Australian police are tough on cyclists who ride without a bike bell; in Western Australia the fine is $100, in New South Wales $106, in Queensland $121 and in Victoria it is a whopping $180. It doesn’t help that bike riders are being targeted in police operations, but let’s put arguments about the validity of the law aside. Across Australia, riders need a bike bell.
You can pick up a bell for $5 from your local bike shop, it won’t be pretty but it will suffice. If you lay down a bit more cash you get to choose between some funky coloured bells or a design with flowers or skull and crossbones… though even these chirpy bike bells may not be that cool on your awesome road bike or mountain bike. And classic bike bells also take up a fair bit of space on your handlebars.
Designer bells from knog and Spurcycle have captured the attention of riders who aspire to more… and who are willing to pay a premium. Striving to join the ranks is the bellio bike bell which was created by Diranne Lee-Renwick, an engineer and bike rider from Leederville in Western Australia.
Creator of the bellio bike bell, Diranne in Western Australia
bellio incorporates a small handlebar mounted button which triggers your smart phone and makes a warning sound. The app will run on iOS (iPhone) and Android. To transfer the vision into reality, Diranne has launched bellio on the kickstarter crowdfunding platform where he is seeking to raise $85,000. I ask Diranne some questions about his smart phone enabled bike bell.
Christopher: How did you arrive at the idea to digitalise the bike bell?
Diranne: I have always struggled with not only finding a discrete bike bell for my road bike but also a suitable place to locate the bike bell. Road bike handlebars can be complex and with added GPS units and lights there isn’t much space left. And some bells are ugly!
The idea came when riding one morning and having my phone ring in my jersey pocket. I normally ride with it on silent but this particular morning it rung and was amazed at how many other riders around me were distracted by the sound!
Christopher: A smart phone is not identifiable as a bell, so is it acceptable for the police as an audible warning device? Do you know about the legality of the bellio?
The Australian Standard states a bell or other effective warning device. The bellio sound is very effective.
Christopher: How does the loudness of a smart-phone compare with a regular bell?
We all know that a bicycle bell is not a car horn and if a driver has his windows up it is almost impossible for him to hear a bell unless it’s right next to the car. So that is the base level we are working with – basically quite quiet.
For other riders, a bike bell is effective over short distances and the bellio sound is very comparable to that.
The best way to decide if you think a phone is loud enough is to turn your ringer to high and see how many people look around when it rings. We all know that loud phones are very annoying!
Christopher: Are you able to share your experience about the effectiveness of the different bell sounds – do certain sounds work better in different situations?
I think it comes down to breaking the norm. The concept behind attracting attention is to break the normal background sounds with something different. And that is what bellio does. Not only does bellio offer a traditional bike bell sound it also offers the ability to configure the sound to something unique – something that will make you heard – be it a church bell, a cow, a dog or even a chicken!
Christopher: Does the bellio overcomplicate the idea of a bike bell?
In some ways yes! But this is a complex world we now live in. Does your GPS bike computer complicate your bike ride? Yes. Does logging every ride in Strava make your riding experience more complex? Yes.
But the real question is does it add value? The answer is yes to all of the above.
So yes, the bellio button could be perceived to overcomplicate the bicycle bell but if it means you can; and will, put a ‘warning device’ on your bike then all well and good.
There are of course features that bellio offers that a normal bike bell cannot – continuous ringing in congested areas for example.
Christopher: Who is the typical bellio customer – is it a particular type of bike rider?
Bike riders and bike fanatics. The modern bike rider who wants to stand out in the crowd.
Christopher: The bellio is priced higher ($32 Early bird, $42 regular price) than the knog Oi!, a bell which captured interest because of the visual appeal. The bellio in comparison is subtle and also appears simpler – so you feel that the price-point will be a hurdle for prospective buyers?
I think the bellio is priced in the same realm as most modern simple led bike lights which to me is the same market. The knog Oi! is great. I backed it on kickstarter and have one on one of my bikes. I also backed the Spur bell and have one on another bike! In fact I have special addition polished one on a titanium bike – it’s a thing of beauty.
Both are great bells and have different uses in my opinion. The bellio is also a great bell and has its place by offering something different in the way of a sound to break the norm.
Christopher: The Knog Oi! and Spurcycle bells quickly saw counterfeits on the market through Amazon for example. As the project describes the parts as “nothing physically new” – are you concerned that fraudulent and cheaper versions will quickly appear on the market.
Yes the bellio will be copied to death – sadly even if my project isn’t successfully funded.
You can find out more about the Bellio Bike Bello on kickstarter and the crowdfunding campaigns runs through to March 30.