on the tinny side, but then no one is arguing that the bike is the perfect spot of picking up every nuance of your favourite tracks.


The new Mark 2 model features an impressive 21 improvements over the earlier device, itself already pretty damn good, and several of these are immediately apparent. Sleeker (and blacker) than its predecessors, with a reflective safety strip thrown in for good measure, the aesthetic improvements continue through to the in-line controller, which is now smaller and far less of an ugly box.


Love them or hate them, the in-line controller is something of a necessity as the tech requires its own power to deliver the bone conduction sound and it houses, along with the obvious volume controls, the rechargeable lithium ion battery that facilitates this. Powered-up via micro-USB (another improvement over the original fiddly arrangement), the battery promises up to 12 hours of playback from a three hour charge – this can vary, we found, depending on the level of volume used.


Under test Cyclo found the AfterShokz to be undeniably comfortable (weighing in at around 45g) and, perhaps more importantly, stayed absolutely put even with some (unintentional, don’t ask…) off-road action that rattled the bones, but left the music still serving as a soundtrack to our misfortunes. Being able to still hear and react to ambient sound whilst enjoying music on the ride was a true revelation and has gone a long way towards changing our minds about the possible distraction of ride play-lists. If you like music on the move then the AfterShokz Sportz 2 are an essential bit of kit.


Priced at 49.96 (ex VAT) – further information and online purchase at