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texasguy1013 03-03-02 11:29 AM

Whoa-O! Listen to the music.
Most of my rides are 30 miles or more and I'm getting ready for the annual, two-day 180 mile trip. This year, I'd like to make use of my new iPod and take the music along, but I'm not a fan of earphones while riding (at least not in both ears at the same time).

Has anyone found a pair of lightweight, self powered speakers to put on their bike? I'm switching to a LWB recumbent this year, so it shouldn't be a problem finding a place to hook them up. I'm not too worried about the weight... personally, I could lose the speaker weight in about two weeks!!

I'm interested to see what's been done.



fubar5 03-03-02 11:32 AM

I don't know anything about self-powered speakers, but it sounds cool.

hunterseeker 03-07-02 04:56 AM

Well, I'm not posting any helpful information either, since I don't know about any good speakers, but I've been giving this matter a little thought, too, since I'd like the option of listening to something once in a while.

I think I vaguely remember a product from the 70's or 80's called the Bone Phone that was like a set of speakers/headphones you wore over your shoulders like a weighted scarf, and that used your bones as resonators. I think the idea was that you could wear it while jogging without covering up your ears with headphones. Then again, I may have dreamed this product into infomercial-dom...

I think speakers would probably be better. How good would those speakers in little transistor radios be? (does anybody buy those things any more? the little ones without headphones that took a 9V battery?)

Richard D 03-07-02 05:15 AM

Just an off the wall guess but it might be worth trying computer shops - maybe something exists for use with laptops or PDA's?


MadCat 03-07-02 05:48 AM

Look into computer speakers. Many of the, unfortunately, lower end use batteries. I've been thinking about the same thing for my backpack this summer. I've seen them around. I checked Lab-tec and they don't make them anymore and Altec Lansing's site is too stupid to navigate but I don't see much there either. I know there's battery powered pc speakers out there somewhere.
Another thing I learned is to boost the audio quality on these cheap speakers substanitally is by replaceing the plastic box with a wooden one if you can.

Richard D 03-07-02 06:06 AM

Of course the other idea is to try and find a small portable battery powered amplifier - from what I remember from youthful days mucking about with electronics, they're not difficult to build - it might be worth popping into your local electronics shop (Radio Shack?), you can buy small plastic 'project boxes' to install it in. This would allow you to use ordinary computer speakers.


thbirks 03-07-02 06:40 AM

Here's a pre-built setup.

also look into laptop computer speakers. They're small and some come with a battery pack.

JonR 03-07-02 07:08 AM

Early-morning neuron flashes (click--click--click: flash--flash--Nova-style animated closeups of inside coffee-deprived brain...)

1. The Bone Fones were made with the notion that you'd get better bass through bone conduction. Although I saw a pair at Macy's (remember Macy's?) in the 70s, I never tried one on.

2. I fear a wooden speaker enclosure might not hold up too well outdoors! But wood is nice. You don't see many plastic acoustic guitars.

3. To get enough volume to hear more than an indistinct hum or babble, you're going to have to supply power from somewhere, and that usually means batteries. :-) And don't expect bass of any importance, period.

4. I still don't know why music is supposed to be a good thing when cycling, but that's just my personal outlook.

I will be interested to hear (!) if somebody tries out the ready-made outfit--how it works.

RegularGuy 03-07-02 08:01 AM

Get yourself down to your friendly neighborhood computer store and see if they have any battery operated amplified speakers. You probably won't get more than 2 or 3 watts of noise out of them, but they will work.

Alternatively, get over to the electronics department of your local Whatever-Mart. There, with the Walkmans (Walkmen?) you will find small portable speakers. Don't get the unamplified ones as they will leave you straining to hear the tinny sound that trickles out of them.

At the risk of sounding curmodgeonly, I'd suggest that you leave the music at home. At one large ride I attend, I usually pass a guy with a boom box strapped to his rear rack. I find it tremendously annoying.

texasguy1013 03-07-02 10:03 AM

I've been to the computer store and yall are correct, the smaller speakers are AC powered and typically come with a separate bass unit. The DC speakers are larger and heavier (and still, most come with bass units).

As far as leaving the music at home goes, I'm not trying to blast it so loud that it annoys others, but I was one of those guys that studied better with the radio on (read: has ADD). It just puts me in a better mental state to deal with the long rides. I'm VERY conscientious of the safety issues. In the past, I've riden with an ear bud only in the curb-side ear on a fairly low volume. It hasn't presented a problem yet, as I can easily hear approaching cars and passing riders.

