PDA

View Full Version : Bicycle Bells


jpw
08-30-2012, 06:15 AM
Just wondering how many of you ride with a bicycle bell. I do, and find it to be an essential item of equipment.

I have one of those typical round and dome shaped bells with the thumb hammer on the side, cheap and functional, and I clamp it around the stem near the handlebar top. That's a good position to reach the hammer with my left thumb when my hands are on the tops, but not so good when my hands are on the hoods or drops. In fact I find it an interruption to the flow of my riding when I have to move my hand from the hood or the drop to sound the bell.

I can imagine the ultimate solution would be a wired system with EPS/ Di2 style buttons, wrapped under the bar tape in drop, hood, and top locations. That probably sounds completely over the top, but the convenience would be just great.

CNY rider
08-30-2012, 06:21 AM
I've never ridden with one.
May I ask why you find it to be essential?

palincss
08-30-2012, 06:37 AM
I've never ridden with one.
May I ask why you find it to be essential?

I have them on all my bikes and agree they are essential -- not, however, because they are required by law, although they are.

Although nothing is 100% fool-proof, bells work better to alert pedestrians on bicycle trails than anything else. Horns? They think it's cars on the adjacent parkway. Yelling "On your left?" Not only don't they understand what that means, many of the tourists wandering around in downtown DC don't speak English. But everybody understands a bicycle bell. Even dogs understand a bicycle bell; and I'd much rather ring a bell than shoot pepper spray at a dog, since you don't have to worry about the back-blast.

AngryScientist
08-30-2012, 06:49 AM
never had one on a personal bike, but have had them on hybrid/cruiser type bikes i've rented on vacation. i can definitely see their use of MUP type bike/pedestrian paths. also, nothing announces your arrival at the tiki bar bike a few dings of the bike bell!

jpw
08-30-2012, 06:55 AM
I've never ridden with one.
May I ask why you find it to be essential?

To safely navigate my way, especially when humans on foot are around. They tend to make sudden and irrational moves at the last possible moment. The irrationality of their thought processes continues to bewilder me.

I've thought about trying to add a second bell somewhere around the drops, but it looks to be getting in the way when not needed.

rwsaunders
08-30-2012, 07:15 AM
I installed one on my daughter's college bike, but I ride 99% of the time on the road, where it's not needed.

zennmotion
08-30-2012, 07:37 AM
I've never ridden with one.
May I ask why you find it to be essential?

They are not essential in rural CNY where I used to ride. However, they are quite useful on the superhighway MUTs in the DC area. According to the Ranger I spoke with with the Nat. Park Service, which has police authority over most of the regional trails, the Mount Vernon trail between DC and Alexandria has the heaviest traffic of any MUT in the country. It can be much more hazardous than the local roads and streets at busy times. The Ranger was handing out free NPS bells by the side of the trail on a sunny Sunday afternoon as a public safety service, which I thought was pretty cool. In my experience, in peak commuter hours or on weekends in nice weather, a bell makes for a much safer, better audible, better understood signal than a vocal notice that a bike is approaching from behind. An elderly pedestrian woman was recently killed on one of our paths by a passing biker at less than 15 mph who reportedly gave an on your left warning only to have her step into his passing vector. Again, in my experience of 10 years of daily commuting on the MUTs, a bell makes for much more predictable behavior by other path users than a voice signal. I have a very cool rickshaw bell on my beater commuter that has a very pleasant and very clear and loud ring. Best $2 foreign travel souvenir I ever bought, wish I brought back a bunch.

