Ding ding! Just how awkward is a bike bell to use?

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This is one of those really trivial subjects that most folk don’t even think about – yet it had me in a right grump recently.

Who on earth decided the bell on my bike was the right design????

My bell has always annoyed me, it’s one of those tiny ones that comes on road bikes and commuter bikes where you have to lift your thumb away from the actual grip on the handle bars and “twang” a little sprung lever which hits the bell and makes – if you are lucky – a wee bit of a doink noise. If you have gloves on, forget it. No noise.

Firstly it’s not enough noise to be hear on a busy road let alone acknowledged but that’s just the beginning of things. It’s also blooming awkward to use even if you have big hands. For me and my teeny hands I struggled sometimes even reaching it.

Things came to a head a few months ago when I was cycling through the Meadows in Edinburgh – which has a lovely marked cycle path, when a student (I’m assuming a student as it was that time of year when the new students appear in the meadows and haven’t learned yet that the road has a cycle painted on one side and a pedestrian on the other for a reason) wandered absently along the cycle side of the path oblivious to me hurtling at great speed towards her (ok trundling a bit at around 12 miles an hour). The first thing that happens in this situation is that I get a fright and the adrenaline goes. Then when my senses work again I start twanging the little bell level with all my might.

Nothing.

The girl just wandered along  completely  unawares. I twanged and twanged some more to no avail. Unfortunately I couldn’t go around her as there was another cyclist coming towards me and a group of pedestrians to my side and to make things worse, because I have to lift my hand away slightly to use the bell, I couldn’t brake properly either cause only my right hand was on the bars meaning only my front brake.  Eventually I had to yell giving the poor girl a fright and then hit my brakes quite hard which then squealed as they were wet. She just about jumped out of her skin.

The bell just isn’t loud enough or persistent enough, what I really need is the old fashioned bells we had as kids, the ones that rang but unfortunately on my short road bike bars there just isn’t room and the bars are too thick for the bell to fit around. So what to do…  I recently came across something on the ‘tinternet called a trigger bell. It sounded too good to be true if I’m honest but after my ranting and raging I figured it was worth a try.

The trigger bell works by mounting the bell slightly differently on the bars so that you don’t have to move your hand off the grip to use it. On my bike it fits underneath the bars so I can keep my grip on the bars and breaks and use the bell. It also comes with a big enough adjuster that I could fit it on my bars quite easily.

It seems like such a silly thing but it really does make a difference – oh and it works when I have my gloves on.

I know this seems like such a small thing, but just having something that works without drama makes cycling a lot easier and more enjoyable.

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