I have tried riding without the music, but it's painfully boring, and without it, I'd trash the hobby. Twenty miles is about my music-less limit.

Thanks for the help, and keep the ideas coming. I'll let yall know if I find a good solution.

lotek 03-07-02 10:27 AM

wait, I know!
find one of those handlebar mounted radios
they sold at the back of comic books.
not only do you get music, you get
a retro cool rocket radio......
In all seriousness I think you could find some
small battery operated speakers that are
made for walkman type arrangements.
check out someplace like best buy.


RegularGuy 03-07-02 11:06 AM


Originally posted by texasguy1013

I have tried riding without the music, but it's painfully boring, and without it, I'd trash the hobby. Twenty miles is about my music-less limit.

Yeah, well, I knew I was being curmudgeonly. Better to ride with tunes than not ride at all!

About a month and a half ago I picked up a small pair of battery operated computer speakers in a box of stuff at an auction. Unfortunately, having no use for them, I pitched them. Too bad, I'd be happy to ship them to you otherwise.

Seriously try the electronics dept. at Walmart. They sell little battery powered speakers for Walkmen. They aren't too expensive. You might find them online somewhere too.

Good luck!

hunterseeker 03-07-02 01:11 PM

how about a shower radio? no CDs or tapes, but tunes, even in the rain.

haven't tried it.

texasguy1013 03-07-02 02:39 PM

I'm going to check out the x-Marts of the world for some of the smaller Walkman speakers. The little radios and the shower radios would be ok, but I'd still like to use my iPod and listen to my own pedal pushing, crank winding, wind-in-my-helmet (um...what's left, that is) kind of music.

Buddy Hayden 03-07-02 02:44 PM

Radio-shack used to sell those h/bar mounted radio's .....

JonR 03-07-02 03:05 PM

I think it would be possible to mount tiny speakers inside a helmet; the only thing would be finding a way of doing it that didn't compromise the helmet's safety.

texasguy1013 03-07-02 03:14 PM

Panasonic has a clip-on headsets. I've ordered a set to see if they'll clip onto the straps of the helmet, to provide some sound but not obstruct the ears very much. I'll let yall know.


RegularGuy 03-07-02 03:21 PM

I'm picturing this:

The iPod in the center pocket of your jersey, right and left speakers in their respective pockets.


texasguy1013 03-07-02 03:38 PM

Yeah, maybe a Bose AM-7 speaker system!!

Allister 03-07-02 05:17 PM

This all sounds terribly complicated and heavy. Why not just use headphones? The main problem with headphones, ie. that it's a distraction from riding, is exactly the same if you're using speakers, but at least you're not adding to the noise pollution. Headphones are cheaper, easier to use and lighter by an order of magnitude. You don't have mounting issues, and you don't have to worry about them getting pilfered. Lastly, the sound you're gonna get out of any bar mounted speaker, no matter how much you spend, is gonna really suck compared to any reasonable quality set of headphones.

Incidentally, you're better off using two headphones at a lower volume than a single. I've occasionally gone with the single headphone for brief periods - basically it puts your hearing out of balance and makes it much more difficult to discern the direction of external sounds than if you had the two phones, and it gave me a headache in pretty short order.

That's what I reckon anyway.

JonR 03-07-02 08:25 PM

As the long-time owner of a Bose AM-5 system, I warn you that you'll need a heavy-duty rear rack for the low-frequency box! :eek:

roadbuzz 03-07-02 08:55 PM


Originally posted by texasguy1013
Panasonic has a clip-on headsets
That's what I use. They aren't like ear buds, they're more like the cheap-o headphones that come free with walkmans, but no bar that goes over the head. They sort of clip to your ears, and stay in place better than ear buds, in my experience. And they also don't drown out ambient noise as bad, unless you go overboard with the volume. You can pick them up at any Mega-Lo-Mart for about $10.

JonR 03-07-02 09:43 PM

Fashionable these days, also, are headphones whose band passes behind the head rather than over it. This would make them compatible with helmet wear. Since they're "open-air" design (as most inexpensive 'phones are), they needn't isolate too much from traffic sounds, rabid doggies, gunshots, etc.

I'm still basically opposed to music use while cycling, and it is against the law in many places, at least with headphones, but I understand that we're speaking of a special requirement here, and I hope it can be met. Besides, since we're talking Texas, it's probably not even against the law! ;)

texasguy1013 03-08-02 11:37 AM

It's only against the law here if it gets in the way of your handgun.

JonR 03-08-02 01:23 PM


Originally posted by texasguy1013
It's only against the law here if it gets in the way of your handgun.
Suspicion confirmed. :D

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