These headphones let you listen to music and hear traffic around you. Are they the ultimate road cans?
Cycling along with your own personal soundtrack is a great feeling. There's only one problem – your hearing's one of the most important senses you can use on a bicycle to keep you safe. If you can't hear a car revving aggressively behind you, you can't react to it. So cycling with headphones on has been strictly for those with suicidal tendencies. Until now.
The AirDrives FIT are an active sports version of the already oddball AirDrives – headphones that don't sit shoved into your ear, but instead dangle just in the entrance. The FIT models seem really only to add one thing to the mix – the way they attach to your ears.
Now, instead of a standard loop over-the-lobe approach, the FIT model uses the cable to snare your earlobe. The advantage is that shake, shimmy or cycle as aggressively as you like, they won't budge. The disadvantage? You're bending the cable and tugging it more, which could conceivably affect long-term life of the cans.
Whether you're using the new FIT phones or standard AirDrives, the cans work the same – sound can get in round the edges. The result? You may strain to understand conversation while listening to music, but you'll certainly be able to hear cars and motorbikes around you in traffic. In other words, for cyclists they work… largely.
The problem is that while a revving engine won't be any trouble to hear over even the loudest heavy metal, the cans themselves are compromised in two ways. They're quieter and tinnier than strapping a gigantic pair of noise-cancelling or over-the-ear phones to your head. So, of course, in crosstown traffic you may well struggle to hear Björk going oh-so-quiet.
And sound quality has taken a slight hit in the bass department. Also, there's always the issue of quieter menaces on the street – other cyclists, for example, or dozy pedestrians. These won't be audible with AirDrives in.
Despite that, if music really moves you, using AirDrives should be the only way you get your tunes while on a bicycle. Or a front-mounted ghetto blaster.
Mad Catz AirDrives FIT review
Ideal headphones for cyclists – just don’t expect world class performance
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