Best motorcycle earphones

Protect your hearing while listening to music or sat nav commands with these earphones

Earphones on a Kawasaki

by Jim Blackstock |

For many riders, the solitude and peace of riding a motorcycle is what they love; no phones, emails or questions, just them and their bike and the road.

However, others, myself included, like to remain connected – I like listening to music on long, straight roads and I also like to be able to hear instructions on my route.

Of course, an in-helmet intercom is a great solution that can satisfy all of these requirements. However, as many of us also wear earplugs to protect our hearing from external noise, these can also reduce the effectiveness of any intercom.

Coupled with that is the fact that the intercom must stay within the helmet so is no use to you off the bike and if you have more than one helmet – you ride a sports tourer and an off-road bike, for example - then you need an intercom (or at least a fitting kit) for each helmet.

One way around all of this is to wear a set of earphones within your helmet. These can serve to insulate your eardrums from the external noise while also directing sound directly into your ears, making them far more efficient.

Like intercoms, motorcycle-specific earphones, as well as many ‘sports’-style earphones, will have some form of separate control but some may not and in this case, you may need to control them directly from your sat-nav, smartphone or even by voice.

Related: Best motorcycle sat nav options

The other difference will be the fit. An intercom will (should) sit flush within the helmet’s interior and not interfere with your ears. A set of earphones may protrude from the ear’s profile and so may not work with all helmets, though generally if you are careful, you should be able to get a helmet on – a flip-front or open-face may be easier here.

Finally a word on phone calls. While you may be able to hear someone else on a phone call, depending on where the microphone is located in the system you are using, they may not be able to hear you so if crystal-clear phone calls are a key element of your riding, these may not be for you and an intercom could be a better bet.

Here is a selection of other earphones that should work well on a motorcycle...

Jabra Elite 75t

Editor's Pick - We've tested this product and would spend our own money on it
Jabra Elite 75t
Amazon

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I have a pair of these and they are nothing short of brilliant. They use active noise cancelling to keep your ears safe andthey also have a 'hear-through' system to let ambient noise in, useful if you're in traffic or an urban ride.

Controls are via two buttons but there is a smartphone app that controls them too and music sounds brilliant. Voice calls are fine with no helmet on but the microphones don’t pick up well inside a lid, so the other person can’t hear you. And you can wear them when you’re not on the bike too.

Pros:

Low-profile so fit under helmet

Active noise cancelling

‘Hear-through’ for ambient noise transmission

Cons:

Microphones don’t work well inside helmet

Avantree Sports Earphones

Avantree Sports Earphones
Amazon

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These are a step forward from the kind of earphones that come with most smartphones, in that they include an earloop to secure them in the ear better than just a plug.

They are wired so this might be an issue but generally, this means that there is a control that is accessible to change the volume, start or stop tracks and make or take calls, as well as instigate voice control of the smartphone. However, with the microphone built-in to the control, which would likely hang outside the helmet, vocal options may be limited.

Pros:

Control of the phone

Secure earplug design

Passive sound reduction

Cons:

Cable may interfere with comfort

Avantree In-Ear Earphones

Avantree In-Ear Earphones
Amazon

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Another product from Avantree, this is listed as 'Amazon's Choice' for motorcycle earphones and is a budget-friendly in-ear wireless Bluetooth 'phone. It is worth noting that it is a single earbud, so if you want to listen to sat nav instructions, it's fine but if you're after music on the go, it isn't the right choice.

It will pair with most smartphones and devices via Bluetooth as well as sat navs that have Bluetooth connectivity and appears to be low-profile enough to sit within the ear without interfering with the helmet lining.

Pros:

Low profile

Bluetooth connection

Good value

Cons:

Single earbud so limited noise reduction

Umi Earbuds

Umi Earbuds
Amazon

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These Bluetooth earbuds are Amazon's own brand and come in a charging case, you charge the case and it charges the earbuds when you put them back in. They can work individually or together for stereo sound and reviews are good, especially for the sound itself.

They look to be fairly low-profile and act as Bluetooth headphones, so you’ll need to control music from your phone while the microphones may struggle with speech inside a helmet.

Pros:

Good value

In-case charging

Low profile

Cons:

Passive sound reduction only

JBL Bluetooth In-Ear

JBL Bluetooth In-Ear
Amazon

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These Bluetooth in-earphones look to be a little larger than a pair of traditional earplugs, thanks to the battery and control system being housed in pods in the cable that connects each side together.

However, the microphone is also in the control pod, so making and taking phone calls is likely to be hit and miss. But in terms of listening to music and sat nav instructions, they should work well and being JBL, the sound quality should be excellent.

Pros:

Low-profile

Excellent reputation for quality

External control pod

Cons:

Little use for phone call in-helmet

Skullcandy Bluetooth

Skullcandy Bluetooth
Amazon

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These are a similar concept to the JBL versions but instead of a long cable between the two earbuds, there is a more rigid collar and the buds are cabled to it.

The collar houses the battery and control at the left-hand end so it can be operated while the helmet is on and the low profile of the earbuds means it should be OK to use inside most helmets. The earbuds are sweat-resistant and use two design systems to stay in place.

Pros:

Rigid collar housing controls

Low-profile ear buds

Renowned audio manufacturer

Cons:

Controls may be tricky to use in gloves

ISO Tunes Bluetooth Earplugs

ISO Tunes Bluetooth Earplugs
Amazon

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These low-profile earbuds are linked by a cable incorporating the battery and controls. They not only connect to a smartphone, but provide active noise cancellation as well as limiting maximum sound levels entering the ear. The over-the-ear loops help keep them in place and the manufacturer quotes a 16-hour battery life.

They’ll do music from your phone and act as a hands-free headset for sat-nav instructions as well as calls, but with the microphone in the control, it may not work well in a helmet. Also, for motorcyclists, the control on the right could be a pain (you don't really want to take your right hand off the bars, do you?)

Pros:

Active sound cancelling

Hands-free headset profile

Control phone from headset

Cons:

Controls on right-hand bud

AudioFit Motosound

AudioFit Motosound

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These earphones are built in to a pair of custom-made flexible earplugs made specifically for your ears. The earphones themselves are for sound from a phone or other device with an audio 3.5mm socket output, so there's no microphone, however systems for speech are available with a boom microphone.

The earplugs reduce the ambient noise reaching the eardrums yet the desired sound – whether music or instructions – comes across clearly.

Pros:

Custom-made earplugs

Integrated earphones

Perfect fit

Cons:

Wired and no speech

CFG CF Lite+

CFG CF Lite+

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Another custom-made earplug, this one from Custom Fit Guards comes with a set of Bluetooth earphones built in to offer audio from a smartphone or sat nav while also reducing the amount of unwanted or ambient noise. The earphones are linked by a cable incorporating the battery and controls and there is also a microphone in the controller, though its efficiency may be limited like other wireless solutions.

The beauty of the CFG system is they come to your home to take the mould of your ear before producing the plugs. You can also add extra drivers if you want higher audio quality.

Pros:

Custom fit to your ear

Wireless audio delivery

Excellent noise reduction

Cons:

Microphone efficiency may be limited

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