Pictures & Words by Chief Cyclery
Over the past few years I have wanted a more effective bicycle bell rather than having to yell "On your right" or "On your left"! When I was commuting on my Surly I had a 26.0 clamp plastic bell wrapped around my 31.8 bars that just kind of hung out, but wasn't ideal. It was a cheap-o and always rang when I hit a bump. And I didn't have an alternative for my Colian road bike when the Surly took a break.
After leaving the 8-5 work force last year I was no longer commuting, but I saw a need for a bell for my road bike on pleasure rides. I didn't want to go the cheap-o route this time, so I stopped into Transit Cycles in the fall to try something nicer out (Buy New Buy Local, Buy Used Buy Chief Cyclery!).
I decided to to give the OSAKA Bell Co Roadie Bicycle Bell a try. When on my road bike I am mostly in the drops or on the hoods and rarely use my flat bar. I loved the idea of mounting the bell to my hood for a quick ring!
Onto the review:
First off, the construction of this bell is top notch. The body is metal and the overall design from an aesthetic and structural stand point is excellent. I have been using the bell just short of a year and I haven't had any issues with damage. (I store the bike in my garage in dry climate, though I hear more humid environments have issues corroding through the spring more quickly on this bell).
I bought this intending to install to my hoods in which I did. I installed to my left inside hood. I had to swap the hammer to the opposite side which was easy. The placement also kept the bell safe. Ergonomically I had a hard time finding the right place on the hood where I could effectively use the bell when in the drops and on the hoods. I found a compromised position which worked...well kind of.
Let's face it, one of the appeals of the bell was it's compact design to keep the bike looking clean but what you sacrifice in size you also sacrifice in sound. Unfortunately this bell doesn't do a great job of really alerting people because it has a small high pitch ding rather than a solid ping a normal sized bell provides. Also I ran into the issue where when I wanted to employ the bell sometimes the hammer would miss or be muted by my hand or hood. Most of the time it would take me 1 or 2 swipes to really get a sound to alert others.
Probably biggest downside was when this bell was installed on the hoods it didn't resolve the "dinging when you hit a bump" problem I had with my cheap-o option. I could mute the bell with my thumb when hitting a bump but it is just something else to think about and when I am out joy riding I just kind of want to get lost rather than worrying about muting the bell when I hit a bump.
I fixed this problem by installing the bell on my brake & derailleur housing coming out of the handlebar tape (don't mind my horrible tape job). Although this gave me a quiet ride I also have to readjust out of the hoods or drops anytime I need to give the bell a ring.
I still have in mind to search out some other options in the future but haven't seen many that have the hood installation option.
Overall the Bell is great and strikes a lot of positives other bells don't. I really like the small compact design and adjust-ability it offers. These positives outweigh the cons and it will definitely continued to be utilized on one bike or the other in my stable.