Bicycle bells

Contents


Updates


Possibly to come

  1. Perhaps: Making resonance holes in the brass dome of the Hoot mini, similar to some of the Mounty bells, to see what effect it has.

Introduction

I don't like brass for bicycle bells, they ring too much in a certain frequency that to me doesn't sound nice at all... (but instead sounds harsh). The same shape/size aluminium bell gives a much better sound, at least for the normal size of bicycle bells, i.e. usually about 50 mm up to ca. 60 mm diameter. Steel bells can have a nice sound, such as with ding-dong bells. I thought that such bells might become better if they were made with aluminium shells, but, after the rain test it's clear that aluminium bells usually have issues when wet or even with drops on them. Steel tring and ding dong bells sound nice, it's more with the ping bells that I feel the sound can be a bit off with steel bells. It would be nice if the tring and ding-dong bells were available in stainless steel versions.

After my wet tests though on 2018-11-5, I appreciate more the heavier bells, they work far better when they are wet. I still don't really like the brass bells, steel bells are from good to very good. The steel ding-dong and tring bells work brilliantly under all circumstances. The Brave classic pin works fairly well even when wet (not in a heavy downpour as in the shower), I suspect this is related to the shape, and which part exactly is most important for the resonance and how that is shaped. If the water falls off as with a vertical surface then they will work better. The Mounty Billy plus should work well if that is it, but it doesn't so there is something more going on (perhaps insuffienct space between the plastic and the aluminium dome, so that water touches both and the sound is dampened). I had mounted the Brave Classic "Classic race" bell vertically, perhaps that's why I felt it was ok under all circumstances. I will try a bit more with this mounting after the shower later with the aluminum bells. The Basil Portland stayed muffled for a long time after the shower though so it all depends on a lot of details.

Many bells are of quite poor quality, with easily breakable plastic or they have parts made of standard steel, and I hate rusting steel on my bike. Strength is not important, so instead of penny-pinching, manufacturers should make some improvements (and related to this customers should want to pay what products are worth instead of always trying to obtain things for the lowest price). Crane has been making fairly good bells for many years, though many are made with crappy steel mount and non-stainless parts. The manufacturers Widek (Netherlands) and Reich (Germany) have been making bells for ages that are often mounted on Dutch and German bells, but they don't make luxury versions. There has been some change the last few years in that some brands are making higher quality or new design bells, which often then get copied by other brands (examples, Crane's bells, Spurcycle's bell, the Knog Oi). And yet it's hard to find a good bell! I've not found a ding-dong bell with stainless steel or aluminium domes (only recently I saw one with brass domes, but no idea how it sounds, I don't like the sound of brass ping bells, so I will likely not try those. Edit 2018-11-9: I found a website with sounds of bells they sell, including a brass ding-dong bell. The sound is not bad, but I prefer the sound of steel bells).

The smaller a bell, the higher its resonance frequency. Lower frequencies sound nicer to me, but are also better to get older people to hear you... What I may add therefore with the next update is a frequency analysis of the sounds of some of these bells (I gave some away, so not all of them...).

Most of the bells that I tested are shown here:
bicycle bells
Top row: Ding-dong, ding-ding and tring bells, from left to right: Basil Noir (ding-dong) 60 mm, Noname (ding-dong) 80 mm, Mounty Dany (ding-ding), Contec ring-e-ding (ding-ding), Widek (tring), Gazelle (tring).
Bottom row: Ping bells, from left to right: Standard race bell, Brave classic pin, Widek Decibell XXL, Mounty Billy plus, Mounty Charly, Basil Portland aluminium, Voxom KL5, Owl vision Hoot mini, Crane Mini Suzu W.

Types of bells

All the listed bells compared, in videos (youtube)

Note that these videos are complementary to this page, they are not complete reviews, the main purpose is so you can listen to the sounds of these bells and how rain affects them.

The bells that I used/tried, over the years

Tring (ding-a-ling) bells

The sound of tring bells is ok, slightly more 'pushy' than a ding-dong sound which most people like and which some people associate with a doorbel or shop bell. The ones I've seen have a steel dome and work well under all weather conditions, so in sound these are almost as good as ding-dong bells. But why are there no high end (stainless steel) versions?

