Saturday, March 18, 2006

New Loud Bike Horn For Cycle Commuting

I've got a new bike horn for cycle commuting! As far as horns go, It's pretty good - the worlds loudest, at 115db say the manufacturers.

About The Horn:

  • Adjustable volume scale from 0% to 100%
  • Design now on it's 3rd revision Powered by compressed air.
  • Air refilled by normal cycle pump or car tyre pump, (Shrader valve - same as car tyres).
  • Operating range of 5psi to 80psi (1 bar to 5.5bar)
  • Weight: less than 100g
  • Cost £22.
  • Up to 115 decibels is pretty darn loud! (For comparison: Front Rows of Rock Concert = 110 dB. Threshold of Pain = 130 dB. Military Jet Takeoff = 140 dB. Instant Perforation of Eardrum = 160 dB!)

No Need

But with 48 miles cycled so far, I haven't had the requirement to blast my horn in anger. Yet. My style of riding is typically very risk-averse, if there is a situation ahead that looks like someone COULD take an action which would be of risk to me, then I am already covering my brakes and expecting the worst.

Although slightly slower than charging everywhere in a sweaty mess, I find this risk-averse approach to cycling generally helps me be involved in less incidents, than if I was risk-ignorant. Trouble is, I haven't had the opportunity to toot my horn yet!

Expected Use

I won't be using this horn for pedestrians, it is far too loud & overpowering. It's use shall be reserved specifically for vehicles. Who, insulated from temperature, ambient sounds and wind, distracted by radios, adverts, music & entertainment, often seem oblivious to everyone other than themselves.

I've no doubt that the horn could very likely be a lifesaver in situations where vehicles take actions without noticing an oncoming cyclist. A forceful reminder of the cyclists presence is definitely useful. That is, if there is time for such luxuaries.

What Does Tooting Accomplish?

But I am already questioning what use it is tooting bad drivers who CHOOSE to take risks, knowingly endangering cyclists; for example - overtaking too close / cutting up / left turning across a cyclist / creeping forward from a side road, hoping to intimidate main road traffic stop / etc.

After all, the purpose of tooting in these cases, would not be a reminder of an innocent (but still life-threatening) driving error or mistake. Tooting at intentionally bad drivers, is most likely going to be interpreted as angry criticism (which it is).
Which accomplishes what? A eureka moment of reflection where these bad drivers suddenly reflect on their years of erroneous decisions putting other people at risk, and make a vow to value other peoples lives as important, rather than obstructions just to be over-taken at all costs? Errm, no. More likely to be just thin justification for some more intimidation, this time road rage probably.


I mean, I've survived without a horn for several thousand commuting miles already, so I have to ask myself some questions:

  • Is this horn necessary? Probably not.
  • Am I just being a gadget freak? Probably, yes.
  • Is the horn useful? I will find out soon.

Stay tuned, to find out who will be the first to face the wrath of my 115db horn! - And why...


Airzound Manufacturer's Site (PL)

Buy An Airzound Bike Horn (UK)

Buy An Airzound Bike Horn (USA)

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Fritz said...

I have an Airzounds horn. I liked it when it was working. After about a year of use something wore out and it doesn't accept air anymore. I haven't spent any time fiddling with it so it may be minor.

Urban Commuter said...

Hi Fritz,

Yeah I must admit, the fitting didn't strike me as good as "german" quality (the best steriotypically).

The manual said something about tugging the hose gently from the bottle to re-seat the valve after a fill - don't know if that's any help to you?

Anonymous said...

I too have an airzound II horn (mounted on a Brompton L3 2000). So far, in 500 miles I've only used it once after a taxi overtook me then turned left about 3 feet in front of me without indication and then just stopped across the junction. It's a nice way of humiliating them, but like yourself I find myself covering the brakes more than worrying about the horn. The best use of all is to hurl abuse at the the driver so they open the window, then to let the horn off in their face! Use this with caution though as it angers folk!
Personally I'd rather have my mirror than the horn, but I have both.

Urban Commuter said...

Wow - your horn only gets used once every 500 miles! I like those odds :-)

Hahaha! I've not considered your horn-in-face technique, that is positively cruel!

I saw my mate today while he was driving and I was riding. We gave each other a friendly "beep beep" on our respective horns. And it struck me that (on a totally un-scientific basis,) my Airzound is actually LOUDER than the car's horn!

jp said...

I too have an Airzounds horn; the best £18 that I have ever spent on a bike since it stopped a bus pulling out on me the other day.

Urban Commuter said...

good work JP! I love the fact this horn can take the small & vunerable image of a bicycle, and with an industrial strength PAAAAARP! sound, can turn that perception upside down, giving the rider so much road presence.

btw, I've revised my view: "I won't be using this horn for pedestrians, it is far too loud & overpowering" - Sod it, some of them need waking up! lol

Anonymous said...

Hi to anyone still reading this post in 2008.

I've been thinking about a bike horn for a while, particularly after the other day when I was cut off 3 times in a single trip - not one of these drivers was aware of the near accident they caused.

Yet, I find most drivers are generally considerate people who simply don't know how dangerous their driving was and, as they didn’t see the cyclist, they generally don’t even know they almost caused an accident.

Seems the method most often used by cyclists to alerting drivers as to how dangerous their driving is, is when a collision actually occurs.

So, if we don't give feedback to near misses then we fail to educate drivers at the appropriate time and we fail to reduce the risk of accidents to our cycling community.

If cyclists start using horns, would it educate drivers and ultimately reduce accidents for other cyclists?

I'd be really keen to hear any feedback from other cyclists on using horns to educate drivers and their benefits in making our cycling community safer.

Urban Commuter said...

Hi there,

A lot of people come searching for this post.

Totally agree with your point; how will drivers know their standard of driving is poor, unless someone lets them know.

I heard a massive lorry toot when I was walking recently, looked around... and it was a guy on a recumbent! Airzound rocks.

Daz said...

Thanks for the feedback Urban Commuter.

Very impressive if Airzound can give cyclists the presence of a lorry.

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