Having your musical cake and eating it too? (After)Shokz OpenMove bone conduction headphones long-term review

If there is one issue sure to spark disagreement among cyclists, it’s listening to music while riding.

On a mountain bike in a trail park or some remote singletrack, it’s not as big of a concern perhaps. But on the road, in a group ride, having to share asphalt with many, many other road users, the topic is highly contentious. Allow me to explain.

For a very long time, I subscribed to the philosophy of not riding with any personal audio at all. Especially so in the age where in-ear earphones, those that are designed to plug into your ear canal to work, are the norm rather than the exception. The logic is that it tends to take away one of your most crucial senses while riding, especially in urban environments where situational awareness and being hyper-aware can be the difference between arriving safe and getting injured – or worse, killed. Other cyclists swear by the “one earphone in, one earphone dangling” strategy (the 2012 cycling movie “Premium Rush” illustrates this), but I’m not convinced it would work for me.

So what’s a musically deprived cyclist to do? Many resort to pumping tunes via Bluetooth speakers as a compromise.

I’m sorry, but this is just rude and inconsiderate. Automatically assuming that everyone around you will share and enjoy your taste in music? It flies in the face of respecting personal preferences and boundaries IMHO. Also, our cramped Metro Manila streets have enough noise pollution as they are.

So how does a cyclist have his/her musical cake while riding, and eat it too? Bone conduction technology offers a promising answer – one I was curious enough about to investigate.


  • Seventh-generation bone conduction technology lets you hear your music while leaving your ears open
  • “PremiumPitch 2.0” technology optimizes sonics
  • Titanium headband
  • IP55 water and dust resistance rating
  • Weight (claimed): 29 g
  • Battery life (claimed): 6 hours; chargeable via USB type C cable
  • Compatible with Bluetooth 4.0; supports connection of up to two devices simultaneously
  • Price: US$79.95; PhP4,490 on Lazada


For about five years now, the company formerly known as AfterShokz has plied its trade in offering bone conduction headphone technology to the mass market. Prior to this, the technology has seen applications in the military, where infantry use it on the field to receive orders and communicate with other soldiers without having to surround the outer ear, like with circumaural or supraural headphone designs, or stuff something into the ear canal, like with in-ear monitor earphones.

I said “formerly” as the final days of 2021 saw the company rebrand to the simpler, shorter name “Shokz” going forward. As hokey as it is, I prefer their original name, since it better illustrates their core technology offering – and “Shokz” isn’t any less hokey either. But I digress…

Price tag still has the suggested retail price on it. In reality I got this pair for PhP500 less.

My pair of OpenMove headphones retain the old AfterShokz branding; I bought them on Lazada, slightly discounted, in November 2021. Within the current product lineup, this is the entry-level model, although you can still snap up straggler units of (After)Shokz’ older headphones for slightly cheaper.

Inside the box, you get the headphones, a little drawstring pouch, some documentation, a USB type A (male) to type C (male) charging cable, and a pair of dense foam earplugs in their own compact snap case – the purpose of which, I will explain later.

Let’s go over the construction of this thing. A titanium headband serves as the literal spine of the product, connecting the left and right transducers (the “speaker driver” equivalent of bone conduction tech) and giving a welcome sense of structure.

The left side is plain; I assume this is where the battery sits. A multi-function button is mounted on the outboard side of the left transducer, with the functions changing depending on the context and active application. With a music player app running, for example, a single tap pauses, a double tap moves to the next track, and a triple tap moves to the previous track. When your phone rings, a single tap answers the call. The documentation goes over these functions more comprehensively.

In contrast, the right side is more interesting. Behind the lone indicator LED sits the USB type C charging port, covered by a pivoting plastic cap. Further back are the volume up and down buttons, the former also acting as the power button and Bluetooth pairing button. Pressing and holding both buttons while the OpenMove is on and transmitting sound switches between three sound profiles – standard mode, earplug mode, and vocal booster mode. The final feature of note is the little pin hole on the bottom of the right transducer for the onboard microphone.


Wearing the OpenMoves feels similar to wearing a headband or a pair of cycling shades backward and low on your head. Unlike wired earphones, these will sit solidly atop your ear lobes with nothing dangling off them. The transducer pods will sit slightly forward of your ear canal, where they act upon the bones and transmit sound to your inner ear that way.

The design is generally comfortable enough to wear for prolonged periods. When worn with a cycling helmet and sunglasses, the OpenMove headset is low-profile enough to avoid interfering with either article of apparel, which is very neat. However, the transducer pods do bend back directly from the main titanium headband at a slightly severe angle. Depending on how you adjust the angle of the headband, and the shape of your ears, this may irritate the top of your ear lobes after a while. I found it best to angle the headband as low as I could on the back of my head for best comfort – almost touching my nape. Shokz’ Aeropex, OpenRun, and OpenRun Pro models have a rounder transition between transducer pod and headband and should be more comfortable for more people…but they’re also much more expensive, with the OpenRun Pro more than double the price of the OpenMove.