CNY rider
08-30-2012, 08:12 AM
Now I get it.
I see a lot more deer than pedestrians when riding around up here.

pinkshogun
08-30-2012, 08:13 AM
i use Japanese Crane brass bells on most of my bikes.....its essential fashion and function for Rivendells. it has a nice powerful tone to announce ones presence

giverdada
08-30-2012, 08:32 AM
required by law, they are on all of my bikes.

however, they are placed in as inconspicuous a location as possible, and are not really for actual use. i find yelling much more effective, though also more abrasive than the pleasant 'ding ding' of an unobtrusive bike bell.

the last time i actually depended on a bell to alert others to the fact that i was riding by, in the bike lane, with the flow of traffic, toward a green light, someone stepped out in front of me, not looking, jaywalking, out from behind a parked truck. no bell ringing could save either of us.

and on mountain bikes on bumpy trails, they are among the more annoying sounds, but i guess good for bears?...

zennmotion
08-30-2012, 08:46 AM
on mountain bikes on bumpy trails, they are among the more annoying sounds, but i guess good for bears?...

Jingle bells tied to the back of my saddle make me feel a little safer on the MTB trails during deer huntin' season. Still, it's probably better to wait for the Elmer Fudds to get out of the woods, I've been shot at twice- once seeing lead hit tree not far from my front wheel. Outta state hunters from Jersey, no visible tags.:eek:

jpw
08-30-2012, 08:53 AM
An elderly pedestrian woman was recently killed on one of our paths by a passing biker at less than 15 mph who reportedly gave an on your left warning only to have her step into his passing vector.

That's a very sad story. Something very similar nearly happened to me a couple of summers ago. I had to 'ditch' to avoid colliding with an elderly lady who moved across the pathway at the very last moment without first looking back to see which side I was on. She and her friend expressed their appreciation of my 'valor'.

On a funnier note, I often get what I call the pedestrian 'swap over'. Two people walking together side by side on the path or trail. I'm approaching from behind, I ring my bell, and they both simultaneously moves over to the other side resulting in an exchange of positions on the pathway but no gain for me. When I do get to pass I compliment them with a "nice dance". It usually gets a smile.

jpw
08-30-2012, 08:54 AM
Jingle bells tied to the back of my saddle make me feel a little safer on the MTB trails during deer huntin' season. Still, it's probably better to wait for the Elmer Fudds to get out of the woods, I've been shot at twice- once seeing lead hit tree not far from my front wheel. Outta state hunters from Jersey, no visible tags.:eek:

Scary.

zap
08-30-2012, 09:33 AM
If I rode MUTS more often than I do then I would have a bell.

I ride MUTS maybe 3 times a year but I ride reeeeeaaaaal slow (and silently) when passing folks.

redir
08-30-2012, 10:21 AM
I absolutely love my bell. I never had one till a few months ago. It's a removable one so I can easily clamp it on any of my bikes which is a great feature since some times I commute on my racing bike to attend our fast evening training rides and then I use my townie bike that I leave in the office to go to meetings in town and I commute through a college campus.

Absolutely love the bell. Nothing says "bike on the left" better than a bell.

false_Aest
08-30-2012, 10:31 AM
I just built some 2013 CAAD8 bikes.

Cannondale has bells included in the box-o-crap that comes with each bike (you know, the box that holds the owners manual, front brake, reflectors, fingers from chinese children, etc).

Cannondale rep came in and asked if I was ****ing with the store.

Back to OP. Bells are awesome. And, w/out any cynicism or snarkyness, I think that they're pretty freakin pro. Pro in the same way that Levi uses a frame pump. If they fit on my handlebars I'd rock one.

Also. Imagine the respect one will garner when passing a dude on a hard climb with a "ching-ching" Really ****ing demoralizing. Especially if the dude is wearing knickers.

Aaron O
08-30-2012, 10:39 AM
I have a bell on my main commuter and find it to be very useful. Peds in my area will break right of way and cross at reds...they expect you to stop for them. A bell ring seems to get them moving faster. I can get along without it, and my voice does project, but I do like the bell. It's also good as a "Hey, I'm behind you" notice to other cyclists...just a gentle tap lets them know you're there and people seem to appreciate it.

