Shokz OpenFit earphone review – decent open-ear audio

Shokz massively increases open-ear audio quality with its OpenFit earbuds, but are they good enough on the bike to beat Shokz's proven bone-conduction alternatives?

Shokz OpenFit earphones and case on a wall
(Image: © Graham Cottingham)

Bike Perfect Verdict

The Shokz OpenFit has excellent audio quality but for listening to music on the bike they can’t compete with Shokz’s OpenRun Pro.

Pros

  • +

    Impressive sound quality

  • +

    Compact size

  • +

    Premium finish

  • +

    Customizable sound profiles

Cons

  • -

    Struggle with wind noise when riding quickly

  • -

    Controls are fiddly to use on the bike

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    Limited control customization

  • -

    Case loses charge when not in use

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    Can only charge via the case

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    The case isn’t waterproof

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Listening to music on the bike is a bit of a contentious subject as blocking out audio cues from the trail, bike, and nearby traffic around that could be potentially dangerous. Up until now, the best option I have found is Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones. They use bone conduction to shortcut your ear drum leaving your ear holes free to hear sounds around you. Although the sound quality is decent, they can’t come close to matching proper earbuds.

Shokz then released the OpenFit – which uses DirectPitch technology to improve audio quality but maintains an open-ear design and solves some of the gripes I have with the OpenRun Pro. On paper, the OpenFits have what it takes to supersede the Shokz OpenRun Pro as the best headphones for riding, to find out I have been blasting the tunes on rides to put them to the test. 

Shokz OpenFit earphones left and right showing the inside and outside

The earbuds use a hook shape to which fits over the ear (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Design and build

By switching from bone conduction technology to its DirectPitch technology, Shokz has been able to forego the mono-wrap around design of the OpenRun Pro in favor of a truly wireless earbud design. The OpenFit earbuds sit near the opening of the ear and are held in place with a hooked section that tucks behind your ear similar to the Oladance Wearable Open Ear headphones. The “dolphin arc ear hook design” fit feels pretty secure and they are quick to take on and off.

The OpenFit earbuds feature an 18x11mm dynamic driver and use Shokz’s DirectPitch technology which is said to use reverse sound waves to optimize audio delivery to the ear. Shokz also says it uses a proprietary low-frequency enhancement algorithm that dynamically adjusts the EQ in real-time. 

Shokz OpenFit earphones in their charging case

The case neatly stores the earbuds and tops up battery life (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

The OpenFits come with a small square case that measures just 65mm x 65mm and securely stores the OpenFit’s inside with magnets. The case has a built-in auxiliary battery so while the earbuds are tucked away in the case their batteries are being topped up. The case matches the Black or Beige color of the OpenFit earbuds and has the same soft-touch finish. There’s a battery indicator light on the front and a USB-C charge port on the rear, you can only charge the earbuds using the case, so make sure you don’t lose it.

The earbuds are IP54 rated so they will shrug off rain although the case doesn’t have any waterproofing so you better keep that dry. The earbuds claim to offer 7 hours of battery which is said to be increased to 28 hours with the case.

Music is controlled via touchpads on the outside edge of the left and right earbuds. As standard, you double tap either earbud to pause or play music, to skip forward you long press the right earbud, and to skip back it's a long press on the left.

Shokz has a companion smartphone app to customize and support the OpenFits. You can choose from EQ presets (standard, vocal, bass boost, treble boost) or create your own using five sliders. Touch controls can be changed if you want to add volume controls or direct access to your phone's voice assistance.

Shokz OpenFit earbud close up shot

Sound quality is noticeably improved compared to Shokz bone-conduction earphones (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Performance

I’m going to caveat this review with the fact that I am far removed from an audiophile, instead, I am going to concentrate more on how the OpenFits work as a way of listening to music on the bike.