[tring] Widek: Standard tring bell. Steel dome, diameter = 55 mm

Overview: Widek: Standard steel tring bell
Weight (mass): 101
Diameter of the dome (mm): 55
Loudness (dry): Good
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Good


Such bells were standard long ago and perhaps still are on Dutch city bikes. I used to have such a bell on a bike in my youth. Sound is fairly good, and after the rain test my original expectation that an aluminium version of a given bell always sounds nicer, was wrong as that is not generally true for in the wet (many aluminium bells are muffled too much then). I've only seen standard steel/chrome plated tring (and ding-dong) bells and the variation is really in colours/patterns. Why is there not a high end version? (So: stainless steel dome/housing, aluminium mount/knob) An issue with these bells is that many of them can be simply unscrewed by twisting the top, vandalism is thus easy and I've seen quite a few bells without the top, an improvement in that respect would be nice.

Works well even with the shower on it, not just when wet.

[tring, around handlebar] Gazelle: tring bell that sits around the handlebar. Aluminium, diameter 55 mm.

Overview: Gazelle: tring bell that sits around the handlebar
Weight (mass): 65 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 50 mm
Loudness (dry): Good
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Fairly good


This bell slides onto the handlebar (used by Gazelle on some of their own brand bicycles). It has a good sound, but you can't get this bell around big angle bends in a handlebar, and I don't like to do a rotating motion to sound the bell (the reason is similar to why I don't like rotating shifters).

With water pouring on it, it is very muffled, but almost immediately after that it's fine, perhaps because the vertical surface is the most important for resonance/sound? (the water slides off of the vertical surface almost immediately, and quickly off the largest part of the curved surface).


Ping bells

[ping] Standard (ca. 1990s) 'race' bell. Aluminium dome, diameter = 50 mm, with plastic parts and steel spring

Overview: Standard (ca. 1990s) 'race' bell. Aluminium dome
Weight (mass): 20 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 50 mm
Loudness (dry): Not loud enough
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Almost inaudible


Standard bell used on road bikes in the 1990s. Aluminium dome, plastic mount/clapper, diameter = 50 mm. The plastic has cracks after many years, another one completely broke, and the bell dome gets loose after several years, as it's riveted. Works fairly well up to that time. It is not loud at all, far less so than the Brave Classic race bell, or the Crane Mini Suzu W or even the Billy plus which has a plastic clapper too. The first 2 of those are also a lot better in the materials used (no plastic). An issue I always had with this bell is that the clapper is too close to the bell, need to bend the spring a bit away from the bell. The reason why it is not loud enough is possibly related to the dome being attached to plastic (malleable), instead of steel/aluminium, though that seems the case with the Billy plus too, so not sure. Perhaps the clapper needs to be metal if a bell is to be loud when hit on the bottom instead of on the sides. I may do some experiments to find out.

Useless in the rain, or when wet!

[ping] Brave classic: "Classic race". Aluminium dome, diameter = 50 mm?

Overview: Brave classic: Classic race
Weight (mass): ?
Diameter of the dome (mm): 50 mm?
Loudness (dry): Fairly loud
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): ?

This bell is similar to the 'standard' (I think standard for ca. 1990s and earlier) race bell, i.e. used on road bikes (and is minimalistic, low weight). There are other brands with similar bells such as Basil's Portland bell, but instead of the plastic parts in the race bell, this and those similar ones use stainless steel and aluminium (except for the spring I think, though that may be stainless too). To improve it, I replaced the steel bolts of the clamp with stainless steel inner hex bolts (+ I put anti seize on the bolts). This bell has a strong sound, nice action from the clapper.

This is/was my favourite bell so far. But it was on my stolen bike and it's been unavailable for a long time, so I tried a few others, to start the Owl vision Hoot mini, Voxom KL5. I don't like these in sound as much as this 'Classic race' bell. The Crane Mini Suzu W comes very close, it's slightly smaller from what I remember the Classic race is (45 mm whereas the Classic race is IIRC 50 mm) which means a slightly different tone. The Mini Suzu W is actually louder for some reason, almost too loud (but not in the rain), and has a longer lasting tone.

How well does it work in the rain? Not sure, I still haven't found one again.

