Isabelle necessary on a bicycle?
For me, the answer is yes.
As I mentioned in New Wheels, I have a new bike. I really like it, it rides so much more smoothly, a big improvement over my mountain bike for the type of riding I’m doing these days. However, as lovely as this new bike is, it came without a number of attachments I’ve grown used to, notably a rear-view mirror, lights, speedometer/computer, kickstand, and a bell.
I’ve noticed that road bikes and hard-core bikers have none of these things aside from a computer on their bikes. Each adds a little weight, some wind resistance, and I imagine that they don’t find them useful. Me, I really like the bell. I ride a lot on paths that are shared with walkers and runners, and have found that the bell seems to penetrate even intense conversations and most ear buds. My announcement of “on your left” works some of the time, but not as well, with two or three repetitions sometimes required.
Starting out on this bike, I was first checking out handling, how it rode, and learning the new shift lever system. It’s definitely going to take me a while to be intuitively accurate with the levers. At any rate, it took a few rides for me to notice how used to having a speedometer, rearview mirror and bell I had become. The bike computer (which is speedometer/odometer and more) is very handy for feedback and monitoring my training, but its not a safety issue, given that I am not likely to exceed any posted speed limits. I’ve ordered one for this bike, and its due in a few days.
Bell and rearview mirror, now those are safety issues for me. The bell, as it announces me to others on the path, be they walkers, runners, dog walkers, or even the few bikes who are slower than I am. I’ve noticed that when I’m riding on the road or a busy path, I much prefer it if I know someone is going to pass, and can have a start of surprise if someone suddenly arrives on my shoulder. Its rare that road bikers announce themselves, that may not be their custom. If I’ve a rearview mirror, it deceases the likelihood that I’ll be surprised by their presence.
I’ve also noticed that its much easier to check behind me with a mirror than by turning my head. Turning my head, if not done carefully, causes the bike to swerve, and as it takes some time, when I’m moving quickly a lot can happen in front of me while I’m checking what’s behind me. I’ve now discovered that there are a variety of mirror options available, a couple of kinds of handlebar mounts, and now some that are helmet mounted or glasses mounted. I’m still investigating my options for the new bike.
Having tried a number of bells on my mountain bike, I’ve concluded that this simple old-style bell works well. It’s inexpensive, reliable, and easily replaced. So I picked one up at Target, spent 2 minutes attaching it to my handlebars, and now I’m happily ringing as I ride.