Timber bike bell review

Great solution for crowded trails

Gear
Timber Bike Bell Review

There’s plenty of room for the Timber bike bell on handlebars, even with a ride computer taking up real estate.

What is it

The Timber bike bell is a mountain bike-tailored handlebar-mounted bell that alerts wildlife, hikers, and other mountain bikers to your presence on the trail. Offered in quick release and bolt-on versions, the Timber bike bell can be activated or muted with the flick of a thumb switch.

Pros
  • Loud
  • Convenient
  • Inexpensive
  • Dual mount options
Cons
  • On some bikes bell may mar top tube in a crash
  • QR elastic mount band can break
  • Must switch off to silence


Mtbr’s take

The advent of more capable bikes and faster trails, combined with the growing popularity of mountain biking, is leading to more trail conflicts than ever. The Timber bike bell is affordable yet surprisingly effective way to make your ride safer and more encounter friendly.

Timber Bike Bell Review

This view of the Timber bike bell shows the rubberized mouth of mount and hooks for elastic quick release.

I (and many in my circle) got serious about a bell after a rider’s recent death from a mountain lion attack a mere five miles from where we were riding at the time. Word of mouth on the Timber bell was strong, so I decided to give it a try. Now I won’t ride without it.

The bell’s advantages start with alerting wildlife to your presence. Any rider noise has been proven to be a deterrent to animal attacks. My favorite rides involve a lot of twisty singletrack, often obscured in sections by blind corners and overgrowth. New, longer, rowdier trails have complicated the situation by adding speed to downhills on sections designated for two-way traffic, be it foot, wheel, or horse hoofs.

Timber Bike Bell Review

Simple and clever, the top tab of the Timber bike bell is a silencer switch.

Shouting “rider up” gets tedious, is not always heard, and only works when you know there’s someone ahead to alert. Here’s where the Timer bike bell’s true genius lies. Affixed to your handlebars, the bell clapper sounds with the slightest movement, providing a constant symphony (similar to a wind chime) as you ride along. I have yet to encounter anyone who hasn’t heard me from several switchbacks away.

Most are grateful for the warning. An unheard mountain bike suddenly careening toward them is a much more worrisome prospect than a pleasant tingling affording plenty of preparation time.

An unexpected side benefit has been the entirely voluntary yielding of uphill mountain bikers, who given plenty of notice willingly dismount to let us by.

Timber Bike Bell Review

Standard sink drain o-ring gaskets can be subbed for Timber’s tabbed version (upper left) in case of loss or breakage.

I even use the Timber bike bell while slowly ascending two-way singletrack in situations where poor sightlines prevent knowing who might be coming from the other direction.

Yes, a constantly ringing bell can be a bit annoying. But the payoff for all parties is well worth it. And the Timber bike bell can be silenced with a flick of the thumb switch.

The only gotcha I’ve come across is the potential for the elastic quick-release strap to fail (ours did not, but we’ve heard this from other users). The Timber bike bell ships with two, and you can order more, or simply use any sink drain gasket, although it will lack Timber’s convenient pull tab for mounting.

Also a heads up that the bell can strike and mar some frames in event of a crash or handlebar whip. I found this potential on only one of half a dozen mountain bikes I mounted the bell on — a six-year-old XC bike. Most bikes with more contemporary geometry have dropped top tubes that provide plenty of clearance for the bell.

The Timber bike bell is one of those modest, clever things that you don’t realize you need till you use it. It’s given me peace of mind, and saved vocal chords for after-ride tale-swapping.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Price: $25

More info: www.mtbbell.com


About the author: Paul Andrews

Dividing his time between Seattle and Santa Cruz, career journalist Paul Andrews has more than a quarter century of mountain biking under his belt, which he wishes had a few less notches.


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  • kdiff says:

    “Also a heads up that the bell can strike and mar some frames in event of a crash or handlebar whip. I found this potential on only one of half a dozen mountain bikes I mounted the bell on — a six-year-old XC bike.”

