"CW asks" is a feature series where our seasoned staff answers a range of questions. The series isn't just about delivering knowledge; it's a chance for us to share a bit of our personality and our passion with you. As we dive into some questions, please feel free to send in some questions of your own to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question 18: Bells – use them or not?
And should you be in the market for a bike bell, check out our Battle of the Bells buyer's guide!
Stefan Abram, Tech Features Editor
It really depends on the bike for me. The gravel trails I ride don’t tend to attract many walkers, so on the occasions that I do need to alert anyone to my presence I just simply call out. For road riding, it’s even rarer that I’m ever in the situation where I would even use a bell. So in those cases, I’m pretty much always riding bell-less.
But when it comes to city bikes / pub bikes / town bikes / utility bikes - whatever you want to call them, I’ll generally always pop a bell on the bars. On busy shared paths it gets quite tiring always calling out, so I much rather use a bell.
Plus it’s great now that there are so many options with neat designs! Myself, I just stick to the classic Knog Oi - it looks smart, is effective, isn’t overly expensive and doesn’t take up much space on the bars. But I do quite like seeing all the different designs perched on people’s bars about town.
Hannah Bussey, Technical Writer
One hundred percent yes. I’m a big believer in a bike bell, honestly, there’s nothing quite as gap bridging as being able to alert a person to your presence as the polite ‘ping’ of a bell. Interactions between cyclists and pedestrians become cordial and, dare I say, even amicable.
I’ve been running a bit more recently and I’ve really missed the ability to make others aware of my proximity. So much so that I’ve wished for a wrist or finger bell. In the meantime I’ve taken to just hollering ‘ding’ to signal to people of my existence from behind.
Anna Abram, Fitness Features Editor
In the past I’ve tended to stay away from using a bell as I’d rather avoid cluttering up my handlebars if possible. Plus I figured that a cheery ‘good morning!’ is a nicer way to alert people to my presence than the impersonality of a bell.
But, I have to admit, my voice simply doesn’t have the same cut-through as the clear, sharp tone of a bell. Sometimes I don’t get heard until I’m awkwardly close!
Fortunately, I came across CloseTheGap’s HideMyBell solution. It’s an out-front cycling computer mount which includes a bell underneath where your computer sits. It’s discreet and effective, and I’ve been happy with it for road riding.
I don’t use it on my gravel bike, though, as the out-front design doesn’t work with a handlebar bag.
Tom Davidson - News and Features Writer
I don’t have a bell on my road bike, but I do on my city bike. For the road bike, it’s mostly an aesthetic thing. If I’m wearing aero kit and riding aggressively with my forearms on the hoods, then I fear a bell might look a bit incongruous… and dorky. I’m happy to use my voice and shout instead, which, in any case, gives me endless functions, not just a sharp ‘ding’ sound.
I have a bell on my city bike for one simple reason. It came like that, and I’ve been too lazy to take it off.
Joe Baker - Tech Writer
When it comes to the humble bell, I can't say I am a user - but that doesn't mean I am not an advocate. Most of my city riding, thanks in no small part to less-than-perfect infrastructure in Oxford, England, is on roads. And let's face it, a bicycle bell will do little to notify a car of your whereabouts.
My background too, in full-time racing, means I am pretty used to riding without one, and I find in pedestrian areas, a polite 'excuse me' will normally suffice. For those who ride in pedestrianized areas more frequently though, I think a bell is a great addition to your bike. It's a universally recognized sound associated with cyclists and helps to keep roads and bike paths safer for everyone.
- What three things do you wish you'd known when you first started cycling?
- Does e-bike racing have a place at the most competitive end of our sport?
- If you were given $3,000 right now, which bike would you buy?
- Personality test: If you could keep just one of your bikes, which bike would it be?
- Ride of a lifetime: If you had just one ride left in you where would it be and with whom?
- Who is the greatest cyclist of all time?
- Ride indoors or brave the elements outdoors: how will you tackle the winter season?
- The great sock debate: do socks go over or under leg warmers?
- Tubeless vs. tubed tires on the road?
- SRAM, Shimano or Campagnolo? Here's what our staff prefers and why
- What's the 'right' tire width for road and gravel riding?
- What cycling-related items are on our experts' Christmas wish lists?
- Carbon rim brakes, bar ends and straightforward headsets: cycling tech of old we miss
- What are the silliest UCI rules that should be done away with?
- Five bike parts to invest in, and five things to cheap out on
- What's the sweet spot to spend on a bike?
- What are some bike hacks you continue to use?
Got questions —silly or serious— you'd like for us to tackle? Please send your questions to email@example.com.
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1