10 February, 2009

Bells


Tom found a very nice a fairly inexpensive brass bike bell from Taiwan. We call it the Temple Bell, though I admit that in my several visits to Buddhist temples in Taiwan I've never seen a bell remotely like it. But allow us a bit of poetic license; it's hard to think of all these product names.

Our Japanese brass bells have been very popular and were one of the very first items VO stocked. This bell is similar in most respects, but less expensive. It actually has a couple of advantages over the Japanese version. It's a little louder and the chrome plated handlebar clamp fits a wider range of bar sizes. On the other hand, it does not work with retro mounts or headset spacer mounts. And it's shape and tone are not quite so perfect as the original. Still, for $8...

Our rationale for yet another bell is that Japanese prices are increasing at an alarming clip while delivery times are lengthening. So having bells from more than one manufacturer seems only prudent.

18 comments:

Tom said...

what- no love for the bells?

Uncle Ankle said...

I love these. They make a magnificent noise (and are about the size of a watermelon).

robatsu said...

I've bought a couple of the the previous VO bells, and it is nice to have an economical alternative while the yen is going nuts.

Looks very nice Tom, I love them.

For more urban riding, it would be nice if VO could carry a louder bell that didn't look like it belongs on my kids tricycle.

Or maybe a dynamo powered compressor so I could run air horns...

James said...

Nice to see that you thought about bells. The japanese bells, though pretty, are pretty useless in the real world. You still need to stock and even louder "european style" bell that isn't too large.

Could you get this new bell in silver and copper anodized?

Anonymous said...

I use a VO bell in the real world. It ding dings. Pedestrians and other riders get out of the way. That's pretty useful in my reality.

Ian Dickson said...

On a bike path, the VO bell is perfect for getting people to turn halfway around as they weave in front of me. I used to get the same effect with my voice, but the bell makes it easier.

Erich Zechar said...

I dunno, I have a big brass bell, and unless I ring it about 30 times nobody seems affected in the college campus I ride on. I'm thinking about getting one of those double-ringers to try out.

robatsu said...

Opinions vary on the subject, me, I found that the volume was loud enough for MUP, especially relatively lonely areas. Approaching a crosswalk on a busy street in downtown DC is another story.

However, I loved the bells, so by necessity or accidental happenstance, I developed a technique for getting a louder/longer "brring" using a VO bell, sounded more like a telephone ring.

Instead of drawing the striker ninety degrees away from the bell, I would draw it sort of rotationally around the mounting bolt.

I was pretty proud of this discovery, and I was "brang branging" away with this for a while, but then the spring broke from this usage.

Rats...

George said...

@Ankle - second on those bells being awesome. My friend introduced me to them and I was hugely impressed by quality per value; now I have them on both of my bikes. They look seriously great mounted on older bikes.

Anonymous said...

The bell that Uncle Ankle points to is loud, an a lot of fun at Critical Masses. But I hate it too, because every time you hit the littlest bump, they're constantly making noise.

As for the bell, I think this new one speaks volumes about why I've been turned off from VO of late. The Japanese bell was already cheap enough. The Japanese bells are the same as old telephones. I think that's cool. The Taiwan bell saves you a few dollars, that's it.

Why not come up with something original? Why not a dimpled surface bell? Why not a different shape? Why not one of those bigger bells?

But instead we get an old classy design turned into the generic version with much less taste.

Perhaps it's time I open my own on-line bicycle boutique. We'll be a collective of bicycle artists. We'll call it Bicycle Union. And it'll be fair trade. And we'll have the classiest labels that make you excited to have art in your life.

Uncle Ankle said...

These look cool. Haven't tried them myself, though.

I mostly find the auto-actuation of the chinese double-ringer sort of cute, but it can make you appear slightly deranged. Perhaps it's best suited for full-suspension bikes?

Tom said...

Anodized aluminum and 'gold' or 'copper' alloy is entirely possible. I think that finish looks kinda cheesy, so didn't pursue it.

Getting a dimpled and hammered appearance would be really cool.

A few bike shops have been successful as a collective (Missing Link in Berkeley; City Bikes in Portlandia). I think Burley and IF were the last employee owned bike fabrication companys in the biz, and both have reverted to singular private ownership in recent years. There are a few in Spain (Orbea, others??), which has a different tax and business structure than we do here.

It would be interesting to see if a co-op type domestic parts and accessories manufacturer can be launched and profitable after a couple years.

I'm sure there will be plenty of detractors accusing the founders of commodifying their art after a couple of years. Just like music industry.

fmackay said...

This kind of bell also looks cool - pulling the lever moves the roller onto the tyre, so the bell rings continuously until the lever is disengaged.

Here in the UK, at least, the "bring-bring" type bell seems to get a better response from pedestrians than the "ping" type, probably because it better signifies "bike", but possibly just because of volume. "Ping" bells are almost ubiquitous, though - they are cheaper, so are what gets fitted to new bikes (new bikes must have a bell fitted, although there is no requirement to keep it fitted after purchase).

I prefer saying "excuse me, please" anyway, there's something a little "get out of my way" about ringing a bell.

Tom said...

Re anon about the fair trade comment...
Are you working on establishing fair trade certification for bike industry product?
If you are, come out of the closet and share your contact info so we can collaborate. I am working with a couple of bike companys domestically and plan to bring our ideas and process to Taiwan bike factories in 2009.

For Reals.

With the exception of gloves made in central Asia, there is no precedent for establishing fair trade for the heavy and light industry that typically produces our bike parts. I mention the gloves because there are some factories making gloves and soccer balls that are fair trade certified (for Patagonia, North Face, Nike, Gucci, etc). They would be an easier transfer of the fair trade process. They only do it for those labels and the product that fall under that certification. It is not a 'factory' or product line wide certification.

But i guarantee you it will cost out your $12 crochet glove to $30.

Hal said...

I have a couple of the Japanese bells (one alu, one brass). They're both great. I still get comments like "Nice bell!" from folks on the bike path. A cheaper bell is a nice option, although I didn't think the Japanese ones were too expensive. I guess if they go up dramatically in price, I might change my mind.

Anonymous said...

The only bell I have that is taken seriously is ding dong bell and it is just too large, esp. if we are to start using 42cm handlebars like Chris wants us to. There has got to be an attractive bell out there that is inbetween the big ones and the pretty japanese ones in size and loudness.

Brian said...

I'll have to try Robatsu's technique. I also have a hard time getting people to notice me when I use the japanese boutique bells. Perhaps it's because few people recognize it as a bell, if they hear it. The last time I used mine I had to strike it repeatedly before the pedestrians turned around but instead of moving all I got was a "yeah I hear ya faggot." I've gone to a dutch bell. Maybe the note is just too dainty and polite for a rough american city?

AB said...

I think the Taiwanese bell is a perfect option. For a family with 4-5 bikes, who may want something nicer... perfect.