With the recent increase in local shared cycle path useage the bicycle bell seems to be making a comeback – at least in my own mind anyway ! The only trouble is the number of pedestrians playing loud music on their personal stereos while walking on said paths … and of course bells are also fairly useless in road traffic.…. I have a wind up torch with an emergency siren that might be an alternative here – if I can work out how to attach it to the bikes…
My rescued and restored Apollo and Speedwell bikes
Thinking about it for a moment, what other vehicle could one use a bicycle bell on ? Why is it that the bell says “bicycle approaching” so completely ? Why do people on cycle paths sometimes thank you for ringing it ? It’s such a friendly sound !
The above sprung lever-strike alloy bell is from my latest find, yet to be restored – an early 90s Dahon folder. It has a loud and long lasting crystalline tone and simple, elegant construction. I would like to hear a brass version for comparison.
My favourite types of bell are those with an old fashioned appearance, metal – not plastic – movements, and a rich resonance that hangs in the air for a long time as the sound decays away. One day I will upgrade my wordpress account to include audio files so that I can ring a few online – until then, here are some photographs of other bells from my as yet rather small collection :
From my Grandfather's box of bike bits - old and "made in England" stamped
These metal internals should last a lifetime
These are the traditional “ring-ring” bells – perhaps they are the most friendly sounding type. Here is the original “rusty bike bell” from a dumped Ricardo, now fitted to my Speedwell 3-speed, also this type :
Rusty bike bell - generic unbranded 80s or 90s.
I neutralised the rust and clear coated it, as I liked the way it looked as it was.
Now the loud chrome “ding-dong” bell from my Gazelle – Electra have similar bells in their range, painted in different colours/patterns – I like the chrome ones best :
Large size 80mm "ding-dong"
"Ding-dong" striker mechanism
You can see how the hammer strikes the top bell with the straight end on the forward “ding” stroke and the bent end strikes the bottom bell for the return “dong”.
Upright “spinner” bell :
Electra spinner bell, my hand coloured details.
On the spinner bell, both the two bell halves and the internal hammers rotate – these have a pleasant and friendly “ring-a-ling” chime, though not at all loud. I like to see them on old classic roadsters without lots of cables – coaster or rod braked preferably.
Simple "ping" bell
This one is currently on my rescued 1980s Apollo 700c. There are many of this type still made for “big box” stores as they must be the cheapest bell of all to manufacture. The only moving part is a simple weighted spring. Its insipid “ping” sounds nothing like the beautiful “ding” of the lever strike bell shown earlier, but I ran out of bells for this bike, it’s one that I don’t use a lot – at least I like the chrome look on this version. I am sure there must be better sounding examples of these somewhere !
If I were to be a collector of anything in this world – apart from old bicycles of course - then I think that it would have to be old bicycle bells. And I also like to restore “found” ones too. Now I’m off to ring a few…
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