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Hornit dB140 with Garmin Style Mount

7
£29.99

VERDICT:

7
10
Well designed and effective, and incredibly loud, but possibly too loud for use on cycle paths and confusing for drivers
Very loud
Garmin-style mount
Light
Easy to fit
Easy to use
Even the quieter setting is over-loud for cycle paths and pedestrians
Weight: 
70g
Contact: 

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We've reviewed the Hornit DB140 before, but it now comes with a Garmin-style mount. As Shaun found back in 2015, the horn itself is very loud and noticeable – too loud, really, for cycle paths and pedestrian-heavy areas, even on the quieter setting, though it makes sense for use in heavy traffic. Is it one of the best bike bells you can buy? No, or at least not for all circumstances, though I do like the new mount.

You get two sizes of the mount, to accommodate the vast majority of bar diameters – one for diameters of 22-26mm, with four differently sized spacers, and another for 31.8mm diameters.

2022 Hornit DB140 - mount.jpg

If you have more than one bike, with different diameter bars, you can use both mounts to swap the Hornit between them easily. And if you use a Garmin you can also, of course, use your existing mount for the Hornit, if you don't need to use both at the same time – when commuting in heavy traffic rather than out on a training ride for a few hours, perhaps.

The unit itself is powered by two AAA batteries, and is very light. Build quality isn't bad, and the screw-in battery compartment does make it waterproof enough for all but genuinely underwater use (bog snorkellers take heed).

It uses a separate trigger unit, which means the horn itself can't be accidentally operated in the process of fitting or moving the bike about, which is handy given the volume!

2022 Hornit DB140 - remote.jpg

It takes up very little space on the bar, and the trigger unit is easily positioned to allow for quick deployment, while braking if necessary.

LOUD!

As with the previous model, at 140 decibels the Hornit is claimed to be the loudest cycle horn in the world, and it's certainly louder than the average car horn (between 110 and 115db, apparently).

2022 Hornit DB140 - boxed.jpg

You get two volume settings, selected with a button on the rear of the horn unit: the maximum volume 'road' mode, which delivers a piercing sound similar to a smoke alarm, or a quieter, lower pitched 121db that more closely resembles a car horn. The quieter option is designed for use on cycle paths and where more pedestrians are likely.

Hornit dB140 with Garmin Style Mount

There's no denying this is a loud horn. It's audible from both inside and outside motor vehicles, so it's useful for announcing your presence in urban traffic. However, as Shaun reckoned and I'd agree, it's so loud and piercing a sound that it could potentially aggravate drivers, or even confuse them.

Even the quieter setting is incredibly loud – too loud, I'd say, for use in pedestrian-dense situations, and still significantly louder (121db) than others, such as the Spurcycle, which can achieve up to about 100 decibels.

In fact I found both settings uncomfortable to hear, as pilot. The packaging does state that 'prolonged or reckless use may cause permanent hearing damage'.

It was effective at penetrating headphones, though – but it also frequently caused pedestrians to jump.

Part of the issue, I think, for both drivers and pedestrians, is that the sound is alien, and it startles. Arguably that makes it more noticeable, but it also adds to confusion. There's no denying it achieves its aim of broadcasting your presence, but for all but the most traffic-heavy environments, it's uncomfortably loud.

Value and conclusion

At £29.99 it's quite well priced, particularly given that a single set of batteries should last around a year with 'normal' levels of use (which Hornit describes as six one-second blasts a day).

High-end super-loud bells can cost quite a lot more, such as the Spurcycle I mentioned above, which costs £44.99, although they arguably also look a lot more attractive than the Hornit.

2022 Hornit DB140 - front.jpg

If you're not so bothered about the looks, though, and you ride a lot in dense urban traffic, the Hornit DB140 is decent value and worth considering.

