I'm thinking of fitting a bell

by nostromo   December 27, 2013  

Like all good riders I take all the crap off my new bike when I get it home. The wheel and frame reflectors 'naturally' and of course, the bell.

For a retailer, all bikes have to be fitted with a bell before they are sold. But for riders, there's no legal requirement to have one fitted. I'm not making an argument for the law to be changed here, just proffering a personal opinion.

Locally, I only ride quiet country lanes, interspersed by some busier A and B roads. I'm not the speediest on a bike by any means, but I still overtake other road users, be they walkers, horseriders and cyclists. Sometimes I feel it would be worthwhile letting them know I am coming. I've even taken to sounding a short, hard whistle, which is ridiculous when you think about it. I usually say to them something like: "just letting you know I was there" or some other nonsense as I go past.

So the thinking goes, if I'm going to continue making this much effort I might as well fit a bell.

But there's something 'wrong' about having a bell on a bike these days isn't there. When did it become so uncool? And why?

Nevertheless, I think I'm going to give it a go - if I can find a cool enough bell (road.cc buyers' guide dept take note).

No way I'm putting the wheel and frame reflectors back on though. They may be the cheapest, most-effective life saving bits of plastic you can stick on your bike, but that's a step too far! Wink

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Well, I'm currently running a quill stem, so it could go to the side of that for easy thumb action ...

But yes, with so much handlebar furniture these days, it's a job to fit everything in and still have space for your hands.

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posted by nostromo [65 posts]
27th December 2013 - 11:17

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posted by Manglier [64 posts]
27th December 2013 - 12:15

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We have bells on all our bikes road and mountain and I must say they tend to be a waste of time if you're on road. As roads are noisy people don't hear them especially cars, granted that on a cycle path it has worked a few times but mostly people don't hear or ignore it due to iPods and the like. Quite often I find myself shouting "ding ding" to which many people shout "get a bell mate" so I just ride on and ignore them.

My point is I've just changed the handlebars on my road bike and not refitted the bell and guess what , it's made no difference at all to my passage through pedestrians or other road users.
So Ding Ding it is for me…....... Thinking

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posted by surfingalan [3 posts]
27th December 2013 - 12:31

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In my experience bells are only of any use on shared paths or in busy towns where the space is shared with pedestrians but not motor vehicles. Also any bell which makes a sound even slightly different to the traditional "ching-ching" is of no use whatsoever.

posted by drfabulous0 [186 posts]
27th December 2013 - 13:12

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Odd, isn't it. I personally find a traditional 'drrringgg drrinnnnnggg' bell a little too strident, a bit 'get out of my way', and the little 'ting ting' ones that new bikes come with are rubbish. What I want is the gentle, warm 'thunnngg' of a large gong, but I'm fairly sure there are rules against carrying 20kg of suspended metal around.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [636 posts]
27th December 2013 - 13:24

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Hmm, yes, maybe some more research is required.

But as I pointed out I cycle on some pretty quiet roads mostly so even a 'ting' of a smallish bell might be enough.

Or maybe one of these ....

http://eldergems.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/retrostyle-horn-chrome.png

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posted by nostromo [65 posts]
27th December 2013 - 15:09

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Um, yes, I'm sure shouting religious claptrap will make people get out of the way sharpish.

posted by drfabulous0 [186 posts]
27th December 2013 - 17:07

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Strangely enough I prefer the traditional bell. I find the modern pinger just doesn't attract attention. Whilst not great for traffic, bells are perfect for interacting with pedestrians and other non-vehicular road users. It's down to personal preference. You just need to find a bell with a tone you like, you can also dampen the pitch with a bit of gaffer tape if need be. Bear in mind it's as a warning to others, so a lot are going to be pissed regardless whenever you use it. I think road.cc reviewed a couple but can't find the link.

As for the reflectors I suggest that you defo refit the rear as the current government has slipped in an amendment to powers for PCSO's giving them the powers to fine cyclists for various cycling offences. Not sure if it has reached its final reading but it's there. The last thing we need is a pretendy peeler on a power trip dishing out fines. At least with a regular cop you can usually come to a compromise until you can sort it. Here's the link http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/pcsos-soon-able-to-fine-cyclists-withou...

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posted by giff77 [953 posts]
27th December 2013 - 17:44

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If it's good enough for him...

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

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posted by Cooks [467 posts]
27th December 2013 - 18:59

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I have my 99p bell-with-attached-compass. Poor man's GPS. Don't mock - I found my way to Brighton using that thing (just keep going South till one hits water).

Rarely do I actually use it as a bell though.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [496 posts]
27th December 2013 - 21:34

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Naughty Ribble didn't put a bell in with my bike. So I got one- first priority was that it had to be white to match my frame/bars/bar tape...
I view it as essential. You'll always find yourself at some point on a shared path/bike path/backstreet where there are oblivious pedestrians and slower cyclists blocking your way. A polite ding is better than yelling "oi"- and of course your bike itself should be compliant with the principle of silence; no rattling gears or squeeking bearings.

posted by Al__S [417 posts]
27th December 2013 - 22:40

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I've found the ratchet noise from a Hope Pro 2 Evo rear hub is more than enough to alert people to my presence.

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posted by Swami Dave [41 posts]
27th December 2013 - 23:50

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It all depends on where you are going to use it. I have to say that for the section of canal path I ride along on my commute a bell is invaluable for letting people know that I am approaching. Other than that I find on main roads I never use it.

posted by Dunluce [47 posts]
28th December 2013 - 5:57

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Now I think of it, my bike didn't come with a bell fitted, although I would've probably removed it anyway.

