“Why do you need a Bluetooth speaker on your bike anyway? Why not just wear Bluetooth earbuds?”
Great question! Two reasons… First, I don’t want anything in my ears that will prevent me from hearing the sounds around me for safety reasons. Second, I am one of those tin foil hat people who doesn’t relish the idea of a Bluetooth device sitting smack up next to my brain.
I ordered two different Bluetooth speakers for my road bike… one is the Avantree and one is the Zealot. I ordered both to see which I liked better and which one I’ll be returning. I’ll be reviewing them both here.
SOUND QUALITY WINNER: Avantree
The Avantree’s sound is hands down superior to the Zealot. It puts out a rich, round sound, and has a good balance of low and high tones. It also seems to get louder than the Zealot which is nice in loud riding environments. Also, oddly, when you’re playing loud 80s hair band music, you almost never have to yell ahead “On your left!” because folks can hear you coming. :o) The Zealot sound quality leaves a fair amount to be desired in terms of sound quality. It lacks a full spectrum of sound from high to low and sounds “cheap.” The Avantree has a large speaker surface area on the long side of the unit, which no doubt contributes to its sound quality, while the Zealot has only one small speaker on the end of the unit, about 2 inches across.
SIZE / WEIGHT WINNER: Zealot
The Avantree is quite a bit larger than the Zealot as you can see in the pictures. (The Zealot is the grayish color one mounted on the handlebars and the Avantree is mounted on the top tube). The Zealot is quite a bit smaller and lighter in weight than the Avantree. The Avantree has the heft of a higher quality unit however it’s so heavy that when mounted on the top tube as shown in the photos, the weight of it slooooowly pulls the mounting bracket down around the tube, so the speaker ends up sitting on the left side of the tube as I ride, which gets in the way of my left knee. I have to use my hand and push/pull it back to vertical about every 15 minutes or so, which aggravates me. I am going to try to tighten the silicone mounting straps, but I’m not hopeful that they will get any tighter than they currently are. For a workaround option, I could simply remove the Avantree’s mounting bracket from the top tube and slip the speaker into one of my existing white water bottle caddies, (see pic) but that leaves me with only one water bottle and on a long ride, that’s no bueno. This one flaw COULD be the thing that makes me return this otherwise great sounding speaker.
MULTI-FUNCTION WINNER: Zealot
One advantage of the Zealot over the Avantree is the Zealot offers multi-functionality, whereas the Avantree is only a speaker. The Zealot acts as a front headlight, which is really nice, especially since space is at a premium on my handlebars. The fact that it performs two important functions is very handy. Plus, it also acts as a backup charger for your phone if need be. Granted, I don’t know how well it does on charging your device, but it does offer that functionality.
CHARGING WINNER: Tie!
The Avantree has a micro-USB charging port, as well as an aux (mini-plug) option. I believe the Zealot has those same connectors. They both charge quickly when plugged into a wall. As for battery life, they seem similar so far, but in fairness I haven’t run either one for more than two hours at a time.
EASE OF USE WINNER: Tie!
The Bluetooth is very simple to connect to on both speakers. The controls are few and simple. Both are encased in silicone, however the Avantree says it’s “water resistant” while the Zealot says it’s “waterproof.” Fortunately it hasn’t rained on me since I’ve been riding with these on the bike, so I can’t tell you how well they hold up to water.
Honestly I’m not sure which one I’ll keep yet. I need to try them a few more days to make up my mind. I’m kind of torn. Would love your input! Thanks!