Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Very Brief Rant: Get a Bell!

I ride a lot on trails where there are dog walkers, trail runners, families with kids, etc. As well as other mountain bikers. I have a bell on my bike, and when I want to let someone know, in a friendly way, that I'm approaching, I ring it. It saves my voice from screaming "on your left" constantly, it's audible over a long-ish distance, and it cost $4 to put on my bike.

You would think this accessory would be common among the sort of person that is perfectly willing to spend several thousand dollars on a bicycle. But you would be wrong. I'd estimate 95% of the people I see riding bikes on the trails around here would prefer one of the following to installing/using a bell:

-The Stealth Pass. Maintain total silence as you approach the unsuspecting pedestrian, relying soley on their innate 6th sense to warn them to move out of your way. Act really peeved when they don't move quickly enough.

-Ride off the trail. Who cares about singletrack? If you want to save 10 seconds getting back to your car, you can just ride around the silly hikers off the trail (yes, you can combine this with other techniques)!

-The triathalete scream. You all know it - "On your left!" Unfortunately, sometimes there *isn't* a good way for someone to get out of the way, yelling is pretty unfriendly, and it's hard to yell at someone from 50 feet away without losing your voice after a few repetitions.

-The inappropriate pass. You're 10 feet from the trailhead, finishing your ride. Is this really the time to rail around someone? YES! Alternately, a line of 10 riders is coming uphill - should you yield to them, ruining your shredtacular descent? Naw! If they don't get out of the way, just ride off the trail.


If you are riding on crowded trails, and you don't have a bell, you are basically an idiot, in my book. It's also possible, depending on what passing technique you use, that you're ruining the trail, endangering bike access, or even risking hurting someone (possibly yourself).

So get a bell. If you can't swing the $4, stop by Waltworks World HQ and I will give you one for free and help you install it. No joke. Then ring away and make friends out there, while proving to everyone that you are not a moron.

15 comments:

Corey said...

You could also stand at the trailhead and make hikers hand over their MP3 players and headphones...

RockawayPimp said...

4 Thumbs Up Walt!!!! I got run off the trail by an idiot using your aptly named "stealth passing" technique. -Took him out too!! He learned the wrath of 32" Spooky Pterydactyl handlebars that day. I've always run the Wicked Witch bell hanging from my front hub. It rings constantly so ya never even have to think about it. Plus it keeps my '95XTR hub shiny;)

Ed said...

/\ /\ /\ What Corey said.

I ding-ding all the time and generally say "Hi" or "Good morning" as I pass but many's been the time where it falls on deaf or otherwise occupied ears and someone ends up "Startled!!". At least if you're going to use headphones, be a wee-tiny bit situationally aware while on the trail.

I also think some people purposely ignore the bell.

Ed

P.S. it has occurred to me that at a groggy 6AM my "Good morning" may come out as a shortened and somewhat garbled "morning", which in turn could sound sinisterly like "warning". But I digress...

Walt said...

Yeah, I hate headphones too. But bells are still audible to a lot of folks, or at least that's been my experience. So still worth it.

Just gotta put some kind of EM pulse weapon on the bars next to the bell to take care of the iPod idiots, and we're good to go!

NickS said...

I read this and though "you've been riding with Fuentes again haven't you!"




Just kidding!

Jesus_Castro said...

In TX(Austin is not Texas) you only pass trucks. Got a louder bell?

I am said...

Having and using a bell has saved my butt more times on my commute than I can count. Not to mention how many excited kids like to ring their bells back at me. Seriously, using a bell is like riding with a miniature Disney World in your pocket; most people are almost unnervingly friendly.

i.jarrett said...

Would you consider a Honka-Hoota instead?

JKersting said...

Your points are right on the money. Especially for those of us who ride in crowded city parks. The bell is the friendliest and most accurate way to pass.

This has been my dilemma, and thank god for problems like this:

I have nine bikes. I don't really want to buy nine bells per say. Some one should make a bell that attaches to a mount so you can easily swap it from bike to bike. Or a bell with a quick release mount?

Now if we could only solve world hunger.

johnnycrash said...

5th method. I Slow down before I reach the pedestrians and politely say hello to them. Most of the time they will hear your brakes or the scratch the dirt and know I am comming before I say hello. They always step off the trail and smile. Half the time they ask how the ride was and I always ask them how the walk is going. Never in 20 years of downhilling have I needed a bell. Yes, I have go around some blind corners slower than I otherwise might if I knew there was nothing there, but its not really an issue. To think everyone without a bell is going to hit a pedestrian is an emotional generalization not based on facts.

Alex said...

That's one reason I run Hope hubs. Not only do they let the lions, tigers and bears of the forest know I am around, they also let hikers know I am (slowingly) approaching. Just stop pedaling for a few and enjoy the buzzzzz. Bells are nice for sure, though.

rideswithscissors said...

I encountered so few people walking on the higher trails in the Boise Front that I rarely used the bell, but the greenbelt along the river is another story. One time I rang it and this gal looked up in the air, as if she thought an angel just got some wings!
But when I am walking along myself I get peevish sometimes, because I am lost in thought and the bell, or 'on your right' is jarring to me. As if I can't hear the squeaky chain and all the nattering coming up! But I give a little left-handed wave to let the folks know I hear them, they mean well.

Joey B said...

I had a bell on my bike when I was um... 4. Should I also get a banana seat to go with?

Jonathan Stanley said...

Ditto on the Hope hubs! Best of British... hehehe. Whilst I obviously have ding-a-ling bells on my bikes... my LBS has a mechanical bicycle bell in stock which is at least 6 inches in diameter and weighed over a pound. That thing was... _loud_! Apparently some old guy brought two... not to use on bikes, but to put on his gates at the end of the garden, as door bells, despite the gates being well over 20 yards away from the house!

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