I use an Airzound on my triplet because it's less maneuverable and more difficult to stop. A blast with that does a great job getting people out of your way. It also does wonders with headphone clad joggers in bike lanes and inconsiderate MUP users.

DHallerman
08-30-2012, 10:56 AM
Absolutely love the bell. Nothing says "bike on the left" better than a bell.

What makes you think it doesn't say "bike on the right"?

I mean, most pedestrians aren't thinking vehicle patterns, where passing typically occurs on the left.

On MUPs, I prefer calling out "passing on your left" -- calling out, not yelling at the people, and "passing" to say what I'm doing, not just where I am.

Dave, who can get to his voice faster than to a bell and if he can get to a bell quickly that also means he's not going so fast that he can't simply call out politely

Aaron O
08-30-2012, 11:55 AM
What makes you think it doesn't say "bike on the right"?

I mean, most pedestrians aren't thinking vehicle patterns, where passing typically occurs on the left.

On MUPs, I prefer calling out "passing on your left" -- calling out, not yelling at the people, and "passing" to say what I'm doing, not just where I am.

Dave, who can get to his voice faster than to a bell and if he can get to a bell quickly that also means he's not going so fast that he can't simply call out politely

I've found that the bell works better than calling out...it cuts through background noise and specific language isn't necessary. The bell says someone is there, look around, move. I get tired of yelling at people crossing against lights in crosswalks and joggers in bike lanes. The bell takes less effort and says what I want to say more quickly. A short ding says hi there...I'm here. Repeated loud strikes say get the hell out of my way you inconsiderate turd.

rjfr
08-30-2012, 11:59 AM
Interestingly,
I've used bells, only to find pedestrians reticent to move or if they do, only after repeated rings.

On the other hand, a vocal "Bling, Bling", said loudly never fails to gain recognition, although sometimes slowly, and an attempt to move out of the path.

It seem that male joggers three abreast and women with strollers two abreast typically do not move for anything or anyone.

Aaron O
08-30-2012, 12:54 PM
Interestingly,
I've used bells, only to find pedestrians reticent to move or if they do, only after repeated rings.

On the other hand, a vocal "Bling, Bling", said loudly never fails to gain recognition, although sometimes slowly, and an attempt to move out of the path.

It seem that male joggers three abreast and women with strollers two abreast typically do not move for anything or anyone.

Try an Airzound. They move.

I'd really like to start riding with a riding crop...and maybe some paint thinner in a water bottle for certain drivers.

rccardr
08-30-2012, 01:12 PM
A bell cuts through sound from an iPod better than anything else I've tried.

Didn't use to be, but now am, a believer.

pdmtong
08-30-2012, 02:35 PM
I use a bell on my mtb. very friendly on the single track.

For my townie...I'm using the clasisc horn my daughter had 9 years ago when she was 3yo. That thing still gets smiles from young and old.

BumbleBeeDave
08-30-2012, 02:52 PM
Don't really feel like I need one. I just use my voice on the local MUP. I call out "Behind you!" while still some distance behind them. Almost everybody either moves right or actually turns around to look at me. If they don't I still have plenty of time to call out several more times and slow down if they still don't react.

I have pulled up behind earbud-afflicted skaters several times, only to stay behind them talking to them with gradually increasing volume to see exactly how loud I do have to get for them to tune in. Sometimes it takes a while. Best to treat them and joggers with kid gloves, though. We also had a pretty serious jogger injury from a collision at the bottom of our local hill descending the landfill to the river. Earbudded runner reached the bottom of the hill and turned around without looking to do her hill repeats--only to be nailed by a biker coming down the hill.

If it takes too long for some of these people to rect and I want the inconsiderate turd to move, I generally just end up screaming, "Get the hell out of my way you inconsiderate TURD!"

See? No bell needed . . . :D

BBD

soupless
08-30-2012, 03:20 PM
I've got one on my Colnago as we speak. Sometimes I ride it in to work, and cops here have been handing out $90 tickets quite regularly for riding without a bell.

They're also very, very handy in big cities I think.

redir
08-30-2012, 03:36 PM
What makes you think it doesn't say "bike on the right"?

I mean, most pedestrians aren't thinking vehicle patterns, where passing typically occurs on the left.

On MUPs, I prefer calling out "passing on your left" -- calling out, not yelling at the people, and "passing" to say what I'm doing, not just where I am.

Dave, who can get to his voice faster than to a bell and if he can get to a bell quickly that also means he's not going so fast that he can't simply call out politely
Yeah that's a good point but what I find is that it either stuns them and they maintain there position or it makes them look back and then move. I don't ride fast on mups so I always yield to peds and give them time to figure out what the bell means.

It's kind of like when you say "on your left" a certain number of people move to the left.

Rueda Tropical
08-30-2012, 03:37 PM
I had one for a while but it just confused people. They were as likely to move into my path while trying to figure out what the bell was as take it as a warning sound. In a more urban setting I think it would work as intended.

palincss
08-30-2012, 04:23 PM
What makes you think it doesn't say "bike on the right"?

I mean, most pedestrians aren't thinking vehicle patterns, where passing typically occurs on the left.

On MUPs, I prefer calling out "passing on your left" -- calling out, not yelling at the people, and "passing" to say what I'm doing, not just where I am.

Dave, who can get to his voice faster than to a bell and if he can get to a bell quickly that also means he's not going so fast that he can't simply call out politely

How many of the peds you pass speak Chinese or Japanese or French or German, rather than English? Come on down to the National Mall in DC sometime. BTW - you can easily hear that the bell is on your left rather than your right.

MattTuck
08-30-2012, 04:35 PM
I had one for a while but it just confused people. They were as likely to move into my path while trying to figure out what the bell was as take it as a warning sound. In a more urban setting I think it would work as intended.

This is the same problem I have. There's a 80% chance when I say "on your left" or ring a bell, that the person will swerve unexpectedly, panic, slow down, etc. If they're walking, it's even worse.

IMO, on rail trails, better to just keep speed low, and pass silently, with as much room as possible. Alert people only when it's a really busy or crowded section.

BobbyJones
08-30-2012, 04:46 PM
Let's not forget that in New York State it's the law. -

NYS VTL 1236 (b)
No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.

I know this from unfortunate experience.

DHallerman
08-30-2012, 05:07 PM
How many of the peds you pass speak Chinese or Japanese or French or German, rather than English? Come on down to the National Mall in DC sometime. BTW - you can easily hear that the bell is on your left rather than your right.

Okay, different environments demand different solutions.

As usual, one size does not fit all. (And neither bells nor voice is the absolute best answer...it depends.)

However, I really don't think it's obvious the cyclist is passing on the left, since the bell is rung not when you're to the left of the pedestrians but at some point behind them.

gdw
08-30-2012, 05:09 PM
"BTW - you can easily hear that the bell is on your left rather than your right."

Unfortunately that's not true for everyone, I'm deaf in one ear, look up unilateral hearing loss, and can't distinguish where sounds originate. There are quite a few of us out here and more will be joining our ranks thanks to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assuming that we will react to your bell like a person with normal hearing endangers both of us.

biker72
08-30-2012, 05:41 PM
Yelling "On your left?" Not only don't they understand what that means, many of the tourists wandering around in downtown DC don't speak English.

I've found this to be true on North Dallas trails also. I wonder if bells would be heard by peds listing to music. I'm not sure those people can hear anything.

palincss
08-30-2012, 06:20 PM
I've found this to be true on North Dallas trails also. I wonder if bells would be heard by peds listing to music. I'm not sure those people can hear anything.

Especially if they're jogging. Besides the music, some seem to be high on their own endorphins.

Fixed
08-30-2012, 06:50 PM
Are you talking those bags that hang under some pickup trucks ?
Why Would you put those on a bike ?




Oh you said bells. ....never mind
Cheers :)