A lot of people like listening to music while cycling, but don't want to unsafely shut themselves off from traffic noise by wearing headphones. There are already a few devices that address the issue, but Scosche recently introduced its own unique alternative – it's called the BoomBottle, and it's a rugged Bluetooth stereo speaker designed to be carried in a bike's water bottle cage. After meeting some company reps at Interbike 2013, I got the chance to try out one of the funny little gadgets for myself.
First of all, here's a quick rundown of the BoomBottle's specs.
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It features two omnidirectional 3-watt 40-mm speakers and a passive subwoofer, along with Bluetooth 4.0 for communicating with mobile devices up to 33 feet (10 m) away, a 3.5-mm line-in port for hard-wired connections, and a run time of up to 10 hours on one three-hour charge of its lithium-polymer battery. Users can also take phone calls using its integrated mic, or control paired devices using either voice prompts (depending on the device) or by pressing a control button on the speaker.
Additionally, it has a grippy rubber skin that helps keep out dust, absorb shocks, and fend off splashes.
Anyhow, on to my experiences with the thing.
As you may have already noticed in the photo at the top of the page, it didn't sit flat within my particular bottle cage. This is because my cage – along with various others – has a pronounced sort of "hook" on the bottom, for engaging the corresponding groove built into pretty much all larger water bottles. That said, it remained in place while I rode around on bumpy roads, and cages with a less-pronounced hook (see the picture below) are cheap and easy to find.
Pairing the BoomBottle with my phone was easy, as was using it to advance or replay tracks, and to take phone calls. Its sound quality is definitely decent, particularly considering how small it is. When riding, you can't always hear the music 100 percent clearly if there's a lot of wind or traffic noise, but that would be the case with pretty much any mobile speaker that wasn't attached directly to your helmet.
Although I had no intention of bashing the device until it broke, I did purposely let it drop to the ground from several feet a few times. It came out fine, with nothing more than a few scuffs on the rubber.
I also tested its IPX4-rated water resistance, which should allow it to withstand an onslaught of 10 liters (2.6 gallons) of water per minute for five minutes. Given that I could think of no way of measuring exactly how much water the BoomBottle was being subjected to, though, I just sprayed it with the garden hose. I'm happy to say that it ultimately came out OK, although one speaker was quite muffled and crackly until it dried out – so if you get one, definitely don't get it any wetter than necessary.
All told, the BoomBottle sounds great and does all the things that its makers claim it does (minor cage compatibility issue aside). Testing for this review aside, I have to admit that I'd personally never use it to blast tunes while on my bike, as I doubt that the average passer-by would benefit greatly from being exposed to my tastes in music. It would be nice for things like long-distance touring, however, plus it most certainly doesn't have to be used while cycling – it even comes with the requisite carabiner, so it can be hung from things like backpacks.
The BoomBottle is available in four colors, and is compatible with all Bluetooth streaming A2DP audio devices. It's priced at US$149.95.
Product page: BoomBottleView gallery - 8 images