I like two part titles. So, for this post, I kept imagining a clever subtitle. “The best $12 you can spend on your bike,” or “If Sauron Rode a Bike, He’d Forge This Bell in Mount Doom”. Finally, nothing quite capturing what I was trying to accomplish on this yet again hazy and cold winter night, I decided to go the direct and simple route. So, The Crane Suzu Bell.
It’s made in Osaka, Japan, by, I imagine, bell forgers who have apprenticed for a whole lifetime and only after their deaths are they accepted as true masters. And it costs about twelve bucks. I bought mine at Ben’s Cycle in Milwaukee. And then I bought it again. Every bicycle should have one of these as standard equipment. They add more safety to your ride than a helmet* and they fill the world with a beautiful, soulful noise.
How much can I write about a bell? Well, I’ve tried those tiny little bells with plastic clappers, the pretty wood bells that are nonetheless not much in the sound department, and my daughter bought a garish googly-eye bell, and I even tried a copper Crane Karen, which has a rod on a spring for a clapper instead of the Suzu’s strong lever. Pretty, and I love copper enough to have eaten a penny when I was young, but not loud enough.
When you ring the Suzu, the angel getting his wings goes “Hot damn, I got me a set of acrobat aerofoils!” before loop-d-looping through the sky and flying a bit too close to the sun.
When you ring the Suzu, heads turn. 360 degrees.
When you ring Crane Suzu while passing a cemetery, bony arms start to claw their way out of the earth.
When you ring the Crane Suzu in Japan, a Zen monk reaches enlightenment.
The Suzu is a damned loud bell. It’s not even legal to ring it in the coastal areas of Japan, because of the tsunami risk. And the noise goes on and on and on.
Well, anyway, it’s a great addition to any bike. Given that the loaded Yuba Mundo, even with its lovely disc brakes, requires a significant distance to stop, I wanted something that really projected sound. My life, or someone else’s, could depend on it. One interesting characteristic of this bell is that, if you correct the sound for the doppler shift a person about 10 meters in front of the bell would experience, the ringing sounds exactly like a Samurai yelling “Get the hell out of my way or I will run you through with my two-wheeled cargo carrying wonder.”**
Anyway, here’s a recording I made of the Crane Suzu Bell.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Helmet Company Research Institute.
**I’m just making this stuff up. I’m an astronomer on a cloudy night.