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Manufacturers claim Bluetooth-enabled device safer than sticking in the earbuds

In recent years, it’s become one of the big debates among cyclists – is it safe to listen to your personal music player while you ride? Now, a California-based company has launched a speaker system that provides surround sound via a bike helmet, leaving the user’s ears free to listen out for traffic.

Called the Tunebug Shake, the device uses patented SurfaceSound technology to turn three-dimensional surfaces into what is in effect a surround sound speaker, which the company that has developed the technology, Silicon Valley Global, claims is safer than using headphones which it says isolate the rider from their environment.

According to the manufacturer, the Shake can be fitted to pretty much any type of bike helmet, although you have to admit that the so-called Gecko mount used to fit it to the skate-style helmet shown in the picture wins the aesthetic battle over the Velcro fastening needed to attach it to the vented-style helmet that road.cc users are more likely to own, if indeed they have a lid at all.

As shown in the video below from PhoneDog.com, the Shake can be used wirelessly via a Bluetooth connection to your phone or music player, and there’s also a different version of the device, the Vibe, which is suitable for use on any surface.

The device retails in the US for $99.99, although it’s currently out of stock on the Tunebug website. However, there doesn’t appear to be a UK distributor as yet – clicking on the ‘Europe’ tab on the website takes you through to a page written in German.

While the TuneBug may go some way towards resolving arguments over whether or not cyclists are taking a risk using headphones, the fact that it needs to be mounted on a helmet of course brings it squarely into that other eternal debate that’s never likely to be resolved one way or the other.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

7 comments

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 5 years ago
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So in the event of an impact it could punch a speaker-shaped hole into your helmet and then into your skull? It's surprising that the issue of fitting devices such as helmet cams or lights to a helmet has attracted so litle comment.

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Viro [3 posts] 5 years ago
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Kooksville!

Not as dumb as wearing earbuds whilst cycling through the city (it's dangerous, ok).

V

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 5 years ago
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Yet another way of being unsafe on the road and a danger to those around you. Wonderful!

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andylul [410 posts] 5 years ago
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I would suggest that it's not the wearing of earphones that is the issue, it's the volume of the music played. I'm an iPod wearer but only at volumes that do not drown out the sounds around me - in fact the faster I go, the less music I hear through wind-rush.

Maybe I'm too old, but I just don't understand why some people have the music up so loud that someone within 6 feet can hear it. Turning your helmet into a surround speaker, in my opinion, has the potential to put you in the same league and the Corsa and Saxo Drum-n-Bass crew, inflicting your musical tastes on anyone whose ears aren't already bleeding.

Personal audio should be just that - personal.

"And for that reason, I'm out"

BTW - you can buy them on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tunebug-Shake-Mobile-Mini-Bluetooth-Speaker-Players/dp/B003C16HWE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1286885206&sr=8-2

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thomase [16 posts] 5 years ago
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Looks a bit rubbish if you ask me. You can get a lavod bike speaker, they look pretty good..but don't attach to thicker handlebars  2

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timlennon [210 posts] 5 years ago
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Viro wrote:

Not as dumb as wearing earbuds whilst cycling through the city (it's dangerous, ok).

This one again? Drivers use stereos and Lord knows how many other distracting devices, so to suggest that cyclists should somehow have to be unremittingly aware of what's going on around them is madness. Not only isn't it possible, but it's no way for us to say "It's Ok to cycle - actually you probably won't get killed just because you're on a bike!"

Listening to your MP3 player while cycling is perfectly acceptable and reasonable behaviour. If it were that dangerous, we'd ban anyone who's deaf from even getting on a bike! (I presume, of course, that you've got no statistics linking cycle deaths / injuries and music use?)

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gmccsteve [5 posts] 5 years ago
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I cycle to work with headphones on, and hearing the traffic is not a problem, in fact its the other way round.
On the quite section along the canal I can hear the music and DJ's waffle OK, but when I get amongst the traffic I can only just hear the music over the traffic, and on busy sections forget the radio as it is totally drowned out by the traffic.
Admittedly I don't turn up the volume to compensate as I don't want to damage my ears, but it has shown me how much noise pollution there is from traffic.