I had an original version of the Timber! MTB bell when it was first launched and it was brilliant for letting people know you were coming in a friendly, disarming manner – until the off switch started slipping and it wouldn’t shut up. The latest V4.0 version is tougher in build and ‘switchgear’, though, so if you’re wanting hands-free safety and smiles on shared use trails it’s a superb addition to the best MTB handlebars.
The basic Timber! design of solid brass, square footed bell and cable suspended clanger hasn’t changed. V4.0 sees the introduction of a longer life cable, though, and a steel collar shank where the bell meets the plastic bar mount. Most importantly, the on/off ‘trigger’ lever that pulls the clanger up into the top of the bell to silence it now has a much stronger ‘clutch’ as well.
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The O ring secured ‘Quick Release’ model now has shims to fit all bar sizes (including 35mm oversized bars and the skinny 22.2mm section near the brakes/shifters). You get two sizes of UV resistant EPDM O-Ring for different bars and you can get them as spares. There’s a bolt-on clamp version that’s otherwise the same, and regular crashers or component breakers now get the option of the Timber Yew! This bell has a tougher/thicker bolt-on band that will fit 35, 31.8 and 22.2mm bar diameters. It’s also modular so you can replace any broken bits if you trash it in a crash.
Fitting the Timber! or switching between bikes couldn’t be easier as it’s just a case of hooking the O-ring round the bar and making sure you can get a finger or thumb to the ‘trigger’. Now push the trigger up to silence the bell or down to let it jangle. While it’s hard to explain in words, the brass bell is deliberately designed to give a warmer cow/bear/goat bell tone. That means you come up behind other trail users or head into blind corners sounding like a merry herd of goats, rather than angrily dinging like someone who hasn’t been served in an old shop or hotel. Plus because it’s jingling all the time, there isn’t that awkward too soon/too late timing aspect you get when riding with a standard bell.
You don’t have to suddenly reach for it either, which – while it’s marketed and named as an MTB bell – is really useful on a gravel bike, too. That’s mainly because you often don’t want to shift your hands on the bars in an already sketchy situation. The band-on design means it’ll go round bar tape fine too, rather than needing bare metal.
Presuming it carries on keeping quiet when we want it to, the only remaining design glitch with the latest Timber! is that you'll sometimes need to bounce the bike or waggle the bars to provoke its chime in time on smooth trails.
If you don’t mind disappointing other trail users who might be expecting the arrival of an Alpine shepherd/shepherdess then the new Timber! V4.0 is a really friendly way to make your presence known. It switches off and stays off much better than previous models and it fits more bars as well.
Tech specs: Timber! V4.0 Bike Bell
- Price: $24.95 / £24.99 / €29.55
- Options: Band-on (tested), bolt-on and YEW!
- Weight: 73g