    I have a 2018 Nomad with spacers under the stem & a 20mm rise handlebar and this bell has chipped off all the paint in a few spots on my handlebar. Not from crashes but literally sitting on the trail side and my front wheel twist because of an incline. The force has never been hard but the corners of the bell are sharp. (Kind of sucks because those are the only marks on my frame and it took it down to the carbon.) I trimmed off the bottom to just below wear the bell hits when fully lowered. It’s not as loud now but doesn’t hit my frame.

  • Preston says:

    I’ve had one of these for the last 2 season’s and its a god send especially in hiking country. I’ve always thought they should be common but I”m bummed I will no longer be cutting edge. They are also immensely useful for overtaking slower riders going the same direction. I also wonder though if both riders have the same bell if either one will hear the other.

  • gregnash says:

    I have been rocking one of these for a few years now and have gotten comments in multiple states, from multiple other trail users on how loud these bells are. Yeah not the cheapest option but definitely worth the money. Has saved my butt more than a few times from running into people in blind corners and recently used in a local race as my alert on taking over other riders on the downhill.

    Only gripe that I have, and this is only for the older model shown, is that they do not always stay strongly affixed to the bars. I had to create small inserts to keep mine on tight after the rubber band stretched. Newest model is a clamp lock similar to brake and shifters, that has inserts to adjust for bar size.

    • b rock says:

      If you have one, and it isn’t tight on your handlebars, be sure to wrap the O-ring from the plastic above the front of the bell to the top hook, instead of trying to use both hooks. This solved the problem for me of the bell slipping around the bars when I change the mute setting, and it allowed me to use the “mostly muted” setting for downhills, where it rings enough when I hit bumps at speed.

      While you can purchase the bolt on model, be aware that the rubber o-ring can be more forgiving in a crash if you have it set up so that it will not impact your frame (some people have reported easy breakage in crashes with the bolt on model, and I wouldn’t want the bolt on one to hit me in a crash… as opposed to the rubber o-ring that might give a bit)

  • Bike D00d says:

    I’ve been using these for a couple seasons now, and they do help a lot. A bigger problem though is hikers and runners who take it upon themselves to endanger everyone by wearing headphones or earbuds while blasting music, so they don’t hear you anyway. Thus far there is in no known solution to these bozos except for a handlebar-mounted slingshot.

  • ndp says:

    I bought one of these a couple of years ago and used it for a few weeks. I abandoned it because I found, contrary to the review and other commenters experience, that it was not loud at all. After (unintentionally) sneaking up on numerous hikers while the bell was activated I abandoned it in favor of my old and trusty Incredibell. Now that is a properly loud bell, easy to mount above the bar (index finger trigger) or below the bar (thumb trigger) and it always seems to be heard by hikers well before I arrive in their personal space. Luckily all these bells are pretty cheap (unlike, for example, the Knogg Oi which, while stylish, is pretty much useless as a signaling device) so audition a few and keep the one that works for you.

  • streighty says:

    I have been using one f these for over two years. It always starts the trail interactions with other users on a positive note. I have been thanked by so many other trail users over the years. Way better than a bell you have to manually ring as they are of no help with corners. I also find it useful when coming up on slower riders going the same direction, It gives them plenty of warning and allows them to pick a safe spot to move over and avoids the awkward conversation. They also make a bolt on version, but I haven’t used that one. I’ve never had an issue with mine staying tight and have properly positioned to avoid it hitting my top tube in a crash. My only complaint is I wish there were bigger differentials in the 5 settings. It really feels like 3 settings, off, barely on (decent bumps will cause it to ring and not much else) and all on. I also like the sound. It is more of a wind chime sound than bell. 5 STARS!!

  • JC says:

    Seems to me like more and more riders are opting for blasting their Bluetooth speakers on the trails instead of a Timber bell or other less intrusive method.

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