The best portable music player for your biking trip

Your smartphone does everything, but do you really want to use it for streaming music or MP3 playback when you really should be preserving battery life for route planning, navigation, weather forecasting and the all-important messages and pics to your friends and social platforms? And besides that, the speaker is useless and your Bluetooth headphones need charging!

I’m a certified nut when it comes to portable electronics and what I’ve found is that you really can’t beat having a bit of radio or music, through a real speaker, separate to your main phone. Here are three different styles of music players you can consider, and why I’m no fan of Bluetooth speakers.

Use your backup smartphone as a music player

We all have a few old phones knocking about so why not load one up with a few MP3s, podcasts and a music streaming app? I have an old Huawei P10 with a pay-as-you-go SIM that I usually cart around, and it’s been great to fall back on.

The problem here is that it’s a headphone player. The built-in speaker is useless. Plus, there’s no FM radio and the battery life could be better.

Despite that, the old smartphone (or a cheap new one – I bought a Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G 128GB recently) is more than just a music player. See below.

Use a cheap feature phone. The Nokia 110 for example

For under €40 this is almost a no brainer. FM Radio, MP3 player and a torch are included in the 4G dual SIM version. Again, the speaker is useless unless you want a bit of background noise in your tent and there are no internet features.

Buy one though. Add a pair of cabled JBL Tune 110 in-ear headphones for €10 and you’ve got days of radio and MP3 on one charge.

A portable radio. The Dabman 13 for example

At €22 you should probably buy one of these too! What I like about this little DAB+, FM and MP3 player is the speaker. It’s an acceptable sounding 1.5w unit that will cover a campfire gathering. It will eat through the rechargeable battery in an evening but it also runs directly, and quite efficiently, from a USB power bank. A €15 5000mah power bank will drive it for a week of evenings.

The only thing you’ll get out of this device is music so don’t expect anything else but for the price of a restaurant meal and in the size of a puncture repair kit, it’s with me all the time now, and that includes the hobby room, terrace and bathroom too.

The Bluetooth speaker

I’ve never been excited about BT speakers. I had a mini Harmon Kardon Traveller once and I’ve got a few others knocking around but they churn through batteries that are never charged when you need them. They’re expensive too. Why would you buy a speaker without a player already integrated?

The ultimate combo

Personally, I’ve settled on two of the above.

Imperial Dabman 13 and Huawei P10, in 2024

The reason for going with a second smartphone is simple. If your main smartphone is your only internet connection, what do you do when it falls off the bike, gets stolen or lost? A Nokia 110 feature phone won’t get you far.

The backup phone can be used to locate or lock the main phone and you’ll be able to carry on with your navigation.

The combo here can charge each other in an emergency and a 32GB microSD card can be used in both devices. There’s the MP3 collection sorted!

What? You don’t have MP3s? Rip some of your old CDs. What? You don’t have old CDs? Then I’m afraid I can’t help you any further here.

Categorized as Reviews

By Steve Chippy Paine

Steve, Chippy, SteveChippy and V4_Chippy are all aliases for Stephen Paine. Steve has been working on internet and web projects since the 80's and, for the last five years has focused on digital marketing. Meetmobility is a site for a hobby that combines travel on two-wheels, camping and productive technology. You'll might also be interested in the accompanying YouTube channel. Find Steve on Instagram (v4_chippy) and Twitter (chippy) Other sites include UMPCPortal where he writes purely about mobile technology.