My favorite part of the morning is putting in my earbuds and listening to an audiobook while I ride to work. To do this, though, I’ve found I don’t just need good audio but good noise cancelation to protect my ears so I can keep listening for years to come.
There are a lot of models out there on the market, but I’ve found five that have the qualities I look for when deciding on a new pair of motorcycle earbuds.
Here are my reviews followed by a buyer’s guide so you can see exactly what I took into consideration.
Reviews of the Best Earbuds for Motorcycles
Apple AirPods Pro
AirPods are one of the most visible and popular earbud models on the market. This is due to the Apple brand that’s become synonymous with quality for electronics.
They’re durable and well-made, sure to last you a long time, and stand up to regular use and varying conditions.
Battery life is great, starting at 24 hours for the charging case and 4.5 hours for the earbuds themselves. However, as is common for Apple products, this battery capacity does seem to decrease a bit more rapidly than with other products.
I like AirPods for motorcycle riding specifically due to their narrow profile and comfortable insertion. They’re flatter on the sides, so they’re less likely to press against the side of your helmet.
AirPods have active noise cancelation and adaptive EQ that provides great sound and helps prevent ear problems that result from motorcycle engines and highway noise.
- Tough, durable construction
- Long battery life
- Comfortable, even with a helmet
- Active noise cancelation
- Quality sound
- High price
- Battery capacity decreases quickly
Elgin Ruckus Discord Bluetooth Earplug Earbuds
The Elgin Ruckus Discord earbuds take noise cancelation to the next level. They’re ANSI certified, meaning they meet OSHA requirements for hearing protection.
If you’re riding your chopper to your construction job, your ears will thank you for going with these earbuds. This is due to the medical-grade silicone earplugs.
Keep in mind these aren’t the same Bluetooth earbuds you may be used to. There’s no charging case. Rather, you charge the earbuds directly, which are connected by a cord.
This gives you 14 full hours of battery life, great for touring and commuting if you like to wear your earbuds at work. The cord can be a small hassle to fit into your helmet, but you quickly get the hang of it.
Because they’re designed for protecting your ears in extreme situations like industrial work, they’re also built to be tough. They’re IP65 rated, which means they don’t let any dust in and can stand up to jets of water, so sweat is no issue at all. A year-long warranty backs this durability.
- Great value
- ANSI-certified, OSHA-compliant hearing protection
- 14 hours of battery life
- IP65 rating against dust and moisture
- 1-year warranty
- Cord can be a hassle to fit into helmet
- Controls difficult to access
- No charging case
Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Bose is well-known for manufacturing speakers and headphones with unparalleled audio quality. Their Bluetooth earbuds are no exception. If you have an engine with a large displacement and noise cancelation and ear protection are major concerns for you, I highly recommend them.
The active noise cancelation is controllable via the Bose app with Transparency Mode settings that block out white noise while still allowing you to hear important traffic noises.
The batteries in the earbuds last a long time, up to 6 hours, great for touring. The case itself is pretty average as far as battery life, though, at about 12 hours.
Lastly, Bose manufactures these earbuds with utmost quality. They’re IPX4 rated, which means it was tested to stand a minimum of 10 minutes with an oscillating spray; they’ll easily stand up to the sweat within your helmet.
I’ve gone through my share of cheap earbuds that stop working after just a few summer days, so this is a feature that will save you money in the long run.
- High-fidelity, Active EQ audio
- Active and controllable noise cancelation
- Multiple control options
- Long earbud battery life
- Durable, long-lasting construction
- IPX4 rated against sweat and moisture
- High price
- Slightly obtrusive shape
- Average case battery life
Amazon Echo Buds
Amazon’s second generation of Echo earbuds is a great mid-range option specifically for motorcycle riders. This is because of how small and compact they are, hardly extending at all outside the ear. They’re unlikely to get uncomfortable against your helmet.
The other main thing I love about Echo Buds is their adaptability and easy connections. Using various electronics of different brands often creates a lot of compatibility hassles, but the Echo Buds avoid these problems.
They work seamlessly with iOS and Android and their virtual assistants Siri and Google Assistant, and there’s also the Alexa app to help you more easily access features.
