When Spurcycle introduced their original bell in 2013, the tiny company permanently raised the bar for sonic warning devices. The bell’s distinctive tone and no-expense-spared construction earned it several best-of awards and countless recommendations. So how do you improve on what many consider to be the finest bicycle bell? If you’re Spurcycle, you design a completely new model–the Compact bell–and make it smaller, lighter, and less costly than the $49 (and up) Original bell.
As its name implies, Spurcycle’s Compact bell ($39 MSRP) is the smaller sibling of the company’s original bell. The two bells share a similar aesthetic, but the Compact model is only compatible with 22.2 mm (diameter) handlebars. The Compact’s svelte nylon clamp measures just 9 mm wide, making it ideal for crowded MTB or urban/flat bars. And while the Compact and Original have the same size domes, the Compact’s dome is positioned higher for additional clearance with brake levers, shifters, or dropper remotes. Installation is easy thanks to the bell’s flexible nylon clamp. We tested the Compact bell on several different bikes, and didn’t encounter any compatibility or fit issues with microSHIFT, Shimano, or SRAM controls. Weighing just 28 grams, the Compact bell carries Spurcycle’s lifetime guarantee.
When it comes to evaluating bells, my primary criteria are ease of operation and sound quality. While the Compact’s lever is smaller than the Original’s, I found that the angle and position of the Compact’s lever actually made it easier to use on flat- and alt-style handlebars–regardless of whether the bell was positioned inboard or outboard of the brake lever. The Compact model’s narrower clamp also enabled more mounting position choices, further improving the bell’s ease of use. OK, but how does the Spurcycle’s Compact sound in the wild? The Compact’s tone is similar to the Original’s, but the former’s volume seems seems slightly lower (I didn’t measure either bells’ output). It probably won’t get the attention of someone wearing headphones or earbuds, but it’s a more polite option than barking, “on your left!” Like Spurcycle’s Original bell, the Compact’s tone boasts a gloriously long sustain.
Minor sonic differences aside, the biggest differentiator between Spurcycle’s Compact and Original bell is one you can’t see or hear. Instead of being made in the US, the Compact model is produced in Taiwan. There’s nothing cheap or basic about the Compact bell’s construction or materials, though, fit and finish are outstanding. Take a look at the quality of the bell’s mounting bolt and it’s abundantly clear that Spurcycle sweated even the tiniest of details. This is definitely not some rebadged item randomly picked from a third-party’s catalog. And like the other Spurcycle products I’ve reviewed, I fully expect to enjoy this product for many years to come.
Disclosure: Spurcycle provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.