This System EX bell with integral Aheadset spacer is a convenient, unobtrusive means of carrying a bell. However, courteous greetings are arguably more effective, and weigh and cost nothing.
The bell is made from powder coated aluminium alloy and is available in five pretty colours. Employing a very simple sprung striker, there are no other moving parts to corrode, or break: simply flick it against the dome using thumb, index or forefingers.
The spacer comes in any colour or size you like, so long as it's gloss black, 10mm deep and 1 1/8in diameter. Look closely and you'll notice three neatly machined flanges. Other than hosting the bell, these prevent it orbiting the steerer when refitting stems, or adjusting bearing tension.
I prefer the outright convenience of discrete 'ping' type bells that can nestle against old school bar-end shifters; this arrangement still keeps the striker within easy reach while retaining an uncluttered look.
Nonetheless, two swift rings seemed sufficient to attract the attentions of horse riders and ramblers from approximately 25 metres along quiet bridle/towpaths without driving dogs into a frenzy. That's better than many OEM giveaways, this suggests it would comply with Dutch guidelines. It tempered some anti cyclist sentiments when combined with a polite call-out.
Only the 100+ decibel horn models make any impression on the Queen's highway; the SystemEx's chirpy metallic ring proved almost completely mute, even along lightly trafficked side-streets.
However, there are countries where having a bell fitted is mandatory and while it would be a cruel copper who booked you, £5.99 is markedly cheaper than a fine when touring on the continent.
Interesting concept and nicely finished but bells are little more than ornaments on British roads
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Make and model: SystemEX Bell with Integral Aheadset Spacer
Size tested: Black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
'Compact bell to fit in place of a 11/8 stem spacer'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Aluminium alloy spacer and bell, the latter is available in a choice of colours. Spacer incorporates several flanges, which host the bell and prevent it moving from the desired position when refitting the handlebar stem or adjusting bearing tension.
Quite nicely machined and finished.
Simple, user-friendly design.
Depends on context and perspective. It's quite well made and considerably cheaper than a fine when riding in Europe but on these shores a well-timed yell is more effective and moreover, free.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the combo is very unobtrusive and the spacer works just fine. However, while emitting a distinctive "ring"; bells are of very limited use. This one was quite audible along bridleways and other quiet shared use paths but as might be expected, completely useless anywhere else.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Innovative concept - combining spacer with accessories.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing but bells are of little practical use, especially in built up areas.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly, if they were touring in/through mainland Europe.
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)