[ping] Brave classic: Pin (aluminium dome, diameter = 45 mm)

Overview: Brave classic: Pin (aluminium dome)
Weight (mass): 21 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 45 mm
Loudness (dry): Fairly good, loud enough
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Good/reasonable

Very nice looking, low weight, much better than the similar style 1990s race bells. Similar to Crane's Mini Karen W bell with the same style clapper but with much more subtle mount. The spring could be stainless steel (time will make it clear), the only thing that is rusting is the pin that is a pivot for the mount. It started to rust pretty quickly after the shower test... The same mount of the Hoot mini has a stainless pin (or perhaps it's chrome plated brass) which is a lot nicer. I will drill out this pivot pin at some point, to replace it with a small stainless bolt and locknut.

In the shower (which is like a heavy downpour) it becomes just about inaudible, out of that, still wet with drops on it, it is not much affected in loudness which is different from most other bells with aluminium dome.

[ping] Widek "Deci Bell XXL". Aluminium shell, diameter = 34 mm, uses a rubber band to mount on the handlebar.

Overview: Widek "Deci Bell XXL"
Weight (mass): 26 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 34 mm
Loudness (dry): Reasonable (I would say not loud enough)
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Almost no sound! It's useless!


I dislike rubber band mounting for bike computers, but here it works fine. Sound is ok, but inferior to the Billy plus. It is not nearly as loud and not loud enough I'd say, which is the main issue.

In the shower it gets muffled to silence, when taking it out, still wet, it remains silent for a long time. 60 minutes later still nothing. The water needs time to evaporate, it is trapped in the plastic bottom touching the aluminium and muffling the bell. So this bell is f-ing useless!

[ping] Widek: Paperclip mini. Aluminium shell, diameter = 35 mm

Overview: Widek: Paperclip mini
Weight (mass): ? probably ca. 20 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 34 mm
Loudness (dry): Reasonable (not loud enough)
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): not tested


This is made in the style of a much more expensive stainless steel bell by Spurcycle, but not a direct clone (such as Brave classic's "Copenhagen"). This has a nicer sound than the Spurcycle bell (which I've heard on youtube videos) because of the aluminium shell, but it's not loud enough and the clapper doesn't do the job well enough. I gave it away so I will not review it in more detail.

Shower/wet: Not tested as I gave it away.

[ping] Mounty: Billy plus. Aluminium shell, diameter = 33 mm, with resonance holes

Overview: Mounty: Billy plus
Weight (mass): 21 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 33 mm
Loudness (dry): Good/loud
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Poor


Fairly good sound for the size and it's really loud (not too loud, just right to not be annoying to yourself), it is the best of all the small bells that I tried so far. I still think this bell is too small, a bigger bell gives a better sound (ca. 50 mm diameter). I don't like the attachment of the clapper in such type bells as the base of the bell is plastic. In a similar bell without holes from another brand, when I hit it with my knee the clapper with spring broke off (in the overview picture, the loose dome in copper colour is from that bell), it's likely that that can happen here too...

My memory was wrong it seems, so I want to test this bell a bit more. It gets better in sound quickly after the shower, but when still quite wet the sound is poor. Thoughts: It could be that my memory was not from used during rain but a while after it had rained. The distance between the dome and plastic is perhaps not big enough, so water drops make a connection and this adds to why sound is faint when the bell is wet (which is what causes the problems with the Widek Decibell). I will test a bit more...

[ping] Mounty: Charly. Aluminium shell, diameter = 44 mm, with resonance holes.

Overview: Mounty: Charly
Weight (mass): 26 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 44 mm
Loudness (dry): Good/Loud
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Poor

Not very different in sound from the Billy plus. A bit lower frequency tone (=resonance frequency), which is logical as the bell is larger than the Billy plus. That could perhaps be better to make yourself heard to older people.

In the wet seems slightly better than the Billy plus, but quite poor really.

[ping, around the handlebar] Brave classic: nameless. Brass dome, diameter ca. 50 mm ?, slides onto the handlebar

Overview: Brave classic: nameless. Brass dome
Weight (mass): ? g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 50 mm ?
Loudness (dry): Reasonable (not loud enough)
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Not tested, I gave it away


Not loud enough, I don't really like the sound. Slides on a handlebar (22.2mm). I can get this around the bend in the Brave classic porteur handlebar... Because I don't like the sound I gave it away and I will not review it in more detail. I forgot to make a picture but my friend who has it now made the picture.

