If you like listening to music while you ride, traditional earbuds can be dangerous and impractical to use. They block your ability to hear your surroundings which is important to be able to react to traffic, other riders or other auditory signals that help you navigate the world safely. Wires and cords running under your kit can also be annoying. The AfterShokx Trekz Air offers an intriguing alternative with their wireless bone conducting earphones.
The most interesting feature of the AfterShokx is that they transmit sound while keeping your ears open. The earphones use a vibrating pad and little speakers that conduct sound through your cheekbones. According to AfterShokz, “Transducers guide mini vibrations through the cheekbones to the inner ears, delivering sound without plugging or covering them.”
In fact, the Trekz Air come with earplugs because you can even listen to music with your ears completely blocked, though this would defeat the purpose of using them to hear your surroundings better while on your bike.
The Trekz Air have a wrap around design with a lightweight titanium body and wrap around the ears to keep in place. The body of the earphones sits just in front of your ears at the top of your cheekbones applying light pressure. They can be worn for hours without becoming uncomfortable and because of the rubberized finish, they don’t attract dirt or sweat. The nanotechnology coating and watertight rubber gaskets repel water so that the earphones aren’t damaged even during the sweatiest workout.
With a helmet on, the back strap had to be tilted downwards a bit not to interfere with the dial but otherwise, they were comfortable to wear. They are a fairly stylish piece of equipment and the lack of wires makes the practical for using while in the saddle.
The earphones are pretty easy to use. They sync up using Bluetooth with a quick pairing using the power button which doubles as the increase volume button.
The buttons are a little small so changing the volume on the body of the Trekz Air was sometimes a little tricky, especially with gloves on. I usually just changed the volume on my phone. The Bluetooth signal seemed quite reliable regardless of where my phone was on my person.
The quality of the sound is quite good on the Trekz Air considering the technology being used. I listened to podcasts, pump up beats and quieter melodies on my commute through the Trekz Air and never felt like I was sacrificing too much on sound quality. You can also reliably take calls without worrying about hearing the person on the other line or being heard.
While ambient sounds will interfere with your music requiring you to turn the volume up a bit more than when you are sitting quietly indoors, I never felt I was missing anything unless someone wasn’t speaking clearly in a podcast. Music doesn’t sound quite as crisp and clean as it would through conventional earbuds but it’s a sacrifice I was very willing to make to hear my surroundings.
I found on higher volumes and listening to songs with a more powerful beat, it was a little tougher to identify sounds on the streets. The vibrations of a Trekz Air can make certain music a little distracting making it harder to be aware of ambient noises and properly hearing someone who isn’t facing you talking.
That’s not the earbuds fault though, if you want to perfectly hear the world around you listening to a podcast or music is going to slightly interfere with that. If you, however, want the option to listen to audio, the Trekz Air are a way better option than earbuds totally blocking one or both ears.
Battery life on the Trekz Air is excellent lasting a solid six hours before requiring a charge which makes them great for daily commuting or long rides. They are rechargeable through a micro USB.
Situational awareness and audio enjoyment
The AfterShokx Trekz Air are definitely an appealing option for cyclists who enjoy listening to music or podcasts while riding. Having situational awareness is so important while on the bike so the Trekz Air make it safer for you to consume your favourite audio while in the saddle. Their solid, wireless design makes them easy to use. With solid audio quality and the ability to hear your surroundings, you’ll have more peace of mind.The AfterShokx Trekz Air retail for $190.