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As the description implies, this system works through bone conduction: Transducers guide mini vibrations through your cheekbones to your inner ears without plugging or covering your ears, so you can hear ambient noise and even have a conversation with your fellow riders. Just slip the featherweight (1.04 oz.) titanium headset around the back of your head, hook the speaker units over your ears so the transducers rest against your cheeks in front of your ears, and you’re good to go.
Pairing the unit to your phone is literally as easy as the push of a button. From there you can turn it up, turn it down, skip songs, pause, and even answer a phone call with a few clicks of the Trekz Air’s easy-to-operate volume and multifunction buttons.
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I tested the Trekz Air headset on a 30-mile ride that rolls out of town an into the quiet, undulating hills of surrounding farmland. I kept the volume very low on the more trafficked roads, and could hear my surroundings—from my tires crunching fallen leaves on the road to oncoming cars—with 100-percent clarity, while still enjoying the background soundtrack of my favorite workout playlist.
Once out in the countryside, I clicked up the volume a hair, and was still able to hold a full conversation with my riding partner without any interference. In fact, nobody I encountered on my outing even noticed I had them on (my hair covered the cheek pads; they’d be more noticeable on someone with less hair). As I charged up hills during the workout portion of my ride, I fully appreciated the extra motivation my music provided.
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Back home, my phone rang as I was racking the bike in the garage. I answered with a click of the multi-function button. The caller had no trouble hearing me, and I enjoyed being able to converse hands-free, phone still in my pocket.
Curious to see how well they’d stay put, I went for a quick trail run with the Trekz Air headphones for the second part of the test. They didn’t budge, and it was really nice to be free from uncomfortable earbuds and wires snaking through my workout clothes. Overall, the audio quality is pretty great, but does vary a bit when you move your head dramatically enough (such as tilting your head far back to finish a water bottle) that the pads lose a little contact with your cheeks.
The headset doesn’t interfere with the fit of a cap or helmet, and once charged, the unit provides six hours of audio before it needs more juice. The Trekz Air come with a charging cable and a weatherproof rubberized case. You can’t swim in them, but they’re water-resistant enough that you can sweat up a storm (and I did) without worry.
Available through www.aftershokz.com. Price: $150.