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I have a small aluminum bell with a striker on the side that has a good loud piercing "ding" that's easily heard from over 100 feet away (30 meters). However, when it's raining and the bell gets wet, the piercing ding turns into more of a sort of dull metallic "tink" that's barely audible from 10 feet (3 meters). I assume that water drops on the bell are dampening the sound somehow.

Anybody know what to look for to get a bell that will still be useful in the rain?

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I would doubt that you're going to find one that works in the rain. Water has a strong damping effect. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 21 '11 at 23:19
    
I think you deserve a -1 for linking to a page with sound. High enough pitch that I don't think anyone in this pub noticed where it was coming from. –  Tom Hawtin - tackline Nov 22 '11 at 20:06
    
@TomHawtin-tackline: I don't get a noise when I load the page (only if I let the quicktime plugin run and click the play button). Sorry if it played noise at you. I could try to find a different link or maybe just take a picture... Or if you find something you could edit my post to change the link... –  freiheit Nov 22 '11 at 20:39
    
Nobody ever rides exclusively on multi-use paths: you must ride in traffic to get to the path. Riding in traffic, you'll need either good yelling reflexes or a high-decibel bell. See "What are some alternatives to fruitlessly ringing my bell at a motorist?". –  unforgettableid Dec 10 '12 at 11:30
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I agree with Daniel R Hicks, my bell also gets a lot dampened in the rain, and this will happen with any bell.

But even so, some bell properties might influence:

  • Steel is denser than aluminum, so a similar-sized steel bell could have more mass and ring longer;
  • Bigger rings might also ring longer, because of the relation among size, mass, wall-thickness, and frequency pitch.

But, to be honest, I cannot say any of the above for sure, because I didn't test it.

If it is of any help, I use my ring upside down, and raindrops get inside it, but even so it rings just a bit less than dry (not a lot less).

It is a steel ring, the type that has a lever and a spinning mechanism inside (which I strongly recommend over the model you've shown).

Also, I have a set of similar rings on my bikes, and none of them has the same acoustic properties, I think there are some subtle factors involved, most probably the relation between the bell's main frequency and the frequency of natural resonance of the raindrops on the bell (I'm serious!).

Hope it helps

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You can try one of these. I got one at an antique junk shop for 5 bucks. You'll definitely get people's attention.

enter image description here

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Bike shops often have some novelty-shaped horn things, and you're probably right that they're less affected by rain. However, I've observed that people are more likely to know that a bell is a bicycle and simply be confused by a horn/honk. –  freiheit Nov 22 '11 at 20:42
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@freiheit That's very true in continental Europe but in the UK, pedestrians are as confused by a bell as they are by the cycle lanes. –  z7sg Nov 24 '11 at 18:37
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If you really want to be heard ditch the bell and get an Airzound (or something similar) http://www.airzound.co.uk/

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I'm more interested in politely alerting pedestrians (and slow cyclists) on a multi-use path than deafening them. That looks like it would be too loud to use. –  freiheit Nov 24 '11 at 19:32
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+1 - this has saved me multiple times from nearly being hit by cars on my daily commute through town. I feel safer when I see a situation begin to develop in front of me. –  Roy Tinker Nov 24 '12 at 5:41
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