For months now I’ve secretly envied my friend and fellow cycling enthusiast Stephen because of a simple little device he put on his bike: a bell. No, not the thumb-driven kind you mount to your handlebars; he has one of those and so do I.

What he did was take a little dingaling-type bell and fix it to the underside of his saddle so it dangles there, ringing lightly whenever the condition of the road or his movement is enough to put it in play and thus making everyone in his immediate vicinity aware of his proximity. But beyond its capacity to alert, it’s also gotten to a point where to me the bell has become his signature. For example, during last Friday’s RIDE-Arc I heard the bell jingling as he was pulling alongside me and I didn’t even have to look over: I knew it was him. That’s an awesome safety feature when you think about it; I could keep my eyes front and let my ears tell me he was coming up along my left.

Historically speaking, I’d long seen this in use off-road among some of the more considerate mountain bikers I’d encounter, but I hadn’t seen it translated on-road and it’s something I’ve been meaning to experiment with… for want of a bell.

I know, I know : you’re thinking that bells aren’t that hard to come by and the type I was looking for could pretty much be extracted from any cat toy or inexpensively purchased so why the prolonged want? I have no answer other than it turns out I’ve had one in my possession all along. This one:

bell1.jpg

I can’t recall where I got it or how long I’ve had it, but it’s been around a long while, perhaps even going back to the ’80s. Most recently it’s been sitting within arm’s length on a bookshelf and the reason I hadn’t pressed it into service is that with the cat handle, it’s just too big for the bike. Then for whatever reason I picked it up a few minutes ago and gave it a twist and it turns out the handle screws onto the piece inside the bell that holds the… thingamagig: gonger, dinger, bonger, striker, toller. Whatever.

A few twists and the handle’s off but so disassembled is the rest of the trinket as well and now I’ll need an exact sized nut that’d fit the screw that goes through the bell’s top and then something that will attach to the nut on one end and provide a way to secure it to the bike via the other end. As luck (and a habit of saving spare nuts, bolts and such) would have it I found that exact nut and then Macgyver’d it tightly into one of those springy allen wrench holders, like this:

bell2.jpg

So that the end result looks something like this:

bell3.jpg

Perfect. And then with the help of a spare keychain o-ring goes onto the bike’s saddlebag it goes, like this:

bell4.jpg

Like I mentioned earlier this is an experiment. I don’t know if the thing might fall apart after a couple miles or if it’s too big/loud a bell or perhaps not big/loud enough. I certainly don’t want to be incessantly dingalinging along as I roll down the street, nor do I want to have to do any extra work to force the bell to toll. So in the meantime I’ll keep my fingers crossed while piggybacking on Stephen’s excellent idea to see if things’ll sound just right.