[ping] Owl vision Hoot mini: brass dome, diameter 40 mm

Overview: Owl vision Hoot mini
Weight (mass): 65 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 40 mm
Loudness (dry): Reasonable (not loud enough)
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Reasonable (almost no change from dry)


Sounds harsh inside, outside in use it sounds ok but could be a bit louder, and in tone I prefer aluminium bells or steel bells. Build quality is excellent (all parts are stainless, brass and aluminium. Spring are not usually made from stainless steel as that is weaker than regular steel, but here it seems to be stainless too (using the magnet test).

Perhaps I will modify it by drilling resonance holes in the dome, similar to what some of the Mounty bells have, to see how that changes the sound or loudness...

Even with the shower on it, the sound is hardly affected, but loudness is already not quite enough when dry...

[ping] Voxom KL5: Stainless steel dome, diameter 55 mm

Overview: Voxom KL5
Weight (mass): 91 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 55 mm
Loudness (dry): Good, slightly harsh sound.
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Fairly good, not much change compared to dry


Made in Taiwan. Sounds harsh inside, I prefer aluminium bells. Build quality is excellent (all parts are stainless and aluminium, except likely the spring).

I thought about replacing the stainless dome with a aluminium one from a different bell, but after the shower test, I'm less impressed with aluminium bells so I will leave it as it is.

The bell is hardly affected by the shower, during or after.

[ping] Crane Mini Suzu W: Aluminium dome, diameter 45 mm


In this picture the bolts have been replaced by stainless inner hex bolts.

Overview: Crane Mini Suzu W
Weight (mass): 52 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 45
Loudness (dry): Quite loud, almost too loud
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Poor, rather muffled

Made in Japan. Aluminium dome, mount, standard steel bolts (you can see this from the colour and testing with a magnet gives strong attraction which confirms it), so I am going to replace the bolts with stainless steel ones. Good tone, almost too loud! The mount has been copied by lots of other brands. Crane makes bells of 55 mm diameter too, and those come with crappy 'steel band' mount. Why not aluminium or stainless steel? So their products vary a lot in quality, and yet there is not that much difference in price in those versions with nice mount and the ones with a crappy mount. Tone is good though I think 50 mm is slightly better in giving a slightly nicer tone. I will see later, and compare this 45 mm bell with a 55 mm bell, and if I can find one again, I will compare it with the Brave Classic race bell.

2018-10-26: Riding in the rain the normally very loud Crane Mini Suzu W was rather quiet, too quiet, unlike what I remember when I used the Billy plus, so I will test all bells by spraying them with water, when I get the next batch of bells (should arrive 2018-10-30) to finalise my test.

My rain ride experience was confirmed, this bell as almost all aluminium bells gets muffled quite a lot in the rain or when wet. In the shower it gives almost no sound, when still wet from the shower a very muffled sound. After the shower it quickly gets back from poor to fairly good sound level after ringing it several times (which will loosen some drops). This means that during rain (even light rain) it will be bad, similar to the moment right after the shower.

[ping] Basil "Portland" aluminium (aluminium dome, 57 mm)

Overview: Basil "Portland" aluminium
Weight (mass): 58 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 57 mm
Loudness (dry): Good
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Poor


Made in China. The sound is fine in tone and loud enough. The dome is aluminium, the rest of the hardware is standard steel and so it will rust after some time.

Almost no sound in the shower or shortly after that. Not sure why there is a big difference in this respect compared to the Crane Mini Suzu W.


Ding-dong bells

The sound of ding-dong bells is nice, they stand out, they are not annoying to other cyclists, the ones I've seen have a steel dome and work well under all weather conditions, so in sound these are the winners. But why are there no high end (stainless steel) versions?

[ding-dong] Basil "Noir" (Black metallic) 60 mm ding-dong

Overview: Basil "Noir" (Black metallic)
Weight (mass): 140 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 60 mm
Loudness (dry): Good
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Good


Big compared to most bells, except the 80 mm ding-dong bells! Pretty good sound.

In the shower it sounds almost the same as dry! Excellent!

