One Good Earbud

One Good Earbud combines both stereo channels into a single earbud, leaving the other ear open while you ride.

I occasionally receive requests to review various in-ear audio devices to review; I always decline because (1) covering both ears headsets is illegal in California per CVC 27400 and (2) I depend on my hearing to determine what’s around me.

I realize hearing impaired individuals can and do safely ride their bikes in traffic, but I don’t see the point of purposefully impeding one of my five senses if I don’t need to.

Still, I’ve cycled long, boring stretches of road where I could use an auditory lift. My typical solution has been to leave one earbud dangling while I listen to a single channel in my right ear. The missing channel makes some of my music sound funny, and that dangling earbud inevitably gets caught on something, often while I reach down for a water bottle.

Benjamin in San Diego, however, turned me on to One Good Earbud, which mixes the stereo channels into a single ear. Plugging only a single ear is legal in California, and I can still hear approaching cyclists (“on your left!“) and other traffic coming up from behind me.

One Good Earbud

It’s a simple, clever idea that works. Various earbud styles are available, including models with clips and mics, starting at about $20. You can buy these in any color you like, as long as it’s black. Outside of a handful of shops in Tucson, Arizona, One Good Earbud is available for purchase online.

These would make a good Christmas gift for the cyclist or runner in your life. One Good Earbud happened to send me an extra — so I’m giving it away on Wednesday, November 30 2011.

More info and purchase –> One Good Earbud.


  1. Can’t remember if I’ve mentioned ’em here before or not, but I now always recommend Airdrives ( for headphones to use for nearly any outdoor activity.

    Their speakers sit outside and in front of the ear, not IN it. This lets you still hear everything else that’s going on just fine (and with both ears). I’ve found ’em also to be excellent while running or hiking, if that’s your style.  Heck, I wear ’em in the office now (when I can), mostly because they are FAR more comfortable (IMO) than regular earbuds.

  2. I hate earbuds while cycling. I’ve never tried them in the city because that seems like suicide – not hearing what’s going on around me. I have used them a few times on very rural solo rides, but even with just one in, I noticed that I wasn’t hearing cars approach from as far away as if there wasn’t music.

    I’ve ridden with groups where one person had music playing and it was just dangerous. They weren’t communicating important things like the big pot holes, so people just kept trying to pass them since no one wanted to wreck their wheels because this guy wanted his tunes.

    There’s plenty of time at home to listen to music.

  3. I often ride with one ear (always the right) having an earphone and the left uncovered to hear traffic. In addition, I make sure to use such crappy earphones (I prefer clip-on) that there is no sound isolation. Sure, there is some risk, but it is not too bad in my opinion.

    When I listen from my iPhone, I follow this apple article:

    where it lets me set my iPhone to mono. No need for these headphones. I can (though haven’t) snip off the superflous earphone and be on my way

  4. I use one channel of regular stereo earbuds when I’m riding where there’s no traffic. I route the wires inside my jersey and have the one earbud with about 8″ of wire coming out at the collar. The other end comes out of the bottom of the jersey and goes into one of the pockets to the device, so there aren’t any dangling wires.

  5. wow

    they invented mono

    maybe the next thing they can work on is solid rubber tires

    or a bike with only one gear


  6. Thanks for sharing this great article! I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. It is extremely helpful for me. I hope you post again soon

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