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HiYoSilver 10-27-04 04:18 PM

Are bells or horns useful for commuting?
Again, need advice. I'm about 2 weeks from starting commuting and trying to figure out problems ahead of time.

I keep on forgetting about bells, or horns. So few seem to have them or use them. This is what I have gathered so far. What I don't know is does this make sense or not?

1. too low volume
2. only useful at very low speed on bike paths, streets for humans. I've already found it is safer to stay off those multiuse bike paths. Way way too many obstacles.

1. extremely limited selection
2. air horns are only viable alternative
3. air horns with more than 105 db are more aggressive than a nice reminder, hey, I'm here too.
4. only found one by Delta, the Air Zound 2. It has a poor reputation for mounting and long term reliability.

If went with AirZound, then have to figure out how to mount it. One cage will be for water and one cage for headlight battery. Ugh. Guess wedge is best bet.

But still is it worth it to spend $30 on a horn that would be seldom, or never useful?

I know regular bikers say No, waste of my money. But what about commuters? Do you all have a different perspective?


520commuter 10-27-04 04:34 PM

They are fun, but I took mine off. Too much crap on my bike. I just use my lungs now. I have never had any trouble with the airzound though... Hmm, maybe I'll put it back on. The look you get from motorists is priceless.

Seanholio 10-27-04 05:21 PM

I think you mean that the old Airzound had trouble. The AirZound II is just fine. It also comes with a very nice mounting system, using zip ties and vecro, which actually holds it on very tightly. You don't have to sacrifice a bottlecage.

DanO220 10-27-04 05:30 PM

It depends. I used to have a commute route that included a couple miles of sidewalk with very light to no pedestrian traffic. At that time I found a bell handy for when I came upon the occasional pedestrian. It sure beat yelling at them as I approached. I nearly always got a friendly nod in exchange for not startling them. Now I ride almost exclusively in the street, so I took it off. I still wish I had it sometimes though, when I drive my ride down to the bike path at the beach. Then there's plenty of use for a bell.


slvoid 10-27-04 06:19 PM

I can usually yell about as loud as a car's horn. So I can get my message across with a lung full of air if I have to.

CdCf 10-27-04 07:02 PM

How much does a bell weigh? 50-100 grams?
Why not simply leave it on?

My new bike didn't come with a bell, but since bikes are required by law to have a bell, I grabbed an old one off one of my brother's old and disused bikes.
Unfortunately, the bell isn't very good (too rusty to give a clear and strong sound), and I've found it to be quite useful, so I'll probably "upgrade" soon. :)

operator 10-27-04 07:05 PM

I have a bell, required by law. Not that I ever use it. I find it's pretty ineffective. Pedestrians jaywakling will are not going to respond to a ring a ding ding of a bell.

slvoid 10-27-04 07:24 PM

Originally Posted by operator
I have a bell, required by law. Not that I ever use it. I find it's pretty ineffective. Pedestrians jaywakling will are not going to respond to a ring a ding ding of a bell.

But they usually respond to me screaming "INCOMING!" or "COMING THROUGH!" at the top of my lungs.

mikdes 10-27-04 10:52 PM

That Airzound would probably stop them in their tracks, too.

bkrownd 10-27-04 11:10 PM

A polite "ping" bell is really handy for peds and dogs, and beats yelling at them any day. I'm also pondering hooking up an
electric car horn to a custom light I'm building, for speaking to vehicles and "bad" dogs, which would be much more compact
and reliable than the airzound.

IronHorse 10-28-04 02:41 AM

I find that a bell is good for reminding pedestrians you are there before they do something stupid but shouting is more effective once they've stepped out without looking or whatever.
Bells don't seem to have any effect on car drivers and you have to shout _REALLY LOUD_ to get heard over the radio or mobile phone.

I haven't used an air horn but you just know that it would be out of juice just when you need it.

The bell is also good for the deer in Richmond Park as I'd feel a bit silly shouting at wild animals to get out of the way :-)

royalflash 10-28-04 02:58 AM

Air horns are illegal on bikes in Germany (you dont want to disturb the drivers as they drive over you). I have therefore mounted a very large chinese bell that I bought on ebay (still probably illegal but I would rather be fined than dead) on my commuter. You can usually be heard by car drivers with it OK and you can just ping it gently at peds if you dont want to scare them.

