Over the years, Knog, the Australian bike accessories company best known for its stretchy Frog lights, had received many (not so subtle) suggestions from distributors to design a bike bell. "We kept dismissing the idea because we couldn't think of anything unusual," says Hugo Davidson, the company's CEO and founder. The epiphany came a few months ago: "I was looking at a road bike and realized that the only way people were going to put a bell on a carbon fiber road bike is if it looks nothing like a bell. Otherwise, their credibility will go out the window."
So the company set to work designing a bike light that ditches the tired dome shape and meek, slightly off-putting sound it typically produces. Instead, Knog's sleek Oi bell (named for the Aussie slang for "get out of the way"), is made of plastic and aluminum and fits snugly around the handlebar. When the hammer (the only protruding part of the design) hits the aluminum, it sounds, as the Kickstarter page puts it, "like an angel playing a glockenspiel."
Davidson and his design team at Knog started out with the idea that the bell should be silicon, to fall in line with many of its other products, but the material dulled the bell's sound. Eventually, they landed on plastic because they wanted to make it map to the bike rigidly. The metal stops just short of extending around the entire circumference of the plastic piece to make room for the break cables that run along the handlebars of road bikes. On the Amsterdam-style city cruiser, the bell sits closer to the grip.
To get the loud, clear ringing sound, the team tested different metals and thicknesses, eventually choosing a dense aluminum. "We wanted a sound that was both pleasant and gave us a trademark," says Davidson. "You associate a fog horn with a boat in harbor. With All Star bells, you think of vintage bikes. We wanted one that made people say, 'Oh, that’s an Oi.'"
With five days left of the Kickstarter campaign and over 30 times the goal funding raised, it seems pretty clear that thoughtfully designed bike bells are an untapped market. Preorder one for $19.