[ding-dong] Unknown brand, 80 mm ding-dong

Overview: Unknown brand, 80 mm ding-dong
Weight (mass): 177 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 80 mm
Loudness (dry): Good
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Good


Huge! Looks too big to me, 60 mm is big enough. Sound is good.

In the shower it sounds almost the same as dry! Excellent!


Ding-ding bells

[ding-ding] Mounty: Dany. Aluminium shell, diameter = 39 mm.

Overview: Mounty: Dany
Weight (mass): 26 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 39 mm
Loudness (dry): Good
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Poor


Interesting, it has a side moving lever similar to ding-dong and tring bells, but with 2 sounds from press and release of the same tone.

Muffled quite a bit, still better than most aluminium bells but in use while it's raining it is likely almost inaudible by other people...

[ding-ding] Contec: ring-e-ding (aluminium)

Overview: Contec: ring-e-ding
Weight (mass): 31 g
Diameter of the dome (mm): 42
Loudness (dry): Good
Loudness (wet, with drops on the dome): Poor/reasonable


Very unusual, you pull up or push down the plastic sourrounding the bell and the entire bell thus moves. This means a big thing to grab. Sound is ding-ding, sound when pressing (or pulling) and when releasing.

The vertical orientation of the bell could help as the bell is one of the best aluminium bells (along with the Brave classic Pin) after the shower, when still wet.


The best bells from the above list [ adjusted after the rain (shower) test ]

The shower test showed how bad aluminium bells often are so I adjusted the ratings of bells after that test, and the best ones are:/p>

  1. Ding dong bell (steel dome): any one from any brand will do. 60 mm is good, 80 mm is huge!
  2. Tring bell (steel dome): any one from any brand should do. There is no real difference in quality/sound. With some, the top can't be unscrewed which is better to prevent vandalism. It's common to see bells missing the top.
  3. Brave classic "Pin" bell (aluminium dome): This is a 'ping' bell. I would have wanted it to be slightly louder in the dry but for some reason when wet it is still fairly good (could be louder, but that is already so when it's dry). Perhaps Brave's "Classic race" is as good, until I can find one again to compare I will suggest this one to use, from the available choice of the aluminium bells. There are similar bells from other brands, such as Crane. Not sure how good they are compared to this one...
  4. Voxom KL 5 (stainless steel dome): This is a 'ping' bell. The stainless steel dome means it works perfectly under any conditions, and it will stay looking nice. I prefer the sound of aluminium bells, however, those are often problematic in the rain or even when still wet.
  5. Brave classic "Classic race" bell (aluminium dome): This is a 'ping' bell. Good sound in loudness and the tone, clapper works well (in the rain not sure, after rain when still wet it was OK but how wet was it? If I find one of these bells again I will compare with the other bells). Just replace the bolts with stainless steel bolts! If you can't find it, get the Crane Mini Suzu W which I think is slightly too loud, but it works well (though a bit muted in the rain) and is of excellent quality but there too you need to replace the bolts with stainless bolts.
  6. Mounty Billy plus (aluminium dome): This is a 'ping' bell. Could be fragile. I experienced a near identical bell broke when hitting it with my knee. Loud (when dry), small, perhaps the plastic could break, but the real issue is that the sound is weak in the rain.

Other bells that I may try out, and why they look interesting

1. The Mounty Andy pro looks good in having a forward pointing bell. In sound it will likely be the same as the Billy plus, but I like the concept. I've done something similar with normal bells, e.g. I did it with the Brave classic bell, only in reverse direction so with the dome pointing to me so that the bell lever, brake and gear levers are all close together, but I also did it for the reason that mounted this way, the bell didn't interfere with the arm rests on my handlebar (I don't install full aero/triathlon bars, just the arm rests for relaxation and more speed on rides. I don't need the bar part to steer as I use the arm rests only on the straights and on wide curves where steering that way is no problem...)

2. There is 1 more type of bell to try out, a ping bell with stainless steel dome where the ping is from a small 'pin' striker (as with the Brave classic pin). I only found 1 of this type, which is from Polish company "Creme cycles", the silver version of the (incorrectly named) 'ding-dong' bells.


Other bells, which I do not intend to test, and why they are of no interest

To email me go to the email page