CdCf 10-28-04 03:49 AM

I get a mental image of a two-foot metal gong with a spring-loaded hammer... :D

Juha 10-28-04 04:27 AM

I use a bell, it's required by the law here. As I mentioned in some other thread, it seems to get 50/50 response: half the time people are neutral or appreciative, half the time angered by it. Judging from that experience, an AirZound would probably result to ped rage in large scale.


operator 10-28-04 05:12 AM

They usually learn their lesson after you blow by them at 50kph.

royalflash 10-28-04 05:38 AM

when I was younger and more reckless I used to ride in around Manchester in the UK with an airhorn mounted on the bike- I just got fed up of ringing the bell and being completely ignored by everyone. The peds were the worst and I even hit a couple.

The air horn REALLY had an effect I can tell you. I remember one guy well he stepped out in front of me and I gave him a blast. His feet were slipping on the road as desperately scrambled to dive back on the pavement. He must have thought a huge truck was coming. He didnt look to pleased and was shaking his fist at me when he saw it was just little old me. But at least i didnt hit him.

digs 10-28-04 05:45 AM

haha... a gong would be great... I might have to get one for my bike (man those things are loud)

Ya Tu Sabes 10-29-04 09:08 AM

Don't neglect the old-timey horns with the squeezable rubber bulb. They're sort of awkward, but really cool-sounding and distinct.

I actuallt tend to whistle - not a piercing, construction-worker-upon-seeing-a-hot-babe whistle, but a more polite, funny sounding affair.

andygates 10-29-04 09:24 AM

Bell: for pedestrians. What are you doing riding where the peds are? Get on the road!

Old-time bulb horn: Great fun, marginally more useful than a bell.

Air Horn, especially the Zound: Penetrates closed car windows, good against dozy drivers who aren't awake yet, great noisemaker in a Critical Mass.

But none of these are essential. You can just yell instead.

Map tester 10-29-04 09:52 AM

I have a AirZound II and it is very effective on cell-phone cagers and dogs. I won't use it on peds because it would probably scare them into my path. Loud yelling works well for stopped cars. I mounted the bottle on my left from fork using an old lightweight bottle cage. The refill valve is under the button on the horn.

On my wife's bike I used an old 12 volt car horn hooked into the lighting system. Very satisfying to honk back at a car when they honk at you!

More info on bike horns here.

Jessica 10-29-04 11:32 AM

I yell HELLO very loud, and very cheery, and peds usually stop to see who is crazy, and then I can ride by in safety. By the way, i only ride where peds are when they are NOT where they belong. Sidewalks are for peds, unless empty.

our experience with horns and bells has been when using my partner's mobility cart...and people ignore them totally. So I won't waste my money or effort.

ultra-g 10-30-04 02:01 AM

In my Opinion, no.

I was riding with a bell a few times and no one ever bothered to even glance at me when I was ringing my bell to get their attention.

I had to resort to shouting, which always works.

If you're coming up on someone who is crossing without looking a good loud,
works better than the ding ding of a bell.

sbhikes 10-30-04 06:57 PM

I ride on a touristy bike path sometimes. I find that with a bell (or a little horn) pedestrians know what you are. They don't really need to look back because they already know it's a bike coming. Only problem with the little horn is that all the tourists on the crazy surry bikes are constantly honking theirs, so I imagine nobody ever gets out of their way anymore.

AndrewP 10-30-04 07:31 PM

I have a Fox 40 whistle - for pedestrians when I cross St Lawrence river on ped/bike path I give two quick peeps when I am 50 yds away, to give them time to look around and move out of the way without having to hurry, then I say 'Merci' as I pass. There are a couple of spots on my commute where there is plenty of traffic that may not be watching for the bike path crossing the road - I can give a plenty loud blast to wake any dozy driver.

royalflash 10-31-04 09:30 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Here is my chinese bell- it is not quite a gong but it is the loudest bell I can find

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