Regular readers of CyclingTips know that I am a big proponent of bicycle bells. They’re super useful on multi-use trails to notify slower-moving users in advance, and also great on singletrack if you don’t have an excellent line of sight. I’ve been a longtime fan of the Spurcycle bell for its loud and piercing tone, but my wife likes her Timber bell, which can be set to an “always on” position for constant sound on trails.
However, the new Cricket bell from Granite Designs is a hybrid of both.
On the one hand, it has a manual hammer (with a design very similar to the Spurcycle, in fact), so you can use it at will. But pulling the bell dome down in “cow bell mode” allows the clapper to swing freely, allowing the cricket to make a constant noise as you turn down the trail.
Granite Design uses a mix of materials for the Crickets construction, with the dome and clapper made of a brass/zinc alloy, the hammer made of spring steel with a machined aluminum hammer, and the clamp and main body made of a type of reinforced plastic. Shims are included for 35mm, 31.8mm or 22.2mm handlebar diameters. The actual weight is 44g with the 31.8mm shim and the retail price is reasonable (US$21 / AU$33 / 20/20).
I like the idea of this thing.
As much as I’m repeatedly impressed by Spurcycles’ unique ability to penetrate chatter and earbuds, I don’t always feel comfortable (especially when riding my mountain bikes), compromising my grip to find the hammer. And conversely, while the constant denting of the wood requires no thought or action, I don’t want to make any noise all the time too.
The Cricket is small and unobtrusive, the hammer is perfectly positioned for your thumb, and I like the attention to detail like how the shims are keyed into the clamp for easier installation. And as for clocks, it looks pretty good.
But in practice Cricket still leaves a lot of room for improvement.
The biggest problem is that it’s just not that loud. The sound is pleasant enough, and in a fairly quiet environment or if you’re fairly close to someone, it makes sense. But it’s nowhere near the Spurcycle’s bite to grab attention from a reasonable distance, especially if that person is in the middle of a conversation or using earplugs. In cowbell mode, the clapper also doesn’t seem to have enough weight to create as much racket on trails as the Timber.
I don’t like the plastic case and clamp either, though that kind of build is to be expected at this price point (the Cricket is well under half the price of the Spurcycle, in case you’re wondering). And if I really want to nitpick, because the dome of the Cricket Bell has to hang straight down, it rubs against most handlebar bags and stops making noise.
The Granite Designs catalog of smart bike accessories feels like it’s growing by the day, and includes some solid options like the Stash RCX hidden multi-tool and the Aux water bottle cage. Overall, I think the concept of the Cricket Bell is perfect. However, the performance is lacking enough that Id has a hard time recommending one wholeheartedly if you really need to be heard.
Price: €21 / €33 / 20 / 20
Weight: 44 grams
More information: www.granite-design.com
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