Verdict

Well designed and effective, and incredibly loud, but possibly too loud for use on cycle paths and confusing for drivers

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Hornit DB140 V3

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Hornit says: "The upgraded dB140 is the loudest cycle horn on the market, putting you in control of your safety by letting people know you're there. It's small, sleek and enables you to alert distracted drivers and pedestrians to your presence. Featuring upgraded internal components and a brand-new Garmin style mount, your dB140 is better than ever: rock solid on the bars, easy to remove and interchangeable with other Garmin compatible devices."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Garmin-style attachment with separate trigger unit

2 handlebar mounts included - one for bars with a diameter of 22-26mm with 4 differently sized spacers and a second for 31.8mm diameter bars.

140db and 121db settings with two distinct sounds

Takes AAA battery x 2

Water resistant

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Pretty sturdy, but also light.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

It's loud and obvious, which is what it sets out to do, but it's also uncomfortable for the rider, and potentially confusing for pedestrians and drivers.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Should last well. Battery life claims around a year for standard use, which is impressive.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10

Pretty light.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
3/10

I found the volume of even the lower setting physically uncomfortable as a rider...

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Good value compared with the loudest of bells on the market, especially when you take into account the expected battery life.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It broadcasts your presence to other road users very well, but it's uncomfortably loud and can be disconcerting for pedestrians, and confusing for some.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Low weight, ease of fitting, ease of use, battery life.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Uncomfortably loud for me as rider – it's over loud, even at its lowest setting, for alerting pedestrians, and the sound can be confusing for those you wish to alert.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

High-end super-loud bells can cost quite a lot more – the Spurcycle is £45 – although they arguably also look a lot more attractive than the Hornit.

Did you enjoy using the product? Not really.

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly for one who regularly rides very crowded city streets with lots of delivery vans and the like.

Use this box to explain your overall score

While it's a VERY loud horn, which is easy to use and fit, it's so loud that it can upset pedestrians and potentially confuse drivers, as well as being physically uncomfortable for you, the rider. In the right situation I'd say it's a good option, but think about whether you need something that loud.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 1.65m  Weight: 77kg

I usually ride: Liv Invite  My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling. 

Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other. 

She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting. 

Add new comment

15 comments

Avatar
tmhanes | 9 months ago
0 likes

I have one and I love it for a number of reasons. I do a lot of rural riding and it will actually repel many animals. Multiple times I have been chased by dogs and laying on the horn has turned them back. And on trails a lot of people nowadays wear headsets and are completely unaware of whats going on around them, anything less than a really loud horn will not get their attention. 

Avatar
TheBillder | 1 year ago
1 like

Just get a disc braked bike and ride it when the humidity is over 1%. Works for me, and with different sized rotors front and rear, I can play tunes.

Avatar
Sriracha | 1 year ago
2 likes

I wonder how one of these might work rear-facing. You'd need a remote button, and a rear view mirror too (who doesn't have one?), plus the sense of timing to give a good blast at any impending close passers. I suppose there's always the risk that the shock of being awoken would send them careering into you, but if you were toast anyway possibly worth the gamble?

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
3 likes

I had thought that the Garmin Varia radar would be perfect for this.

You'd need something like a Raspberry Pi Zero with a USB ANT dongle to decode the Varia data. But it could be set to automatically trigger a horn based upon vehicle distance and/or approach speed.

Probably need a 'pre-warn' beep for the rider a second before the mega-blast goes off, or it might be a bit of a shock!

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to HoarseMann | 1 year ago
0 likes
HoarseMann wrote:

I had thought that the Garmin Varia radar would be perfect for this.

You'd need something like a Raspberry Pi Zero with a USB ANT dongle to decode the Varia data. But it could be set to automatically trigger a horn based upon vehicle distance and/or approach speed.

Probably need a 'pre-warn' beep for the rider a second before the mega-blast goes off, or it might be a bit of a shock!

Rather than trying to use the Garmin and ANT, how about this: https://linuxhint.com/measure_distance_raspberry_pi/

(Should be easy to adapt to a Zero)

There's also this available: https://thepihut.com/products/pololu-distance-sensor-with-pulse-width-output-300cm

Avatar
ktache | 1 year ago
2 likes

I had a NightSun horn, very loud, but incredibly skreechy, and did not make divers aware of me as the strange noise didn't register with them that it was a vehicle that was making the noise.

