In the winter, I often ride with mittens and find it impossible to use my standard bell (the one where you bend the clapper and let it hit the body), because my thumb touches the body and mutes the sound. Even in normal gloves I find it difficult to ring the bell. What types of bicycle bells work with winter gloves?
I personally have found that anything with a lever that moves the internal clapper works best. Unfortunately, those seem to only come in large size.
Here's a photo of the one I have lying around:
I thought the spring in the internal mechanism had worn out which is why I wasn't using it, but now that I looked at it again it turns out it just needed a bit of oil.
Here's what the insides look like:
The clapper's attached to the lever with a spring so any contact with the lever won't dampen the clapper's movement.
I ride a lot on busy roads, and given that modern cars are too well insulated for a petite "ding ding" noise to penetrate, or the vehicles are doing 80+ km/h, I find an airhorn to be an excellent solution.
I happen to own four of these AirZound horns, one for each of my regular rides. They're mounted for actuation by the left hand, because my right hand is used for front brake and rear gear changes.
I wear leather gauntlets in the winter, somewhat tending toward motorbike gloves, and have never had a problem actuating the white lever with a thumb. Rain, wind, darkness, sleet and hail have all done their worst. I've not tested it in snow yet, still holding out for a good snow dump.
For next winter, I intend on making some pogs (overbar mitts) for the bent from some treated slink skins. These will completely encase the brake lever and handlebar grip, and the horn lever on the left, and the gearshift on the right. I will leave the horn mouth exposed though.
I NEVER EVER use this on pedestrians - its too loud and would give the elderly a heart attack, and would provoke a fight/flight response in anyone. Here I simply use my voice, in a non-threatening manner.
This is the better photo showing the airhorn's noisemaker. This one is mounted upside down because that's how I hold these bars. This position will hold water so in a heavy rain it may gargle and spit a bit.
- the air reservoir takes up a bottle cage. On my bent which has no cages, I have it taped to the underside of the frame with double sided tape and a couple of cable ties, its not a heavy bottle.
- Its loud - really loud. To the point that car drivers hear it with the windows up and their music playing. One might think this is good, but it does limit the times where one might reasonably sound the horn.
- The hose is nonadjustable for length. You can either coil it up or make-do.
- No pressure indicator - its good for ~50 short burst or maybe 10 seconds continuous, so I top it up when I do the tyre pressures.
Postitives: No batteries, and the whole thing is surprisingly light. Only needs a schrader pump to charge the tank, and can hold ~100 PSI.
I tried multiple ones and the only thing loud and reliable enough is my voice. I usually use the word "Attention" ("Achtung"). The vocal a is good because it's easy to do loud with little practice.
- Pedestrians: Make sure to yell early enough and to reduce loudness if you get nearby without them noticing. Once you are just behind them and slowed down already, just talk at normal loudness.
- Moving cars: People in cars won't hear a bicycle bell at all, or just barely. Shout at the top of your lungs. The trick is to open your mouth wide and to spend time only on the vocals exactly as if you were singing. If you are doing it right, pedestrians within at least a 50m radius will turn their heads to see what the problem is, but that should be none of your concern, car horns are much worse for pedestrians.
- Stopped cars: Slap your hand against the chassis instead of yelling. If you are in a good mood, politely knocking as if on a door works too.
There are bells that are designed mostly for MTB that ring on their own. They are meant to work like "bear" bells in that the roughness of the terrain causes the bell to ring and alert hikers up the trail.
On smoother terrain, the bell does not ring as much but you can make it ring by shaking the handlebars slightly. Personally, even on a "road" bike this is my favorite bell. Very easy to get a sustained ring that gets attention.
The bell works well for pedestrians, but I can't imagine any bell that would work to alert car drivers.