Thanks to all our supportive backers for making this an absolutely amazing project! It exceeded our goal, our hopes, even our understanding of what's possible. If you missed getting involved as a backer, please visit spurcycle.com.
Our objective was simple: design a bell that is exceedingly effective in a busy, urban environment AND that looks sexy on any bike. We tasked ourselves with distilling your average clunker bell into a smaller, more potent, and more streamlined form—befitting even a peleton-crushing road bike. To do so forced us to reconsider every design aspect and engineer to a higher standard.
FORM: We set out to design a compact, well-integrated component. A large bell may sound great but protrudes and looks bulky installed on many modern bicycles. Meanwhile, the tiny micro bells on the market are too small—dinky really, and generally cheaply made. We pursued the best form by way of the cleanest execution, encompassing both modern and classic aesthetics. It’s a bell that’s just the right size, tidy not tiny. Streamlined and effective.
MOUNT: Even a bell of the right size and shape flows best if it can be reoriented and positioned to match the bike's form. Our mount was engineered around adjustability. A single fastener is visible through the top of the dome, and that’s the only bolt needed to secure the entire assembly. This thru-bolt design allows the overall form to stay super clean but fits a broad (22-32mm) range of diameters. That means you can mount it near the brake of your flat-bar commuter or near the stem of your oversize road handlebar.
ACTUATION: Our unibody wire lever is a powerfully simple design. Utilizing the wire's natural torsional springiness, we can deliver proper ergonomics and modulation while maximizing aesthetic simplicity and functional reliability.
We wanted an actuation that doesn't require much reach, just a flick of your thumb without repositioning or stretching the width of your hand. Moreover, modulation is key: from a light courtesy "ding" while passing another rider to an alarming "DING-DING-DING" to grab a driver's attention.
Better still, our bell doesn't rattle or ring when it isn't supposed to, over rough road or potholes. In fact, we've raced mountain bikes with our bell, which made not a sound until we needed to pass.
SOUND: We didn't work on a beautiful bell and ignore the critical function of a bell. It's got to be loud enough to alert other riders and drivers. Of course, it's nicer if the sound is effective without losing its pleasant tone. That's why we've chosen to work with Bevin Brothers—a company that's been making bells since the Industrial Revolution—and why we've chosen alloys that make an inherently better sound. After all, if you just want to annoy people, you can always buy a horn.
MATERIAL: To make the highest quality bell, you need premium materials. We've chosen metals that will never rust: stainless steel, aluminum, and brass. No plastic. No junk "pot metal". No shortcuts.
Dome size: ⌀30mm x 20.5mm Total bell weight: 42g
We've spent hundreds of hours designing and working out production. The next part is relatively simple. We need money to buy enough bells to make factory production feasible. We have quotes to produce only a few hundred bells and quotes to produce several thousand. We've set our goal at just $20k, because that's the minimum we need to get started down our path and deliver a limited batch of bells into the hands of our supporters.
We're lucky. We've found some great partners with whom to collaborate on our bell design & production. We have our GripRings Kickstarter project experience to draw on. It allows us to timeline this project with confidence.
AUGUST: Finalize production design & successfully fund Kickstarter project.
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER: Work around the clock to hand craft and assemble the best bells you've ever seen.
Risks and challenges
We used Kickstarter to launch GripRings last year, funding our compression tooling which helped us deliver to 252 happy backers and—as of March 2013—to distributors in Australia, Holland, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and of course to several domestically. We're very familiar with the challenges of design, production, shipping and communication.
In the last 8 months, we've made many (many) versions of our bell. We've hacked a few materials in our own workshop. We've 3D printed them in durable plastics. We've even "printed" a few metal domes to help us refine the geometry of this critical bell component. We have Bevin Brothers and Peridot (an amazing facility in nearby Pleasanton, CA) awaiting our cue. We've already met with them dozens of times and will be on-site during our initial phases of production. The risks are as minimal as they get going into a project like this.
That said, to make more than a couple bells, we need to establish proper manufacturing and assembly fixtures, so that we can work much more quickly and ensure a high level of consistency. This will take a wad of cash, some ingenuity, and likely some period of trial until we get everything just right.
A distant concern is with regard to mass production costs. We'd like to be able to offer these high quality bells at a price point that isn't out of reach for the average rider. Lucky for anyone that backs this project, you're sure to get the highest quality materials and construction at a known pledge level. Of course, we'll also continue to update you on the finer points of process and progress.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)