Then I got myself an airzound 2, very car hornish, much more on the errant drivers wavelength. Fitted on my Good Bike, the Getting to Work Bike had no room on the handlebar. Shame, as more useful.

Replaced when broke, but unfortunately it takes up a water bottle space and so used it less. Tried to fit the spare fitment to the new Ultimate Commuter, but it broke and of course you cannot just get the fitment. Might buy the metal bottled version.

My question about the Hornit reviewed woul be, is it skreechy, or more horn like?

Avatar
tmhanes replied to ktache | 9 months ago
0 likes

The loudest setting is a siren similar in ptich to a smoke alarm, the lower setting is similar to a motorcycle horn

Avatar
kil0ran | 1 year ago
0 likes

Tempted to get one of these purely for close passes on rural roads, better than yelling at the drivers

Avatar
mattw | 1 year ago
4 likes

I think the Hornit is a very useful tool to have in the toolbox - like a car with a 2 tone Horn.

My bell or voice is great for peds and dog walkers = "GOOD AFTERNOON".

But the Hornit (with the button on the brake lever) is excellent for waking up sleepy or distracted drivers in a situation of risk, and causing them to stop in their tracks before they hurt someone. In the circs where a confused driver will stop that is very arguably an advantage.

I would quite like one which can take an MP3 file of a lorry horn or the Queen Mary, and use it effectively.

https://youtu.be/-pnP9PkCLqQ?t=39

Avatar
belugabob | 1 year ago
0 likes

This is totally unnecessary and over-agressive
Even a bike bell can seem too much like "get out of my way!" If used in certain ways and, quite often, a vocal greeting (not a warning) can be just as effective, never mind less confrontational.
The only bell I have, is on my commuting hybrid, and I generally only use that as I approach a blind corner, with a tall wooden fence on the inside, so that my sudden appearance (even at a slow speed) isn't a surprise to anybody coming the other way.

I've often thought that cars need a second horn, for use in less urgent situations (prompting people to move on,when the lights change, or catching the attention of a passing friend, for example) - maybe a jolly "yoo-hoo" or a Lesley Philips style "Well, hello..."

Avatar
mattw replied to belugabob | 1 year ago
6 likes

If it's a dozy driver rolling out of a sideroad without even looking properly a voice warning is unlikely to prevent a collision, and yet another person on a bike going to hospital.

Sleepers rather than hoons, ie careless not reckless or dangerous drivers, are a large chunk of the people who run down people on bikes. Those are I think the target audience for the Hornit.

It's a further advantage that the reaction of a walking-pace or slow motorist is to stop dead, which is what we need. 

That is my experience. I have a bell on the other side, which works fine for peds on normal cycle routes.

 

 

Avatar
belugabob replied to mattw | 1 year ago
0 likes

If it was an isolated incident, then you'd be right, but I can't help thinking that proliferation of bike horns in a busy city would simply lead to the sound becoming so common, that it would be ignored, after a while.

Avatar
mattw replied to belugabob | 1 year ago
2 likes

I'm not in a busry city (Midlands town of 50k), and sleepy /distracted drivers still exist there - and the priority is to perhaps the need to cut through the radio, the mobile phone, the argumentative co-passenger, the tiredness or the screaming kids.

Or indeed the lorry driver that has not looked in the mirror.

It is a collection of isolated incidients that hurt multiple people on bikes, and driver education or reduced conflict (when we separated get infra in 2378) or whatever may reduce the risk but does not eliminate it.

And so tactical answers are still necessary. One of which is the Hornit.

Avatar
Christopher TR1 | 1 year ago
7 likes

You don't need a horn  to aggravate drivers, often it's enough to filter past queuing traffic, or simply to be a cyclist. As for confusing drivers, that's not difficult when so many are as "dumb as bread", as we say in Germany. Better to shout at them; that's pretty understandable, whatever the language.

Avatar
IanGlasgow replied to Christopher TR1 | 1 year ago
6 likes

But if you swear at a driver who deliberately assaults you with their vehicle the police will refuse to prosecute (or will threaten to prosecute you for being rude to the poor driver). Perhaps the Hornet - mounted beside the microphone on my camera - is loud enough to drown out the sound of me swearing?

 

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