I didn’t think my Mary Bars could get much cooler, but then I stuck a bell on them! I was visiting Dennis at the Bike Habitat when I came across just the bell I have been looking for. This bell is “The Original Incredibell” from the Mirrycle Corporation. It’s hard to get too excited about a bell, but this one is small and very loud. The dinger can be rotated to any position, making it easy to mount on either side, or to be rung with thumb or finger.
I’ve tried a couple other bells off road, but with poor results. One bell dinged on every bump I hit, so it didn’t work out for trail riding. I took the Incredibell on some bumpy singletrack today, and it was silent until I needed it. I never really ended up needing today, so I just rang it for the sake of ringing bells. It really sings!
Why a bell though, you ask? A mountain bike is a relatively silent form of travel, and it’s easy to sneak up on other trail users, whether they are hikers, horseback riders, or even other cyclists. In my personal experience, a shout out when approaching a hiker from behind always has the same result. It doesn’t matter if you yell, “Riders Back!”, “BANZAIIII!”, or wail a shrill Jihadist battle cry, the hiker always jumps out of his or her skin, diving for safety off the trail. And many times they will act unpredictable. A call, “On your left!” may even cause the hiker to dive to the left. I’ve recently tried fake coughing or clearing my throat before I approach the hiker, but most times they never hear it.
A bell is a great solution for this problem! It’s a very nonthreatening sound, and you can hear it from far away. Ringing a bell at a distance doesn’t startle other trail users, and it gives them plenty of time to decide how they will react to you. This courtesy usually results in a smile and a wave.
The bells work equally well in urban settings. This is where I’ve had the most experience with them. The bell is handy for announcing your approach to congested intersections full of bicycles and people. On the bike path they work great for blind corners in addition to the hiker pedestrian scenario mentioned above.
I’d like to take this post out with a little excerpt from Poe…
Hear the sledges with the bells
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.