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Product review: The Knog Oi bike bell

Posted by on October 28th, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Black Knog Oi bell looks good next to a GoPro mount

Black Knog Oi bell looks good next to a GoPro mount.
(Photos and video by Ted Timmons)

I’ve been unhappy with bike bells in the past. I’ve found that standard ones take up too much room (for me) or rattle, and some don’t work well. So I’ve placed and replaced bells over the past few years, currently none of my bikes have a bell mounted.

Until now.

Knog, the Australian company that makes lots of little flexible-mount lights, went to Kickstarter to launch a new bike bell. I really like the shape, as it doesn’t take up much space on my bars and blends in nicely. Plus I’m a sucker for Kickstarter projects, so I backed it for a limited-edition model (under $24 including shipping).

They raised over $1 million (AUD, or about $750k USD) for the project, shipping the bells about eight months after the project. Granted, the shipping was almost three months late, but by crowdfunding standards that isn’t bad.

The bell came in a nice retail-friendly box. I carried it around for a week or so until I had time to mount it and get pictures. As you can see in the pictures, the mount is flexible enough to fit around bars. It uses a single screw- with a 2.5mm hex head. I wish it was 3mm, because I keep four different hex drivers within reach on the bike, but that isn’t one of the four. (perhaps I’ll talk about the hex drivers in a future post)

The semi-circle of the bell is mounted so it can move around- necessary to get a good ringing noise. The clapper is easy to flick, making the bell easy to use. Unfortunately the sound is on the soft side- it’s sufficient but no more. (keep in mind it’s louder than is in the video- I’m limited in camera gear and editing while on the road)

Edit- after riding some more miles, it’s far too quiet. It might work on the quietest of MUPs but even pedestrians will have trouble hearing it. I’ll try some of the bells recommended in the comments.

Verdict? For $25, it’s a stylish bell that I’ll add to all my bikes. I talked to Gladys Bikes, who said they are carrying the bell- I don’t know if they are in stock yet, but they certainly should be soon.

Programming note: I won’t be putting up a weekly video roundup, as instead I’m cycling in Southern Utah. That’s where I’m filing this review.

– Ted Timmons, @tedder42

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47 Comments
  • rachel b October 28, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Snazzy! πŸ™‚ I use my bell all the time and it’s astounding how many peds don’t register it. So now I just politely yell “I am ringing my bell and now I’m about to pass you with lots of room but you’re going to jump anyway and glare at me.”

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    • Middle of the Road guy October 28, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      And the headphones…

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 28, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      I’m self-conscious against yelling towards peds in front of me. Mostly because it’s hard with a male voice to not have it sound aggressive. I’m okay if you don’t get out of my way, I just want you to know I’m behind you.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. October 28, 2016 at 6:26 pm

        A bell is 1,000 times better than a loud ONYERRLEFT.

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        • Eric Leifsdad October 28, 2016 at 8:36 pm

          It’s also better to just shout “DING DING” if you don’t have a bell.

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          • rachel b October 29, 2016 at 12:05 am

            Har! πŸ™‚

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 29, 2016 at 2:57 pm

          With a male voice it’s hard to be heard without making ONYERRLEFT sound demanding. I usually try to say “hello” in a singsongy way.

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      • Maxadders October 29, 2016 at 6:46 pm

        What a patronizing, condescending thing to say. Implying that a female voice is inherently “nice” or “friendly” is a loaded, potentially toxic opinion. Women have all kinds of voices. They are not Barbie dolls.

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        • q October 29, 2016 at 9:16 pm

          Ted said, “I’m self-conscious against yelling towards peds in front of me. Mostly because it’s hard with a male voice to not have it sound aggressive.”

          I agree with Ted. I think its a realistic general observation about how people react. Of course not all male voices are the same, not all female voices are “friendly” nor or all female voices the same, etc. but the fact that he didn’t spell all that out doesn’t mean he implied what you claim.

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    • Mossby Pomegranate October 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      Sorry. Peds are the top of the pyramid and it’s up to YOU pass carefully.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 28, 2016 at 6:19 pm

        True; however, if a pedestrian steps in front of you, no one is going to be happy with the outcome. The purpose of the bell is to let them know you’re coming, and to not take a sudden leap to their left.

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      • rachel b October 28, 2016 at 6:20 pm

        Yeah, I agree and I am careful, Mossby. I hate being strafed by cyclists when I’m walking. So I go slow, I alert and alert and alert and alert and still, sometimes, the ped will be so checked out (or headphoned, as MOTRG pointed out), they’ll jump like a cartoon cat as I make my careful way around them. I really appreciate multi-use path users who pay attention.

        Ted–I’m sure you’re right and that my fluting, dulcet tones are less likely to provoke! πŸ˜‰

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        • rachel b October 28, 2016 at 6:24 pm

          Ditto HK.