Had cause to use a busy shared NCN path for a couple of miles on Boxing Day and just found that a cheery "excuse me" did the job, together of course with keeping to an appropriate speed.

I otherwise tend to avoid shared paths when commuting though, too many pedestrians about who either can't hear (i.e. wearing headphones) or don't care (i.e. local yoofs) that you're coming, bell or not.

I've even witnessed the use of a bell being seen as an act of aggression towards pedestrians, whilst others moan if you don't have one... Seems to really be a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't!

posted by parksey [103 posts]
28th December 2013 - 8:46

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I gave up using a bell. Pedestrians either didn't notice, didn't care, didn't know how to react (do they step left or right?), or even found it aggressive as parksey pointed out (the bike equivalent of beeping your horn).

I prefer calling out, either 'on your right' or 'on your left'. Still get plenty of people who don't know how to react, but that to me is the most sensible call, warning people that you're coming and telling them which side you intend to pass them on.

posted by BetterNever [10 posts]
28th December 2013 - 9:26

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Bell on the seat tube, in my case!

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posted by PJ McNally [559 posts]
28th December 2013 - 10:30

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We have our work bikes fitted with two bells each. The classic Dutch 80mm ding dong on one side, traditional dring dring on the other. Very useful when signalling, especially on descents. The variety is enjoyable, you can mute them with the palm of your hand if you want to, or ring them together for a hell of a noise; all good for the streets of Croydon. Surprisingly, we've never had any complaints from pedestrians or cars, though the foxes get terrified.....

posted by paslemeilleur [55 posts]
28th December 2013 - 15:47

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I have a bell on my commuting bike. I've had the same one for about 15 years now, it's seen 3 different bikes. It has a smiley face floating in oil and it is also a compass as it always looks to the north. My daughters gave it to me as a fathers day present and I would never swap it for another. Fortunately it makes a very in tune ding.

As others have said though ringing the bell often has no effect at all as walkers tend to be plugged into iPods etch and completely oblivious.

posted by paulrbarnard [75 posts]
28th December 2013 - 20:03

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The single ring bell works really well. I have one on my hybrid and I can be 100 yds from people and they hear it. No idea why but they do - just seems to cut through the background noise and as a single 'ting' it doesn't seem to annoy people

posted by dunnoh [140 posts]
28th December 2013 - 21:08

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I have a loud Hope 2 rear hub and a small ping bell with an o-ring (attaches anywhere in a second).
If none of them have any effect, I use my "enforcer" - 120dB Airzound Cool
Although VERY LOUD (even in traffic), with a bit of practice it can be used gently or in a intimidating way, depending on a situation.

6t.tlx_.jpg

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [162 posts]
30th December 2013 - 16:32

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BBB wrote:
I have a loud Hope 2 rear hub and a small ping bell with an o-ring (attaches anywhere in a second).
If none of them have any effect, I use my "enforcer" - 120dB Airzound Cool
Although VERY LOUD (even in traffic), with a bit of practice it can be used gently or in a intimidating way, depending on a situation.

Same here, although I find that pedestrians are confused by such a loud sound coming from a bike and tend to look in every direction except the one I want!

posted by mbrads72 [99 posts]
31st December 2013 - 14:10

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Saw some spacer mounted bells in my LBS...

http://www.tredz.co.uk/.System-EX-A-Headset-Spacer-Bell_62128.htm

@oddbydefault

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posted by oddbydefault [86 posts]
31st December 2013 - 15:01

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Who said bells are uncool? I mean titanium that's always cool - isn't it?

http://www.vannicholas.com/componentsdetails.aspx?id=114

And at that price it really is cool - right?

posted by wellcoordinated [29 posts]
31st December 2013 - 18:13

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If you're going to encounter pedestrians then fit a bell; it's just polite and, if they're not listening, at least you've made an effort to warn them. Not sure why one of the oldest cycling accessories is seen as a bit 'uncool'? Rapha! - make a bell; it'll be on every road bike in the country before you know it!

Shades

posted by Shades [116 posts]
2nd January 2014 - 17:19

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Just taken a pinger type off my son's race bike but I might fit it on my old MTB that I use on-road.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1941 posts]
2nd January 2014 - 17:56

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..very useful on the canal path, especially a couple of bridges coming into Leeds where you can't see oncoming walkers or cyclists..

posted by RedfishUK [34 posts]
3rd January 2014 - 14:48

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)))))on your right/left mate-nice one thanks((((( always works for me.

The trouble with real life is that there is no danger music.

The Cable Guy

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posted by Cyclist [91 posts]
3rd January 2014 - 20:41

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Father Christmas bought me a Lion Bell Works brass beauty. I am one happy rabbit.

cheers m'dears

2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Road
2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez Broken
1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/shopper
1980 Orbea project

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posted by daviddb [114 posts]
3rd January 2014 - 21:34

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Ah the lion bellworks ones, I saw them a while ago and wanted one, great! Thanks for posting! To buy with my Christmas bike-pressie money (was simpler than specifying the exact items) Smile

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posted by chrisl [26 posts]
4th January 2014 - 14:23

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I ride down a too-narrow protected bike lane every day that has nowhere to go if a pedestrian steps into it. I've god a Cateye bell mounted on the left, just below the STI, that I can operate with my left thumb while braking. I've used it a lot, often while braking, just too many idiots walking off the pavement into a bike lane without looking.

posted by drmatthewhardy [219 posts]
5th January 2014 - 17:07

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