In these crazy times of social distancing and trails getting more and more crowded with a mix of hikers, runners, horses, unicyclists, jugglers, unicycling jugglers, and other mountain bikers, we feel it is time to make our presence better known to others. It is not so simple anymore to just shout out “Behind you” or “Rider back” because doing so can still startle others. In this thread on sharing trails with hikers and horses, one topic discussed the best way to alert other trail users; the consensus from a biker's perspective is the Timber Mountain Bike Bell.


We tried to find these bells locally, but like most cycling-related products, inventory is depleted. This left us no choice but to reach out to the company itself. In the interest of transparency, Timber supplied us with two Timber 3.0 bells for review: the Quick-Release and the Bolt-On models. Installation is straightforward for both. The Quick-Release has a choice of two bands and obviously is quicker, hence the name. The Bolt-On takes about a minute or so longer and requires the use of a 3mm Allen wrench.

During our initial research, we found no consensus that mounting the bell on one side is better than the other but Tricia did end up having a preference. With the Quick-Release, I can easily move it and try both. My initial impression was that the Quick-Release holds the bell on snugly, but not as tight as I think I want it. The assembly rotated on the handlebar when I tried to activate the bell. After a ride, my concerns were well-founded. The Quick-Release did well, on par with other accessories that use a similar band-type method of attachment. It is adequate but as far as the connection, the Bolt-On is better … obviously at the cost of convenience.

Phil's experience on the trail:
My maiden voyage was on a Sunday when there were more than a few people out. My hope was to come across hikers as well as other bikers, and I was in luck (other than a complete lack of juggling unicyclists). In every case where I saw someone ahead of me, I activated the bell, and as soon as I was within earshot, I could see their posture change and immediately look back (or up). The difference from before was that they weren't startled.

Tricia's experience on the trail: I have the Timber 3.0 Bolt-On model on my bike. First, Phil installed it on the left side of my handlebars, but I moved it to the right because I'm right-dominant and feel I have enough to fiddle with on the left. On my first ride, I was in a heavily wooded area in Tahoe City, approaching an intersection where riders coming from the other trail could be surprised. I engaged the Timber bell coming into the intersection. My friend riding behind me asked, "What was that loud ringing?" A rider coming into the intersection from the blind corner did hear me and yielded. I asked if he heard the bell, and he asked about it -- and now is considering buying one for himself.

Conclusion: If you are looking for some type of “active notification device," a Timber bell should be on your short list. The design is simple and functional. I don't think there is a need for the different tone levels; the differences were at most minimal.

  • Why choose the Quick-Release? You have multiple bikes and you want one bell to move from one bike to another.
  • Why choose the Bolt-On? You have one bike and are happy to “set it and forget it.”
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