The batteries are good on this model, with five hours of earbud battery life and 15 hours of charging case battery life. They stand out, though, when it comes to the quick charge. After just 15 minutes in the case, you can get two hours out of the earbuds. That’s great for those mornings when you forgot to charge them.
The audio from the Echo Buds is dynamic and balanced. They have active noise cancelation, and the silicon tips conform comfortably to the ear canal.
- Small and compact inside a helmet
- Easy connection and compatibility
- 15-minute quick charge for two hours of audio
- Active noise cancelation
- Limited controls
- Privacy concerns and extensive permission requirements with app
Beats Flex Wireless Earbuds
Beats is another brand that’s very popular due to quality audio and construction. In this case, you can get the same top-shelf quality at a low-value price. If you’re looking for basic earbuds without many frills that still get the job done, they’re a good choice.
Like the Ruckus Discord, these earbuds come without a charging case but are instead connected by a single cord with controls that you plug in to charge. The controls are a little more accessible than those of the Ruckus Discord, but the cord is still a bit of a hassle with a helmet.
The battery lasts 12 hours, good for both work commuting and touring, and the connection is seamless thanks to a headphone chip manufactured by Apple.
Perhaps the best feature of the Beats Flex earbuds is their extended class 1 range. The Bluetooth connection is very strong, meaning you can still connect it to a phone in a back pocket or tail bag, and it usually won’t have a problem with interference from your helmet.
- Great value
- High-quality audio
- 12-hour battery life
- Extended Bluetooth range
- Harder to fit into helmet
- Less noise cancelation than other models
Let’s look t some of the benefits of earbuds specifically for motorcyclists.
Great for music
Of course, one of the main reasons to get earbuds is so you can listen to music while you’re riding. By connecting to your phone, you can listen to downloaded music or stream it with apps like Spotify or Apple Music.
Earbuds provide superior audio quality and more immersive sound because you insert them directly into your ear canal. This is ideal for motorcycle riding because the engine noise doesn’t interfere as much with the music.
Additionally, earbuds are usually more comfortable inside a motorcycle helmet as opposed to other styles of headphones. Since they go right in your ears, they have a lower profile and don’t press as much against the sides of the helmet. You can listen to music with more comfort.
Communicate with others
Most modern earbuds also include a microphone which allows you to make and take calls. This is great on a motorcycle because you have no free hands and a helmet on. You definitely can’t be holding a phone up to your ear or even fiddling with it to dial a number or make a call.
Your earbuds’ microphone will also let you communicate with your phone’s virtual assistant like Siri or Google Assistant. This way, you don’t have to touch your phone, and it can remain in your pocket or luggage.
Some earbuds may even allow communication across a personal area network by connecting directly or through an app. This way, you can talk to other people directly who are touring with you in a pack.
Also see our guide to motorcycle intercoms.
Block wind noise
Wind noise is one of the most frustrating things on a motorcycle. When added to engine noise, it can be bad for the ears. Plus, wind noise can deafen you to important traffic noises like other cars, horns, and sirens.
Simply having the earbuds in and listening to music can help drown out the wind. However, many earbuds have active noise cancelation that helps eliminate white noise so you can more easily hear dynamic traffic sounds.
Also see how to make a helmet quieter
Wireless vs. Wired – Pros and Cons
Until recently, earbuds were usually wired. In other words, they had to be connected with an audio jack directly into your phone or MP3 player.
While these models have lost considerable market share over the last few years, some people still opt for them. Here are the pros and cons:
- Inexpensive: Wired earbuds are pennies on the dollar compared to wireless.
- Unlimited play time: Wired earbuds get power directly through the audio jack with no batteries to charge. If your phone or MP3 player has power, the earbuds will keep working.
- Less maintenance: Without charging contacts and wireless technology, wired earbuds have much simpler designs that are less likely to break down and require fixing.
- Wires in the way: With wired earbuds, the wires have a tendency to get caught on things like your hands or doorknobs, which could pull them out of the audio jack or your ears.
- Less range: The other problem with the wires is that they limit the distance you can keep your phone or MP3 player from the earbuds. Oftentimes the wires are so short that you have to keep your phone in your pocket rather than somewhere more convenient like a tail bag.
