TIMBER MOUNTAIN BIKE BELL
Bolt on model 88g £24.99
The Timber Mountain Bike Bell bolt on model is a compact and rugged means of alerting walkers and other trail users of your approach. There are better options for sub/urban shared use paths and cheaper, equally effective alternatives for the trail.
Pros: Unobtrusive, reasonably effective, fit ’n’ forget.
Cons: Not as effective, in our experience, on shared use paths, expensive compared with the alternatives.
In common with other high-end bells, the business ends are made from brass and treated to a satin black powder coat finish. An extremely durable and sharp looking combination. Look closely and you’ll notice a locking catch. This switches the bell on/off, has a very positive action, though easily operated on the move - even at a decent pace.
The bracket is CNC machined aluminium. A removable sturdy composite insert ensures an anaconda like grip on narrow 22mm ends - perfect next to the brakes on a flat bar MTB.
Tethering it to standard and oversized diameters was equally straightforward. Mind you, moustache patterns, (including my Univega’s) proved trickier, especially when action cams, lights, computer are already consuming valuable real-estate. In this instance, unless you’re running an extension bracket, we’d go for its band-on sibling.
I’ve positioned ours horizontally and vertically (downward), to see if doing so made any difference. There’s not much in it, although the latter gives the hammer more momentum sway and therefore a louder, rapid tempo.
From the outset, ours reminded me of Heidi, prompting slightly surreal renditions during a few group rides - often when being overtaken!
I feared it might drive dogs bonkers, resulting in diplomatic incidents along single track lanes. This wasn’t the case in practice, even when I’ve been descending at 25mph and the hammer’s been clanging ten to the dozen. The gentler note also seemed to strike a positive chord with horse/riders and people generally took note, usually stepping aside at 20metres.
Slipping the catch into its off position restores silence - yes, reliably. There’s been no hint of it vibrating lose, or unwanted chatter along unmade roads/forest trails, let alone asphalt. Talking of which, I wasn’t expecting it to be particularly effective along canal/shared use paths - especially round town.
The Timber mountain bike bell is well made, requires no maintenance and will probably last a lifetime. In some contexts, its quite effective and a more practical choice for trail duties, than traditional “ping”-type bells - even swish looking aftermarket models. ORP Smart Horn is double the Timber’s asking price and being electronic, has a finite life. However, its package includes lighting and three extremely effective horn choices, which are more effective. At the other extreme, some cynics have pointed out that a tool caddy (or converted trade bottle) filled with tyre levers, multi-tool, CO2 cartridges etc. will produce a very similar jingle-minimal outlay.
People and animals have no problems hearing your approach. Admittedly, silencing that metallic symphony means stuffing an inner tube, or off cut of pipe lagging inside. Less convenient than a switch but same results, virtually zero cost. Others may find ping type bell and spacer combos a more useful arrangement. These can also be picked up for pennies, possibly free from a friendly local bike shop. However, direct comparisons are not easy.
Credit where its due, the Timber mountain bike bells look nice, are made from decent quality materials and do what they claim, very proficiently. The problem being, there a wealth of alternatives, delivering similar results for virtually no outlay. At the other extreme, riders wanting most efficient use of available bar space are better served by something like the ORP smart horn. This may have a finite lifespan, combines a decent secondary light and really effective, three mode horn in one relatively compact package.