Using a small bell to make bears aware of your presence in the backcountry is an established practice. Alerting other human trail users with the same bell on busy multi-use trails is a pretty swell idea as well. It is simple to attach a bear bell to the average bikepacking rig. It is much less simple to listen to it jangle ALL THE DAMN TIME.
Enter the Timber bell. Imagine a tiny cowbell with an on/off switch that mounts to handlebars and you’ve got a pretty solid idea of this little device. The lever has seven positions, from fully quiet to full-on DINGALINGALING. In-between the ring is quieter with less sustain.
I mounted the bell next to the grip, but found clamping power of the quick-release O-ring system less than satisfactory. I swapped to a firmer spacer and used a zip-tie rather than the O-ring and was much more satisfied. Mounted near the stem, I had no issues using the O-ring. Timber now makes a standard bolt-on model that looks to solve this issue for the same low, low price of $20.
The more I ride with this bell, the more I like it. It doesn’t replace proper trail etiquette, but certainly helped to keep user conflicts at a minimum on busy trails with poor sight lines. The randomness of the bell sounds seems to disarm people, more so than even a standard bell, which can sometimes take on a “ding, ding get out of my way” tone. On smooth surfaces it was sometimes necessary to give the bars a shake to get some noise, but that was a minor issue. Overall, this is an interesting idea that can help to prevent unwanted confrontations with two- and four-legged creatures.
Knog’s tagline for the Oi is: “Bike bells that don’t look like bike bells.” Pretty accurate, if you ask me. Instead of a dome, the Oi has a curved chunk of metal mounted, via springs, to a plastic clamp that gets beat upon by a plastic striker.
The are two sizes: small to fit 22.2 mm bars and large for bars between 23.8-31.8 mm. I tested a large and it works fine on 31.8 drop bars; smaller sizes will need to use the included shims. There are cable grooves molded into the clamp. This might sound minor, but it makes it much easier to mount the bell cleanly on road bikes with the cables under the bar tape.
The bell sounds great. Maybe not at loud as something like a Spurcycle bell, the Oi still gets plenty of attention on the bike path. I would never have guessed a bent bar of metal could sound so good, but I’ve been wrong before and will be wrong again.
If you are happy with your current bell, there probably isn’t much for you here. But if you are looking for a sleek bell that integrates smoothly with road bikes, this is the best thing going. For flat bar bikes, the small size should fit in well with sometimes-crowded real estate around the brake and shift levers. The Oi is a surprisingly innovative little device for a category as mature as bike bells. Four finishes are available: black, silver, copper and brass.