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 29, 2016 at 6:41 pm

          No question, peds are on top of the pyramid (though car drivers seem to have trouble understanding this). One of my “stock rants” is I don’t care if peds move when we’re sharing a path, I want to warn them, not scare them, etc.

          I love negotiating with pedestrians crossing the street when on bicycle because.. we can communicate. We’re going relatively similar speeds and are similarly accessible, rather than being on the other side of a windshield.

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      • q October 29, 2016 at 8:49 pm

        When I’m walking, I appreciate getting warned by cyclists passing from behind–even more so when I’m with my dog. It’s impossible to hear bikes approaching in most conditions. Bell or voice doesn’t matter to me–both seem equally polite. I view it as safety thing, not a demand to move, although I think it’s perfectly reasonable for a cyclist to expect that I would move to the side if necessary for them to pass. I’d much rather hear a warning than find out I’d been slowing someone down because I didn’t know they were behind me.

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    • wsbob October 29, 2016 at 6:51 am

      I had a bell on the bike for awhile. It was small, about and inch and half in diameter, kind of cute, fairly audible. I hardly used it, because where it seemed most useful, such as on an MUP, it seemed to me to be kind of obnoxious and impersonal to the people I was passing, slowly, most of whom were on foot.

      So instead, I worked on calling out clearly and slowly, friendly-like, ‘Hello’, or ‘Good Morning!’, watching closely for any response. People seem far more at ease being passed this way. I wonder whether people wearing headphones, have the volume down low enough so they can hear what’s going on around them. But…I don’t really want to be making a huge noise out in quiet wooded areas where some of the MUPs I ride, pass through. So when it’s not certain they hear, going quite slow past them, seems to work.

      If I was riding a lot in the city, with the really high volume of motor vehicle traffic that’s there, I think I’d be taking a look at one those air horns. Do bells really have enough volume to alert people sitting inside a closed motor vehicle?

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  • Veronica October 28, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    I kickstarted this too and just received my bell. My review is not at all what you experienced, mine is awful!! I wouldn’t even consider the volume of my bell to be sufficient, it’s barely a soft ding in my book and it sounds muffled. It looks nice, but that’s about all I’ll credit it with. The spring is soooooo flimsy, and it feels like its going to snap in half every time I go to ring the bell. I’m really really disappointed in Knog and wish I hadn’t wasted my money πŸ™

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 29, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      Yep Veronica, I changed the review after putting some miles in. It’s coming off the bars.

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      • BikeEverywhere November 1, 2016 at 8:53 am

        I noticed that the bell in the photo is installed with one of the cables touching it. I found that having the cable touching the bell severely dampened the sound. The bell is constructed so that the cables can be wedged inside the bell mount itself. The loudness and quality of the sound improved considerably when I did this.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. October 28, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    I’ll stick to my ginormous Dutch bell, thank you very much. πŸ˜‰

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    • rachel b October 28, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      I want to see this bell. πŸ™‚

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. October 29, 2016 at 6:37 pm

        https://flic.kr/p/G5chuc

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        • rachel b October 30, 2016 at 2:20 am

          Oh! Well, I guess that’s what I have, too! Good pic! πŸ™‚

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  • Spiffy October 28, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    there are several brake lever mounted bell solutions as well… although they’re all the single-ding style and I prefer the old school bring-bring so I added another bell to my bike… so when, like rachel b, peds aren’t paying attention I ring the other bell and then they think there’s a small peloton approaching and take evasive action…

    moor (cow)bell!

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    • Todd Boulanger October 28, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      I agree: I too have the 2 “bell” solution on my Dutch Bike:
      1) the polite ring – ring bell for approach passing; and
      2) a yacht canister air horn hose clamped 1980s style to the bars – for dangerous driver actions.

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    • rachel b October 28, 2016 at 6:28 pm

      I have noticed the “brrring brrring!” bell does register with more peds. Single “ding” just means nothing to them. I’d never heard about the brake bells! I was picturing the Dutch bell as a cowbell…

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. October 28, 2016 at 8:15 pm

        My Dutch bell is a DING DONG style. Loud and effective. Also fun. πŸ™‚

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        • rachel b October 29, 2016 at 12:06 am

          Like Big Ben? Fabulous!!! πŸ™‚

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  • pooperazzi October 28, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Spurcycle bell is expensive but fantastic

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    • Gary B October 28, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      Wow, that looks too damn pretty to ring. Very cool, but definitely spendy.

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    • Emiliano October 28, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Crane makes a cheaper knock-off of this bell called the “Crane E-NE”. It’s my favorite bell for 31.8 bars but it fits any clamp size.

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    • Dan A October 29, 2016 at 8:56 am

      It rings forever. Kind of bizarre actually πŸ™‚

      But I like the really firm lever on it. It’s a lot easier to control than the Incredibell I replaced.

