Bicycle bells have now become the standard for many people who ride a bicycle. But there is a question behind it, does ringing the bell really matter as much as people claim?
As a professional cyclist, I have cycled with and without a bell for over 10 years. And in this article, I wanted to share all the things that I learned about bike bells that you should know as well.
Table of Contents
What is the purpose of a bell on a bicycle?
Let’s start whit a base of everything. What is even the purpose of having a bell on your bicycle?
The main and only purpose of a bell on the bike is to identify your presence on the road and to alarm other people to move out of your way.
All cyclists need to be more careful and more aware of their surroundings because they have a very important role in traffic. And it is crucial that they have something they can use to warn other people.
Bike bell is an easy option because it’s simple, it’s easy to mount, usually a lot cheap, and most importantly everyone is used to it.
When you ring the bell, every single person on the street will know that you are on the bike and they will immediately know what to do.
But many professional cyclists including me don’t use the bell or any other thing that has the same function. So, let’s see why?
Why many professionals do not use the Bell?
There are 2 main reasons why professional cyclists do not use the bike bell.
The first reason is the lack of space on the handlebar. Cyclists normally have lots of other more important things on their handlebars such as GPS computer, light, phone holder, handlebar bag, etc. Yes, there is a handlebar extender but I don’t know if you wanna use that just because of one bell.
The second reason is changing the grip during a ride. Most of the time you will need to move one of your hands to be able to ring which can be very annoying especially at higher speeds. It might do more harm than good in those situations.
Also, let’s all agree that bells don’t look very appealing on a bicycle, and without it the bike looks so much nicer.
My voice is what I personally use and I have not experienced any problems so far. The voice is your biggest asset, you can warn other people by simply saying “on your left/right” or just trying to imitate the sound of a bell. And all that works without lifting your hand from a brake.
Also, you will be able to react much quicker with your voice than you would if you need to ring a bell.
Many people say that the voice doesn’t identify the cyclist as a speaker and it’s true but so far I haven’t had any problem with it, people’s reactions to it are quite normal.
A bike trumpet is just a different version of a bell where instead of ringing, you squeeze a rubber which then makes a sound that is usually very loud.
I personally wouldn’t recommend it because it’s too big, takes up a lot of space and it has a bad aerodynamic. I guess it’s just the worse version of a bell.
It is understandable that some people avoid using any of this stuff. If something happened on the road they would just stop or continue the ride in silence without even saying one word.
Is it illegal to cycle without a bell?
Here is the list of US states that don’t allow cycling without a bell on the bike.
- New York
- South Carolina
- New Jersey
Here is the list of the states that require some sort of an audible warning ( such as a bell, trumpet, even your voice is considered as an audible warning)
In any other state, it is not required to have a bell on your bike.