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The Zefal is branded as a 'classic bike bell' and the look and sound certainly feels vintage in a good way. However, a limited range of diameters catered for significantly restricts fitting options on your bike.
The most important thing about a bell is of course its sound. I liked the ring of the Zefal classic bell, which rings out true with a loud ting which is recognisably a bike bell. I'm never keen on confusing pedestrians in front of me with more random horns and the like.
People on shared paths heard this bell, knew what it was, and that enabled everyone to pass and stay safe. Using a phone decibel app to test the loudness, the ring was consistently around 100 decibels when measured next to the bell, and about 75 decibels at three meters – a reasonable approximation to when I might use a bell approaching other road or shared path users.
The Zefal Classic is also available in an all-black version but I liked the brass of the one I tested, and the brass ringer on a brass head is both aesthetically pleasing and contributes to the clarity of the sound.
The bell is very sturdily built and a welcome change to the cheap 'n' nasty bells that typically ship with commuter bikes. It attaches to your handlebar with a solid polymer ring, which is secured by an even more solid metal screw. The head of the screw is ridged, which lets you tighten it by hand, so no tools were required.
Although the bell was easy to attach to the bar, I found positioning a real issue. Unlike some of its competition, the Zefal mount only expands from 22 to 25.4mm. On a 22.2mm bar you use the supplied additional rubber shim to secure it. Although this is technically universal, in that almost all handlebars will be that narrow at some point, this severely restricted where the bell could be placed.
On my commuter bike, the positioning of a gear shifter next to the handlebar grips meant the bell was out of reach and I had to take my hand off the grip and move it 10cm to use it. I felt this was a significant safety issue because, if I was braking or cornering, the bell wouldn't be near enough to use.
On road bikes, mounting this bell on the drops isn't an option, nor can you position it near the stem if you like your bell to be out of the way for occasional use. The majority of bells we have tested have a wider range of diameters, with anything from 31.8 to 45mm maximum diameters being common.
The other issue I found was the degree you need to depress the ringer to ring the bell. After a few confused dull thuds, trial-and-error testing showed me that the ringer needs to travel at least 15mm to make a ringing sound. In practice this meant that I had to depress the lever more than I had anticipated. It's something you learn, but if you don't use your bell regularly it's not necessarily going to enter your muscle memory either.
Overall, if you are happy with where the Zefal bell will fit and you aren't lazy like me over how much you depress the lever, this is a good quality bell for a reasonable price.
A bell with a lovely tone, but check where you want to place it before purchase
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zefal Classic Bike Bell
Size tested: One size
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?
Zefal says: "The Zéfal Classic Bike Bell is an efficient, robust and stylish bicycle bell. Its brass bell is easy to use while riding and its powerful tone produces a loud, clear sound that lasts for several seconds. The installation on the handlebar is easy and you will not need any tool. Its universal mounting system fits all types of handlebars."
I would agree that the tone is clear and loud and it certainly lasts for a good few seconds, but the universal mounting system severely limited fitting options on my bike's handlebar.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Weight 54 g
Material Brass bell - Technopolymer support
Simple and stylish - Vintage design
Powerful sound - Loud, clear and nice
Easy to use - Easy to use spring hammer
Universal mounting - Fits all handlebars (diameter 22-25.4 mm)
Fast installation - Easy without tools
This bell felt very solid in its construction, with all-metal moving parts and screw.
It performed well when the lever was fully depressed.
I anticipate that this bell will last for years because of the choice of brass, which is corrosion-resistant, over aluminium.
The limited handlebar diameters it works with did not allow it to be positioned for comfort.
This bell isn't going to break the bank and it's a well-made bell for the price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As long as you depress the lever sharply the bell works well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The clear, sharp sound.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The limited range of bar sizes it caters for and the capacity for misfires.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
The quality of the bell is very good, but usage issues offset this for me.
About the tester
I usually ride: Trek 7.5 WSD My best bike is: Turquoise Cruiser
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, Leisure