The AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Bluetooth Headphones are a nifty and well-thought-out set of bone-conducting headphones. They fit nicely, sound good and the voice recognition with your phone is also very useful. The only downside is that the on/off button can sometimes be hard to use, especially with full-finger gloves.
Wearing a set of regular headphones while riding isn't such a good idea, because they stop you hearing things – that lorry that hasn't seen you, or the guy on the TT bike coming up on your right. This is one of the reasons behind the rise of bone-conducting headphones, ideal for commuting when you're taking the same route every day and want to liven it up with music, radio, an audio book or suchlike.
I do most of my commuting rides in London, going through some of the loudest areas of the city where you need to have all your senses about you. This means my headphones not only need to have a decent volume, they also need to let me hear everything that's happening around me.
In terms of volume, the Trekz Titaniums are great. The only times when I couldn't hear them clearly was when riding around loud construction sites, where noise is so loud I doubt I would be able to hear even with regular headphones.
The sound quality is also fairly good, giving a decent amount of bass without losing the treble. It's never going to be the same as a set of noise-cancelling headphones, but they're more than fit for purpose.
Despite the volume, I found I could still hear almost everything around me, which is a strange sensation, almost like being able to hear two conversations at the same time. It certainly takes some getting used to, but once you've got the hang of it, it is simple to recognise when something is behind you. I could even hear my freewheel at the back of my singlespeed.
In addition to simply being headphones, the Trekz Titaniums also work as a hands-free kit, allowing you to make and receive calls (depending on the quality of your phone). With my iPhone 6 I could make and answer calls, change tracks, and do almost anything you can with the regular Siri service, although it's a bit strange doing that while trying to ride in a large group of commuters.
The sound quality of the calls is good from both ends, caller and receiver. I could clearly hear them in all but the most noisy conditions, with a similar performance from the microphone.
The Trekz Titaniums fit on the head through bands that loop over your ears and behind the head. There is also some grip that comes from the flex in the titanium used in the band, which shows when you take them off and they naturally curve back so both speakers are touching. This, plus the rubberised coating, creates a good grip on the head, meaning little movement or chance of them falling off. I used these on a particularly wet and bumpy mountain bike ride without them ever feeling like they would come off, and on the road they easily stay in place.
One of the best elements of the fit is that you can wear glasses at the same time, with the area that loops over the ear being slim enough to allow glasses to sit on the top.
Battery life is a claimed six hours, which seems about right. While commuting, I needed to charge them once or twice a week. You can find out how much power is remaining through the 'Audrey Says' function, which tells you system notifications through the speakers, such as battery levels and when the unit is connected to a phone.
Operation of the headphones comes from three buttons, two on the right arm of the device – volume down and volume up/power buttons – and a multi-function button that sits on the outside of the left speaker. The first two are fairly self-explanatory, but the one downside I found was that the vol up/power button could sometimes be a bit awkward to use, and turning the volume up or down isn't really possible with full-finger gloves, given the pressure you need to exact. The multi-function button is simple to use, and functions to answer calls, voice dial or give commands to your phone (such as using Siri).
The headphones have what Aftershokz calls 'Nanotechnology coating and watertight rubber gaskets' which provide protection against rain and sweat. Having used these on both extremely wet days and on particularly intense rides, I found that they still functioned when my head and the unit were soaking wet. The only downside when wet is that they move a little more, but this is to be expected and doesn't count against them.
With their titanium construction, the headphones are naturally light, coming in at 39g. This means they can be worn for a long time without creating much pressure on the tops of your ears, and you sometimes forget they're there; a couple of times it took me a few seconds to work out why I couldn't get the straps off my helmet after a ride, before remembering I was wearing them.
Pairing the headphones with my phone was simple, done within a few seconds. They didn’t lose Bluetooth connection at all during the review, and as long as the phone was within around 5 metres of the headphones they worked perfectly.
Their RRP of £109.95 could be seen as a bit steep, but these are at the top of the Aftershokz tree (others are available from around £40). Having used the £89.95 Bluez 2S headphones previously, as tested by Elliot, the difference is in the weight and fit, which are certainly improved in the Titaniums, and certainly justify the additional £20.
Overall, the Trekz Titanium headphones do everything that I would want bone-conducting headphones to do. They provide good sound quality, an excellent fit and have a good multi-functional element for control. Protection against the elements also works well, and they can be worn for hours without too much discomfort, which is ideal for fitness-focused headphones. Perhaps the on/off button could be less stiff, and the buttons could be easier to operate in full-fingered gloves, but this doesn't take away from what is a really good product.
Good audio quality and a great fit
road.cc test report
Make and model: Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Bluetooth Headphones
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aftershokz says: "Trekz Titanium is a game changer for those who like to listen to music on the move. Relying on our suite of proprietary audio technologies, these open ear headphones deliver premium sound quality through bone conduction. Experience maximum situational awareness and increased safety when you're running, walking or biking on trails and roads."
They achieve their goal; I could easily hear music or spoken word in all but the loudest conditions and could still hear traffic or other things around me.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Nanotechnology coating and watertight rubber gaskets repel sweat and moisture
Six hours of music + calls
EQ pre-sets conveniently boost bass and reduce vibration on the go
Dual noise cancelling microphones exclude surrounding noise, effectively enhancing speech
Audrey Says™ voice prompts guide users through power, pair, play and talk
Well made with a titanium frame making them both light and strong. Only lose marks for the on/off button sometimes being difficult to use.
Does exactly what it needs to in terms of playing audio while still letting you hear what's around you.
The rubber coating and nanotechnology not only mean they work in the wet, they should survive hundreds of accidental drops.
The titanium construction lends itself to low weight, and these come in at only 39g, meaning no unnecessary pressure on the ears.
Initially an odd sensation having them sat in front of the ears, but overall very comfortable as they stay in place well.
More expensive than others you can buy, but then they are at the top of the Aftershokz range.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, pumps sounds into your head with good quality yet still allowing for things around you to be heard.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I like the basic premise of the product, making cycling and listening to music much more enjoyable and safe.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
On button can be hard to use.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Sound quality is very good, ability to hear both your device and the sounds around you makes perfect sense. A very good product.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.