Bicycle bells aren’t exactly essential gear, but they do come in handy on multi-use trails, which is why I read with interest about a new bell in development on Kickstarter.
Spurcycle may have its second Kickstarter hit in a year following on its successful GripRings. I haven’t tried the uniquely personalized handlebar grips (they come in a variety of colors), but they look interesting.
Now their custom-built bicycle bell has arrived and it already met its funding goal of $20,000, now at $67,000 with 40 days to go. San Francisco residents and brothers Nick and Clint Slone own Spurcycle. They look like smart, up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the bicycle industry.
I signed up for the bell (cost $35 for silver, $45 for black) for two reasons: I admire well-crafted products and the bell is advertised to fit my handlebar (we’ll see). Most bells don’t accommodate the new generation of wider bars, which expand to 32 mm at the stem where most bells would be mounted. The Spurcycle bell accommodates bars up to 32 mm. These bells are currently hand-built in San Francisco.
It’s always nice to support manufacturing in the local economy. San Francisco is one of the most expensive places on Earth to manufacture, but that hasn’t stopped companies like Timbuk2 messenger bag maker from finding success.
You can buy a bell for $10, even less, that will meet your needs, if you’re on a budget. Even better, there’s a nice bell/compass combo on Ebay for a mere $1.79 (free shipping). I can’t vouch for the product, but if you have standard-width bars, you might want to check it out.
Multi-use trail etiquette is mostly unwritten, but I like the sound of the bicycle bell because it’s non-threatening, almost soothing in a way. The almost universal reaction from trail users is favorable. I’ll either use a bell or say nothing as I pass. “On your left” has always been a big turn-off for me. But that’s just me.
Bell follow-up (Dec. 15, 2015): I’ve owned the Spurcycle bell for about two years and while it still works as a bell, it has a patina. Now that may be a feature you like. I’m sure I could give it a quick polish and it would look like new again.