Audio quality is important though and my unrefined ears were really impressed with the depth and detail from the OpenFits. I didn’t fiddle with any of the sound presets or EQ settings, but if that's your thing there is plenty of possible fettling to tweak the audio to your liking. Audio quality is also noticeably punchier with considerably more depth and bass than Shokz top-of-the-range OpenRun Pro bone conduction earphones.

The open-ear design of the OpenFits is appealing if you like listening to music when riding and I'm willing to sacrifice a little sound quality if it means I can hear cars and goings on around me. At speed though, the OpenFit’s seemed to be more affected by wind noise than the OpenRun Pros. I suspect this is down to the fact the blustering air doesn’t interfere with the bone conduction vibration but dilutes the DirectPitch output and you will need to blast the volume of your music on fast gravel or road descents if you want to still hear it. 

Not only do they seem to suffer a little more in loud environments compared to bone conduction, but in quiet settings there is a significant amount of sound bleed which could irritate those around you.

Shokz OpenFit earbud close up shot

The small dimples to indicate the position of the control touchpads are hard to locate while riding (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Although the touchpad controls work pretty well in day-to-day life, when riding I struggled with the lack of haptic control making it slow and fiddly when riding. The default double tap and hold controls make sense, although I was surprised at how much I missed having volume control on the earbuds. You can customize the touchpads to have volume controls, but you need to sacrifice either skip forward or back functions to do this.

The OpenFits are claimed to have 10 days of standby but they seemed to lose a lot of charge when not in use, I frequently found the earbuds and case would be completely dead in less than a week, even if they were left with plenty of charge in the case. That made it hard to determine whether Shokz's claim of 28 hours of battery life was accurate. The battery life of the earbuds isn't far off Shokz's stated numbers, although I never got close to the 28 hours total time with rear world usage.

My biggest gripe with the OpenRun Pro is that the one-piece design makes them annoying to tuck away in a pocket if you no longer want to wear them. Being able to pop the OpenFits into the little charging case and stick in a pocket is a big benefit when bouncing between places throughout your day. That said, I often forget I'm wearing the OpenRun Pros whereas the slight movement of the OpenFits constantly reminds me I am wearing them. While I have never had an OpenFit earbud fall out while riding, this slight movement doesn't fill me with confidence that they would stay secure when hammering down vibration-rich trails, compared to the OpenRun Pros which have never budged.

As the earbud design has a small profile, there were zero compatibility issues with any MTB helmets or gravel helmets that I used and they didn't interfere with sunglasses either.

Shokz OpenFit being worn with a helmet

Compact design doesn't interfere with a helmet or straps (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Verdict

Although there are quite a few things that irritate me about the Shokz OpenFits, they aren’t as bad as I have made them out to be. They are great for offering a rich soundtrack to your day while jumping between exercise, commuting, and the office as you aren’t too close to any loud noises or work in a quiet office. Audio performance is impressive and they are secure and comfortable to wear making them a great option for general audio enjoyment.

On the bike though, they just can’t match Shokz OpenRun Pro’s. Sure the bone conduction delivery doesn’t come close to the audio quality of the OpenFits, but the OpenRun Pro performs considerably better when riding at speed, has simpler controls, feels 100 percent secure, and is more waterproof too. If you're looking for the best way to listen to music on the bike, Shokz OpenRun Pros are still my number one choice.

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The lowdown: Shokz OpenFit earphones
AttributesNotesRating
ComfortComfortable but dont feel as secure as the OpenRun Pro when riding★★★
Audio qualityGreat audio quality although easily disturbed by wind noise★★★
WeightLightweight★★★★
Value for moneyA little pricey★★★

Tech specs: Shokz OpenFit earphones

  • Price: $179.95 /  £179.99
  • Color Options: Black, Beige
  • Weight: 9g (each pod), 59g (case)
Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham Cottingham is the senior tech writer at Bikeperfect.com and is all about riding bikes off-road. With over 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotland's wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes, or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect.

Rides: Cotic SolarisMax, Stooge MK4, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg