I've got a bunch of bicycle bells here at the moment as we've wanted for some time to have these available in the webshop, and as with other things in the shop, I've specifically bought in those that we like. However, rather than just listing the bells, I decided we should do this well. Let's test them to find out how loud they are, and also have sound samples so that people can hear what the bells sound like. And here are the results, ranked in order of how loud they are from one metre away, and with recordings of each bell. Click on their pictures if you'd like to buy them:
|Widek 80 mm Ding Dong bell (€9.88)||106 dBA|
|"Ping" bell (€2.50)||100 dBA|
|Gazelle handlebar grip bell (€25 for pair of grips with bell)||98 dBA|
|Spanninga "Turning" bell (€3.09)||96 dBA|
|Classic Brass bell (€5.83)||96 dBA|
If you have space for it on your handlebars, the Widek Ding Dong bell gives the most sound (note that there are many copies available, and all that I've heard sound dull in comparison). It's rather subjective, but to me it also gives by far the best sound of the bells. Just listen to that sustain. The Ping bell, which is smallest and weighs just 20 g, is best for those with limited handlebar space or who are concerned about weight, but while the sound is loud, it has little sustain so is not really as effective as a traditional bell. The Classic Brass bell has a remarkably pleasant tone due to the brass, and 96 dBa is still very loud.
And for the geeks amongst us, this is how it was done.
I used my old Radioshack sound-level meter to find out how loud the bells were. Each bell was held one metre from the SPL meter. These tests were all done in the same way, so they are directly comparable with one another. However, because this was done indoors and with reflective surfaces (the wall and table) nearby, you would get different figures if you measured out in the open. Each bell was rung a few times in succession, as you might if you thought you were about to collide with someone. I think it's reasonably representative of what you might do if you were really trying to get someone's attention. With a single ring, the slow rise-time of the analogue meter missed the peaks. As a result, this helped the ping bell result more than the others. A single "ping" doesn't really sound louder than some of the quieter bells. The loudest bell subjectively with a single ring was definitely the ding dong bell.
In any case, the peaks were quite a lot louder than the figures here. By the end of the test, it was not only the bells, but also my ears that were ringing.
|These and other practical components for|
bicycles are available from our web shop
I'm not going to pretend I don't care about technical issues, around cycling or anything else. I don't think it's cool not to know stuff. I'm proud to be a geek...
This blog post can also be read on the DutchBikeBits,com blog.