Note the stepped-up profile on the light gray band on the left transducer. That is where the multi-function button is.

One other use case the design isn’t great for is when lying in bed – say, if you want to listen to something over Bluetooth while your spouse is working. You can get away with it, but the bulk of the solid titanium headband and the transducers is apparent.

I find the claimed six-hour runtime very conservative; Shokz doesn’t say how this is measured, but this is probably for continuous listening. My use case involves the OpenMove headset active and connected to Bluetooth often, but also often on standby, and they have outstanding endurance this way. I listen to a lot of podcasts on and off with the headset, and find that a single charge will easily last me more than a day.

I wore the OpenMoves on the 2022 Bisikleta Iglesia ride, along with a P29 mask and Lazer SS1 sunglasses.

Last up is Bluetooth connectivity. Pairing to a single device is very easy. The multi-device connection works, but the pairing process for a second device is rather convoluted; I have to refer to the manual to do it. It’s definitely more of a “set it and forget it” type of arrangement. Once paired and connected, the controls work great for 95% of purposes. In rare cases, there are Android apps that don’t successfully recognize the multi-function button though. I use MX Player Pro for onboard video content, and while the volume up and down buttons work there, the multi-function button doesn’t alternate between play/pause the same way it does for any other media player app. This is a case where your mileage may vary, and I thought it worth mentioning.


Sonically, the OpenMove headset is a curious beast. Reflecting its military origins, I find it’s at its best when transmitting talk radio, podcasts, narrated audiobooks, and other voice-heavy content – and enabling the vocal booster mode improves things slightly. The same focus on vocals also makes it great for mobile communication purposes. I can imagine using this when riding an audax to, say, talk with the driver of a SAG (support and gear) vehicle and coordinating where our next meetup would be – riding circumstances allowing, of course. Speaking of which, the built-in microphone is pretty decent given how low-profile the OpenMove unit is.

When used for music, the experience is…fine. You will hear your music, but you will need to crank up the volume, especially if you’re riding at higher speeds, since the music has to contend with the wind noise generated by your head and the helmet you are wearing. It isn’t quite on par with a basic set of in-ears, where the bass response is improved due to their sealing of the ear canal.

That’s where the foam earplugs come in. In situations where you don’t need the ability to hear outside sounds as much, you can wear the earplugs, set the OpenMove to earplug mode…and enjoy better sound? It certainly improves the sonic quality you get out of the headset, but ultimate bass response is still not up to in-ear earphone levels and I find the earplug situation a little too fiddly. Nowadays I rarely ever wear them. I have a pair of cheap but good in-ear monitors for more sedate listening situations anyway.

“Hey, I heard that!”

That said, the promised retention of hearing and situational awareness while listening to music or vocals – while worn without the earplugs – is true. They genuinely work for the job, and you can go back to riding confident that your ears can fill in the sensory gaps your eyes may not be able to. Sure, there are compromises especially with bass-heavy music, but the concept is proven.

A couple final things to talk about the sound. While the transducers are meant to vibrate the bones in your skull to transmit the sound that way, in practice they’re also miniature speaker drivers in and of themselves. Crank up the volume high enough – say, past 90% or so – and other people near you will (faintly) hear what you’re listening to. High enough volumes can also result in a slight intermittent tingling or ticklish sensation on the skin where the transducer pods sit. This doesn’t bother me much, but might be an issue for others.


So we’ve established the (After)Shokz OpenMove headset as a viable, safe way of listening to music or talk radio – while on the saddle riding your bike, and being considerate of other people’s ears at the same time. That last phrase is one thing a Bluetooth speaker will never do, and why it’s such an easy recommendation for me.

That said, while I do use the OpenMove while riding, I still adhere to the general philosophy of minimizing distraction while I ride, especially when the roads get busy. Most frequently, I find myself using it as a Bluetooth headset for calls on the bike. With the headset paired with my phone, I can just tap the multi-function button on my left ear to receive a call – instead of fumbling around with my pockets to fish out my phone and having to ride one-handed.

The higher-end Aeropex, OpenRun, and OpenRun Pro models improve on this model by having a more ergonomic headband and ear loop shape, and bettering the water and dust resistance via a proprietary magnetic charge connector. Whether that added 15% of polish is worth the additional outlay is up to you, but for the price it goes for, the OpenMove is a good deal.


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