Every bicycle should have a bell and nearly every specialised shop should sell them. But anyone who asks about products with sales guarantee in the two-wheeler trade waits for its name to be mentioned. Take-away product, not too expensive, fashion item - you rarely hear anything else when it comes to this very important part on the handlebar. Safety-relevant, but rarely sexy: that is the relationship status of the bicycle bell. Yet the ringing accessory has an important function for increasingly crowded roads and cycle lanes. The more bicycles and e-bikes will ride on the roads of this country, the more likely is it that the trade will take a closer look at the signalling devices.
If you talk to Dirk Zedler about the topic, something immediately starts to ring: For years, the expert with his own test institute in Ludwigsburg has had a company-own test stand to evaluate bells in accordance with the DIN-ISO standard. It has to be said that the strictest test standards in the entire industry are those relating to bicycle bells. If you want to pass the bell test and attach the CE mark legally to your electric-assist bike or e-MTB, you have to reach a whole series of measured values with three out of four bells: it's about the sound that comes out with 85 dB at least, the survival of more than 3O,OOO ringing cycles and the corrosion resistance in rainy weather or even under the influences of winter salt.
Between penny article and design object
As elaborate as Zedler's test stand is and as much enthusiasm he arouses during the demonstration, it is rare for a manufacturer to have his products tested according to the standard. Hardly surprising says Zedler: “There is hardly any of the common series-production products on the market that meet the criteria.” As there is so little demand for their evaluation, the Swabian institute sometimes collects bells on their own for the so-called “benchmarking”, i.e. they mount bells on their own test stand. “The results are disastrous,” says Zedler. He estimates that 90 percent of the products do not meet the requirements. If you ask around in the industry, this is hardly surprising. Especially the products delivered as OEM goods with fully-assembled bicycles are considered first of all under one aspect: the costs. They are often penny goods that are not a sales argument or quality feature for the vast majority of manufacturers, but at best have to have a nice design, this is what you hear from dialogue partners.
The end of the line has not yet been reached for the topic in the accessories segment. One driver will be road safety, thinks Volker Dohrmann. Just like the light, the acoustic warning will become more and more relevant in denser everyday traffic, especially with a growing share and use of electric-assist bikes.
Dirk Zedler is of the same opinion: "The lighting and the bell of a bike are just as important as the brakes and gears when it comes to serious mobility," says Zedler. “Every Newton metre torque is optimised, but people forget that cyclists sometimes also have to ring their way clear.” This is his appeal to the trade. Because strictly speaking, it could happen that electric bikes at 4000-Euro are withdrawn from traffic, when they do not comply with the legal requirements. At least in theory, the only thing you need is a bell, the sound of which after the winter weather is a matter of luck.
Author: Tim Farin