Nowadays, wireless earbuds are the go-to, especially for motorcycle riding, with most people only keeping wired earbuds as backups. Take a look at the pros and cons to see why:
- Increased range: The biggest benefit of earbuds is that you have more flexibility over where you keep your phone or MP3 player. It doesn’t always have to be right next to you, which is especially convenient on a motorcycle because you can stick it in another piece of luggage.
- Advanced features: Wireless earbuds are more technologically advanced and usually have features you won’t find in wired models. The most important for motorcyclists is noise cancelation that protects your ears from engine and wind noise.
- More controls: Most wireless earbuds have ways to control music and phone calls easily.
- Expensive: Wireless earbuds have much higher price tags than their wired counterparts.
- Limited battery life: You have to charge wireless earbuds, and even the best models will last less than a day. Most only have 5-6 hours of play time.
- Prone to breakdown: Since they’re more complex, wireless earbuds are more likely to have problems and stop working, whether due to wireless connectivity issues, charging problems, or other things.
Active vs. Passive Noise Cancelation
Active noise cancelation, which you may see abbreviated as ANC, actually uses the speakers themselves to cancel out noise by using opposing sound frequencies. This is usually used to black out white noise so you can more easily hear music or other dynamic sounds around you.
This is great for motorcycles because it can help minimize the white noise from your engine and the wind. This doesn’t just help save your ears, but it lets you hear important traffic noises like horns and sirens more easily.
On the other hand, passive noise cancelation simply involves using silicone or rubber tips to create a seal in the ear that blocks out loud noises. This is also great for motorcycles because it softens the loud noises from your engine and the wind.
As you can see, both active and passive noise cancelation is good for motorcycle riders. If you can, get earbuds with both.
Also see our guide to motorcycle earplugs
Comfort and Fit
Everyone’s ears are different. As a result, you may find certain models of earbuds more comfortable than others. What’s most important to look for is that a given earbud model comes with different options for silicone tips, so you can find the ones that fit snugly but comfortably into your ears.
Now, on a motorcycle, you have an additional concern. If a pair of earbuds has a wide profile and extends far beyond your ear, it can press against the inside of your helmet and become very uncomfortable. Try to find earbuds with a narrow profile that lies flat against your ear.
Earbuds may be small, but they’re complex electronic devices and, as a result, vulnerable to the elements. Of course, it’s great if your earbuds can stand up to rain or dust, but weatherproofing has an extra benefit on a motorcycle.
Sweat and moisture from your breath build up quickly inside a motorcycle helmet. This can cause your earbuds to break down pretty quickly if they aren’t resistant.
Some earbuds may have an IP rating that reflects their resistance to dust and water-based on rigorous testing. The rating consists of two numbers, the first 0-6 reflecting dust resistance and the second 0-9 reflecting water resistance.
For example, earbuds with a rating of IP65 are fully resistant to dust and splashing or spraying water. You want that second number to be at least a 4 to hold up to sweat and moisture.
Many wireless earbud models include a charging case. This charging case includes its own battery with a much larger capacity than the earbuds themselves. For instance, while the earbuds have only four hours of battery life, the charging case has 24 hours.
When you’re not using the earbuds, you can put them in the case to recharge. But since the case has its own battery, it doesn’t have to be plugged in. You can bring the case with you on your bike and then charge the earbuds while you’re at work, so they’re fresh and fully charged for your ride home.
Wireless earbuds have a lot of different control options to control music, voice, phone calls, etc. These could be buttons on the side of each earbud or touch pads that allow you to merely tap them.
The best earbuds, though, have controls you can manage and change yourself to your personal preferences. A tap on the left skips a song backward, and a tap on the right forward. A firm press of the button calls your virtual assistant. A double-tap hangs up a phone call.
Being able to personalize your controls makes everything that much more convenient.
Wireless earbuds have been a game-changer for motorcyclists. With easier connectivity on top of noise cancelation, they provide convenient audio options while protecting your ears.
For most people, especially commuters, I’d recommend Apple AirPods Pro, thanks to their low profile and comfortable fit.
For those with larger, louder motorcycles, I’d suggest the Elgin Ruckus Discord Bluetooth Earplug Earbuds because they’re tough and rated to cancel out industrial noise.