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  • Paul Atkinson October 28, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    I keep thinking of getting one of these.

    http://loudbicycle.com/

    …but I’m on the esplanade sometimes and it might have a bit too strong an impact there.

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  • Mark October 28, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Seen it, tried it, way too quiet. Spurcycle is the best I’ve used so far. Spurcycle comes with two mounting bands that allow for plenty of options; I’ve got mine mounted on the stem. Beware of Rock Brothers and similar knock offs, the spring wire isn’t up to snuff and will fail.

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    • TS October 28, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      I kickstarted it. It’s decent, but people don’t seem to register it since it’s not that loud. At this point, I wish I’d have just spent the money on the Spurcycle bell.

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      • Todd Boulanger October 28, 2016 at 2:49 pm

        Yeah…gernally those are the bells I have thrown out or gifted to others…the too polite “ding” bell.

        I mean is it a “bell” if no one hears it…or reacts to it?!

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  • BB October 28, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Another vote for the spurcycle bell here. While it is a little pricey, I’ve definitely broken and replaced more than that worth of crane bells.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 28, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Jonathan – you may want to try to swap out those 2.5 mm bolts for a 3 or 4 mm assuming the thread pitch and dim. is the same…go to your nearest Ace or similar with the Hillman open selection (vs. HD / Lowes that are bagged).

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  • Kevin October 28, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    You get what you pay for – another vote for Spurcycle.

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  • Chris October 28, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    Good review. I’m a big fan of the Arundel bell. It is about the same price as the Knog, louder, no tools needed to install, unobtrusive, striker can be rotated 360 degrees, 1/2 the cost of Spurcycle, and it looks cool: http://www.arundelbike.com/arundel-bike-bells/

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  • John Lascurettes October 29, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    It’s all about volume and resonance for me. I’m THAT guy in the bike shop that rings all the bells looking for just the right one before I buy it.

    I have yet to meet a bell that doesn’t get severely dampened in its ring with even light sprinkling.

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  • KVC October 30, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I’m a fan of my Spurcycle. You can get factory seconds from the manufacturer at a lower (but still not cheap) price: http://www.spurcycle.com/products/factory-seconds

    There is a super light blemish on the finish, which doesn’t affect the bell’s performance, but was enough to knock $20 off the price.

    If you care about such things, Spurcycle does their manufacturing in the USA. The knock-off competitors listed on this thread are made overseas.

    I like that I can vary the volume based on how hard I strike the lever. This is nice so that I can be heard on a busy trail with lots of ambient noise, but can also alert a pedestrian I’m passing in a secluded area without startling them too much. It’s sound is dampened when wet, but it’s still loud enough to be noticed, even by people with headphones the vast majority of the time.

    I agree with others that a bell can sound harsh compared to a human voice, but I have yet to find the right words to use that don’t have a moderate risk of making someone jump or turn directly into my path. It still happens sometimes with a bell, but seems much less common. I tend to ring my bell when I’m still far enough away that I have plenty of time to stop or avoid them even if they jump straight left (which does happen). The Spurcycle is loud enough that they hear me even if I’m 20′ behind them.

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  • Mark smith October 30, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    So…..did bikeportland and Orp have a fallong out? I found and bought the Orp bell based on their sponsorship of bike portland. The “ding ding” version of the electronic device works at about 20 feet. Fine if I am ring at 11mpg. IF I get up to 15, and the pathway is clearish, I don’t worry. I have used the claxon part of the bell….people literally jump and I feel bad.

    I also have used basic bells…they work just fine.

    I despise the spandex patrol who yell “ONYERLEFT”….

    BECAUSE, you know, that .2 pounds addedicated to their $3000 ridea will kill their KOM.

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  • Jun Nogami November 1, 2016 at 5:34 am

    https://jnyyz.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/oi-bike-bell-by-knog/ My review agrees with yours! I recommend the Cateye or the incredibell.

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  • BikeEverywhere November 1, 2016 at 8:44 am

    My husband and I received our Ois recently as well and have been testing them while riding on various roads in Washington Co. and MUPs in the downtown area. While I initially felt that the sound of the Oi was too soft to be effective, I’ve noticed that pedestrians seem to hear it much better and from farther distances than my previous bell, which was louder. Could it be that the pitch, although softer, travels better through air? I haven’t had a single person ignore the bell since I’ve started using it, unlike past experiences with others. This includes pedestrians who have both ears covered by buds.

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  • Dolan Halbrook November 2, 2016 at 8:58 am

    My Oi seemed loud enough on the Hawthorne Bridge yesterday. Worked for me, and I love how much it blends in. However, on fast rough descents (like Zoo Bomb) I notice a little residual dinging around. Pretty satisfied so far.

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