UPDATE 11.7.20: For this update to make any sense, you will need to read the post below but the new ‘mini’ brass Crane Bell has now been delivered and… it is a joy. 12 seconds of brass bell heaven:
Should you be so inclined, you can visit the CyclingEurope.org YouTube Channel and watch all of the videos. It would take you a while so you might be inc better off prioritising those that have been very popular… Bearing in mind the time and effort it can take to make some of the videos, might I recommend such epics as the recent masterpiece that is Scammonden: A Valley of Contrasts in all its 4K glory? Or perhaps one of the films from my 2019 cycling odyssey across northern Spain and Portugal? Or how about a hiking film from the ‘Hiking Europe’ collection? The Three Peaks… Of Borrowdale is a personal favourite but there are plenty of others from which to choose.
Yet if you do select the most popular videos, you will discover, despite the time and effort expended in making many of the more extravagant films, that the most popular film is one that consists of me simply ‘dinging’ a bicycle bell that I purchased back in 2012. It has been watched 47,937 times. (Perhaps this mention will push it over 50,000.) I could feel aggrieved at this lack of collective respect for the toil and creative effort expounded in making many other, more worthy videos but I don’t. Why? Because I have utter respect for that bell, the Crane Bell Suza, made from brass and with a diameter of 55mm. I purchased it back in early 2012 and have been using it with great effect ever since. It’s sound is long, loud and sonorous and I find it difficult to imagine that a more effective, non-threatening bicycle bell exists.
Actually, when I say ‘ever since’, this isn’t quite true. When I bought the Cannondale that I rode for a couple of years, I transferred the bell from Reggie the Ridgeback Panorama touring bike (yes, the one made famous by the books…). The handlebars were actually too wide for the fitting that came with the bell so I attached it using a small rubber bungee but it continued to work well, delighting and, crucially, alerting the walkers along the canal in a very non-aggressive way. However, by the time I had purchased a bike called Wanda, my Koga WorldTraveller, I had manage to lose both the bungee and the original fitting for the brass Crane Bell so found it impossible to attach the good old bell to the new bike. Anyway, the Koga was delivered with a bell, one attached to a compass and I have found that quite useful, despite my initial scepticism that it was just a bit of a gimmick. For about a year I have managed fine… but I do miss the old Crane Bell.
So last week I decided to buy a new Crane Bell. Space on the handlebars of Wanda is at a premium but I noticed that the Crane Bell Company – a Japanese outfit incidentally – manufacture a ‘Mini Suzu Bell’. Excellent! Identical to the original of YouTube fame but a better size for the handlebars of the Koga. So I bought one and today, it arrived. They’ve remade Ocean’s Eleven, True Grit and The Lion King. Why shouldn’t I remake the original ‘Crane Bell Suza‘? Well, I have. Not just that but, unlike Ocean’s Eleven and the others, I included the original in my new film. Have a watch:
Aside from the bell, it’s interesting to note that, 8 years on, I can now make videos in 4K and the audio is high quality and multi-track meaning that the sound of the wind hurtling down my chimney on this balmy (???) summer’s day in Yorkshire is there for all to hear. But that aside, concentrate on the bell. Does the mini Crane Bell I just bought compare well with the brass Crane Bell I bought in 2012?
It compares well to almost all other bells out there… but it doesn’t really compare well at all to the Crane Bell in the original film. Why? Well, it’s smaller of course. That’s clearly a factor. But it’s also not brass. It’s aluminium. And you can hear it’s aluminium. The bells cost around £10, irrespective of the material from which they are made. So…
I just ordered another brass bell. Just like the remake of Ocean’s Eleven, this new Crane Bell film looks as though it’s going to have a sequel… Keep watching (and listening) to this space. In the meantime, go back and watch all those videos on the YouTube channel that took me hours to make!