Bike audio setup

I read a lot of bike blogs and bike forums and enjoy reading about gear and how other riders do mods to their bikes. is a great source for these types of ideas…….and while looking at all this information, I get ideas about how I could do things, and then while I’m out riding, I often use that time to think about how I could implement these ideas.

And one that I have had for a while was how to manage the sounds in my head….(no, not the voices, they have a mind of their own…….)  I’m talking about the sources of audio that filter their way into my ears to entertain and guide me to where I’m going……

Yes, I’m talking about the audio for my GPS and my music…..I don’t require the GPS all the time for navigation – particularly when going to work, but usually have it turned on purely for the “over the speed limit” warnings.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I have the GPS audio commands sent via bluetooth to a headset on the outside of my helmet – with a speaker inside the helmet.   This system has worked flawlessly since I began using it in August 2010, but having the headset mounted on the outside of the helmet wasn’t really something I wanted all the time.

And the speaker inside the helmet could be removed if the headset was taken off, but it wasn’t convenient to do that…….so the solution was to cut off the speaker, wire up a cheap ($1.35) 3.5mm audio socket and then the audio can now be heard via my headphones.

Here is the headset with the audio socket attached

But wait…….if I have the GPS connected to the headphones, how do I listen to music?  And the solution(s) to this question proved to be anything from simply splitting the signal of the two devices to one output, right up to a range of complicated (and costly) audio management solutions (which I don’t need…..)

All I want is to be able to hear both the GPS and the music and get on with riding. I don’t want to have to touch anything while I’m moving, which was one reason why I removed the headset.  So in the end I chose a simple option, and it involved just one piece of equipment.

And that device is the Belkin Rockstar.  A simple audio splitter, capable of multiple configurations – up to 5 inputs with one output.   It has one hardwired cable, which is connected to my iPod, and it also included another 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable which is connected to the output from the GPS headset.   Once headphones are connected, that then leaves 3 additional inputs.

As both the headset and iPod have their own volume controls, their individual volumes are set so the balance between the two is mixed correctly.   And with a third cable attached, my iPhone can also be connected so I can hear if a message or a call comes through while riding.    I don’t need to answer calls while riding, and could probably count on one hand the amount of times the phone has rung while on the bike,  and each time it has been telemarketers or something that can wait till I stop.

So here it is all hooked up…..(minus the iPhone as I used it to take the photo).

So the only other thing to do was decide how to get it all on the bike and that included a setup that was easily removed once I got off the bike and also able to be removed for charging the devices – 12v power charging sources can wait!

As mentioned before, my “tank bag” isn’t easily removable from the bike.    My first thought was to secure the audio gear in a plastic container (like the ones you get your chinese food in) and that could simply slide into the tank bag, but then I found the case for my GPS, (a simple neoprene zippered case – shown below) that everything fits into nicely, and when I get to the office or anywhere that I need to take the gear with me, this case can be removed and either locked in the top box or carried in one of the leg pockets of my Draggins.

So now its all good to go, and ready for Monday.

And so to finish off today, I came across a post on a vehicle-photography based blog that I follow, which recently featured photos by a Mexican photographer named Mauricio Alanis.

He is apparently the only mexican photographer who is a certified member of the Professional Photographers Association of America……..anyway, the photo shoot on the blog included photos of planes with beautiful women in swimwear…….(standing on the planes and generally doing things that women in swimwear don’t normally do)

But the first photo on the blog post really appealed to me…………..enjoy!

Cheers and have a great weekend.



~ by anthony on February 26, 2011.

2 Responses to “Bike audio setup”

  1. That’s a really professional set-up Anthony – well done! When I commuted to work, 4 wheels was the normal mode for a number of reasons (mainly because it wasn’t worth getting togged-up for a 10 minute drive)! I always played music in the car commute and may well have done so had I used the bike. Would be interested in whether you listen to music when you’re out for a decent ride as opposed to the commute. It’s simply a personal thing that I don’t as I find it a distraction from the task at hand in that there are more than sufficient things going on to keep my attention. Just curious……

    Oh, and that last picture is superb! Thanks for that!!

  2. Thanks Geoff.

    When I’m out for a non-commuting ride I generally have music playing as well – although if I’m in an area i’m not used to or where extra concentration is required i’ll turn it off or turn it way down. Because the earphones help with cutting out wind and other noise they are generally in all the time.

    Yes, that last pic is very good!

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