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The Oladance Open Ear Headphones are an excellent way to listen to music while you're riding, delivering incredibly clear sound while you barely notice you're wearing them. Throw in an impressive battery life, and Oladance seems to have come close to creating the perfect product for those of us who like to combine listening to music and riding.
'What on earth is an open-ear headphone?' you might be wondering. Well, the problem with wearing earphones when you're riding is that you're isolated from your surroundings, which is of course potentially dangerous on the open road. Most brands that produce headphones for riding go down the bone-conduction route – headphones that transmit sounds through vibrations of bones in your head and jaw.
Oladance has approached the situation differently and created something similar to an open-back headphone. This is effectively a small speaker that sits just in front your ear, playing your music, podcast – or even Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus if that's your thing (other playwrights are available) – directly into your ears. Crucially, though, this is achieved without your ears being blocked from the outside world.
How do these work in the real world? In one word – excellently. The second I put these on, I knew they were very different to bone conduction headphones, with the clarity of music I was listening to immediately impressive. The main problem with bone conduction as a technology, is that the sound is very muddy, with a distinct lack of bass. The way Oladance has gone about making its headphones means that this just isn't the case.
On the bike, this 'open-ear' design means you can wear two headphones, listen to the latest Taylor Swift album (other musicians are available), and still have a conversation with your mate about who has the lower CDA. For me this is the best of both worlds, as I enjoy riding with my brother – but if I had to listen to him waffle on, without the option of enjoying some One Direction, I think I'd go crazy.
Out of the box, the user experience is very good straightaway, thanks to some impressive tech and Bluetooth 5.2. Just opening the case was enough for my Android 12 phone to notice the headphones and offer to pair to them. This made them the quickest headphones I've had when it came to actually having them play some tunes. The range is very good too, and I could happily go over 10m from my phone without any dropouts.
The headphone controls were interesting. The Oladance headphones have capacitive touch controls on the part that sits in front of your ear. The controls were straightforward to get used to: a single tap is play/pause; a double tap is skip or rewind depending on whether you tap your left or right ear; a triple tap activates your voice assistant, while sliding up or down lowers or raises the volume.
There's a good reason to download the Oladance phone app, which is that it lets you change what the controls do. For example, if you wish you could use a single tap to turn the volume up or down. You could even ensure that none of the controls do anything at all.
I did have one issue with the controls. Because the capacitive controls are touch sensitive, when I was riding in the rain, it would randomly pause, or the volume would increase. The capacitive controls are excellent overall, though, and do work well – at least until moisture gets introduced, which is a bit of a shame.
Thankfully, as the phones are both waterproof and sweatproof, this was the only issue the rain caused. I wore these in some truly horrible conditions without problems, so can confirm these claims.
The battery life is also very good. Oladance claims a life of up to 16 hours, and in the real world I achieved between 12-15 hours. A full charge takes two hours, only requiring you to plug the USB-C cable into the charging case.
One disappointment, especially given the hefty £200 price tag, is that Oladance doesn't include a battery in the charging case. Oladance says this is because the headphones have a good enough battery on their own. You can buy a battery case for £50, but I really feel the case should include a battery as standard.
I did run into one slight charging issue, when the right headphone didn't seem to connect properly to the charging pins, which left the right headphone with just a 50% charge. After this I ensured the pins were seated properly and had no issues since.
The Oladance headphones sit differently on your head than other headphones I've used. They effectively hug each ear, which I hadn't expected to be secure, but the only issue I suffered was when I caught my helmet strap under one of the headphones when I was taking it off.
Other than that, nothing I did caused any problems. I even wore them when I went mountain biking on some super-rough sections and had no worries that they might come off.
The headphones are extremely comfortable, and with a weight of just 12.5g per phone, you almost forget you're wearing them. I was also impressed with how easily they sat around my helmets and glasses, and they paired with every helmet and glasses combo I tried.
As these are two individual headphones, I was able to lend one to a friend while riding, so we could share in the emotional experience of listening to Adele (other chanteuses are available). I find this a much nicer, quieter way of sharing music than using a big speaker.
As with all headphones that don't block your ears, wind noise can interfere with your listening experience. When I was riding over 45km/h with a headwind, then the sound could become quite a challenge to hear. However, that is a quite specific set of conditions and unlike with the Haylou PurFree BC01 headphones that I reviewed, this wasn't a crippling issue, and I was happy to deal with that as a payoff for the Oladance's superior sound quality.
You can turn up Oladance's headphones impressively loud, especially when compared to bone conduction headphones, so I only had to have them at about 75% volume most of the time, only going up to 100%, which was great, when doing intervals and I wanted to try and drown out the pain of my legs.
The main drawback of these headphones is undoubtedly the cost. At £199.99 they're £40 dearer than the Shokz OpenRun Pro phones that Steve liked, and a whopping £80 more expensive than the Mojawa Mojo 1s that Anna reviewed.
This clearly marks out the Oladances as a premium product and, given the quality they deliver, I think they live up to that description. With the combination of excellent sound quality, great battery life and a great user experience, I feel Oladance can justify the premium price.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed using the Oladance Open Ear Headphones – and they've rapidly become my first-choice phones for riding. The lovely sound quality, excellent comfort and the fact you can still hear what's going on around you mean I'd happily recommend them if you want a pair of quality headphones without being cut off from the rest of the world.
The best headphones I've used on the bike – comfortable, fantastic sound quality and with a good battery life
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Oladance Open Ear Headphones
Size tested: One size
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?
Feel the music, not your earbuds
This is the promise of the Oladance Wearable Stereos, the comfort-focused earbuds that deliver high-quality sound without ever going inside your ear.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Up to 16 hours battery
1.5-2 hour charging time
Colours: Interstellar Blue, Space Silver, Martian Orange,Cloud White
Premium-feeling product; well made.
Excellent sound quality, with wind interference only occurring when I was riding at around 45km/h into a headwind.
No issues so far, though you need to keep the charging pins clean.
At only 12.7g per ear these are extremely light.
These are so comfortable that I found it easy to forget I was actually wearing them.
At £199.99 these are undeniably expensive – thankfully their performance lives up to that price tag.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellently, they did exactly what was claimed of them, with amazing sound quality.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I loved not only the sound that these produced, but also how I could hear what was going on around me at the same time.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I wish they were less expensive, and I wish the rain couldn't activate the controls.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are the most expensive headphones that we have ever tested.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? If I could find them discounted.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are the best experience I have had of listening to music on the road, while still being able to hear what is going on around me. They are great for entertainment without compromising your road safety.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Aeroad My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,