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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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Pretty sturdy, but also light.
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.
Should last well. Battery life claims around a year for standard use, which is impressive.
I found the volume of even the lower setting physically uncomfortable as a rider...
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.
About the tester
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.