Ringing the Knog Oi Bell

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Knog Oi Bell. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

After a successful Kickstarter campaign with more than $1 million AUD (that’s a little over $800k USD) raised in a month, the Knog Oi is arguably one of the most anticipated bicycle bells that has ever hit the market. I mean, look at it. It doesn’t even look like a bell.

Instead of going for a more traditional bulbous/round resonator, Knog went with a CNC’d semi-circular shape suspended by three springs over a plastic bracket that also houses the ambidextrous striker. The designers at Knog also incorporated a slot into its mounting bracket for those pre-existing underside cables on the bar that might be in the way. It’s a stylish little bell (available in four colors, no less) that could also be the most aerodynamic bell in existence if Team Sky ever needed one.

Unboxing was frustration-free and the set-up was easy. Knog’s illustrated installation guide was equally excellent. Once mounted, the Oi integrates well with existing cockpits without added clutter and with its slim 15mm cross-section, it doesn’t require of a whole lot of real estate, either.

The Oi comes in two sizes: Small for the 22.2mm bars (mtb near the grip, old bikes) or a larger version that’ll fit 23.8-31.8mm bars with the included spacers. I tested the large one on a 31.8mm carbon road handlebar.

On the road, I found the Oi to be easy to use and I like its rather pleasant tone that sounds more like a friendly reminder than a “get out of the way” from an angry rusted bell like the ones off rental bikes. I did, however, find myself pulling the striker as far back as I could at times to get the loudest ding possible especially in noisy, high traffic areas around San Francisco where it could get lost in the city noise at times.

To be fair, the Oi works and people do seem to hear it whenever I ring it, but perhaps its cordiality masked the assertiveness one would expect in a bell. There are definitely louder options out on the market, but how loud a bell is deemed efficient is as much a personal preference as one’s preferred car audio volume.

The striker. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

The exposed spring and plastic striker are holding up at the moment but the jury is still out on its long-term durability. I did manage to twist the striker off its pivot a few times, a rather annoying situation while trying to be heard, but it was a quick, tool-less fix. Each Oi also comes with a two-year warranty too if you do manage to break yours. Moreover, my test unit was putting out tiny rattling noises from vibrations whenever the road got a bit choppy,  just enough to be noticeable like that fanthom bottom bracket creak. It would largely disappear when I rode in large groups, or just put my hand on it…

So is the Oi worth it? At $19, it’s half the price of the very popular, but pricey Spurcycle Bell. Like a size 18 Yeezy Boost 360 that might fit some but not others, the Oi is a bell that needs to tried and heard in person. It’s undeniably beautiful but nevertheless I just wish it was a bit more rambunctious and that it wouldn’t rattle.


Rapha’s cotton trousers: Fashion meets function

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We could say a lot about Rapha’s cotton trousers. For one, we think they’re snappy looking. They’re also really well made, with a couple of pleasing features like the high-vis pink tabs and the hidden pocket zippers that set them apart from the competition.

They also offer an awesome blend of off-the-bike style with on-the-bike functionality, something that every sartorially-conscious commuter will tell you is hard to find. And the little bit of lycra woven into them makes them super comfortable, all day long, no matter what you get up to.

All of this is great, of course, but that’s not why we really love them. No, these pants get an unequivocal seal of approval because they were complimented by someone with no interest in bicycles or the culty, lusty status us roadies give to brands like Rapha. With some bonus points thrown in because the flattering remarks came from a member of the fairer sex.

The trousers are a slim fit and taper towards the lower leg but the sizing is accurate and a little more generous than Rapha’s casual offerings in the past. The fitted look is eye-catching, especially with the hot pink pocket tab on the rear and the coloured seams that you show off with a crucial roll-up at the hem, and the zipped side pockets are great for keeping valuables safe while you ride. They’re bike-friendly, but fashionable enough to be an alluring choice even for people with no interest in two-wheeled transportation.

What more do you need to know? At $150, they’re not the cheapest pair of slacks you’ll find on the rack, but then, if you’re shopping at Rapha you’ll know that their good looks and quality construction rarely comes cheap. Threads like these are a practical investment in your wardrobe, and they’re worth it for anyone who values bike-friendly clothing but doesn’t want to go all courier chic – or worse, show up dressed like a Fred. Because no one likes those.

 


You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ’Til It’s Gone

Peter Rubin's ride of choice. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

It was a rainy winter. Or maybe it was a regular winter, and the past two winters had been so dry that I wasn’t ready for it. But the upshot was the same: hastened by the permeability of the shed behind my house, my road bike developed a nasty cold.



It’s my fault, really; I didn’t take good enough care of it. I kept it clean, sure, but I took it for granted. And when the tickle in its sinus began, the shifting got little wonky. It’s January, I told myself. The shop’ll take forever. So I wiped the bike down instead, and gave it some new tires. Then it got sluggish, and I dropped the chain going down to the little ring. I’ll bring it to in this week, I told myself. It’s the right thing to do. So I wiped the bike down instead, and made sure the chain was lubed.

But then, toward the end of a Sunday spin last weekend, my rear shifter cable gave up the ghost. Just…snapped. Somewhere up inside the brake hoods where mortals dare not tread. I pulled it out of the derailleur, stuck the housing in my pocket, and rode the last five miles on a singlespeed, 82 gear inches into a bitch of a headwind, cursing my negligence with every mash.

Now, my bike is out of commission until the shop can get to it—which happens to be eight days from now. All of this is to say, don’t be like me. But that’s obvious. So it’s also to say that while you might not even be aware of the rhythms that have developed between you and your steed, they exist, and they are sacred.

It’s plain when you jump on another bike for a ride. Climbs are guessing games, descents a gamble. It’s not like my backup bike is 30 pounds of creak, either. It’s more than sufficient, and it’s taken me through centuries and up mountains. It’s just not my real bike.

To be fair, it’s not like I knew my bike was my real bike when it first came into my life. My line of work allows me to ride a lot of different things, most of which are lighter than a loaf of bread and all of which are thoroughly above my pay grade. That’s a wonderful thing, but it’s also given me an almost monastic aversion to the idea of bike permanence. So the first thing I thought when I saw my bike was “I guess bikes are murdered out now.” Specialized’s Roubaix line of Classics/endurance rides has been around for more than a decade, but 2013 was the first year it was available in stunning black on black.

It was also the first year the company had married the idea of comfort with its SL4 top-tier frame—so while my first impression was visual, my second was “smooooooth.” That wasn’t a thought, it was an actual involuntary utterance when I hit a chattery stretch of road. (And in Oakland, “chattery” is close to the best you can hope for until you get to the blacktop up in the hills.)

Everything about it was perfect, but subtle. Dura-Ace, but not digital. An 11-speed cassette that got me up just about anything, and Zertz dampers that let my legs feel the road without my…other parts feeling the road. Brakes that I trusted, on in-house wheels that were light without leaving me vulnerable to crosswinds. It didn’t jump off the line, but it didn’t need to—it got there fast, and it gave back to the road everything that I put into it. It made me stronger. Faster. And now it’s gone.

Look, yeah, I get it. It’s not gone forever. I’ll be back on it in a week. But mark my words: I’ll never take it for granted again. Q-tip was right: Joni Mitchell never lied.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly