You might not think that you need a bell on your mountain bike. Sure, it’s not as cool as a minimalist cockpit design with few levers and nothing standing more than a couple centimeters off of your bar.
But if you’ve ever come around a corner at high speed only to slam on your brakes to avoid a hiker that didn’t know you were coming, you’ll understand why having a bell is such a good idea.
Many bells, however, don’t work very well on mountain bikes. They need to be solidly constructed and work with large-diameter bars.
These 10 bells are a great bet for your off-road steed. Some are designed specifically for mountain bikes while others are constructed in such a way that they won’t be clanging through your entire ride when you don’t want them to.
Best Mountain Bike Bells
If you’re looking for a more traditional bell, there may be no better choice than the Spurcycle (we reviewed it a while back and loved it). This bell is renowned for its clear, loud tone that persists for several seconds after you ring it. And with a bit of finesse on the hammer, you can make it as quiet or as loud as you’d like.
Some people find this bell to be a bit much — it can be really loud. But once you get used to modulating the sound, it gives you an attention-catching ring and a great look in a durable package. It’s tough to beat that.
The compact version is easier to fit on a crowded handlebar and is less likely to get in your way. Note, however, that it’s only compatible with 22.2mm handlebars (the non-compact version fits a wider variety).
This bell was created specifically for hands-free operation on a mountain bike.
How can it be hands-free?
The clapper (the small metal part that hits the bell and makes a sound) can be secured by a thumb lever. When it’s secured, it’s silent. When you let it loose, the motion of the bike moves the clapper so it strikes the bell. It’s an ingenious design that can be silenced when you’re moving at low speeds, but will let people know you’re coming when it’s time to open up the throttle.
The Timber bell comes in a quick-release (pictured above) and a bolt-on version, and neither requires that you remove your grips.
The original King of Ding was wont to make noise on rough trails — but the new design and horizontal striker keep things quiet when you aren’t using it. The brass construction gives it a distinctive sound that you won’t get with other material.
Some people find the King of Ding to be difficult to position correctly, but many praise its clear sound. If you’re on a featherweight XC bike, you might not like the large, solidly built mountain hardware. But if you’re looking for a well-built bell that will put up with the rigors of mountain biking, this is a good choice.
The original Oi was a beautiful bell, but had some problems — mostly that it was quiet. The Luxe version brings a new design with a stronger striker, as well as more metal in the construction. It’ll last longer, should work more effectively to let people know you’re coming down the trail, and still looks amazingly good.
The biggest benefit of the Oi Luxe is that it’s a very low-profile bell. It doesn’t stick up off of your bars very much, and there’s almost no risk of getting it caught on a tree or in a bush. You pay for that with less volume, but if you often ride in quiet forests, it might be enough.
Yes, I realize this technically isn’t a bell. It’s an electronic, digital horn. But it serves the same purpose. The biggest benefit of this horn is that it has two modes: a 75-decibel “friendly” mode and a 96-decibel aggressive mode. The friendly mode sounds like a bell, while the more aggressive mode is buzzer-like. The horn also includes a light and an anti-bear mode.
Both modes are quite attention-grabbing, if somewhat annoying (though I suppose that’s the idea of the louder option). Even on a loud path or in traffic, you’ll get people’s attention. Whether it’s worth listening to this thing yourself is up to you!
How do you let people know you’re coming?
There are a lot of bike bells out there, but not all of them are suitable for mountain biking. These are some that get a lot of support from many cyclists, both on-road and off-.
Now we want to hear from you. How do you warn people that you’re coming down a trail? Do you have a hands-free bell, like the Timber bell or a bear bell? Do you use a more traditional option? Or do you just yell when you see that you’re coming up behind someone? Let us know in the comments!